11 Things to Do in Kalpitiya – Adventure, Heritage, and Nature

Kalpitiya is a quiet gem along the west cost—especially for water sport enthusiasts!

Located on a peninsula about one hundred and fifty kilometers north of Colombo, Kalpitiya has a strategic location nestled between a lagoon and the sea. The peninsula is forty eight kilometers long and seven kilometers wide. Stunning beaches dot either side! Don’t miss the fourteen islands in the sea and in the lagoon.

If you’re not up for beaches, Kalpitiya offers Wilpattu National Park, the Bar Reef, and many other wonderful features. Thanks to a major tourism development program, Kuda beach now has resorts and hostels. It’s the perfect place to find a tour and start exploring!

Things to Do & Attractions

1. Kitesurfing – An Unforgettable Adventure

Rating: 4.6/5.0 | Cost: LKR 5,000-8,000 | Hours: 10:00 am-5:00 pm | Duration: 2-6 hours

The center of almost all the on-water action in Sri Lanka, Kalpitiya, is a lovely place with its natural setting, and one of the hot-favorite activities is Kiteboarding or Kitesurfing. If you don’t know how to do it, you can have the expertise of professionals in the village, but visit the site between May and October, because it’s the perfect season to try kitesurfing.

A lot of points are in Kalpitiya, where you can do kiteboarding with ease, but the most famous one is Kalpitiya Lagoon, which is notable because of the ideal wind season and about a constant stream of 25+ knots, and it’s the right location for beginners, too. Its launch location is on the wide sandbar that separates the lagoon from the Indian Ocean, and it lies on the opposite side to where you can find plenty of kite schools and camps. This spot can hold up to 45 kiteboarders, and learners can learn how to kitesurf in this shallow and flat water location without any trouble.

If you hop over to the other side of the sandbar at Kalpitiya Lagoon that separates it from the Indian Ocean, you will enter into the waters with baby waves and shore break. Summer season can be a little tricky for pro kite surfers because the wind chop and swell can be challenging to handle, but winters are calmer and manageable for sure.

Moreover, only 300 meters away from the Kalpitiya Lagoon, there is another ideal point, Donkey Spot, where a reef break consistently sends the best surfing waves rolling in towards the shore, and the tides at this location are about 1.5 to 3.0 meters. However, you can also try Kappalady Lagoon, Vella Island, Mannar, and Puttalam Lagoon for more kiteboarding adventures.

How to get there: Ask a tuk-tuk driver to reach the surfing spot

2. Alankuda BeachCherish your leisure time

For non-kiting beach bums in Kalpitiya, Alankuda Beach is the perfect one, and you can consider it the most-bustling in the peninsula. Located off the northwestern coast of Sri Lanka, Alankuda Beach is the starting point for off-shore Dolphin and Whale watching, and it allows tourists to have non-stop fun by trying water sports, such as windsurfing, snorkeling, kayaking, canoeing, and sailing.

During the peak season (November to April), you can witness pods of lovely marine animals, including the various species of Dolphins and Whales. You can discover beautiful and giant sea turtles, too. When it comes to the surroundings of the place, it’s breathtaking and sizzling. The palm trees, sandy beaches, crystal-clear water, serene environment, and wooden cottages, all are enough to grab the attention of the visitors.

If you go a little up the coast, you will view an excellent reef, which is best for snorkelers and scuba divers, and the coal garden can amaze them with its beauty. It is up to you whether you want to sit there for a while to watch the dancing waves, or you can take a catamaran ride, a 14-feet long boat ride that can sail at highly fast speed. Whenever you need to kill your hunger at Alankuda, make sure to try the restaurants along the coast that serve mouth-watering cuisines and drinks at reasonable prices. You will love the overall atmosphere of the place, so add this beach to your bucket list. It will be a memorable trip for you.

Rating: 4.2

Duration: 2-4 hours

Cost: Free

Opening Hours: Round the clock

Address: Kalpitiya, Sri Lanka

How to get there: Get a three-wheeler from your accommodation to reach there

3. Whale and Dolphin Watching Tours

One of the top-notch places in Sri Lanka to watch whales and dolphins of different species, Kalpitiya is an emerging tourist location in the country, and its natural settings are enough to steal the hearts of the sightseers. No doubt, the seas encompassing the village are full of marine life, and when you visit the site between November and April, you will witness the maximum number of animals there (small pods of up to 1000 dolphins). The right time to discover them is the early morning (6-6.30 am).

The species you can view with ease in the waters of Kalpitiya include Sperm whales, Melon Headed whales, Minke, Pilot whales, Spinner dolphins, and Bottlenose dolphins. Sometimes, if you’re lucky enough, you will also witness Blue whales and Killer whales, too. These two mammals are rare in Kalpitiya, but you can find them in the rest of the parts of Sri Lanka without any trouble. Moreover, the very fortunate visitors can also explore giant turtles.

When it comes to the perfect spot in the village, Kalpitiya Beach and the bar reef are the right options to watch the cute movements of whales and dolphins, but please make sure to maintain a distance from them for everyone’s safety. Do research, hire the best whale watching tour agency, and enjoy your unforgettable trip to Kalpitiya. Nothing can beat the sights of incredible sea creatures dancing and moving in the water.

Rating: 4.7

Duration: 3 hours

Cost: up to 12,500 LKR (boat price)

Opening Hours: Daytime (preferably early morning at 6.00 am-6.30 am)

Address: Kalpitiya Beach, Kalpitiya, Sri Lanka

How to get there: You will get a rickshaw from your hotel to reach the beach

4. Bird Watching

Ornithologists should visit Kalpitiya to discover the rare, unique, and beautiful species of birds, and the perfect spot to find them is Kalpitiya Lagoon. Most of the excursions take place in the early morning, and you will need to hire a boat for a lagoon tour so that you can witness the exotic wildlife from a bit close.

The exquisite varieties of birds include White-rumped Shama, Brown-capped Babbler, Pintail Snipe, Ceylon Jungle Fowl, Waders, Ceylon Grey Hornbill, Black-tailed Godwit, Racket-tailed Drongo, Orange-breasted Green Pigeon, Forest Eagle Owl, Golden-backed Woodpecker, Little Ringed Plover, Crested Hawk Eagle, Ceylon Frog Mouth, White-bellied Sea Eagle, Rufus Woodpecker, Grey-headed Fish Eagle, Malabar Pied Hornbill, Brown Fish Owl, Crested Serpent Eagle, and many more.

Well, the entire Kalpitiya Lagoon is a maritime park with a large number of distinct habitats; from enormous sandy beaches to coastal lowlands to mangrove marshes, you will love this place for the astonishing wildlife. Though Kalpitiya Lagoon is an ideal location to watch birds, however, you can also visit Puttalam Lagoon to witness gorgeous water species and others.

Rating: 4.6

Duration: 1-3 hours

Cost: up to 12,000 LKR (to hire a boat)

Opening Hours: Daytime (early morning would be the best time)

Address: Kalpitiya, Sri Lanka

How to get there: Ask a rickshaw driver to take you to the place from your hotel

5. Snorkeling in Bay Reef – a must try

Nestles a few kilometers off Kalpitiya shores, Bar Reef is among the famous and prominent sites in Sri Lanka, and you can consider it the largest coral reef in the country. It’s a protected marine wildlife park, and the ideal time to discover the beautiful species of aquatic animals at Bar Reef is from December to March/April. Get ready to witness a myriad of marine creatures, including Manta Rays, Reef Sharks, and Sea Turtles.

Take a boat ride to the place to explore the beauty and beautiful underwater world of Kalpitiya, and snorkeling at Bar Reef will open new adventures for you as you can bring your underwater camera with you to capture the unforgettable moments there. All you need is to hire a professional and experience snorkeling agency so that you can have unlimited fun without any trouble.

Rating: 4.8

Duration: Up to 3 hours

Cost: It depends on packages (Approximately 4000-6000 LKR starting rate of a boat)

Opening Hours: Early Morning (from 7.30 am)

Address: Kalpitiya, Sri Lanka

How to get there: Ask your tour guide to take you to the Bar Reef for Snorkeling

6. Scuba Diving

Everybody knows Sri Lanka is a paradise for all the on-water activities, and one of the hot-favorite things to do in Kalpitiya, a northwestern side of the country, is deep-sea diving or you can call it scuba diving. Go to off the shore of Kalpitiya village to reach the Bar Reef, which is perfect not only for snorkeling but diving, too. Usually, the depth of the water for diving is from 10 meters to 25 meters. It will amaze everyone with its 156 coral species and over 283 varieties of fish.

Get ready to observe Bannerfish, Butterflyfish, Groupers, Parrotfish, and some Black-tip Reef Sharks at the world-class reef. This 307 square kilometers area is an ultimate destination for scuba diving lovers.

There are many diving centers in the village of Kalpitiya, and some of them include Kalpitiya Diving Center, Ocean Lanka, and Scuba Diving Kalpitiya. Hire a reasonable agency and make your life adventurous. The best time to enjoy this enthralling activity is from December to March.

Rating: 4.6

Duration: 3 hours

Cost: Starting from 6000-7000 LKR

Opening Hours: Daytime (preferably early morning)

Address: Kalpitiya, Sri Lanka

How to get there: A boat ride will be the best option to get to the Bar Reef for Diving

7. Explore the Dutch Fort

Dating back to the 17th century, the Dutch Fort, which is among the oldest and historical landmarks in Kalpitiya, was completed in 1676, and it lies at the entry spot to Puttalam Lagoon. With its only entrance, the unique and graceful fort is a center of attention for many tourists around the globe, and it’s a year-round destination to discover.

When it comes to the interior of the place, its crest with two elephants and a palm is remarkable, and its small whitish pediment has a belfry at the top of it. The Dutch Empire built the fort, and that is why it has gained so much popularity among the sightseers. Moreover, if you look at the entrance arch made out of yellow bricks that brought from Holland, you will not stop yourself from praising it.

The Dutch used coral and limestone to erect the enormous walls of the fort, and it has four bastions (two by the land, and two by the lagoon side). You will also witness the remnants of an iconic church, which was a Roman Catholic, Portuguese Shrine, but now there isn’t much to see. If you take a further step, you will view a giant hall, and there are two old wells, too.

Please visit the Dutch Fort in the early morning to avoid the heat. 

Rating: 4.3

Duration: 1 hour

Cost: Free

Opening Hours: 8:30 am-5:30 pm

Address: Palavi-Kalpitiya Road, Kalpitiya, Sri Lanka

How to get there: Take a three-wheeler ride to get to the Dutch Fort

8. Visit the Dutch Church

Among the oldest protestant churches in the country, the Kalpitiya Dutch Reformed Church, which is quite a decent cathedral in the village, features tombstones carved into the floors, and there is also a highly tall stone in the backyard of the church.

If you talk about the entrance and surroundings of the church, it is a white building encompassing trees, and there is a Cross on the top of the landmark that makes it look like a cathedral. Erected in 1706 in Kalpitiya, this place doesn’t have much furniture, and its overall structure is quite modest, but a refreshing interior of concrete tiles, wooden rafters, and plastic chairs can mesmerize you for a moment. Furthermore, the complicated carvings in the tombstones of the floors of the cathedral are worth seeing.

The Dutch Church had faced damages in the past, but it is now completely restored and painted, and it is about a few hundred meters away from the Dutch Fort. Once there was a tunnel that linked both places, but it is blocked by the government of Sri Lanka. Whenever you visit Kalpitiya, make sure to hit this church, too. It has unlimited historical facts that might be interesting for those who love history.

Rating: 4.1

Duration: 2 hours

Cost: Free

Opening Hours: 8:00 am-6:00 pm

Address: Mutuwal Street, Kalpitiya, Sri Lanka

How to get there: Ask a rickshaw driver to reach the Dutch Church from your hotel in Kalpitiya

9. St. Anne’s Church, TalawilaAwe inspiring

Consider it one of the oldest and the most-visited landmarks in Sri Lanka, St. Anne’s Church in Talawila, is a Catholic shrine that draws devotees and sightseers from everywhere in the universe, and people can visit the site throughout a year. There is also an event of the annual feast that held during the first fifteen days of August, and it’s a 250-year old tradition in the city.

Dedicated to St. Anne, the grandmother of Jesus, this cathedral is a sacred place for pilgrims, and many people believe it can change lives with spiritual powers and blessings. During the feast time, devotees and visitors from all religions come to the church to pray for their miracle to happen, and the 20-acre area of the cathedral becomes the shelter for everyone as the authorities provide tents and other facilities to the ones who spend days and nights there.

Furthermore, the surroundings of the church are beautiful because of the coconut palms, and you will also witness a beach located a few minutes away from the landmark. If you are planning to visit the place, make sure to go in the morning, because the climate stays hot throughout a day.

Rating: 4.3

Duration: 1-2 hours

Cost: Free

Opening Hours: 6:00 am-7:00 pm

Address: Kalpitiya, Sri Lanka

How to get there: Take a tuk-tuk/rickshaw from your hotel to visit St. Anne’s Church

10. Historic Puttalam Salt Plains

Puttalam Town is in Puttalam District, and it is about one hour away from Kalpitiya. Famous for salt plains and factory, Puttalam Town is among the must-visit attractions in Sri Lanka, and if you want to learn everything about salt, this location is for you. According to some researchers, the name of Puttalam is derived from the Tamil word, Uppuththalam, which means salt production zone (Uppu means salt, and Thalam means salt production area).

You will view salt plains on the north and south side of Puttalam Town, and the northern one is next to 25 wind turbines, which is one of the unique destinations in the country. Salt production is the leading profession in the town, and if you get a chance to visit the factory, you will discover the methods and all the techniques workers use to produce salt. It will be an engaging tour for you.

Rating: 4.7

Duration: 4-6 hours

Cost: Free

Opening Hours: Daytime

Address: Puttalam District, Sri Lanka

How to get there: Hire a three-wheeler for a half-day from Kalpitiya to reach Puttalam Town via Kalpitiya Road. It will take one hour

11. Wilpattu National Park – Mind-blowing Wildlife

Wilpattu National Park, which is the biggest and the ancient wildlife national park in Sri Lanka, nestles in a little bit secluded area. It is renowned for Leopards, Elephants, and Sloth bears. Well, it is not restricted to this, and you will observe numerous other captivating sights in the park.

It has a natural setting with lakes (up to 60) and forests, but the highlight of the location is its large population of Leopards. Get ready to witness Crocodiles, Jackals, Barking Deer, Mouse Deer, Peacocks, Wild Pig, Pond Turtles, Star Tortoise, Soft-Shelled Turtles, Spotted Deer, Water Buffaloes, and Monkeys, too. When it comes to birds, you will explore the exotic species of Painted Storks, Shikras, Crested Hawk Eagles, Lesser Adjutants, and Spoonbills. Furthermore, this national park has around 205 water bodies, including natural and artificial, and it is a habitat for about 31 species of mammals. You can discover distinct varieties of butterflies, too. It also consists of a long coastal belt covered with grasses and shrubs, and it stretches over an area of 131,693 hectares.

It first declared as a wildlife sanctuary in 1906, but later in 1938, it became a national park. The government of Sri Lanka closed this place in 1988 because of the civil war, but it was reopened in 2010 for the citizens and tourists.

The hot-favorite activity in Wilpattu National Park is Wildlife Safari, and you will need to hire a jeep from the entrance gate of the park to enjoy it. The park offers two wildlife safari tours; half-day and a full-day safari, and the former one can last up to five hours, while the latter one is 8-10 hours of activity. Only jeeps can enter the park, so you have to choose any safari tour. The best season is from May to October, and the perfect time to explore the place is early morning.

Rating: 4.9

Duration: 3-4 hours

Cost: Approximately 6000 LKR (entry ticket), but you will have to pay for jeep separately

Opening Hours: 6:00 am-6:00 pm

Address: Sri Lanka

How to get there: Talk to your tour agency to pick you up, but you can hire a private car or a taxi to reach the place, which is about 2 hours away from Kalpitiya

Where to Eat

Sri Lankan delicacies are available at most resorts in Kalpitiya.

Below are few of our trusted places in Kalpitiya that suit travellers from all walks of life. Or check our complete list of best places to eat in Kalpitiya for more.

1. Beach Club, Bar Reef Resort ($$$)

Palmyrah Road, Alankuda, Kalpitiya |  077 721 9218 | www.barreefresort.com/facilities/#beach-club

A quaint restaurant and juice bar, this is a place where you can sit back and relax while sipping  famous fresh juices or cocktails. The ambiance is romantic and inviting, and the beach winds and smell of roasting spices is what a vacation meal is all about. Fine dining made easy, this is a must visit for a quiet evening meal.

2. Windmills, Aarya Lagoon ($$$)

Mampuri, Kalpitiya Road, 61360 | 011 4 975555 | www.aaryaresorts.com/wine-and-dine

A haven for gastronomic delight and nirvana, the Windmills offers delightful fusion cooking and scrumptious delicacies. Taking fine dining to the next level, the guest can handpick their own organic vegetables to cook with for the dishes they order.The ambiance is idyllic and very country, the hosts polite to perfection and overall, a great place to spend an evening in.

3. Welle Wadiya Beach Restaurant ($$)

Kandakuliya, Kalpitiya

The Welle Wadiya is a charming seaside joint decorated with the most stylish and minimal decor, giving it a bright and airy ambiance. A table for just two can be set up by the waves upon request. That alone makes this the top of the list for a romantic dinner with a reasonable cost! Their fish, prawn and buffalo curd are much raved about.

4. Kitesurfing Lanka Restaurant ($$)

Dutch Bay Road, Kandakuliya, Kalpitiya

This restaurant prides itself in never running out of food and drinks. Yes, it does sound odd, but countless visitors support this. They offer buffet spreads, coffee, tea, and drinks throughout the day. Fresh seafood barbeques, endless food and drinks, a beach view and great hosts, what more could kitesurfers or any adventurer need?

5. Kite House Café ($)

Odai Karai Road, Kappalady, Kalpitiya

One of the better known restaurants for serving quality food at lower prices, this place serves Sri Lankan as well as fusion cuisines. Their homemade pizzas and fresh juices are the talk of the town, and their cold beers don’t fall too far behind either. A very rustic and real place with no frills or facades, this is a must visit if you need great food for a reasonable price.

6. Angel Rest Restaurant ($)

Angel Rest, Muhathuwaram Road , Kalpitiya

Thanks to a perfect spot on the first floor, this restaurant offers a beautiful view over the streets and town. This hole in the wall already has a name of it’s own as well as loyal customers. Their most raved about dishes are the seafood choices, and their seafood platter is a must have if you venture here. With family like hosts and great ambiance, this is a good place to chill after a long hot day traipsing around Kalpitiya and Alankuda.

Where to Sleep

There are many places to stay in Kalpitiya; here are our top recommendations:

1. Elements Watersports and Nature Resort

This resort is an excellent place with comfortable bungalows surrounded by nature. One can enjoy the cool breeze of Indian Ocean here. This hotel provides basic requirements like hot water and Wi-Fi. Daycare is also available for children.

2. Dutch Bay Resorts

Dutch Bay Island is noted for its biodiversity and offers a sanctuary for many whales and dolphins. The Dutch Bay resort is one of the most preferred because of its numerous amenities. They offer laundry service, butlers, housekeeping, and much more.

3. Dolphin Beach Resort

This resort lies on Kudawa beach, which is famous for its golden sand and pure cerulean sky. This is one of the best places for those seeking a memorable holiday. Kitesurfing is offered by this resort from April to November. The air-conditioned and spacious rooms are very comfortable.

4. Udekki

This resort provides offers luxurious rooms with television and air-conditioning. They also have a large pool and a verandah.

When to Go

Best time: The best time to visit is from November to April, when the climate is a little easier to handle than the rest of the year. However, do note that the end and start of the year is a popular time for international tourists to visit, so it may get busy.

Time to avoid: May to August when it is monsoon season; if you are around during monsoon season you will find that most water sport activities will either be cancelled or will have limited schedules due to the high waves during this time period.

Getting-In and Around

Colombo: The bus from Pettah CTB station to Puttalam station takes almost five hours. You will then need to take a taxi to Kalpitiya which will take about an hour. A direct taxi to Kalpitiya will take about 3 hours.

Airport or Negombo: A taxi ride will take about 3 hours. Or you can take a bus to Puttalam from Colombo or Negombo. Take a taxi from Puttalam.

Galle: The bus from Galle to Puttalam takes about 10 hours with a transit in Colombo. A taxi  from Galle will take about 4.5 hours using E01 Expressway.

Kandy: Taking a taxi from Kandy will take more than 3 hours. Or there are buses from Kandy to Puttalam, from where you will have to take a taxi.

Ella: Go to Bandarawela Bus Station and catch a bus to Kandy and from there to Puttalam; this journey will take about 12 hours. Or, you can take a taxi directly to Kalpitiya, which will take 6 – 7 hours.

Dambulla: A taxi to Kalptiya from Dambulla will take about 4 hours. Or you can take a bus to Putalam by transiting in Kurunegala.

Budget

There are some excellent quality accommodation options in Kalpiyia, with good value rooms priced from around $25 per night, all the way up to more exclusive hotel rooms from $200 per night. You can find a variety of cuisines on offer in the area, but the local Sri Lankan food is the cheapest, with a meals averaging about $5-10 (if you order seafood your bill will be much higher).

There are lots of water sport activity packages that are offered by local Sri Lankan tour operators. Prices can be high, with average diving lessons costing about $60 per person; don’t forget to calculate the cost of hiring sporting equipment when you are working out the cost of an activity.

Traveler Quotes

… The ideal time to visit is between November and March in Kalpitiya, where pods of up to thousands of dolphins can be sighted… 

– Dinesh in Dolphinbeach blog

Kalpitiya is a vast delight of things for every type of tourist! Here in Kalpitiya, the best bet is to start with the ocean—there are so many fun water sports such as kitesurfing, whale and dolphin watching, or even deep sea fishing. You can never run out of fun things to do on these golden, beautiful beaches. If you get tired of the sand and sun, don’t worry! Visit the Puttalam Salt Plains for bird watching, or go to Ruwala Nature Resort. The food is delicious, the locals are friendly, and the adventure abounds.

Visit Kalpitiya for an exciting holiday!

Updated by Teddy