Sri Lanka - Facts

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Sri Lanka FAQs

Pre-Arrival Boat: An agent is required to clear into and out of Sri Lanka. Preferably establish contact with an agent before arrival. See Formalities for all the details.
Pre-Arrival Crew: Sri Lanka requires that you apply and be approved for a visa prior to arrival.. See Immigration for details.
Where can I enter? There are 3 possible ports of entry. Click on “Explore Country” to access the main ports.
Are fees high to enter by yacht? Approx. US$300-$400, not including visa or overtime fees, for up to 1 month – see Fees for details.
What security concerns should I know about? It’s generally safe but events in recent history should be taken into account. See Security for more info.

Sri Lanka Facts for Sailors

  • Sri Lanka is an island nation in South Asia, situated in the Indian Ocean toward the southwest of the Bay of Bengal and to the southeast of the Arabian Sea.
  • The population of Sri Lanka is approximately 21.5 million.
  • Sinhala is the most common language but Tamil and English are spoken by about a quarter of the population.
  • The currency used is the Sri Lanka Rupee, for specifics see General Info.
  • The climate is tropical, and the weather is hot and humid throughout the year. See Weather section below for more details
  • Sri Lanka operates on India Standard Time, UTC+5.30.
  • Sri Lanka is renowned for it’s natural beauty with exotic animals and lush greenery exemplified at the Udawalawe National Park where a safari can be taken. In addition there are dozens of historical sites scattered throughout the country.
  • Sri Lanka is a useful stop for yachts en route to the Red Sea and a good point of departure for cruising the Maldives, Chagos and Seychelles.
  • Sri Lanka is not, however, a cruising destination. There are no sheltered anchorages and it’s only possible to visit the 3 ports of entry. See Clearance for details.
  • It is highly likely on your approach to Sri Lanka you will be accosted by fishing boats at full speed shouting and waving at you wanting gifts. Wave them away and proceed west as fast as possible. Don’t be surprised if you have to bear off or start an engine to avoid them.
  • Repair and haul out facilities are very limited. For more information see Yachting Essentials.

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Sri Lanka was last updated 4 weeks ago.

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  1. March 24, 2024 at 12:26 PM
    Rene Kuipers says:

    We have had last week a tour in Sri-Lanka, unfortunately we had a very bad guide from Galle Harbour, mr. Jozef. He presented himself as a well-educated and good guide, but on the way he informed us very poor about culture and possibilities, was each evening complete drunk and present himself in the daytime as a clown to other people.
    We agreed to pay 50% of the trip in advance and after the trip the other 50% by banktransfer. Each day he forced us to pay him a part of the last 50% payment, only to pay the hotels, excursions and the rest to buy cigarettes and alcohol for his own pleasure.
    That’s why we hardly advice you, don’t make further appointments with him!!
    We can recommend an very honest other guide, Mr. Asela who is also a cheap Tuktuk driver for the marina-people. This is a well educated man, knows a lot of facts over the Sri-Lanka culture and is a good guide to join with and organise your trip in Sri-Lanka! You can reach him on Telephone/WhatsApp 077 920 8933.
    He will not disappoint you!!

  2. April 22, 2019 at 12:43 PM
    Lynda Lim says:

    Apr 22, 2019 12:43 PM

    We used GAC in Galle and Nuwan in Galle did a good job with the paperwork but the GAC system is painful – all instructions have to go via GAC Colombo – and stuff gets lost in the communication. They also charged $400 for clearing in a 10kg parcel at Colombo and shipping to Galle Harbour. They are more geared to big ships, so, while I don’t have experience of the others, I wonder if there is a better alternative

  3. March 31, 2019 at 9:20 AM
    Lynda Lim says:

    Mar 31, 2019 09:20 AM

    We had a great 25-day stay in Sri Lanka. Our boat was in Trincomalee the whole time, which we loved. The anchorage is flat calm and the town is quiet. We cleared in using Sandeep from GAC, who was extremely helpful to us.

    We hired a driver, Raj, to get us around the Cultural Triangle for three days. He can be reached at +94 77 766 7256. He dropped us off at Kandy where we took the train down to Ella and back over three days, and then we had Raj organize a driver to get us to Wilpattu for a three-day safari then back to the boat.

    Sri Lanka is a beautiful country. It’s unfortunate we can’t gunkhole, but I enjoyed our stay.

    Provisioning is available. Food City is a small grocery store, but has meats (chicken, some pork and some beef), cheese, and basic pantry goods. Near the dock in Trinco, there are a few small shops with staples. Dried beans, raisins and dates are easy to find.

    We used Dialogue for our SIM, and got 30 GB (with time restrictions) for $8USD.

  4. March 14, 2019 at 12:07 PM
    Lynda Lim says:

    clif everett says:
    Feb 23, 2019 04:35 AM

    Tango shipping agency got us through customs formalities on a national holiday at 8pm. I was amazed. The price was $325. We were able to go to dinner that same evening.

  5. May 23, 2018 at 4:27 PM
    Data Entry3 says:

    When we arrived in Sri Lanka we called for Tango Shipping Agency on the Ch 16 – Mr Chatura and Nilusha were great and went beyond the formalities to enter the country. Mr Chatura is a man of the sea, very experienced in many areas and helped us a lot in electrical problems for free! They were clear, helpful and kind and we became friends.

    We also made friends with the helpful and smiley Ekka, the tuk-tuk driver that knows everything and everyone – http://www.ekkatours.com +94723371116. We loved Sri Lanka, thank you all!

  6. April 13, 2018 at 1:01 PM
    Data Entry3 says:

    Steve – the best group to get involved with is the Red Sea Passage Facebook Group. See http://www.noonsite.com/General/Piracy/red-sea-passage-facebook-group.
    There is also a facebook group for Crossing the Indian Ocean (on passage)

  7. March 20, 2018 at 1:41 AM
    Data Entry3 says:

    I am planning to sail from Sri Lanka to the Red Sea early in 2019 and would like to communicate with other sailors (owners and/or crew) interested in doing the same.

  8. March 1, 2018 at 5:57 PM
    Data Entry3 says:

    To everyone planning to go to Trincomalee Sri Lanka…
    TWO important points…

    NIGHT TIME ARRIVAL/DEPARTURE

    Be advised that entrance or exit in or out of Trincomalee Port is NOT allowed at night. There will be no circumstance that will permit entrance at night. There are no lighted buoys, and the harbormaster is not willing to be responsible for your nighttime entrance/departure. You must heave to or drift until morning if you arrive at night. Plan your arrivals accordingly.

    CUSTOMS CLEARANCE TO PORT

    Be advised that it is a big problem if you arrive in Trincomalee with clearance to a port of “Maldives” or anything besides “Trincomalee, Sri Lanka” or “High Seas”. GAC agent Sandeep worked hard for many hours today to get the problem cleared up with customs, and it is now resolved, but be aware that common practice elsewhere is not common practice here.

  9. February 3, 2018 at 2:11 PM
    Data Entry3 says:

    We cannot speak highly enough of our agent, Sandeep Kavinda Wickramarathne, from GAC Shipping Ltd. (Ph +94764675451). We paid US$310 to GAC Shipping for their services for a one month stay in Trincomalee, Sri Lanka. We found them to be very professional and efficient. Clearing in was no problem and very friendly. Nobody asked for any extra fees.

    The harbour is an excellent place to anchor and leave your boat for a few days exploring inland. Trincomalee is a nice sized town to use as a base for further travel inland. We had an excellent and well-priced guide – Yosef Ph.+94778802557. His price included all his expenses and then we paid for our meals and hotel on top of that. We were not approached by any fishermen upon entering the harbour.

    We chose Trincomalee because we had heard that the concrete plant in Gal leaves concrete dust all over your boat.
    Overall a great anchorage with good holding, easy access and great people.