Oops, in Sri Lanka I was doing a good job of writing these blog posts while the information was fresh in my mind. Now I’ve been back in Turkey about a month, but I still want to write about the end of this trip. I knew before I went to Sri Lanka that the snorkeling wasn’t very good, but I brought snorkeling gear with me and used it as an excuse to hang out at the beach a bit at the end of my bicycle tour. If you’re into surfing or kite surfing, that’s a better excuse to hang out on Sri Lanka’s beaches than snorkeling. Many locals say that the 2004 Christmas tsunami destroyed Sri Lanka’s coral reefs, but Aja, the friendly owner of the Green Turtle Snorkeling Center in Polhena, told me the reefs were in poor shape even before that disaster.
My first beach in Sri Lanka was Tangalle, and my first glimpse of the ocean was this, locals painfully and slowly hauling in fishing nets:
A young man came over and tried to get me to help them. I laughed and told him I’d been riding all morning in the sun, and the only thing I wanted to do now was rest in the shade and drink a mango juice. It was a good call as an hour later they were still at it pulling in the net. The young man came back, this time trying to sell me marijuana.
My first snorkeling in Sri Lanka was at Paravi Wella Beach in Tangalle, busy over the New Year holiday:
There was nothing to see. As usual in my notes I wrote more about dinner (“banana flower curry, del (breadfruit) curry, and fish curry”) than what I saw underwater (“it wasn’t very good”). Here’s a photo from dinner:
The best thing I did in Tangalle was a morning walk along long Rekawa Beach.
A one sentence summary of my snorkeling in Sri Lanka: don’t bother. In addition to Paravi Wella Beach in Tangalle, I snorkeled at Polhena (famous for turtles), Secret Beach at Mirissa, Jungle Beach and Rock Island at Unawatuna, and at the south end, north end (where I saw four turtles at once!), and middle of the 1km long Hikkaduwa Beach.
Mirissa’s Secret Beach isn’t so secret. There’s a restaurant:
In the center of Hikkaduwa is a small protected (with ropes) swimming/snorkeling area. Just off shore from there are lots of fish but way too many glass bottom boat tours with fast, rude drivers. There’s a 2m section of live coral, the best I saw in Sri Lanka.
Here are some of the fish you can see there:
Here is that very short section of decent coral:
and the same coral with a turtle 🙂
I took one of my favorite Sri Lanka snorkeling photos nearby:
What a fish! Indeed I saw many nice fish. One of my goals when I got home was to do some fish identification, but somehow I haven’t had any time.
I’m pretty sure this is a squid:
See? I have some work to do for that identification!
My most exciting sighting was this octopus that changed colors as it tried to hide from me behind a rock.
It seems like I saw turtles almost every time I got in the water.
I also saw two different moral eels, including this Honeycomb Moray:
and a number of box fish:
These two danced for a while:
Too bad all the coral’s dead. 🙁
The cycling from Tangalle to Unawatuna was what I’d come to expect in Sri Lanka. Some temples:
though this one reminded me more of a Russian church than a Buddhist temple:
and excellent food.