There is no shortage of choices for those with an adventurous spirit on Sri Lanka's Eastern coast. From pristine surf breaks to animal-filled mangroves and lagoons; from diving deep to historic shipwrecks to snorkeling the coral reefs with 100s of fish species. On land or in the sea, the possibilities are endless.
“I have been traveling to Arugam Bay regularly since I was a child. It’s changed a lot over the years. These days, Arugam Bay is a big party place, yet if you go out on the beach you will find fisherman sleeping there. They head out to sea at night and return home during the day. If you’re adventurous and they’re willing, they’ll let you go fishing with them. They crowd into their boats at 3am when the ocean is strong and rough and you go flying over these huge waves. Twenty boats go out in a line. The fisherman use drift netting to catch the fish and rely on the moon to guide them home. Expect to return well after sunrise.”
- Keira Perera, PADI Divemaster, Kalpitiya Discovery Diving, Kalpitiya, Sri Lanka
Eastern Sri Lanka has one devious coastline. It is not only the marine channel for trade from several centuries, but also historically the key naval base for the British during the harrowing years of World War II. An enormous number of shipwrecks have taken place here over several centuries, among them the most significant was the British aircraft carrier HMS Hermes. The Hermes, commissioned in 1923, toiled through the Far East where she met her fate by the hands of a Japanese aircraft. She sank near Batticaloa in April 1942. Today, diving around Batticaloa shorelines has become popular in recent time, and the HMS Hermes, Batticaloa is a mere thirty minute ride on boat from the mainland. For divers, the wreck is nothing less than a new paradise to explore. “I would say the HMS Hermes is a gem of a wreck,” said Mark, an Australian tourist. “The marine life that inhabits it is unbelievable.”
“Pigeon Island is the best of all of Sri Lanka’s snorkeling spots. It has more than 300 species of live Coral Reefs, such as canox, coral, and soft coral. The second and most significant attraction is snorkeling with Black Reef Shark. At Pigeon Island, you can get down from your boat, spend some time on the beach, then start your snorkeling session. You see, Pigeon Island is an island in the sea. You’ll be snorkeling among some three thousand species of colourful fish. You just don’t see this huge number anywhere else.”
- P. Thussi, Snorkeling Instructor