Venturing on Sri Lanka boat tours exposes you to a totally different set of natural habitats, especially if you make a Sri Lanka boat tour along a river or a lagoon. The number of places, where you can engage in boat rides in Sri Lanka 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 providing endless opportunities for boat rides, yacht tours, and catamaran rides in Sri Lanka. Sri Lanka is a tropical nation and is blessed with the tropical monsoon that soaks the island with heavy rain, therefore, the inland water resources are full of water most time of the year allowing adventure seekers to engage in various exciting activities such as water rafting, canoeing, boating, and waterfalls abseiling.
Table of Contents
- What types of boat tours are available in Sri Lanka?
- When is the best time for boat tours in Sri Lanka?
- 6 Best places for Sri Lanka boat tours
- 6 Best boat tours of Sri Lanka
- Yacht tours in Sri Lanka
- Muthurajawela boat trip
- Boat trip from Negombo beach resort
- Exploring the Dutch canal on your boat trip
- Muthurajawela boat trip
- Sri Lanka boat tour at Koggala lagoon
- What to see on the Koggala boat tour
- Madu River estuary
- Sri Lanka boat tour at Madu river
- How to book the Madu river boat safari
- What do we see on the Madu river safari?
- Hikkaduwa Marine sanctuary
- Hikkaduwa boat trip
- Chandrika Lake
- Sri Lanka boat tour at Chandrika Lake
- Bentota River
- Bentota River boat tour
- Difference between the Madu River safari and the Bentota river safari
Venturing on Sri Lanka boat tours exposes you a totally different set of natural habitats, especially if you make a Sri Lanka boat tour along a river or a lagoon. The number of places, where you can engage in boat rides 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 providing endless opportunities for boat rides, yacht tours, and catamaran rides in Sri Lanka. Sri Lanka is a tropical nation and is blessed with the tropical monsoon that soaks the island with heavy rain, therefore, the inland water resources are full of water most time of the year allowing adventure seekers to engage in various exciting activities such as water rafting, canoeing, boating, and waterfalls abseiling.
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 accompanying, 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.
What types of boat tours are available in Sri Lanka?
Boat tours in Sri Lanka can be categorized under a few categories as below. These boat tours cater to the specific requirements of the travellers. eg. the whale watching tour caters to travellers, who wish to witness the whales in the southern sea of Sri Lanka and the speed boat tour is performed only as a recreational activity.
- Boat tour on the river- One of the very popular boat tours in Sri Lanka to see the fauna and flora-rich riverine vegetation in Sri Lanka
- Boat tour in the sea – Popular among foreign travellers, who like fishing, diving, snorkelling and exploring marine sanctuaries.
- Whale-watching boat tour – this type of boat torus available only in a few places such as Mirissa. organized on pre-booking only to see whales and dolphins.
- Speed boat rides – very popular recreational activity and can be done in west coast water sports centres such as Bentota watersport centre.
When is the best time for boat tours in Sri Lanka?
Usually, the boat tours are a kind of safari and they can be categorised under wildlife tours because you are venturing on a boat tour to see fauna and flora living in a different riverine or ocean environment. Animals are most active in the early morning or in the late evening. Therefore, try to find time to do your Sri Lanka boat ride in the early hours or late evening. This rule is valid for boat trips on rivers as well as in the sea.
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, and villages, and 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 the Madu river estuary and the 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 hour’s trips from most hotels in Colombo.
- Madu river estuary Boat tour – Ideal for travellers staying in Colombo, the west coast of Sri Lanka and the southern coast of Sri Lanka. The 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 included in the Bentota day trip from Colombo.
- Koggala lagoon Boat tour- This is an ideal boat trip for travellers staying in the south of Sri Lanka. A boat tour is popular among travellers that stay on the southern coast. Koggala lagoon boat tour is included in most Galle one-day tours from Colombo.
- Hikkaduwa Glass-bottom boat tour – A perfect opportunity for travellers who stay in Colombo, the west coast of Sri Lanka and the south coast. This 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 is- Ideal boat trip if you stay in Udawalawe. 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- Perfect boat trip for travellers on the west coast, south coast and Colombo. 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. The Bentota Boat tour is very popular among travellers, who spend their beach holiday on the west coast beaches and southern coast beaches.
Sri Lanka is a tropical nation and is 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 accompanying them, the boat trips in Sri Lanka are truly spectacular. Keep on reading and get to know where you head on to your next Sri Lanka boat trip.
Yacht tours in Sri Lanka
Yacht tours in Sri Lanka can be done mainly during the northwest monsoon in Sri Lanka, from October through April. During northwest, monsoon yachts are available on the south and west coast of Sri Lanka. Mirissa is the most popular harbour for whale-watching tours as well as yacht tours. The travellers can hire a yacht for a day to many weeks or months and the payment is based on the number of days. Yacht tours can be a bit expensive compared to most other boat tours in Sri Lanka because yacht tours can be booked as a private tours and therefore, the participants should pay for the yacht depending on the number of days that they use it. You can enquire about yacht tours in Sri Lanka at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.
The 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.
Boat trip from Negombo beach resort
Most travellers, who travel to Negombo primarily are sun-worshippers; they enjoy the sun, sea, and sand, most travellers to 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 several centuries to modern times. It had been a thriving rice field in the western province of Sri Lanka. According to 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, 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) reigns in 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 king’s patronage but also the rice field was named after the Indian farmer who introduced the rice variety.
Exploring the Dutch canal on your boat trip
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 northwest 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 is 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.
Muthiurajawela wetland 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 were recorded in Muthurajawela, out of which 85 species are resident birds while 45 species are rare migrant bird species. Muthurajawela wetland is the home of many rare species of fish on the island. There are several species of butterfly that also can be seen in Muthurajawela.
Muthurajawela was declared a wildlife reserve on 31st October 1996. Muthurajawela is divided into two parts part one is 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 by 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 in 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 a few streams such as the Mudiyansege-ela stream, Thithagalla-ela stream, and Heen-ELA also feed the lagoon.
What to see on the Koggala boat tour
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 is 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 shooting up from the muddy surface, these roots are coated with a variety of creatures such as barnacles, oysters and crabs. Mangrove forests with dense and intertwining roots are well stocked with many fish species, shrimps and crabs and are a very valuable fish-feeding ground.
Where can I hire a boat for the Koggala lagoon boat tour?
A large number of boats are prepared to serve interested travellers on the Koggala lagoon boat tour. The owner of the boats has formed an association, which controls the operation of boats at Koggala lagoon. The boats are numbered and the boats get the turn of their job regular basis. One can hire a boat near Koggala beach. One needs to walk around 50 meters away from the beach from Galle road. The gravel and sandy road sandwich the south lake resort.
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 the 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. The Madu River safari usually lasts about 2 hours.
Madu river safari is one of the most popular boat rides among 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 the Madu River safari. Normally, the Madu river boat ride is offered 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 estuary.
How to book the Madu river boat safari
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. If you need more information on how to book the madu river safari please call us or WhatsApp us at 0094-77-4440977, email us at email@example.com
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 crafts of Sri Lanka at Ariyapala mask museum, Visiting the maritime museum of Galle fort, etc.
What do we see on the Madu river safari?
Madu river safari allows travellers to witness the rich riverine environment of Sri Lanka. The Madu rover estuary gives you a perfect opportunity to see the endangered mangroves. The mangrove forests are depleting very fast around the world, and so is in Sri Lanka. You will traveller on a single motored boat and you encounter a few mangrove lagoons along the way. Apart from mangroves, the boat tour is a perfect opportunity to see many other native trees and plants such as Balza trees, manger trees, coconut trees, and jackfruit trees.
The most common animal to see on the Madu river safari is the water monitor, and you have the opportunity to witness them throughout the trip. There is an opportunity to see crocodiles on the Madu river safari but the chances are very narrow. Monkeys, lizards, snakes, and a large number of avian fauna species also can be seen on the boat tour.
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 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 hours
Sri Lanka boat tour at Chandrika Lake
A quite unpopular hidden gem and still underexplored due to its 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 is 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, falcons, spot-billed pelicans, and the cormorant, as you glide through the azure waters.
- Distance from Colombo 100 km
- Time to reach Hikkaduwa from Colombo 1 hour 30 minutes
- Duration of the boat tour 1-2 hours
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 of Sri Lanka Madu river boat tour is the most popular and Bentota boat tour comes behind it. However, I feel the boat tour of Bentota River is more interesting than the boat tour at Madu estuary. But coat tour of the Madu estuary is widely popular among local as well as foreign travellers and therefore, most travellers venture on the Madu river safari. At a time madu river can be very crowded due to the concentration of a large number of travellers.
Difference between the Madu River safari and the Bentota river safari
When it comes to the Bentota river boat tour, you rarely encounter any other party during the boat tour. The Bentota boat tour is not as popular as the Madu river safari and therefore it does not attracts a large number of travellers as the madu river estuary does. Only a few groups of tourists arrive at the Bentota river to engage in the boat safari, which means the wild animals are less disturbed and the impact of human activities on nature is minimal. If you have also done boat tours based on the Madu river estuary you can ascertain it.
The Bentota boat tour is ideal for wildlife enthusiasts and visitors are able to witness many animals such as crocodiles, water monitors, monkeys and snakes during the Bentota boat tour. But the visitors encounter wild animals very rarely on the Madu River boat tour, this is mainly due to the large number of motor boats that takes tourist along the river every day. On the other hand, the Mangrove forest in the Bentota River is far bigger than the Madu river estuary.
Encounter Mangrove lagoon on Bentota river safari
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, is definitely a little bit awkward. Even though it sounds a bit strange, you can witness a mangrove tunnel during boat trips. Your boat will travellers through the mangrove tunnel.
The mangrove lagoon/tunnel is formed by huge mangrove trees, which are rising up to many hundred feet in some places. These giant mangrove trees reside 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.
Exploring mangrove lagoon on your Sri Lanka boat safari
Exploring mangrove vegetation and the fauna and flora around it is one of the most important activities on the boat safari. The mangrove lagoon makes your boat safari very interesting because it harbours a large number of animals such as crocodiles, monitors, monkeys and a large number of bird species.
Comparison between Madu river safari and Bentota river safari
Whether it is the Madu River boat safari or the Bentota River boat safari you will encounter a mangrove lagoon. But the mangrove lagoon at Bentota river is much bigger than the mangrove lagoon found in the Madu river estuary. The Mangrove Lagoon of Bentota river is many hundred feet long and it is consisting of a large number of huge trees some trees in the lagoon rise up to around 20 feet from teh water surface.
However, the mangrove tunnel of the Madu river estuary is much smaller and less attractive than the tunnel found in the Bentota River. Furthermore, the Bentota River is very wide and deeper than the Madu River estuary, Bentota River is the 5th biggest River in Sri Lanka. However, the Madu estuary is smaller compared to the Bentota river and shallower than the Bentota River. There are 64 islands of varying sizes within the 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 the same. But with regards to Fauna Bentota river has much more variety than Madu estuary. Crocodiles, Water monitors, land monitors, 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 the Madu estuary and it is highly unlikely to spot crocodiles, snakes and monkeys on a boat trip Madu estuary.