Scuba Diving Sri Lanka

“Wreck Diving Destination” in the Indian Ocean. Enjoy exploring wreck diving, reefs and their abundance of marine life.

sri-lanka_map

Sri Lanka (formerly known as Ceylon) is a tropical island lying close to the southern tip of India and near the Equator. From the coast, the land rises to a central plateau, where tea plantations are found. Sinhalese form the country’s major ethnic group (74 percent) and Tamils are the largest minority, at 18 percent. Population density is highest in the island’s southwest corner—where Colombo, the capital, is located. The Tamil minority tends to be geographically concentrated along the eastern and northern coastal areas.

SCUBA DIVING SRI LANKA

The ocean around Sri Lanka whispers of tales bygone, ones of regal maritime visits, of bandits and pirates and journeys of explorers and spice merchants.  As you plunge into the warm waters and dive below, these stories come to life. The crystal clear waters of the Indian Ocean with a visibility of 20 meters (65ft) provide perfect conditions for diving. With wrecks as dated as the 18th Century dotting the seas, deep reefs and reef walls provide enthralling explorations for scuba divers. For the less adventurous on-shore coral reefs are ideal for snorkeling. The abundant marine life found around the island is surpassed only at Hikkaduwa in the southern coast where the reef is thought to contain more species of fish than the Great Barrier Reef.

The busy commercial capital of Sri Lanka is one of Sri Lanka’s best kept diving secrets. With over 10 wrecks Colombo offers world class wreck diving in close proximity to the international airport and a major city. Explore the immense cargo holds of intact freighters such as the Pecheur Breton (Cargo Wreck ) and the Medhufaru, play with the friendly lionfish at the Nilgiri Tug or discover history on WWI wrecks such as the SS Perseus. Most wrecks are in the 20-30m depth range and easy to access being less than 30 minutes boat ride from our base. But Colombo diving is not limited to wrecks. Wide angle enthusiasts can explore current swept outer reefs with soft coral and massive gorgonian sea fans while macro photographers can search for nudibranchs, crabs, shrimps, electric rays, pipefish, sea moths and other critters on the rocky reefs. Our wrecks also teem with marine life, from large schools of snappers and fusiliers to visiting pelagics such as dogtooth tuna, wahoo and eagle rays.

HIGHLIGHT DIVE SITES

REEF DIVE SITES

Wallduwa (Coral Garden Rocks) (Depth: 3-10m): Ideal for beginners and SCUBA reviews. A nearby spot just in front of Coral Garden Hotel, good for small reef fishes and turtles.

Cave (Depth 8-16m): A small but beautiful cave, near Wallduwa, again great for turtles and nudibranches. Next to a reef with lots of soft corals

Hikkaduwa Gala (Depth 5-18m): Beautiful rock formation with many reef fishes, ideal for beginners and experienced alike.

Sunil Gala (Depth 6-18m): Dive starts with a large rock near the surface, following this down to the rocky bottom where you can see reef fishes, groupers and moray.

Kadavara Gala (Depth 5-18m): A pretty rock formation similar to Sunil Gala.

Goda Gala (Depth 8-26m): Stunning large rocky area with lots of friendly moray to be found. Also good for big groupers, rigger fish and schools of small fish.

Teli Gala (Barracuda Point) (Depth 12-28m): Large rocky area good for sting ray, barracuda and groups of small fishes.

Napoleon Point (Depth 24m): A combination of rock and reef, well known for finding big Napoleons, groupers and also for colourful reef fishes.

Black Coral Point (Depth 16-30m): Deep dive for experienced divers where you can see lots of beautiful black coral as well as many reef fish and soft corals.

Kirala Gala (Depth 21-38m): Amazing deep dive. Dive starts at bottom of large conical rock formation and spirals around to the top. For advanced divers there are plenty of reef fishes, soft corals, groups of trigger fish,barracudas, travellys and groups of batfish to be found.

Pathapara (Depth 32-36m): Near the Conch, this site is a very long reef with big rocks, good for big barracuda, seer fish, groupers and can see spotted eagle rays.

Silva Point (Depth 12-30m): Dive site for advanced divers with lots of large rocks, shoals of Fusiliers, Sweetlips and other reef fishes.

Banda Point (Depth 22-36m): Large rock formation for advanced divers with shoals of small reef fishes and groupers.

Tunaththa Rocks (Depth 6-15m): Soft and hard corals, shoals of silver batfish and fusiliers

WRECK DIVE SITES

Conch: (Depth 12-21m): The Conch is a steam-powered oil tanker. One of the first oil tankers in the world, it was built in 1892 in Stockton for Shell. She weighed 3555ton and was on a journey from Novorossisk to Madras when on 2nd of June 1903 she hit a rock and sank. The wreck is well preserved, with penetration possible into the cabin which is filled with cave-dwellers. Visibility is stable because of the rocky bottom. Good for groupers, napoleons, queen angelfish and all other reef fishes.

Earl of Shaftesbury: (Depth 14m) One of oldest wrecks this ship dates from the 1820s, a steel 4 mast sailing ship it sank following a fire on board. It is lying on a sandy bottom, very interesting wreck. You can see some special native sweetlips and stingrays, groups of silver batfish and schools of Fosters barracuda.

Alliance: (Depth 23m) The Alliance is a British wooden sailboat that sank carrying a cargo of charcoal. Lying on a sandy bottom it is ideal for all kinds of reef fishes.

Rangoon (Depth 30m) The Rangoon is a steam ship built in 1863 by Samuda Bros, London. It was part of the P & O fleet and did regular trips from Suez to Calcutta. The ship weighed 1776 ton and had 400hp engines, it was captained by GF Henry. One of our most beautiful wrecks, the Rangoon is upright in full sailing position. Teeming with marine life with anything possible to see. Trips are done as part of a day trip to Galle.

Arcturus (Depth 18m) The Arcturus is a British steam ship wreck built in 1870. Lying on a large rocky bottom area called Mada Gala, the wreck has some beautiful marine life and lots of soft corals.

Crispigi Cross (16m) This is a boat from Panama carrying rice and paint that sank in the 19 80’s in front of Galle hospital. Penetration is possible into the stern. The massive engine is still in place and there are lots of fish to be seen.

Orestes (Depth 16m) British steam ship that sank carrying a cargo of bricks. Lying on a sandy bottom near Galle harbour. It is possible to find wine and soda bottles around the site.

No name II (Depth 24m) We have not been able to find any information on this ship, other than that it belonged to the Ocean steam ship Company in Liverpool and built in 1866. It is lying on a sandy bottom in front of Galle harbour. Lots of reef fishes and possible to see eagle rays.

Lord Nelson (Depth 18m) Modern boat that sank in a storm in 2000. Was carrying a cargo of cement. Penetration is possible in most of the wreck and lots of reef fishes.

Norsa (Depth 15m) Steam ship from 1889 lying on Passi Gala, near Conch and Earl of Shaftesbury.

DIVE INFORMATION

DIVE SEASON: Apart from occasional weather restrictions you can dive here perfectly between October till the end of April. Underwater vision depends on high and low tide, usually between 5 – 25 meters. From end of April onwards the diving on the west- and south coast is influenced by the monsoon. The sea is sometimes rough and the underwater vision can be considerably less. Usually the south-west monsoon blows continuously from the south-west and carries more humid air from the Indian continent. Sometimes there are strong winds and rain but on average never longer than an hour or two. Daily sunshine is even during the monsoon period 8 hours a day. Day temperatures are around 30/86 F to 32/90 F  and night temperatures 26/79 F to 28/82 F. Water temperature is the whole between 26/79 F to 30/86’.

VISIBILITY: Sri Lanka has a wealth of underwater flora, and marine life along the Red Sea. Sea life is abundant with a variety of hard and soft corals. The waters have an average visibility of 20–30 meters or 60 feet to 90 feet.

WATER TEMPERATURE: Sri Lanka 19-28 C/66-82 F offers year round diving.

WEATHER: Due to the location of Sri Lanka, the climate of the island could be characterized as tropical. The central part of the southern half of the island is mountainous with heights more than 2.5 Km. The core regions of the central highlands contain many complex topographical features such as ridges, peaks, plateaus, basins, valleys and escarpments. The remainder of the island is practically flat except for several small hills that rise abruptly in the lowlands. These topographical features strongly affect the spatial patterns of winds, seasonal rainfall, temperature, relative humidity and other climatic elements, particularly during the monsoon season.

GENERAL INFORMATION

CLIMATE: Due to Southwest and Northeast monsoons, the climate experienced during 12 months period in Sri Lanka can be characterized in to 4 climate seasons as follows.

First Inter-Monsoon Season – March – April

Southwest Monsoon Season – May – September

Second Inter-Monsoon Season – October – November

Northeast Monsoon Season – December – February

LANGUAGE: The Sinhala language is spoken by the Sinhalese people, who constitute approximately 75% of the national population and total about 13 million. It utilizes the Sinhala abugida script, which is derived from the ancient Brahmi script. The Rodiya language, a dialect of Sinhala, is spoken by the low-caste community of chamodi veddhas. The Veddah peoples, totaling barely 2500, speak a distinct language, possibly a creolized form of an earlier indigenous language. The Tamil language is spoken by Sri Lankan Tamils, as well as by Tamil migrants from the neighboring Indian state of Tamil Nadu and by most Sri Lankan Moors. Tamil speakers number around 4.7 million. There are more than 50,000 speakers of the Sri Lankan Creole Malay language, which is strongly influenced by the Malay language.

ELECTRICITY:  For the most part, electrical sockets (outlets) are one of two types: the “Type D” Indian 5 amp BS-546 or the European CEE 7/16 Europlug. The Indian socket is actually an old British standard. The “Type D” Indian plug and socket is not to be confused with the “Type M” South African plug and socket. If your appliance’s plug doesn’t match the shape of these sockets, you will need a travel plug adapter in order to plug in.

CURRENCY & CREDIT CARDS: Sri Lankan rupee. Credit cards are widely accepted in Colombo and the tourist centers, especially Visa or Mastercard. American Express and Diners Club are not as common. Best is to ask before buying something. Never let your credit card out of your sight as credit card fraud is reasonably common. You should also be careful when using an ATM with your credit card.

GRATUITIES: Tipping is generally expected in Sri Lanka in all of the circumstances one might usually tip. In temples, you should leave money in donation boxes, particularly if you have been taken on a tour by a resident monk. Remember that a 10% service surcharge is usually added to food bills and accommodation bills in the larger establishments, so any further investment should represent reward for good service.

PHONE & INTERNET SERVICE: The telephone network is made up of predominantly digital microwave radio relay, with fibre-optic links now in use in Colombo. The introduction of Code Division Multiple Access (CDMA) technology revolutionized telecoms in Sri Lanka, especially in rural areas. CDMA is the competitor of GSM when it comes to mobile networks and allows multiple users on different mobile phones to share the same bandwidth.

VISA & PASSPORT REQUIREMENTS: A short visit traveler must have Electronic Travel Authorization (ETA).  More information on official website: http://www.eta.gov.lk

CUSTOMS: The duty free allowance for all liquors (including wine, beer, stout, ale and port) purfumes and tobacco is:
200 cigarettes or 250g of tobacco
2 litres of spirits and 2 litres of wine
200ml of Parfume or Eau de Toilette
All personal possessions intended to be re-exported on departure are exempt from tax. In addition to the duty free allowances listed above, each visitor may import tax-free a video camera, other camera, musical instrument, portable electronic or electric equipment, sports requisites and other leisure equipment. Offensive weapons such as stun guns, mace, bows and arrows, knuckle dusters, daggers, swords, tear gas, whips, firearms and ammunition are prohibited imports unless the appropriate import permit or official authorization has been obtained in advance from the relevant authorities.

GETTING THERE: Sri Lanka’s primary international airport is Bandaranaike International Airport at Katunayake, 30km north of Colombo. There are 24-hour moneychanging facilities in the arrivals and departures halls as well as ATMs, mobile phone dealers and more. Arriving is fairly hassle-free as touts are mostly kept away. Transit passengers and those checking in early should note, however, that the terminals remain quite spartan in terms of amenities.

USEFUL INFORMATION

Sri Lanka Tourism Information

Map

 

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