UP CLOSE WITH OCEAN GIANTS
If spotting leopards in Yala wasn’t enough, then today’s agenda should see you clapping eyes on the largest animal that’s ever lived. When it comes to playground bragging rights, there can’t be too many things that can top watching the massive tail fluke of a 100ft BLUE WHALE disappear into the depths of the Indian Ocean. The continental shelf off the coast of Mirissa is particularly narrow, making this one of the best places in the world to see these jaw-dropping cetaceans, and seasonal WHALE-WATCHING TRIPS have a very good chance of spotting not only blue whales but also sperm whales, fin whales and Bryde’s whales to boot, and often only an hour or so from shore. You’ll also probably see large pods of spinner dolphins gallivanting in the wake of your boat, playfully hurling themselves into the air before corkscrewing back into the sea (hence their name). Between late July and April, Whale Watching Club runs daily whale-watching trips out of Mirissa Harbour, with departures at 6.30am [Rs.8500, under-11s Rs.4500, under-5s free, price includes tuk-tuk pick-up, hot breakfast, fruit and drinks]; trips last between three and five hours, depending on the location of the whales. Their boats are smaller than a lot of the other operators and less crowded, and, more importantly, they adhere to responsible whale-watching practices, keeping their speed down around the animals and also keeping their distance – but when a creature weighs 200 tonnes and its heart is the size of a car, you don’t have to get that close to enjoy fantastic sightings anyway.
TOP TIP Between February and April, when the animals are feeding on krill, is the best time to see blue whales, with April the peak month for sightings.
WHERE TO STAY
THE LIJOMA LOWDOWN
Delve deeper with our tips on what to read and watch before you go, foods and drinks your kids must try, and some key cultural advice
From safari camps to beachfront villas – our pick of the most memorable places for families to stay in Sri Lanka
NEED TO KNOW
A handy overview of Sri Lanka’s weather and climate throughout the year, with recommendations for the best time to visit
Pre-trip practicalities, including getting there, visas and passports, health and safety and how to get around
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