Thousands of whales migrate from the Arabian Sea to southern Sri Lankan tropical breeding grounds and join the resident whales living off the sea of Mirissa…Whale Watching Bentota
Whale Watching Bentota: Sri Lanka’s Blue Whale Highway
The warm and sunny period of western and southern Sri Lanka from April to November is a rush hour off the beaches of Mirissa, Bentota, Galle and entire south and west coast, as tens of thousands of foreign travellers flock into pristine beaches for sun-bathing. Simultaneously thousands of whales migrate from the Arabian Sea to southern Sri Lankan tropical breeding grounds and join the resident whales living off the sea of Mirissa. Since Bentota by the most popular beach for holidays on the island, a large number of travellers look for activities like “Whale watching Bentota”, “safari tours from Bentota”, “boat tour from Bentota”, and tour operators like Seerendipity tours organize daily whale watching Bentota tours during the entire year.
What is the best time for Bentota whale watching tour?
Off the coast of western and southern Sri Lanka, the North-west monsoon period from April to November is a rush hour on the “Blue whale highway”, as thousands of Blue whales and humpback whales head to the tropical sea off western and southern Sri Lanka. The sea off Mirissa, Matara is breeding grounds for whales and marks the endpoint of the whale migration route, that expanse between the Arabian Sea and the Indian Ocean.
1 Day Bentota Whale Watching Trip with Galle Fort, Mask Museum, Hikkaduwa beach USD 49 P.P Only click here for more information
Every year many thousands of whales take part in this 10,000km annual round trip, the habit of migration is one of the activities handed down from generation to generation among the whales and in practice for many millennia. However, according to the statistics gathered by the non-governmental organizations that engaged in whale protecting activities, local whale watching trip organizers, and commercial fisherman are pointing to a slow increase in number during the last several years, which in turn helps the local people to attract more tourists.
Whale watching Bentota and many other activities such as boating, snorkelling, diving can be booked with Seerendipity tours.
Whale watching in Bentota with seerendipity tours
Seerendipity tours offer the whale watching trip from Colombo and Bentota combined with several other activities such as visiting Galle fortress (UNESCO world heritage), Hikkaduwa beach, Mask Museum, Sea turtle conservation centre, and Madu river estuary boat trip. The entire southern Sri Lanka tour expands over 2 days and the package includes accommodation in a beach resort, breakfast and dinner, live guide, hotel pick-up and departure transfer.
2 Day Bentota whale watching tour in a nutshell
- Day 1: Leave the hotel after breakfast, En-route visits
- Sea turtle conservation project
- Hikkaduwa Beach
- Moonstone mines
- Mask museum
- Galle fortress
- Day 2: Early morning set-off on a whale watching tour off Mirissa
How do we get more information on this 2 day Bentota whale watching and southern Sri Lanka trip? Sri Lanka southern tour with whale watching
1 Day Bentota whale watching tour in a nutshell
- Leave the hotel early morning (04.00 am)
- Reach Mirissa harbour by 06.30 and board the whale watching boat, later after the wake watching boat trip return to the hotel, en-route visits,
- Sea turtle conservation project
- Hikkaduwa Beach
- Moonstone mines
- Mask museum
- Galle fortress
A closer look at Blue whales
The travellers, who take the Bentota whale watching trip, can have a close and enchanting encounter with Blue whales, humpback whales and dolphins. “Blue whale, this magnificent creature can grow up to a hundred feet in length and weighing over 150 tons,” Says Dhanushaka, who operates a whale-watching boat.
The grown-up whales with babies can also spot here, as they come out from the water to blow and replenish their lungs for a long dive. “Unlike earlier the whale watching activities are regulated by coarse guards now,” says Dhanushka, whale watching boats should operate in a responsible and correct manner in order to make sure that animals are safe and there is no unduly stress on animals, the boats should maintain a distance between the animals and the boats, stipulated by the coast guards in order to make sure that animals are not disturbed.
“Blue whale, This is a magnificent creature, very relaxed, clever and friendly; sometimes they show up very close to the boats,” explained tour guide Janaka. “They respond to the human signals, when you make a bit of noise on board, you can see especially the blue whales slapping its tail and doing much other stuff.”
Whale watching practices in Sri Lanka
There had been many critics about the whale watching practices in Sri Lanka, which led the government of Sri Lanka to introduce a new set of rules and regulate whale watching activities. Now the activities of whale watching boats are closely monitored by the Coast guards of Sri Lanka and Sri Lankan navy. “Earlier we used to take around 125 passengers in our whale watching boat, but it is regulated now and we can have only 75 passengers onboard” Said Dhanushka.
Slow recovery of the global whale population
The global whale population is still recovering after blue whales and many other whale species were widely hunted and killed by commercial whalers in the early part of the 20th century. Australia banned commercial whaling in the late 70s after that vociferous critic was mounting on Japan against commercial whaling, however, Japan is still conducting scientific whaling programs.
How to spot a whale in the sea off Bentota/Mirissa?
After a few nautical miles from the Mirissa harbour, the travellers can see the whales, frolicking jumbos starts to toss their tail in the air after they blow several times to replenish the lungs with fresh air. Unlike humpback whales blue whales do not propel its body out of the water, blue whales are just making a jump showing the upper part of the body and twist the tail in the air before it goes deep into the water.
Samy, a 10-year-old, who arrived in Sri Lanka for a 7 days tour with his family from Perth in Western Australia, was taken aback. “This is the first time I have seen a whale” he cried. And due to the slow but steady growing number of whales, more and more visitors will have the opportunity to spot this amazing creature at their doorstep.
Where about Mirissa in Sri Lanka?
Mirissa is a fishing village in southern Sri Lanka and has a big fishing harbour. Tourism is also a popular industry in Mirisaa but however, it is not as developed as in west coast beaches such as Bentota. Mirissa sits 170km south of Colombo and it takes 2+ hour tour to reach Mirissa from Colombo. Mirissa can easily be reached on the Matara-Colombo highway, and Mirissa is to be found between Galle and Matara.
What time do we start Bentota whale watching trip?
Good question and the answer is not that much appealing to some guests, because you have to leave the hotel in Bentota at around 08.00 am. The whale watching boats start to board passengers at 06.00 am and they leave the harbour around 06.30. Therefore, in order to catch the whale watching boat, the travellers need to leave Bentota very early.
Even though this tour is called Bentota whale watching trip, actually it should be named “Mirissa whale watching tour“, because all whale watching tour of Sri Lanka starts in Mirissa. And only a few whales watching boats leave from another port in southern Sri Lanka (Dewundara harbour), however, 99 per cent of whale watching boat trips start in Mirissa.
The distance to cover between Bentota and Mirissa is 100km and the drive takes well over 1 hour 30 minutes. Usually, to be on the safe side, drivers pick-up their customers at around 4.00 am, in fact at the harbour they have arranged the tickets and report to the coast guards. If you staying in a hotel in Kalutara the tour still starts at 04.00 am but if you stay in a hotel in Colombo you will be picked up at around 3.00 am for the whale watching trip, due to the increased distance.
Which whale watching boat should I take?
Good question, because about a dozen whale watching boats, leave the harbour at the same times. All of them are heading in the same direction, where they can find whales. Usually, the whale watching boats are equipped with high-tech equipment backed by satellite connection to find out whereabouts the whales are. And it helps them to spot whales, reduce the time spent for whale watching trip and guarantee the whale spotting to their customers.
There are two jetties at the harbour, where the whale watching boats are docked. These 2 jetties are used by only the whale watching boats and private yachts. One of the jetties is located near the main entrance of the Mirissa harbour, it is on the right side as you step into the harbour. The next jetty is towards the far end of the harbour, continue to drive on the main road until you come to the last jetty, which is also dedicated to whale watching boats.
The whale watching boat operators are using one of those jetties. If you are with a guide or driver he will lead you to the correct jetty and make sure you get into the boat. If you travel your own, you should clearly ask the boat operator, where the boat will be (which jetty), at the time you purchase the ticket.
How much do we need to pay for whale watching trip in Mirissa?
The passengers need to pay $50 for the whale watching boat, the price includes the breakfast served onboard, tea/coffee, all taxes and charges of the boat. The transfer from the hotel to harbour and return journey should be paid separately.
Where do I purchase the ticket for the whale watching in Bentota?
The tickets can be bought only from the boat operators and local tour operators. It is best to purchase the ticket for the whale watching tour well in advance, in order to make sure that you get a seat. It can be difficult to get a seat at the last moment on busy tourist season (from November to April), however, there is not much rush for activities for April to November. If you book the whale watching trip remotely, the entrance ticket will be issued on the day of the whale watching trip at the harbour.
According to the rules and regulations, the boats should be accommodating only 70 passengers maximum for a trip. Usually, the seating capacity of these boats is about 150, however, as the new regulation in force, you will find that about half of the boat is free.
How long should we travel before spotting whales?
The time you spend on a whale watching trip is highly unpredictable. It can be 1 hour to 5 or 6 hours. I have done the whale watching trip many times with our guests and I had been able to spot whales after about 1 hour most of the time and return to the harbour after about 2 hours. The whale watching trip lasts a little bit longer during the monsoon (April to November) and it can take up to 5 hours. During the rest of the year, it would take around 2 hours.
Observe Sea turtle on the whale watching trip
There are many interesting marine animals species can be spotted in various parts of the island. West and southern coasts are particularly popular for spotting sea turtles, which is one of the very interesting activities among the travellers.
Watching sea turtles in their natural habitat is an incredible experience to anyone and which is a very rare encounter. But in Sri Lanka, there are many natural habitats where you can spot a sea turtle, Rekawa beach os southern coast is one of the places.
Eevnthiugh Mirissa is not particularly popular for spotting turtles, there is a high possibility of encountering in the waters of Mirissa. And you will be able to spot a couple of turtles along with blue whales.
Conclusion of the Bentota whale watching trip
You will reach the starting point after about 2 hours most of the time, (as I wrote earlier it can be more than 2 hours) and you will be collected by your driver or guide. On the return journey to your hotel in Bentota, you will be visiting a few important tourist attractions such as Galle fort, Moonstone mines, sea turtle conservation project and Mady river estuary.