What to see and do in the South Coast

The south coast of Sri Lanka offers beautiful long stretching beaches allowing for activities such as sailing, snorkelling and diving. There is an expanse of marine life which can be seen by relaxing on the beach to exploring nature reserves. The area itself is relaxed, away from raging crowds and full of fishing villages famous for the silt fishing with the tradition being passed down from generation to generation. This area offers private seclusion in comfort and style.

Mulgirigala Rock Temple

Around 30 minutes away from Tangalle, the Mulingirigala rock temple perches on top of a boulder over 200m high. Reminiscent of Sigiryia the sight dates back over 2000 years and is covered in ancient murals, caves, statues and right at the top is a living Buddhist monastery. The Temple offers fantastic views and a peaceful place to reflect. It is also home to many animal species such as monkeys, lizard and birds which can break up the hike up.

Bundala Bird Sanctuary

As national park containing six wetland types it is an important site for migratory water birds. A twitcher’s haven, flamingos migrate in vast flocks here (August-April) along with many native and migrant birds. Not just a sight for birds many reptiles and fish inhabit the park, as well as the famous elephant , leopard and monkeys and some more unusual mammals such as the Indian pangolin, sloth bear and porcupine.

Diving and Snorkelling

There is a multitude of tropical fish and coloured reefs or shipwrecks on the south coast, often offshore and require a boat ride and a guide but the journey is worthwhile. The small village of Kirinda offers a great beach with an interesting Buddhist shine on its boulders. However it is best known for the ‘Great Basses’ wreck and the Great and Little Basses reefs.
There are also many other great dive spots along the coast, just ask your hotel for local knowledge of where to go and for equipment hire.

Whale and Dolphin Watching

There are several species of marine mammals around the South coast of Sri Lanka including the Blue, Sperm, Humpback, Fin and Bryde’s whale and the Bottle nosed and Spinner dolphins. Excursions run from May to October when the water is calm enough to venture out onto although whales can be found on the coast all year round so if you have a pair of binoculars in the off season you may be able to still spot them. The Sri Lankan coast has the highest density of Sperm whales in the world. Marissa is close to a migratory path and feeding ground and so is a good area to spot the whales.

Turtle Hatchlings

Many sea turtles are protected in Sri Lanka with 5 species that lay eggs onshore; the Green, Leatherback, Hawksbill, Olive Ridley and Loggerhead turtle. The turtles are protected by the Sri Lankans and the eggs are laid all along the southern coast. At certain times of the year you will either be able to witness egg laying or the hatchlings all making their way to the water often aided by Sri Lankans to keep them safe from predators. There is a large conservation point at Marissa beach and at Tangalle. The best time to see baby turtles is between January and July, The eggs are laid and the turtle hatch usually between 7pm- 3am.

Sailing in Mirissa

Amongst many water based activities, when the waters are calm a sailing trip can be a great way to see the Sri Lankan coast. Sailing is an up and coming sport in Sri Lanka with some serious training teams competing internationally learning here. Sailing is another great way to see the vast marine life surrounding the coast with whales, dolphins and turtles all visible at the right times of year, particularly whales as Marissa lies on a whale migratory path and feeding ground.

Fishing in Midigama and Weligama

The waters of Sri Lanka are full of a vast range of exotic fish and these areas are well known for their fishing communities. If you are around at dawn or dusk you will see the locals silt fishing using traditional methods that are passed down generations. The areas are secluded and picturesque. Why not rent a boat and try your hand at sea fishing or jump on a chartered boat for deep sea fishing. If fishing isn’t your thing you can always see what the boats bring back in and sample it for dinner instead.

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