Sri Lanka is famous for its regal mountains, beaches to die for, waterfalls that dots the island, ruins boasting of several ancient kingdoms, and a wildlife that seeps into the urban life. Even after a devastating civil war and tragedies that tore this island apart, the islanders have a way of rising above embracing our ability to survive partly because of the amazing sights Sri Lanka offers and partly because of the resolute of the Sri Lankan people.
While we celebrate all those above land, today we are taking you a little bit under; underwater. Taking advantage of the East Coast whether, we headed up to Poseidon Diving Centre in Trincomalee to experience life under the sea.
Poseidon initially began in 1973 in Hikkaduwa to offer a safe and professional experience under the sea for the Sri Lankan diving enthusiasts, and was the first PADI IDC centre in Sri Lanka. While Sri Lanka offered the experience, Poseidon was the first five star PADI dive centre and instructor development centre. Currently, they operate out of Hikkaduwa and Trincomalee offering PADI Discover Scuba Diving and the beginner’s PADI Open Water Diver course up to Instructor Development courses.
Our key contact person was none other than the PADI Master Scuba Diver Trainer, Praveen Wijesuriya, who is the Manager of Poseidon Diving Center, Trincomalee. Praveen’s love for the ocean began when he was studying at Royal College, Colombo, and got his Open Water certification in 2007. Since then he has completed over 6000 dives. However, more than his expertise, it was his passion and understanding of the ocean that made the experience of strapping a heavy tank to your back and sinking to the ocean floor relaxing.
Starting the day at 8am, we were taken through an introductory video explaining what we would be doing, what to expect, hand signals, and what to do in an emergency followed by a few questions at the end to make sure that we understood what we just saw. Next we were tasked with assembling our own equipment under the guidance of Praveen and the team double checking we have fixed all the ports correctly. Once, this was over, Praveen took us through what we saw in the video and answered any questioned we had. This may seem a bit excessive, but we are about to strap on a few kilos of oxygen, and dive down 10 metres into the ocean floor.
The next part of our training session was putting into practice everything we learnt, but instead of doing everything for the first time in the actual dive, we were taken to a spot little off the shore where the water was crystal clear and just 2m deep. One of us had a mini panic moment, but Praveen carefully took them through the motions, even as far as to say mentally preparing us to take the dive.
Finally, we were off to Pigeon Island! Poseidon Diving Centre is one of the very few dive centres that are allowed to dive around Pigeon Island. One of the key information that stuck in our head was the attention they pay to make sure that we don’t damage the environment. For example, anchors cannot be dropped around the area; there is a pre anchored rope, and you may tie your boat to that. You cannot carry plastics, and they ask you to be very careful that our fins won’t hit the corals.
The experience under the ocean is nothing like the movies. It’s as if you forgot you are a two legged being breathing without the aid of a mouth piece. Even though it was our first time scuba diving, the movements felt familiar, breathing became normal, and the scenery… the scenery becomes something we’ve known our entire life. The unfamiliarity disappears and it starts to feel like this is where we’ve been our entire lives. Everything becomes… home.
Even though we didn’t want to resurface, the next step of the adventure was just as magical. We snorkelled freely around the island watching schools of fish and thinking we were just among them a few minutes ago. The amazing allure of Trincomalee beach is that there are less rough waves, the water tends to be crystal clear in most places, corals are very grown and less damaged, very shallow waters, not many rocks, and most importantly, much less polluted. The journey from Colombo to Trincomalee might be a bit long, but it’s definitely worth it.
Poseidon dive centres offer two seasons divided among Hikkaduwa and Trincomalee; with Hikkaduwa kicking off from October to April, and Trincomalee from March to September. If you don’t think you’ll make it to Trincomalee in September, then head down to Hikkaduwa in October to experience the biggest dive centre in Sri Lanka with deep sea dives and ship wreck dives offering a whole other variety of fish, coral, and interesting rock formations. If you are planning on an adventure in the next coming months, Poseidon is the way forward.