The Ultimate Whale Watching Checklist

So you’ve arrived in Sri Lanka and are super enthusiastic, as you quite rightly should be, to go whale watching; pause there a bit. Have you prepared for the experience properly? Well, here’s a whale watching checklist that you can tick off, so that you don’t miss anything:

When & Where

There are two main locations for whale watching in Sri Lanka; Mirissa and Trincomalee. The two are hundreds of kilometers apart, so you should choose between the two depending on when you visit the county. Whale watching in Mirissa is best done in the period between November and April and whale watching in Trinco is ideal between May and September.

Who do you call

 Choose an ethical private tour operator with proven records, safety standards and a knowledgeable guide. A casual observer on the lookout for Blue Whales in the Indian Ocean might have difficulties telling the difference between them and Sperm Whales. This is why a good guide is very important. 


Take as many cameras as space will allow, but ensure that you have the proper protection for them. Your phone or action camera may be IP68 rated but keep in mind that that rating applies exclusively to freshwater. Saltwater is corrosive and your equipment will require special protection. Don’t forget to bring extra batteries!


The sun is quite unforgiving and harsh in the tropics, so sunblock is an absolute must. Extra clothes will also be welcome as you will sweat in the hot sun or, in luckier circumstances, get soaked by a breaching whale in close proximity. Last but not least, bring your sunglasses to keep the glare at bay and look good while you scan the horizon for the giants of the deep!


 Whale watching tours last a few hours, so if you are prone to being sea sick, take any meds you can to prevent sea sickness. It also helps if you have a light, non-oily breakfast before you set out. Your tour operator should supply you with light snacks and refreshments during the journey, but it doesn’t hurt to pack a bag with a bottle of water and some biscuits.

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