Scuba diving in Sri Lanka is immensely rewarding off the northwest coast, south coast from Bentota right down to Yala and the east coast in Trincomalee. However, many reefs are offshore and you often need a boat and a guide to get to the best dive spots. Sri Lanka is also very popular for shipwreck diving. The monsoon weather patterns in Sri Lanka ensure that one half of the island’s coastal waters are always in season for diving, snorkelling, and swimming with good underwater visibility which ranges from about 50 to 100 feet.
The very best Diving Sites in Sri Lanka
Beruwala, West Coast: November to May is the best time to dive off the shores of Beruwala. About half an hour away from the shore are two diving sites: Shark Point and Barracuda Rock. The currents can be strong here.
Bentota, West Coast: Best time to dive here is from November through May. A large dive site Canoe Rock with coral and exotic fish is found here.
Hikkaduwa, West Coast: November through May is the best time to dive here.Hikkaduwa is an interesting youthful coastal town and has about 20 dive sites within easy reach. There are also PADI dive centres where if one stays long enough you could get your license. A deep rocky formation called Deep Rock, Kiralagala, and the ship wreck Conch are interesting dives.
Unawatuna, South Coast: November through May is the best time to dive here. Diving in Unawatuna is excellent with diving sites consisting of rocky formations and black coral, many ship wrecks, and numerous varieties of fish.
Weligama, South Coast: December through April is the best time to dive here. Situated in the Deep South, Weligama is excellent for snorkelling and diving with beautiful rock formations undersea and a variety of marine life. The dive sites include Mirissa Point, Bridge Rock, Yala Rock, and Prince Heinrich Patch. There is also a 40 km long reef known as the Basses starting 20 km south east of Kirinda and extending right below Kumana. With sandstone reefs, ravines, pillars, pinnacles, caves and crevices as well as ship wrecks – the Basses is considered the best diving site in Sri Lanka.
Negombo, Northwest Coast: Diving is best here from December to April. Diving sites are divided into two sections in Negombo – closer dive sites which are within about 8kms from the shore and the further site - also known as the `Third Reef’ which is about 22 kms from the shore. Numerous species of fish, marine turtles, Moray Eels, sting rays can be spotted.
Kalpitiya, Northwest Coast: February through April is the best time for diving off Kalpitiya. The Bar Reef with nooks and crevices surrounds Kalpitiya and is ideal for spotting Moray Eels, large Groupers, and Sting Rays.
Trincomalee, East Coast: April through October is the best time to dive here. There are several dive sites here including Swami Rock, Eel Rock, Sitanampara, Coffin Ray Point and Pigeon Rock to name a few. Numerous species of marine life including Sting Rays, Moray Eels can be spotted here. The Irrankandy ship wreck which is about 40 minutes off shore is surrounded by schools of exotic species of fish and worth exploring.