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Kalpitiya Peninsula on the northwest coast, 120 kilometres north of the capital, is one of the most beautiful and least developed stretches of coast in Sri Lanka.

Separated from the mainland by Puttalam Lagoon, this narrow strip of land has the Indian Ocean on its other side and is home to diverse fauna and flora. November to March, when the seas are calmest, is the generally the season for dolphin watching and literally thousands of dolphins can be observed in megapods of several hundred at a time.

Boat excursions usually begin at sunrise and last three to four hours. Spinner dolphins are the most commonly sighted species – and the most spectacular as they engage in acrobatic leaps out of the water. While airborne they rotate along their longitudinal axis – hence their name. With any luck, you can see hundreds of spinner dolphins just a few minutes offshore. Sticking together in pods, they often swim alongside the boat or ride the bow wave as they frolic in the ocean – a thrilling sight! Other dolphins that can be seen here are bottlenose, Risso’s and Indo-Pacific humpback dolphins, popularly known as ’pink dolphins.’

The sea off Kalpitiya is also the haunt of five types of whales, whose movements peak between November and December, and again between March and April. Recent research shows that the Continental Shelf runs close to Alankuda Beach and the waters are deeper than previously thought, so – unlike many other whale watching destinations – you don’t have to head far out into open sea. Sperm whales (the second largest whale) are the most commonly seen species, but you can also sometimes see blue whales (the planet’s largest mammal), minke, melon-headed and dwarf sperm whales. The sight of these enigmatic giants of the deep surfacing from time to time is both breathtaking and spellbinding, and makes a truly humbling experience.

On shore, Kalpitiya’s fort and the Church of St Peter’s are interesting relics of Sri Lanka’s Dutch colonial past. Alternatively you may prefer to take a leisurely boat ride on the lagoon, or a canoe trip down the river – both are pleasant ways to explore the waterways of the coastline.

View suggested itinerary

Key info

  • Ideal for viewing: blue whale, sperm whale, spinner dolphin, spotted dolphin, gull-billed tern
  • Where: North Eastern Province, Sri Lanka

Wildlife trips

This wildlife location is featured in the following itinerary:

Blue Whales, Dolphins & Leopards

This itinerary endeavours to show you the wealth of cetacean life to be found in the balmy waters around Sri Lanka, from spinner dolphins around Kalpitya to blue whales and sperm whales off the south coast. The trip also visits Udawalawe and Yala National Parks for sightings of elephants and leopards.

  • When to go: Nov-Apr
  • Duration inc. flights: 14 days
  • Price inc. flights: From £2,995 pp
  • Trip type: Group tour
Suggested accommodation is shown below. Please contact us for further recommendations.

Dolphin Beach Resort

Situated north of Colombo airport, this secluded and stylish eco-resort stands on the golden sands of Alankuda Beach, on the unspoilt Kalpitiya Peninsula. The resort offers spacious African-style safari tents shaded by thatched roofs, set amidst a grove of coconut palms and sea views.