A Guide to Kalpitiya Scuba Diving

Life in Kalpitiya has always been with the sea. Anything and everything here has the intimacy with the sea.

Like for instance, the Tamil Kingdom has the history revolved around the sea. It also happens when coming down to adventures like water sports.

Even though the town is known to be a paradise for kiteboarding, it is now the town on its way of becoming a top diving destination too. But Kalpitiya has won its position for one of the best locations for diving.

The diverse and vibrant marine life, the beautiful coral reefs and the reliable seasons offering perfect conditions together make the place the ultimate place for scuba diving.

To enhance the atmosphere, which is favorable for the adventure, they have set up schools and comes with enthusiastic divers who are always ready to share the excitement of diving.

Let say, if you are in Sri Lanka for your vacation. Come to Kalpitiya to explore the underwater mysteries.

Also Read: Kalpitiya Beach in Sri Lanka

Things to Expect When Diving in Kalpitiya

It is in Kalpitiya, the most extensive reef system exists. Located an hour from the town of Kalpitiya, lies the longest Bar Reef of 300 kilometers. It is also a marine sanctuary.

Almost 156 types of coral and 283 various species of tropical fish call Bar Reef their home. This fact makes it the most diverse marine ecosystem in this area of the Indian Ocean. This makes the Bar Reef the one of the famous spot for diving in Sri Lanka.


While diving, three meters into the reef, you will be coming face to face with white-tip and black-tip reef sharks, also manta rays; hawksbill, green or ridley turtles and more of those crazy looking tropical fish which you may have not even had in your vast imagination.

Sri Lankan Maritime experts, like SLAM (Sri Lanka’s Amazing Maritime), choose the best diving spots in Kalpitiya as Talawila Reef, Davey’s Reef, Kalpitiya Ridge, Bulldog Reef, Trevally Pass, and Moray Ridge.

Kalpitiya’s Best Season for Diving

Now let’s talk about the best season for diving in Kalpitiya. The diving season here starts from late November month and continues till the early May month.

It can vary a bit in weeks, depending on the location and type of diving you choose. During this time, the wind and the water makes Sri Lanka’s west coast the ultimate place for snorkeling and scuba diving.

The weather at this time welcomes you with few currents, minimal wind, and the area will be calm enough to enjoy yourself. The month of November to May is also the best time for dolphin and whale watching.

Kalpitiya snorkelling

Kalpitiya is the proud mother for a handful of whale species, and the biggest mammal roams around with all the pride and elegance.

Here you will be able to find sperm whales, melon-headed whales, humpback whales, and minke whales. If you are lucky enough, you will be blessed with a glimpse of the greatest himself, the blue whale!

Diving Conditions herein Kalpitiya

The Bar Reef was declared a Marine Sanctuary in 1992. The reef enjoys some of the most exceptional biodiversity within the Gulf of Mannar.

When coming down to the water conditions, the temperature of the water here in Kalpitiya never really drops below 23.5 degrees Celsius. Which means you will need a wet suit during the months of winter. But wearing a thin suit for skin protection is also a good suggestion.

The underwater currents rarely affect the water of Kalpitiya. But they are affected by the tides; which is two high water and two low. According to Kalpitiya Diving Centre, the visibility ranges from 10-25 meters.

Coming down to coral

In Kalpitiya Bar Reef, most of the shallow reef is damaged by predatory starfish known as crown-of-thorns, unregulated coral mining, dynamite fishing, and stray boat anchors.

But the good news is the coral deep in the reef remains in its pristine condition. Also, ROAR (a news site) reports that the Bar Reef is also under the danger of global warming.

Kalpitiya Diving Centers and Schools

 There are plenty of diving centers and schools in Kalpitiya, get to know some of them below:

Kalpitiya Diving Centre

Kalpitiya Diving Centre is PADI (Professional Association of Diving Instructors) certified. They offer diving lessons for beginners with interest in marine life exploration.

Kalpitiya Diving Centre
Pic Credit: HikersBay

The programs include open water dives (for both beginners and advanced divers), snorkeling lessons along with diving lessons, and also they even conduct excursions for whale and dolphin watching to local hot spots.

Click here to visit the Official Website

Ocean Lanka

Ocean Lanka is another institution that offers diving lessons around Kalpitiya. The team of Ocean Lanka operates in and around the Kalpitiya.

They offer tourists their fix of snorkeling, mangrove tours, diving, whale and dolphin watching, boat trips to Wilpattu National Park.

All excited and ready to fly to Kalpitiya? What to know more about Kalpitiya Beach? Check out our guide to Kalpitiya Beach here.

Now that you are aware of all about Kalpitiya and diving. Now let’s talk about the big fish here. Scuba Diving! Are you a beginner? Or an advanced diver.

Whatever your status is, we would like to remind (educate; in case of beginners) you with some of the instructions that will help you the next time you jump for the adventure.

Ocean Lanka

It is a known fact that there are risks involved with diving. For some, preparing for the challenge and dealing with the risks is all part of the adventure.

Adequate training and preparation help you to cope with the dangerous situations that arise during diving. A diving session (course) teaches you all about the causes and the outcomes of diving accidents.

Remember never try to challenge the water without proper training from a reputed institution.

Every diver should have a basic understanding of the things to do when conditions go wrong. Being said that, scuba diving is a safe sport when conducted sensibly.

Here comes the list of basic rules to minimize the chances of a diving accident.

  1. Never hold your breath

This is one of the most important rules of scuba diving. They teach this from the entry level itself. Holding your breath underwater results in severe injury or maybe even death.

The air in your lungs expands during ascent and contracts during descent when you are underwater. As long as you breathe continuously, it will not be a problem since the air can escape.

But when you try to hold your breath, the air cannot escape as it expands, which will make the alveoli that cause the lung walls will rupture and results in severe damage to your organ.

  1. Dive within your limits

Remember never to put yourself in life-threatening situations. Scuba diving should be all about having fun and exploring. If you are not physically or mentally prepared, don’t go for a dive.

You should be the one to decide whether you are capable of diving or not. Never hesitate to cancel a dive to a location if you not comfortable with it.

It all depends on the changes in the surface conditions, current, and temperature. Never dare to attempt a dive beyond your capabilities. Dives like wreck penetrations, diving overhead environments, deep dives and diving with enriched air, all these require specific training.

Never attempt these without one.

  1. Check your gear

We all know your underwater survival depends on your equipment/gear. Check your gear before diving. Make yourself sure that you know how to use your gear.

Most of the reported accidents related to equipment are not due to the malfunctioning of the equipment, and it is because of the diver’s uncertainty of how it works.

diving gears

Do your buddy-check thoroughly. If any of yours or your buddy’s equipment malfunctions, you will be putting both of your lives in danger.

  1. Plan the dive

Proper planning is the most important thing that ensures your safety. Take time to plan your dive. Underwater sports all end up in disaster because of the lack of a solid plan.

Make sure you plan the dive with the one who you are diving. You both should agree on the maximum time and depth before submerging yourselves. Educate yourself with emergency and lost-diver procedures.

The instructions may vary from place to place and on the particular dive. If you are diving on yourself, without a guide, make sure you know how to navigate the site.

Also, confirm that you know your way back to your exit point. 

  1. Practice safe ascents

    Same to as the breathing instruction, it is essential to make sure you ascend safely and slowly all times.

If you ascend the safe ascent rate, the nitrogen which is absorbed into your bloodstream will not get the time to dissolve back into the solution since the pressure decreases on the way to the surface.

As a result, bubbles start to form in your bloodstream. This will lead to decompression sickness. For avoiding this situation, maintain a rate of ascent not faster than 30 feet per minute.

People diving with the computers will be warned if they are ascending fast beyond the limit. A suggestion for those who dive without computers will be to ascend not faster than the smallest bubble.

  1. Utilize the buddy system

    Some organizations offer solo diving certifications these days, diving alone is hazardous and not encouraged until you are professionally and adequately trained.

The phrase ‘when you dive alone, you die alone’ is a warning which should not be ignored. Almost all emergency skills require a buddy to be present. In situations like where you need an alternate air source, you don’t have many options if alone.

buddy system

You may be able to perform CESA (Controlled Emergency Swimming Ascent) if you are shallow enough. But usually, you will need to resort an uncontrollable buoyant ascent which may result in serve physical injuries. 

  1. Be physically fit

    Diving is one of the physically demanding water sports. It is true that most of the underwater, we will be relaxing, but the long surface swims, gear carrying, intense current diving, and exposure to extreme weather will need sound physical fitness.

For the safety of diving, it is essential to maintain personal fitness. Lack of a sound fitness may lead to overexertion, resulting in faster air consumption, then to panic and may be any other accidents.

  1. Rule of thirds

    Your air supply management should be applied to this ‘rule of thirds.’ This is the thumb rule which should be adopted in situations that don’t fit the out-and-back profile, like for instance, drift dives, where the entry and exit points differ like they are not in the same place.

The rule states that a diver should designate a third of his air supply for the outward journey, a third for the return journey and the remaining third for the safety reserve.

  1. Establish positive buoyancy – at the surface

    There is a fact when coming to scuba diving. It is not underwater most of the diving accidents or situations occur; it is the diver problems that arise from the surface itself.

The statistics show that the surface itself causes 25% of these problems. Fatigue is the main factor for almost 28 percent of the deaths. It is because the diver attempts to remain on the surface while over-weighted.

This is why establishing positive buoyancy at the surface is important. It conserves energy, prevents exhaustion and drowning. You should establish buoyancy at the end of every dive.

It is also the first step to assist a weak diver at the surface. So inflate your BCD completely and drop your weights.

  1. Practice Vital Skills

    Necessary skills are essential, and it assures the diver’s safety. Mostly, divers allow the skills they acquired during the entry level, lapse over time. In some cases, they may not have appropriately mastered them.

This may be due to poor instructors, large class size, or fluke performances at the time. The skills should be mastered and practice properly because not being able to perform them on situations may cost your life.

Skills like how to conduct a CESA, how to use buddy’s air source, how to disconnect pressure inflator hose are all vital when caught up in an emergency.

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