12 of the Sri Lanka’s most extreme Scuba diving locations

This list is an attempt to highlight some of the best scuba diving spots that can be found in Sri Lanka. Learn to dive with a PADI Open Water Diver course or try diving for the first time with a PADI Discover Scuba Diving program or learn more about the underwater environment with the PADI Underwater Naturalist course

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1. Dive Sites of Colombo


Located 10 kilometers from Colombo CDB ,Dehivala. Island Scuba is well suited to new and experienced divers alike, due to its shallow depth and plethora of temperate marine life.

This site is particularly significant to me as a scuba instructor. It is one of the first open water dives that students experience whilst learning to dive in Colombo. The site also offers a range of species often alien to those accustomed to tropical water marine life.

As you descent down the line, you start to see a shadowy mass that is the superstructure of a cargo freighter.  But you wonder at the strange yellow mass off in the distance – as get closer and you realize it is a school of hundreds of snapper, hanging out by the bow of the wreck. And look closely, and you’ll see all sorts of macro life.   Oh, and don’t forget to look up every so often because there may be whale sharks cruising by (not as often as we’d like, which is every dive, but often enough for you to ask yourself if you feel lucky.  Well, do you?)

If you are a keen wreck-head (yes, we just made that word up), Colombo should make your eyes light up.    Wrecks range in size from the massive Thermopylae Sierra wreck, with penetration opportunities for all skill levels to smaller tug boats – and all of them play host to a very large resident fish population (yay for paper beating rock, and wreck beating fishing nets).

So whether you love wrecks (and who doesn’t?  Wrecks are amazing!!!) or just want to enjoy marine life, these sites have something for you. Oh, and we do have some regular reefs as well.

Read on for more info on each of the sites.   Do note that while most sites do require an Advanced Open Water card,  Open Water divers  can also dive them, provided they have documented deep diving experience or do an Advanced Course/Deep Adventure Dive (for a nominal surcharge over the cost of the dives).

Colombo – Wrecks & Reefs season – November to April

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2. Dive site of Trincomalee


When the southwest monsoon prevents diving on the west coast from May to October, head over to the mystical east coast of Sri Lanka. Unexplored until a decade ago the east offers uncrowded beaches, a relaxed pace of life and plenty of dive sites just off the coast.

Diving in Trincomalee,(Located 265 kilometers from Colombo) explore shallow coral reefs with colorful reef fish around Nilaveli or drift dive along the rock cliffs around Swami Rock. With lots to see in shallow depths, gentle currents and dive sites close to shore the east coast is perfect for those looking to experience scuba diving for the first time or experienced divers looking for some relaxed diving mixed in with lazy afternoons by the beach. Learn to dive with a PADI Open Water Diver course or try diving for the first time with a PADI Discover Scuba Diving program or learn more about the underwater environment with the PADI Underwater Naturalist course. With interesting macro subjects such as nudibranchs, octopus, harlequin shrimps, pipefish, seahorses, frogfish, scorpionfish and flying gurnards the east is also great for macro photography.


Trincomalee – Reefs & Critters SeasonMay to September

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3. Dive Site Of Negombo

During the October to March, Southern and Western coasts provides fine opportunities for divers during these months. Negombo Diving Center  is located at the wonderful beach at the port beach restaurant (Location is provided).

The long stretch of Negombo beach is considered one of the most attractive beaches of Sri Lanka. 35Km or an hour away from Colombo (the capital city of Sri Lanka), Negombo holds the majority of the fun dives at it’s best.

Negombo Diving Centre runs a range of PADI courses from introduction to Scuba diving for beginners, through to intermediate and advanced, both recreational and technical.

Negombo – Wrecks & Reefs season – October to April

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4. Dive Site Of Beruwala


Beruwala dive center is located at the Ypsylon Resort, Beruwala. Down South  ( 93 Km away from Colombo ) situated on Moragalla beach just meters from the water. They have a pool where divers can complete their confined water training, and a house reef where they can experience sea conditions and colourful marine life. Ypsylon Diving first opened here in 1981, and became the first PADI center & SSI centre in Beruwala. We swiftly gained a reputation for being the safest, most professional center with a great team of friendly and helpful staff. Our Beruwala dive center runs Discover Scuba Diving programs for people who have never tried diving before. You can also complete all PADI & SSI diving courses here. Open Water Diver, Advanced Open Water Diver, Rescue Diver and Dive Master courses are run on demand, with new courses starting every day. They use small group teaching to make sure all our students are given the support and time they need to become confident and safe divers.

Beruwala – Wrecks & Reefs season – November to April

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5. Dive Site of Bentota

© www.lsrtravel.com

Bentota is a coastal town in Sri Lanka 100 km away from Colombo, which is famous for being one of the best luxury resort towns. And shed the sparkles of the fancy resorts, and its deep blue waters beckon the adventurer that’s hidden in everyone. Water sports in Bentota include the usual rides, but it is the scuba diving sites that allure everyone away from the shore. While it has a limited number of sites, there are all special in their own way.

The west and the east coast have different favorable diving seasons. . If you are looking to venture into the blues of Bentota . the months of November to April are perfect for diving around the Down South Sri Lanka.

The currents can be strong here. And when there is current, there is fish! Shoals and shoals of fish. The dive sites are at least half and hour away from the shore on a slow one engine boat. But the wait is worth. In these magnificient rock formations you could loose yourself entirely. When the viz is good the water is gin clear and the sunlight streams right down to 30 meters. The dive sites here are deeper than 20 meters. During season whale sharks are sometimes spotted between these dive sites. So while you could be engrossed just by the rocks and what you find there; always look back and peer into the deep blue. You could spot something big!

Bentota – Wrecks & Reefs season – November to April

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6. Dive Site of Great and Little Basses

Great and Little Basses Reefs are located on the South East coast of the island, off the small fishing village Kirinda,(300 Kms away from Colombo )  Albeit being a natural barrier that protects the south eastern coastal belt, the Basses have also resulted in wrecking many ships that unsuspectingly sailed too close to the shore line. In 1873 and 1878, the ruling British government built two light houses in both reefs, which are still in operation

Diving in the Basses is a much anticipated activity. Due to strong currents and rough sea conditions, diving can be done only during mid March until the end of April each year, when the North East monsoons end, and South West monsoons are about to start.

Great Basses -Accessible within half an hour from the Kirinda Fisheries harbour, the most famous shipwreck in the basses is the ‘coin ship’ that lies in a depth of twenty meters. The 24 gun ship of the Mogul Emperor Aurangzeb (1658-1707) was caught in a storm and sank with a cargo of thousands of silver coins. It was discovered by late Arthur C. Clarke (author of 2001, A Space Odyssey) and Mike Wilson in 1961. Accessible only through the openings of the reef, strong currents make this dive somewhat challenging.

Located in shallow depths near the Great Basses light house, is yet another wreck, of a ship that carried a large haul of pointed bottom glass bottles. Fragments of these bottles can be seen even today.

Little Basses – With a travel time of around two hours from the Kirinda harbour, there are two shipwrecks in the shallow waters of Little Basses reef.

The ‘copper ship’ is a Dutch origin wooden steam ship, where the hull was made of copper plates. It is lying at a depth of 18 – 20 meters.

The large ‘iron wreck’ that lies approximately 4 kilometers west of Little Basses reef, has the top part of its engine only 2 feet under water. Being a very shallow wreck, this has become an excellent breeding ground for marine life.

Kirinda, Malima Diving Kirinda conducts dive tours to the Basses every year. Accommodation can be provided, however is optional.

Great and Little Basses – Wrecks & Reefs season – March to April

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7. Dive Site Of Hikkaduwa


Hikkaduwa, we have the most ideal location for diving. Right in front of the Wadduwa, Rock outcrops, and Coral gardens, which provide plenty of snorkeling, and free diving areas for the enthusiast. It also provides us with several Safe sites, for the beginner scuba diver to discover and truly appreciate the underwater experience. One can also relax in between dives, feeding, and swimming with the several large friendly green sea turtles that come right up to the shore, at the foot of our dive center.

Hikkaduwa, situated the south western tip of Sri Lanka (135 Km away from Colombo ), has some of the most exciting dive sites available, and more for the underwater explorer.

The reef begins at our feet, and spreads out to several dives sites, minutes away, for the recreational diver. Proliferate with a myriad of species ,and colorful coral beds, rocky outcrop, and underwater caverns, is a world, waiting to be explored, a world waiting for discovery ,and adventure. Dive For You provides the key to this Kingdom.

Dive For You have several programs, and several dive sites, to educate, and share, our long abiding love for our Ocean world, and concerns for its environment, with the enthusiast. Providing, a safe, service oriented, and a friendly, but professional service, is our hallmark.

Beginners take the beginners from their first steps in the pool, and to their first open water dive in a mornings session, with our discover scuba dive program .And as the enthusiasm and confidence grows, divers can graduate to the open water courses, with accompanying PADI certification, on completion.

PADI instructors and dive masters have several years of experience, and intimate knowledge of Hikkaduwa and the surrounding sea. Its azure blue water, always refreshed by the Indian Ocean, provides clear visibility, for photography, as well as exploration. Our dive sites range from shallow beginnings to the deeper dives for the more experienced.

Hikkaduwa – Wrecks & Reefs season – November to April

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8. Dive Site of Unawatuna and Galle

© unawatunadiving.com

The Unawatuna Dive Centre is open every year from 15. October to 10. April from 8 am to 7 pm. The rest of the year, the month of the south west monsoon, with rough sea and bad visibility, Attractions in Unawatuna and Galle are 3 good wrecks (Rangoon,32m, SS Oreste,22m, Galle Ship Wreck, 18m) where you can find normally a lot of different kind of fishes.

The Unawatuna Dive Centre is a fully authorized PADI 5 Star IDC Dive Resort. It offers the perfect holiday under and above water. The Diving School is located around 5 km south of the City of Galle on the Matara Road (A2 from Galle to Matara), at the end of Unawatuna  directly on the beautiful Unawatuna Beach, at the Indian Ocean at the South Coast of Sri Lanka. best for beginner diving learners to make them first adventure.

The Unawatuna Bay has one of the most beautiful beaches of Sri Lanka. The wide, about 2 km long bay is line with palm trees. Right on Unawatuna Beach, between the Matara Road and the Indian Ocean, you will find Unawatuna Dive Centre.

They are also offer Snorkeling Trips by boat to the Galle Jungle Bay and in front of the Unawatuna Rocks.

Unawatuna and Galle  – Wrecks & Reefs season – November to April

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9. Dive Site of Matara ( Polhena)

Daily dive operations happen mainly around the beautiful and serene village of Madiha,a stone’s throw from the polhena cove, where the grown coral reef softens the peak waves so that it is safe to swim and makes perfect for snorkeling. Turtles and lots of fish are a familiar site.

Polhena Diving Center is a small but proud member of Sri Lankan PADI Diving industry who is an active contributor for ProjectAware submitting dive site data and coral reef health reports. They are enjoy getting  clients involved in conservation programs and inspiring them to be the ambassadors for the ocean.

They offer:



They conduct all levels of PADI Courses from DSD through to Divemaster Level. We can teach in English and Sinhalese.

We are fully equipped with all sizes of rental dive equipment and running our dives and PADI Courses with our 19m and 23m diving boats.

In general we are diving in small groups with max. 6 Fun Divers and one Dive Guide (Dive Master or Dive instructor).

They also offer Day and Night Snorkeling Trips in o beautiful Polhena Reef.

Unawatuna  – Wrecks & Reefs season – November to April

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10. Dive Site of Kalpitiya

Kalpitiya is a distinct lagoon in Puttalam district in North Western Province of Sri Lanka,( 170Kms away from Colombo ) which is consist of 14 islands and has a total area of 16.73km2. Most of the people in this area are fishermen and is a leading dry-fish production area of the country. Moreover, Kalpitiya was famous for pearls in the history. But, after recognizing this area as a hotspot for marine mammals it is now emerging as a gorgeous tourist terminus. It is a supreme marine ecosystem with a diversity of habitats ranging from bar reefs, flat coastal plains, saltpans, mangroves, salt marshes and massive sand dunes.

Bar Reef at Kalpitiya , the largest coral reef (307 square km) in Sri Lanka, which can be reached by an hour’s boat trip from Kalpitiya, serves as the ideal sea for keen scuba divers and snorkelers. The beautiful reef, exceedingly rich in bio-diversity,is home to an incredible variety of tropical fish as well as offering sightings of manta rays, reef sharks and the occasional sea turtles.

Kalpitiya Diving Center (KDC) is an identical base location for safe diving and exploring typical Sri Lankan coral reef and reef fishes. Recreational divers can learn scuba diving and make guided dive trips to most scenic reef destinations in Kalpitiya. They organize short term PADI-DSD courses associated with pool training sessions for beginners and helps them to have guided comfortable diving experience with exploring hundreds of colorful creatures living at the distinct locations of Kalpitiya bar reef and surrounding hot spots.

Kalpitiya – Wrecks & Reefs season – October to April

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11. Dive Site of Mirissa


Mirissa is a great place where you can enjoy Scuba Diving and relax during your vacation in Sri Lanka. We are here to offer you the best level of service to make your diving holiday perfect. Let us take you to an amazing Scuba Diving adventure.

The season in the South of Sri Lanka, starts from October until may. This is a very famous place to observe Blue Whales. Whale Sharks and Manta Rays can also surprise us during the dive. Mirissa Dive Center“, located in Thalaramba, Mirissa.

Mirissa – Wrecks & Reefs season – October to May

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12. Dive Site Of Tangalle


Ruhunu Diving Centre is a brand new dive center on the south coast of Sri Lanka, near Tangalle. A small, personal, professional PADI dive center that offers scuba diving, snorkeling and PADI dive courses. A wide variety of dive spots, a multitude of tropical fish and fascinating ship wrecks that can be explored together with Ruhunu Diving Center.

Our dive boat leaves from one of Sri Lanka’s best kept secrets – Silent Beach. We take maximum four divers on the boat to keep it safe and comfortable. Come and discover the beautiful underwater world of Tangalle, in the warm waters of the Indian Ocean.

Ruhunu Diving Center is open every day 15 October to 30 May from 6 am to 8 pm. Daily dives 9 am to 1 pm by prior arrangement.

Tangalle – Wrecks & Reefs season – October to May

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  1. Love the article. My husband and I run a diving center in Cyprus. We want to offer something more than diving to our customers, something different, thought provoking, unique and absolutely appealing. Open to any ideas? Complimentary refreshments already a given…

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