The undersea world is full of wonder and adventure, no more so than in the crystal clear waters of Sri Lanka’s Paradise-island coastline.
Diving and snorkeling are two of our most popular tourist activities, whether its exploring wrecks and reefs or experiencing up close our gloriously diverse marine wildlife.
Dharshana Jayawardena is Sri Lanka’s leading shipwreck explorer, underwater photographer and videographer. He is founder editor of www.divesrilanka.com, the only comprehensive information resource about scuba diving in Sri Lanka.
In twelve years he has logged over 1,200 dives in the coastal waters of Sri Lanka, India, Maldives, Malaysia, Philippines, Indonesia and Australia.
As an underwater photographer/videographer and a travel writer, his work has been published in many books and magazines including the Asian Diver and Sports Diver UK, and his footage has been featured in international documentaries.
Over the years, Dharshana has played a key role in solo exploration of reefs and shipwrecks in Sri Lanka, and bringing them to the attention of the diving world through the trip reports in his web site.
Shipwrecks are his main area of interest, and he has been able to identify many mystery wrecks lying forgotten around the coast of Sri Lanka.
Two of his significant discoveries were the deep wreck of the World War I armed merchant SS Worcestershire off the coast of Mount Lavinia, where he was able to discover the bell of the ship as proof of her identity; and locating the aircraft wreckage of a World War II RAF Dutch Squadron flight Y-78, a Consolidated Catalina PBY-5A lying off the coast of Passikudah.
The author’s discoveries have received widespread media attention in Sri Lanka as well as internationally. In April 2014, he was invited to represent Sri Lanka at the ADEX Technical Dive conference in Singapore and speak about new wreck diving discoveries in Sri Lanka.
His website is full or useful and vital information for divers, with the best locations divided into regions: Kalpitiya, Negombo, Colombo, Beruwala, Bentota, Hikkaduwa, Galle/Unawatuna, Weligama, Basses, Kalmunai, Batticaloa, Pasikudah/Vakarai and Trincomalee.
What must be one of the most comprehensive dive sites on the internet, it is essential reading for anyone serious about exploring and discovering Sri Lanka’s amazing underwater world.
He lists the top 11 shipwrecks:
- HMS Hermes, worlds first purpose built aircraft carrier in Batticaloa in the east coast of Sri Lanka (a technical dive at 53m).
- SS Worcestershire, World War I British armed merchant in Colombo (a technical dive at 57m).
- Perseus, a massive and beautiful World War I British armed merchant in Colombo, 40m.
- Pecheur Breton, the most popular recreational wreck dive in Sri Lanka (also known as Cargo Wreck) off Colombo at 30m.
- Medhufaru, a maldivian cargo ship sunk in 2009, fully intact and upright in Colombo at 29m.
- Taprobane East Wreck, a small barge in Taprobane East Reef, Colombo. Great visibility and pristine white sands.
- British Sergeant, World War II, British armed merchant sunk along with the Hermes in Vakarai at 23m.
- Chief Dragon or Colombo Car Wreck, sank in 1982 off Colombo at 30m.
- Battery Barge, a extremely scenic small barge off Colombo at 45m (technical dive).
- SS Rangoon, a late 19th century British sail ship off Unawatuna/Galle at 30m.
- SS Conch, a late 19th century British steamer off Hikkaduwa at 20m.
He also lists the top 11 reefs:
- Taprobane North Reef system off Colombo at 20-26m.
- Third reef off Negombo at 20m.
- Kiralagala off Hikkaduwa at 40m.
- Great Basses Reef, Kirinda at 15m.
- Gale Reef South, Gorgonian Gardens, a unique sea fan reef off Colombo at 35m.
- Taprobane East Reef off Colombo at 20m.
- Second Reef system Negombo at 15-18m.
- Barracuda Reef off Colombo at 23m.
- Vakarai Reefs at 6m–8m.
- Snapper Ally off at Colombo 30m–35m.
- Black Tip Rock, Pigeon Island off Trincomalee at 6m.