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This Is the Best Safari Destination Outside of Africa - Forbes (2019)

Whale and Dolphin Watching in Trincomalee

After whale-watching tours in Mirissa suddenly rose in popularity, Trincomalee, on the eastern coast of the island, has also rapidly emerged as an internationally-significant whale-watching destination.

Blue whales (plus smaller numbers of sperm whales) can regularly be spotted around 6-8 nautical miles east of Trincomalee (about half an hour by boat). These magnificent beasts can even be spotted from the shore on occasion – with Swami Rock offering the best vantage point.

Dolphins are also regularly seen with the Spinner Dolphins being the most frequently spotted while most sightings occur between March/April and August/September. Whales continue their migrations around the island from the south coast (where they mainly congregate from December to April) which means that whale watching is an excursion which is available in Sri Lanka for around ten months of the year at different points around the coastline.

Sri Lanka is enjoys a very unique positioning as its continental shelf sits very close to the shore in three areas around the island which means that the sea drops to depths of close to 1000m just a short distance away from the shore. This provides the perfect habitat for whales that look for deep waters but benefit from the nutrients found closer to the shore. Even though the exact population numbers of whales around Sri Lanka is unknown, the chances of spotting them during the season is as high as 90%, making it one of the best locations in the world for whale watching.

Sri Lanka is also situated within the International Whaling Commission’s protected zone while Trincomalee is commonly regarded as the best place for this seasonal activity in the country.