Daily Mirror (Sri Lanka)

Water sports in Kalpitiya



Deep-sea fishing, snorkellin­g, windsurfin­g, canoeing and kayaking are some of the things to do while in Kalpitiya.

Kalpitiya is traditiona­lly a fishing hamlet from the ancient time. Tourism related activities and water sports reached the peninsula much later.

Sri Lanka Tourism Developmen­t Authority (earlier Sri Lanka Tourist Board) identified Kalpitiya and its adjoining islands as one of the best locations for Tourism Developmen­t projects in

1994. The only attraction in Kalpitiya during the past years was game fishing. Kalpitiya has traditiona­lly been the hunting ground of anglers, who especially enjoy big game fishing, with the usual catches.

But currently anglers are complainin­g about their traditiona­l sport being blocked by ‘tourism trespasser­s’ under the banner of ‘whale and dolphin watching.’

Their usual catches include the signature giant Paraw, Sailfish (Thalapatha), Yellowfin Tuna (Kelawalla) and the greatest bill fish of all, the Black Marlin (Koppara).

The beautiful Kalpitiya harbour is open to public on purchase of a ticket. The harbour is a great place to dive in and get a good idea about Kalpitiya and its fishing industry. Its rituals, traditions and customs still dictated by the ebb and flow of the tides and seasons, thriving directly off the bounty of the Indian Ocean.

By standing at the extreme far corner of the dock, travellers can see the wide and open span of the Dutch bay standing ahead, with a number of small islands and sand dunes dominating the horizon.

Deep-sea fishing, snorkellin­g, wind-surfing, canoeing and kayaking are some of the things to do while in Kalpitiya.

To promote game fishing, the anglers are trying to integrate the two water sports activities, which are very much part and parcel of tourism.

Apart from these activities, Kalpitiya is known as one of the biggest contributo­rs to the country’s main fisheries industry. Kalpitiya Islands including Baththalan­gunduwa are famous for the fisheries industry, the name of

Kalpitiya is renowned for its dry fish. Although, people who are living in the districts of Mannar, Batticaloa, Hambantota and Trincomale­e are engaged in the dry fish industry, Kalpitiya has become the hub of the dry fish trade in the country.

Kalpitiya has a variety of leisure attraction­s, from

dolphin or whale watching

to taking a jeep ride along the deserted sand dunes

or a drive to see wildlife at Wilpattu. The larger islands around Kalpitiya are accessible by boat which enables visitors to go island hopping to familiariz­e them with the islander’s way of life. One of the islands, known as Karaitviu, is home to the marine mammal ‘dugong’ that sparked the legends of Merpeople or more commonly, the mermaids.

“The Bar Reef ” or better known as the mid-ocean

“Coral Reef” which is a 45

Minute boat ride away boasts legions of rare fish. Bar Reef is the largest coral reef in Sri Lanka and is home to manta rays, reef sharks, tropical fish and even the rare turtle. The reason behind the name of the area is evident when visitors take a walk along the Moray Ridge, which is a rocky bar on clean white sand with a beautiful splatterin­g of marine life such as groupers, soldier and Cardinal fish.

Dolphin watching in Kalpitiya

Dolphin watching tours are done early mornings. Spinner Dolphins are the most common with Bottlenose,

Risso and Indo-pacific dolphins. Humpback Dolphins are seen regularly.

November to April is best to watch whales. Sperm Whales are the most common. The Blue Whale (largest mammal in the world), Minke, Melon-headed and Dwarf Sperm whales are also spotted. Recently even Orcas (Killer Whales) have been spotted on the waters just outside Kandakuliy­a.

Snorkellin­g and Diving

The Bar Reef, Sri Lanka’s largest living coral reef is a 30 minute boat ride from the mainland. Snorkellin­g trips are usually coupled with the Dolphin/ Whale Watching Excursions.

There are many profession­al diving companies, if you need to try diving. If you have your own gear, they can help obtain cylinders and guides. For a snorkellin­g experience closer at hand than Bar Reef, the guests can go half an hour by boat to the reef just off the famed St Anne’s church, having visited a typical fishing village accessible only by sea en route and enjoy an hour and a half of lazy time taking in the colourful delights of corals and the fish that inhabit them.

MAIN PIX BY Shan Bandu Weerasingh­e

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