Sri Lanka is one of the world’s newest whale watching hotspots, and it’s possible to spy gigantic blue whales just a few nautical miles offshore. The most consistent sightings are south of Dondra, the island’s southernmost tip, and whales are usually sighted within an hour of leaving the nearby fishing village of Mirissa, meaning you don’t have to travel far to find them. Aside from having the opportunity to see the world’s largest whales, you may also see pods of sperm whales, which are only slightly smaller in size, and playful spinner dolphins.

The seas to the south and west of Sri Lanka are at their calmest between November and April, and ideal for marine adventures, whilst the north and east coasts come into their own from May to October. There are numerous dive sites scattered around the island, some of which are also accessible to snorkellers, and some of the highlights include coral reefs, submarine canyons and centuries-old shipwrecks, many of which are scattered off the south and west coasts.

The south and west coast beaches are also populated by five of the world’s seven species of endangered marine turtle, including Green, Olive Ridley and Leatherback. Female turtles are often sighted coming onshore to lay their eggs at night, a laborious process for sea-dwelling creatures, and the light of a full moon often sees their offspring emerging from the sand and scuttling into the sea.

Where: 20km from the Fort Bazaar, rooms from $130 USD ++