Great and Little Basses Reefs are located on the South East coast of the island, off the small fishing village Kirinda. Albeit being a natural barrier that protects the south eastern coastal belt, the Basses have also resulted in wrecking many ships that unsuspectingly sailed too close to the shore line. In 1873 and 1878, the ruling British government built two light houses in both reefs, which are still in operation

Diving in the Basses is a much anticipated activity. Due to strong currents and rough sea conditions, diving can be done only during mid March until the end of April each year, when the North East monsoons end, and South West monsoons are about to start.


Great Basses

Accessible within half an hour from the Kirinda Fisheries harbour, the most famous shipwreck in the basses is the ‘coin ship’ that lies in a depth of twenty meters. The 24 gun ship of the Mogul Emperor Aurangzeb (1658-1707) was caught in a storm and sank with a cargo of thousands of silver coins. It was discovered by late Arthur C. Clarke (author of 2001, A Space Odyssey) and Mike Wilson in 1961. Accessible only through the openings of the reef, strong currents make this dive somewhat challenging.

Located in shallow depths near the Great Basses light house, is yet another wreck, of a ship that carried a large haul of pointed bottom glass bottles. Fragments of these bottles can be seen even today.


Little Basses

With a travel time of around two hours from the Kirinda harbour, there are two shipwrecks in the shallow waters of Little Basses reef.

The ‘copper ship’ is a Dutch origin wooden steam ship, where the hull was made of copper plates. It is lying at a depth of 18 – 20 meters.

The large ‘iron wreck’ that lies approximately 4 kilometers west of Little Basses reef, has the top part of its engine only 2 feet under water. Being a very shallow wreck, this has become an excellent breeding ground for marine life.

Although there are no established dive centers in Kirinda, Dharshana conducts dive tours to the Basses every year. Accommodation can be provided, however is optional.