Places for Sri Lanka boat tours exceeds many dozens because Sri Lanka boasted to have a large number of Rivers, lagoons and Lakes. In fact, the island is surrounded by an endless ocean. Sri Lanka is a tropical nation and blessed with the tropical monsoon that soaks the island with heavy rain.
Lanka has a large number of rivers, lakes and lagoons, providing many dozens of places for Sri Lanka Boat Tours. Venturing on Sri Lanka boat tours is one of the best ways of exploring inland water resources and the attraction accompanied it, the Sri Lanka boat tours are truly spectacular. Keep on reading and get to know where you should head on to your next Sri Lanka boat tour.
6 Best places for Sri Lanka boat tours
Escape from the hustle and bustle of Sri Lankan city streets to languid rivers in the countryside with Sri Lanka boat trips and soak yourself in riverside mangrove forests, villages, explore the rich wildlife, sacred spots and ancient heritage. Live in the cacophony of sights as nature captivates you and intrigues your senses. On your Sri Lanka tour, spend some time over the glinting waves. And contemplating water-based activities in picturesque countryside rivers like Madu river estuary and Koggala lagoon? Read on to find out more about Sri Lanka boat trips!
6 Best boat tours of Sri Lanka
- Muthurajawel wetland Boat tour-ideal boat tour for travellers, who look for a day tour from a hotel in Colombo or Negombo. This is a few hours trip from most hotels in Colombo.
- Madu river estuary Boat tour -Madu River boat tour is one of the most popular programs among travellers. Undoubtedly Madu Riverboat tour is the most popular boat tour in Sri Lanka and a very convenient day tour place and included in the Bentota day trip from Colombo.
- Koggala lagoon Boat tour-Boat tour popular among the travellers that stay on the southern coast. Koggala lagoon boat tour is included in most Galle one day tour from Colombo.
- Hikkaduwa Glass-bottom boat tour -allows the guests to see a fascinating collection of exotic fish species, sea turtles and coral reefs in the marine sanctuary of Hikkaduwa. The glass-bottom boats allow you to explore the sea bed without jumping into the water.
- Chandrika Lake Embilipitiya- Chandrika lake boat tour is not for most travellers due to the remoteness from Colombo. However, it is visited by some travellers, who are heading to Udawalawe national park.
- Bentota River boat tour-by far Madu River boat tour is the most popular boat tour on the west coast and a boat tour of the Bentota river follows. Bentota Boat tour is very popular among the travellers, who spend their beach holiday on the west coast beaches and southern coast beaches.
Sri Lanka is a tropical nation and blessed with the tropical monsoon that soaks the island with heavy rain. Sri Lanka has a large number of rivers, lakes and lagoons that are beautiful spots to explore. Making boat trips is one of the best ways of exploring inland water resources and the attraction accompanied it, the boat trips in Sri Lanka is truly spectacular. Keep on reading and get to know where you head on to your next Sri Lanka boat trip.
Muthurajawela boat trip
- Distance from Colombo 10km
- Time to reach Muthurajawela from Colombo 30 minutes
Muthurajawela is situated around 10 kilometres from Colombo and its borders are marked by Negombo lagoon from the northern direction, Hendala towards the south, Uswetakeiyawa and beaches of Pamunugama towards the west and Colombo-Negombo main road in the direction of East.
Muthurajawela boat trip is one of the popular Sri Lanka boat trips and many travellers, who spend their beach holidays in Negombo and Colombo take part in this program. Muturajawela wetland is a Ramsar wetland just north of Colombo near the popular beaches of Negombo, is a vast tract of land- most of Muthurajaela is hidden under the water even in the driest period of the dry season.
Most travellers, who travel to Negombo primarily are sun-worshippers; they enjoy the sun, sea and sand, most travellers of Colombo skim over historical places, shopping malls, temples and recreation centres but most of these travellers miss one of the most important natural attractions of Sri Lanka, which is none other than Muthurajawela wetland.
The history of Muturajawela believes to be going back to several centuries from modern time. It had been a thriving rice field in the western province of Sri Lanka. According to the historical information, Muthurajawela had been the main source of rice for the people of the Kotte kingdom. During the kingdom of Kelaniya, there had been a mangrove forest in Muthurajawela.
Muthurajawela wetland had been far bigger in the past than today, but due to the encroaching, a portion of the valuable wetland is turned into farmland and settlement. This habit of filling the valuable wetland with earth continues even today.
The name, Muthurajawela itself is derived from one particular rice variety cultivated in Muthurajawela. Muthurajawela, the word can be divided into three parts Muthu =pearl, raja=King and wela= rice field, denoting “the field, where a variety of rice, looks like mutu (pearl) cultivated for the king”.
There is another legend with regards to the beginning of the name of Muthurajawela. When King Sri Wira Parakramabahu (1473-1497) reign the country, a farmer called Muthuraja arrived in Sri Lanka and introduced a variety of rice from India.
The king was very pleased with the introduction of a new rice variety due to its unique taste. Later the farmer was provided with all the labour and other facilities by the king, in order to carry on the cultivation of rice in Muthurajawela. Not only the farmer was given the kings patronage but also the rice field was named after the Indian farmer who introduced the rice variety.
The rice cultivation was abandoned with the arrival of the Dutch on the island. Dutch administration built the Dutch canal that goes through Muthurajawela. The canal begins in Negombo and goes along the beaches of the west coast up to North-West Sri Lanka.
The canal was used for transporting goods from north-west Sri Lanka to Colombo and Negombo. Unfortunately, the salty water of the canal mixed with the freshwater of Muthurajawela, making it unsuitable for rice cultivation. The abandoned rice field has gone through many ecological changes in the past and it has turned into the most important wetland on the island today.
Today Muthurajawela measured to be around 20 Square kilometres. According to naturalists, it is one of the most important wetlands with very rich bio-diversity in the country. About 40 species of very rare flora species can be found among the 179 species of grass, plants, shrubs and trees in Muthurajawela.
It has a very high concentration of avian fauna species. Especially Muthurajawela is inhabited by a large number of aquatic bird species. 130 different species of birds recorded in Muthurajawela, out of which 85 species are resident birds while 45 species rare migrant bird species. Muthurajawela wetland is the home of many rare species of fish on the island. There are several species of butterfly also can be seen in Muthurajawela.
Muthurajawela was declared as a wildlife reserve on 31st October 1996. Muthurajawela is divided into two parts and part one spread over 1028 hectares while part two occupies more than 250 hectares.
Muthurajawela is one of the most popular places among the holidaymakers on the island for bird watching. The best way to explore Muthurajawela is with a boat and a boat tour is offered as a one-day excursion from nearby hotels.
Muthurajawela boat trip
- Distance from Colombo 157 km
- Time to reach Muthurajawela from Colombo 3 minutes
- Duration of the boat tour 1-2 hours
Sri Lanka boat tour at Koggala lagoon
Koggala lagoon covers a surface of about 7.27 km2 (2.81 sq mi), the length of the lagoon is 4.8 kilometres and the width of the lagoon is 2 kilometres. The lagoon has a shallow water surface area, which measures to be around 1 meter of depth and the deeper part of the lagoon measured 1 meter to 3.7 meters. The main water source of the lagoon is the monsoon rain while few streams such as the Mudiyansege-ela stream, Thithagalla-ela stream, Heen-ELA also feed the lagoon.
Koggala lagoon is one of the main tourist attractions in the area and has rich biodiversities and ecosystems. Drifting through the mangrove forests during the boat trip will be a fantastic experience for nature lovers. You will be able to see a large collection of mangrove trees and plants as well as aqua Fauna species and many animal species such as water monitors, land monitors, monkeys, crocodiles etc.
The visitors are also able to drop into one of the 8 small islands in the wetland. The most popular island is “Madol duwa”, which featured as a place for fun-filled activities in one of the novels (Madol Duwa) written by Martin Wickramasinghe. These islands are formed by lush mangrove swamps. The tour will last about 2 hours giving you the pleasure to live in the untamed wilderness. Madol duwa boat tour gives you the perfect opportunity to see many mangrove species including 10 mangrove species endemic to Sri Lanka.
Keep your antenna up and have your attention on mangrove roots that are shoot-up from the muddy surface, these roots are coated with a variety of creatures such as barnacle, oyster and crab. Mangrove forests with dense and intertwining roots are well stocked with many fish species, shrimps and crabs and very valuable fish feeding ground.
Madu River estuary
- Distance from Colombo 122 km
- Time to reach Madu estuary from Colombo 2 minutes
- Duration of the boat tour 1-2 hours
Sri Lanka boat tour at Madu river
Madu River safari not only gives you the closer look at the beautiful riverine Eco-system of Madu River estuary but also you get an opportunity to learn about the village life of Sri Lanka. There are three places where the boaters are stopping the boat during the Madu River safari. Madu River safari usually lasts about 2 hours.
Madu river safari is one of the most popular boat rides among the most holidaymakers anchored on the west coast of Sri Lanka. A large number of travellers especially people, who spend their beach holidays on the west coast take part in Madu Rive safari. Normally, Madu river boat ride is organized with a combination of other major tourist attractions in Bentota and the west coast such as Bentota beach, Sea turtle conservation centre, mask museum, gem museum, Hikkaduwa beach etc. Therefore the tourists are able to visit many interesting places, along with the Madu River Boat ride.
Seerendipity tours organize this one day tour many times a week and you can contact us, in case you are also willing to join one of the groups. You can also organize your own Madu river safari with Seerendipity tours but there is a slight increase in price.
Usually, the Madu river boat ride is offered as a combination of a sightseeing tour of southern Sri Lanka such as a Galle tour or Bentota sightseeing tour. This one day tour includes many activities targeting many interesting places in Southern Sri Lanka such as exploring the coral reef in Hikkaduwa, visiting a sea turtle farm, learning the history of Galle Fort, moonstone mines in Sri Lanka, Learning the arts and craft of Sri Lanka at Ariyapala mask museum, Visiting the maritime museum of Galle fort etc.
Hikkaduwa Marine sanctuary
- Distance from Colombo 136 km
- Time to reach Hikkaduwa from Colombo 2 hours 30 minutes
- Duration of the boat tour 1 hour
Hikkaduwa boat trip
On the list of wonderful Sri Lanka boat trips, Hikkaduwa is our fourth choice. Hikkaduwa is a heaven for beach holiday lovers, divers, snorkellers and anything associated with the sea. This boat on the west coast of Sri Lanka enables you to sail on a glass-bottom boat offering spectacular views of the Hikkaduwa marine sanctuary.
- Distance from Colombo 194 km
- Time to reach Hikkaduwa from Colombo 4 hours 30 minutes
- Duration of the boat tour 1-2 hour
Sri Lanka boat tour at Chandrika Lake
A quite unpopular hidden gem and still underexplored due to the unpopularity. Chandrika Lake is situated in the Sabargamuwa province near Udawalawe national park, which is a perfect spot for an enjoyable boat trip.
The lake is hidden in the thickly forested locality and one of the best places to spot many indigenous as well as migratory bird species. You will be able to spot many species of birds such as herons, falcon, spot-billed pelicans, cormorant, as you glide through the azure waters.
- Distance from Colombo 100 km
- Time to reach Hikkaduwa from Colombo 1 hours 30 minutes
- Duration of the boat tour 1-2 hour
Bentota River boat tour
Bentota River is located bordering the Bentota beach resort and it is 100km south of Colombo. Bentota River is located between the Madu river estuary and Colombo. When it comes to boat tours on the west coast Madu river estuary is the ten most popular and Bentota boat tour coming behind it. However, I feel the boat tour in Bentota River is more interesting than the boat tour at Madu estuary.
Bentota boat tour ideal for wildlife enthusiasts and visitors are able to witness many animals such as crocodile, water monitor, monkey and snakes during the Bentota boat tour. But the visitors encounter wild animal very rarely on the Madu River boat tour. On the other hand Mangrove forest in the Bentota River far bigger than the Madu river estuary.
You might be wondering what the mangrove tunnel is. Because tunnels are to be found in cement, metal and rock but a tunnel made of mangrove, definitely a little bit awkward. Even though it sounds a bit strange, you can witness a mangrove tunnel during the boat trips. Your boat will travellers through the mangrove tunnel.
The mangrove tunnel is formed by huge mangrove trees, which are rising up to many hu7ndred feet in some places. These giant mangrove trees residing on the shallow, muddy surface of the river bank. Its roots are poking into the air and work like noses trills of mangrove trees, and help the tree to absorb air into the system.
Whether it is Madu River boat safari or Bentota River boat safari you will encounter a mangrove tunnel. But the mangrove tunnel at Bentota river is much bigger than the tunnel found in Madu river estuary. The Mangrove tunnel in Bentota River is many hundred feet high in some areas and its with roughly about 20 feet. The tunnel of the Bentota River is about 200 meters in length and it takes about 10 minutes to go from one end to the other in a motorboat.
However, the mangrove tunnel of Madu river estuary much smaller and less attractive than the tunnel found in Bentota River. Furthermore, Bentota River is very wide and deeper than the Madu River estuary, Bentota River is the 5th biggest River in Sri Lanka. However, Madu estuary is smaller compared to the Bentota river and shallower than the Bentota River. There are 64 islands of varying sizes within Madu River estuary but there is no island to be found in the Bentota River, and it is flanked by the mainland.
Flora and fauna in Bentota River
The Flora to be found in both places are by and large are the same. But with regards to Fauna Bentota river has much more variety than Madu estuary. Crocodile, Water monitor, land monitor, snakes, monkeys, and many species of avian fauna species can be easily spotted on a boat trip to the Bentota River. The water monitor is the most common animal to be found in Madu estuary and it is highly unlikely to spot crocodile, snakes and monkey on a boat trip of Madu estuary.