Diving Kalpitiya

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Kalpitiya, Sri Lanka


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Country: Sri Lanka  Area: Sri Lanka

Water Temp: 25 - 30°C (77 - 86°F)

Visibility: 10 - 15m (33 - 49 ft)

Depth Range: 8 - 30m (26 - 98 ft)

Marine mammal sightings Early November Early May
Whale super pod sightings (mostly Pilot and Sperm whales) Late February Early May
Kite/ wind surfing Late May Early November

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Kalpitiya is a newly emerging tourism destination in northwestern Sri Lanka. Where diving here is just as sensational as the on land beauty. With minimal developments thus far, it is a stunning coastal escape.

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The main attraction in Kalpitiya, are the whales and Dolphins. It is a world phenomenon, that “Spinner dolphin” pods, Indigenous to kalpitiya, congregate in the form of superpods so close to shore. Many species of whales (Blue, Humpback, Sperm, Minke, Sei, Pilot, Fin, and many more) can be seen in these waters.

From April to November, a large number of tourists visit kalpitiya for kite surfing, as the Kalpitiya lagoon is considered as one of the best kiting locations in the world. The underwater currents in the seas off Kalpitiya are generally not strong, but are influenced by small tide changes of two high water and two low water tides.  The underwater temperature is approximately 75°F so no wetsuits are required (but thin wetsuits could be worn to protect from any bruising from the coral).

Diving Kalpitiya, Credit

It is a marine sanctuary with a diversity of habitats ranging from bar reefs, flat coastal plains, saltpans, mangroves swamps, salt marshes and vast sand dune beaches. It provides nursing grounds for many species of fish and crustaceans. The coastal waters are also home to spinner, bottlenose and Indo-Pacific humpback dolphins, whales, sea turtles, and even the illusive dugong that are of great appeal to potential tourists.

Marine Conservation

Kalpitiya was declared to be a marine sanctuary within Sri Lanka in 1992. As such, all tourism, non-tourism and ocean based activity is monitored by both the Navy and Department of Wildlife. That said, limiting over fishing and trapping of ornamental fish remains a challenge with local fishermen.

The Bar Reef Sanctuary is the largest coral formation in south east asia. “Wilpaththu” the largest national wildlife park in Sri Lanka, is only an hours drive away.


Kalpitiya is in the dry zone in Sri Lanka. Generally, the weather is warm and sunny year round. Prime diving months occur between late November and early May, when there is less of a risk of monsoons.

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The Diving

Kalpitiya is located on the fringe of the Bar Reef, a massive coral reef that has been regenerated following El Nino in the 1990s. Today it offers up a series of sensational and rarely visited dive sites, where you are likely to see Butterlflyfish, Parrotfish, Groupers and Black Tip Reef Sharks. The reef itself covers roughly 307 square kilometers. Dives here are shallow and well suited to beginner divers.

Dolphins! Credit

CORAL GARDEN REEF – Depth 12-14m, Large leafy cup corals, table corals and knob coral provide an interesting seascape populated by colorful tropical reef species such as butterfly fish, angelfish, wrasses, damselfish and surgeonfish. The site is teaming with micro life such as, colorful nudibranchs, sea slugs, and shrimp. Lobsters can be found hiding in the nooks and corners of the coral bed.

BULL DOG REEF – Depth 15 -17m, A vast reef system. This is a colorful dive site with clownfish, angelfish, damselfish, leaf scorpion fish, nudibranchs and schools of surgeonfish and Pigmies. Cuttlefish, Octopus, Eels and Stingrays are also seen regularly.

Kalpitiya underwater, Credit

STARFISH POINT – Depth 10 -12m, A combination of coral boomies encrusted with large clams, populated with sea cucumbers and decorated with starfish in many forms and colors. Lots of colorful reef fish such as, parrotfish and surgeonfish. Cuttlefish are frequent visitors at Starfish point.

EEL ROCK – Depth 18 - 30m, An interconnected reef system, with sandy pathways leading into the habitation of a large population of Eels. The site is close to the Continental Shelf, which makes it perfect for a Deep dive! Hundreds of blue surgeon fish, and Scorpion fish in gardens of feather stars and Dark cup corals. Other inhabitants include Frogfish, Stone Fish, Groupers, and Porcupine Puffer fish.

TREVALLY PASS – Depth 15 - 18m, As the name suggests this is the place to see large schools of Trevally. The seabed is formed by patches of corals and rocks. Plenty of colorful reef fishes. Common sights are, cleaner wrasses, angelfish, Moorish idol, triggerfish and sand lizard.

TWO ROCKS – Depth 20 - 22m, Two large flat rocks surrounded by a collective of smaller rocks.  Patches of corals and rocks full of live with very rare species of clams. Large anemones with anemone fish can be found at this site. Eels, Surgeon, Triggerfish, Angelfish, Butterfly and stingray are the common species to be seen.

Liveaboard Diving

There are no liveaboards operating in or around Kalpitiya.

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How to Get there

The nearest international airport is located in Colombo and is called the Banaranaike International Airport. It is located roughly 170 kilometers from Kalpitiya and the drive takes approximately 2.5 hours. This drive can be done in either a private vehicle or on the country’s bus network.

Boats, Credit


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Where to Eat & Drink

As Kalpitiya is new to tourism, restaurant, bars and night clubs remain quite limited. Most of the restaurants are located out of the resorts, with favourite restaurants being at Dolphin Beach and Bar Reef Resorts. Kitesurfing Lanka is also a great place to eat and chill out. Night life is generally on the quieter side here.

Kalpitiya, Credit

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Other Activities

Life in Kalpitiya revolves largely around the sea and organized tourism activities remain under-developed at the moment.

Popular non-diving activities include snorkelling, dolphin and whlae watching trips, and fishing. Kite surfing (see http://kalpitiyakitesurfing.com/) is also growing rapidly in popularity. If looking for a break from the ocean, consider joining a boat tour into the mangroves and the lagoon.

Kalpitiya Dutch Fortress, Credit

A few companies run excursions into Wilpattu National Park where you might have the chance to observe the large leopard population, and the region’s vibrant birdlife. This happens to the be the country’s largest nature reserve. It is also possible to make a day trip to Anuradapura, a UN World Heritage sight.

That said, the government does have plans for expanding the tourism industry. These plans include the construction of a water amusement park, a golf course, a race course and a cricket playground.

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If you’re hoping to visit Kalpitiya while it is still quiet you should book your trip soon! Plans for tourism development are moving quickly and will rapidly change the face of the region.

Look for a dive center with a certified dive instructor in Kalpitiya. This is important because there are a handful of non-certified operators who will run trips without using proper safety meansrues.

Lagoon in Kalpitiya, Credit

The only hyperbaric chamber is located in a town called Trinconmalee at a military base. It is approxiamately 275 kilometers from Kalpitiya and the drive takes about 4.5 hours. 

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Diving experience in Nov last 1-3yrs?

Hi, I was wondering if there is anyone that can share diving experience from around Nov in the recent years? Keen to hear your point-of-view, but also what locals (e.g. divemaster) had to say with regards to bigger fish sightings!

Rating 10/10

Plenty of fish in Kalpitiya with Dune Towers

Kalpitiya1 Jan 2020 - 27 Apr 2022 with Dune Towers - scuba diving resort

We are visiting Kalpitiya area in Sri Lanka regularly for several years and it is perfect! We have been staying at Dune Towers resort in Alankuda who arranged all the scuba diving with Sam and safari and other trips in Kalpitiya.

We are meeting morray eels and various rays every dive. Most of our dives was in 13-18 meters with very nice visibility of 15-20 meters. This season we have enjoyed with my daughter dive sites right in front of Dune Towers resort in Alankuda. We have seen big marble rays and huge schools of fish, beautiful moray eels, shrimps cleaners and many more.


Rating 10/10

Fun with Visit Kalpitiya

Kalpitiya1 Jan 2015 - 31 Mar 2016

Kalpitiya (Sri Lanka), One of the booming dive location in Sri Lanka. The safe and large marine life and corals in Kalpitiya sea (Indian Ocean) is amazingly beautiful and started to attract divers and other tourists on its way..

"Visit Kalpitiya" is a multi service providers in Kalpitiya region. They arrange Diving and other activities (Dolphin watching / Snorkeling / Jungle Safari / Airport Trabsfers) in best price. We did a tour with them. Actually they don't have their own dive center but they know all the dive centers and they arranged diving sessions according to our requirements.

They are very kind and always provided real information about Kalpitiya.


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Mike Bednarz

Looks amazing Shaad!

Rating 10/10

Diving Season is almost finish in Kalpitiya

Kalpitiya23 Mar 2015 - 5 Apr 2015

Dont miss out the last chance to dive this season in Kalpitiya.

Special rates for Dive Report inquiries.

Calm seas!

Great sightseeing!

Great Viz!

Join us on the Adventures of the Blue to get the best diving experience on the north west of Sri Lanka!

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