Everyone we met said that they had seen hundreds of dolphins!
The north western province of Sri Lanka is known for being home to hundreds of spinner dolphins, sperm whales and even the odd Blue Whale! Boat trips to go whale and dolphin watching are really popular.
We booked our trip through our hotel, Hiru Resort and Kitesurfing and it cost us around $50 USD for a private boat for the 4 of us with pick up from our resort. We got picked up in a van with a bench in the back (the kids loved it of course!) and bumped along the sand track for about 10 minutes to the section of beach where our boat was waiting.
Our boat was small.
And the Indian Ocean is vast.
The waves are big, it’s windy and the kids were scared as we motored out to sea. The boat was incredibly bumpy and the sea spray was incessant. It’s actually pretty daunting being out in the ocean in a tiny boat and land being a tiny speck in the distance.
After half an hour or so of consistent bumps and sprays of sea water the girls got used to the motion and trusted that each wave wasn’t about to capsize us. Then the boredom kicked in.
Are we nearly there yet?
When are we going to see the dolphins?
Can we go home now?
Thankfully around this point our driver slowed and showed us a turtle swimming past us. That bouyed the kids spirits enough to start looking out to the waves again. We saw plenty of flying fish but dolphins were elusive.
Eventually we came across a small pod and for a short while we were surround by about 20 dolphins. We saw them jump and spin and race against the boat.
This was footage I got before it was too wet and bumpy to have my phone out!
Dolphins had been spotted! Success!!
We told the guys in charge of the boat we were happy to head back.
As we sped through the waves back to land with Miss 5 complaining we were going too fast, I spotted another dolphin jumping and spinning ahead. Then another. And another. All of a sudden the boat was surrounded. Dolphins are far as the eye can see in every direction. And then I understood why the skipper was surprised when we were satisfied with just seeing the first little pod.
It was absolutely incredible!
We watched them for ages. Jumping, diving, spinning, playing, racing … even watching them breathe was fascinating. It was hard to capture on camera but we gave it a good try!
It was like they were leading us back to land as they travelled a good portion of the way back with us. When we finally left them behind we all spent the rest of boat ride back to land with our eyes squeezed tight shut as the sea spray battered us. We arrived back looking like drowned rats. But we didn’t care. It was totally worth it.
The Dolphin Trip wouldn’t suit everyone
It was touch and go a few times for us. Miss 7 was terrified and spent most of the boat ride with a towel over her head hiding. Miss 5 was either gripping her seat in fear or complaining it was taking too long. If I had toddlers I would probably have felt uncomfortable taking them out on the little boat – although everyone was required to wear life jackets I just don’t think I would feel safe.
The bumps were very jarring and if your back isn’t in great shape you might end up in a fair bit of pain. The sea spray washed off all our suncream and we caught a bit too much sun on our noses.
Top tips for a dolphin trip in Kalpitya, Sri Lanka
Sunglasses are a must to try to keep some spray out of your eyes. In fact even swimming goggles wouldn’t be going overboard 😂
Towels are handy for wiping eyes and drying your face, also for covering limbs stuck out in the sun. We only took one. It came back drenched!
Go early to avoid the heat of the day. We left at 7:30am.
Take waterproof casing for your camera/ phone or use a GoPro type camera.
Warn kids that they need to be patient. Get them excited to spot other things like flying fish, crazy seaweed, butterflies and birds.
Be sure to ‘go’ before you go. 3 hours on a bumpy boat without a loo is likely to result in accidents if everyone hasn’t had a wee before they head out.
Apply suncream, drink water and eat before you go. This isn’t the kid of boat ride you can relax and have a drink and snack on while searching for dolphins. You’ll be holding on tight most of the time!
So should you do a dolphin watching trip in Kalpitya?
We thought the dolphin trip in Kalpitya was exhilarating and we absolutely loved the dolphins. We felt incredibly lucky to experience something that most people will never get to see. To be surrounded by that many dolphins in the wild is a thing of beauty.
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