After my first dive in Unawatuna, I knew I had to try another discover dive before getting my PADI license – mostly just to get over that beginner’s fear and anxiety. Diving in Kalpitiya was next on the list.
We headed to Kalpitiya – turns out their reef is to DIE for, but unfortunately, due to toxins from the nearby Norochcholai Coal Power Plant and the destruction of the mangrove forest near Kala Oya, and other manmade issue, the reef was slowly losing its life and colour. =( There’s only about 6% of the reef still alive from what it was a few years back.
The Best Time for Diving in Kalpitiya
Kalpitiya is roughly 4.5 hours from Colombo. Located in the Puttalam disctrict (home to wild donkeys), there are approx 14 islands in the area! Kalpitiya is mostly known for kite surfing between the months of May to October. From November to April, it’s peak dolphin watching season in Kalpitiya – which is also a great time for diving, as the sea is calmer.
Kalpitiya is (was) home to the elusive dugongs too – but due to over fishing and destruction of the mangroves and their habitats, you can rarely spot these sea cows.
Kalpitiya’s dive season begins from November to April. We went diving on the tail end of the season. There are a number of dive sites of various depths and marine life that you can explore if you have your PADI license. If not, your dive instructor will take you to a nearby reef that’s less than 12m in depth.
Luna Laguna – Places to stay in Kalpitiya
Here’s an odd place to stay. My partner found this place and like most hotels/resorts/stays in Kalpitiya, it was located in a large coconut estate by the lagoon.
Luna Laguna is a pretty good spot if you’re travelling with a group though – its spacious and there’s plenty of room to run around and play outdoors. There’s a sunny pool which could have used a little cleaning. Past the pool is the lagoon, with a little deck to chill on while watching the sun go down.
The rooms were oddly structured – our room and the one next to us shared a common outdoor path to the bathroom. The room to the bathroom area was separated with a roman blind – no doors. There was no one else on the property, except for us. So naturally, after binge watching The Serpent on Netflix, we were up through most of the night wondering if we’d get drugged and robbed. Thankfully though, we only stayed here for one night.
After a quick introductory session and a brush up on the skills we learnt in Unawatuna (and a few more!) , we hopped on to the boat and made our way through the lagoon, paid our toll at the coastal guards and then straight into the big blue! The waters were spectacularly clear and enticing. We anchored after about 20 minutes, don our gear, and crashed backwards off the boat into cool water.
Safe to say, there was only a momentary panic attack, as there was no one pushing me backwards and I had to mentally prepare myself to willingly fall backwards from the boat. But the moment lasted 2 seconds and I was diving further into the deep blue before I knew it. Quite confidently too! I was like a fish!
Our dive buddies were two brothers (13 and 15 years) and their dad was the diving instructor. They held our hands/tank for a while during the dive, but we were given the freedom to swim by ourselves (as long as they were within arm’s length!). Absolutely loved how empowered I felt at this point. You become so much more aware of your surroundings and it’s a whole other experience when you’re swimming by yourself.
Marine Life in Kalpitiya
We saw schools of fish – all sorts and sizes of fishies. Spotted a lobster and some sea slugs. The coral was definitely the coolest – some of it even swayed and wiggled with the current.
New dive-things we learnt
How to dive down deeper
To dive deeper (along the sea bed) and to stop yourself from floating back up, position your head towards the sea bed and kick while swimming downwards.
How to check how much oxygen you have, and communicate it using hand signals
This is pretty easy. Make a T with both your hands and that means 100. Palm facing out with all 5 fingers open is 50. For 40 and below, simply show 4/3/2/1 finger.
How to breathe normally
I finally mastered how to breathe like a human underwater! PADI license, here I come.
New hand signals for boat, lobster, no air and go down.
Things I need to get better at
Decompression and learning how to pop my ears the dive way, instead of swallowing spit – cause about 30 minutes in, my mouth was as dry as the Sahara desert! While this won’t be an issue for shorter dives, for longer, deeper dives, there’s a high chance my brain might explode from not popping my ears due to lack of saliva.