After four days staying on the incredible Hiriketiya beach, we moved onto Mirissa, a beach town I’d heard was quite chilled out but not as quiet as Tangalle. I was a bit concerned as every tourist I met was also heading there and friends who’d been recently said it wasn’t the best. So, what was it actually like?
Read on to find out if Mirissa is worth visiting in Sri Lanka…
How to get to Mirissa
We ended up paying 2000R for a tuk tuk from Hiriketiya which was over 1 hour away. You can however easily get a bus from Dikwella to Mirissa. Most buses stop at Matara and you might have to change there but buses are super cheap, like 100R max (AU80c). If you’re coming from Colombo, I’m sure you can catch a train to Weligama, then get a tuk tuk from there which is 15 minutes away.
Where did we stay in Mirissa?
An amazing breakfast was included at Moon Glow Guest House which was just AU$23 a night.
We booked ourselves into a guesthouse called Moon Glow Guest House we found on booking.com. The guesthouse was lovely, comprised of 3 rooms on the top floor for guests with a shared bathroom. The family lived downstairs but were really friendly and helpful.
It’s a close call but it was probably the friendliest of all of the places we stayed at. The breakfast was awesome and huge and included in the cost of AU$23 which was fab. The room was a bit on the small side but perfect for a couple of nights.
It was also in a good location on the far right hand side of the beach and quiet enough to be away from the music at night.
What was Mirissa like?
Sun loungers lined the whole beach at Mirissa
When we got to Mirissa, the guesthouses are all away from the main road along some lovely streets. It was quiet and actually a lot nicer than I imagined it to be.
It was when we went onto the beach that it all changed. The beach itself is massive, and all lined with sun loungers, bars and restaurants. We were shocked – we could have literally been in Magaluf, or somewhere like a cheap package holiday. There were thousands of tourists on this beach and it was gutting after being on a quiet beach days earlier, but we did get used to it and didn’t mind it in the end.Thousands of tourists on Mirissa beach all day everyday.
We also noticed a change when it came to the local people and tuk tuk drivers. Sri Lankans were pretty aggressive and the tuk tuk drivers were charging a lot more than in other places. I didn’t blame them really when the reality of them having to drive tourists to expensive restaurants and all they were asking for was a couple of hundred rupees is so little in comparison.
We even had five year old school kids ask us for money and notebooks. This was the first time we’d been actually asked for any money from anyone in Sri Lanka and it was heartbreaking that it was from five year olds. I wondered how many people have just given these kids money before?
Beaches away from Mirissa
The beaches in Mirissa and up the coast really weren’t anything to write home about as an honest opinion. Personally the beaches further down the coast were better (Dikwella and Tangalle) but here’s the beaches we did see in the area….
In the three days we were in Mirissa, we spent the first day going to check out Medigama beach which we were told was really nice. It cost us 450R from Mirissa in a tuk tuk to get there and although it was nice, it was right next to the busy main road so we decided to get back in the tuk tuk and head to Unawatuna which is about 1 hour from Mirissa.The reality of Medigama Beach, near Mirissa
The vibe changed on the way to Unawatuna and felt more authentic and chilled out again. We liked Unawatuna but again the beach was a bit too touristy.Unawatuna Beach
You see most of the beaches along the coastline from Mirissa to Unawatuna are right next to the main road. If that doesn’t bother you then there would be a few to check out.
Also worth a mention is Weligama beach which is known for the first time surfers so if you’re into that then could be worth a visit.
Around the corner from Mirissa (far right) we went to find the Secret Beach, although it wasn’t so secret when there was a sign to follow! If you’re looking for somewhere quieter than Mirissa beach then this could be a perfect alternative that’s near to Raja & Whales office at the very end of Mirissa beach. It honestly felt like we had found a secret beach with the beautiful walk into a more untouched part of Mirissa and it was the nicest one we had seen in the area. The not so Secret Beach in Mirissa.
Food in Mirissa
We found a local restaurant off the beach and had ‘Mum’s Curry’!
We returned to Mirissa that night and found a fab local restaurant and had Mum’s curry which was one of the best curry’s I had in the whole of Sri Lanka! I couldn’t even direct you how to get there but the point is, you don’t have to spend a lot on food in Mirissa if you don’t want too.
The next day, we made a beeline to Shady Lane, a homestay and brunch cafe I found on airbnb. I wanted to visit as they made what looked to be like AH-MAZING smoothie bowls. When we turned up, they had actually closed but because they heard Steve’s Aussie accent and the part owner was Aussie too, they happily made us one. I must say, it was absolutely awesome and it made me crave smoothie bowls like there’s no tomorrow because it’s hard to get super cold drinks or cold smoothies in Sri Lanka because of Ayurvedic traditions.Appreciating every moment of a decent smoothie bowl at Shady Lane.Zephyr Restaurant
That night we ate at Zephyr restaurant and had a tuna steak and veggies for 1600R each (a local meal would set us back about 200R each). That’s the most we had spent on food during our entire Sri Lankan trip, but we treated ourselves that night. Food was good too thankfully!Zephyr Restaurant
On our final night we treated ourselves again at Karma restaurant because we couldn’t actually get into the night before and I had a lasagne which was actually amazing! We had just booked flights to India so we knew we wouldn’t have the luxury of food this good for a while. Be sure to book a table for this place, it’s a bit on the pricey side but worth the treat!Karma Restaurant, Mirissa
Turtle Hatching and Blue Whales
Whilst we were having an afternoon swim in the sea at Mirissa beach, we saw a huge gathering of people. There were like 100 people gathered around so we went to check out what was happening and the baby turtles had hatched and were going into the sea. It was actually quite amazing to watch but I didn’t have my cam on me to capture it. Turns out turtles are often found on the beach at night time laying their eggs (they come back to where they were born to lay them, then leave the eggs there and head back into the ocean). So the locals scoop the eggs up and protect them from anyone stepping on them by burying them in these protected areas on the beach. Then what do you know? The eggs hatch and we were lucky to see the gorgeous little baby turtles head out into the sea for the first time 🙂
On our third day, we got up at 6am and went to see the largest creatures on earth – the blue whales! We booked with Raja & The Whales, Mirissa’s No 1 Whale company, and the only ethical company too. It cost us 6,500R each (about AU$60) but it was worth it.The briefing before we found any whales.
We left at 6:30am and were given loads of food throughout the day from a fruit plate, cooked breakfast, tea and cakes. We were given plenty to eat on the Blue Whales trip
In the end we actually saw a load of spinner dolphins and about 5 blue whales. It was honestly amazing.
I did take their sea sickness tablet and it made me so tired and drowsy, if I were to go again, I probably wouldn’t have taken it as I’ve not been sea sick before. The whale excursions are so pot luck because we met one girl who saw loads of pods of blue whales plus sperm whales, turtles, and other kind of whales, it sounded amazing. Whilst another saw just two blue whales. Turns out, if you don’t see any, you get your money back.
Why go to see the whales with Raja & The WhalesThe many packed boats waiting to go out to find the blue whales at sunrise.
Firstly, they picked us up in a tuk tuk from our guest house to take us to the office at 6am. When we left the harbour, there were like 30 other boats going out too all jam packed with tourists. After the first sighting with all of the other boats around, we went off on our own to see the others which was great. I wondered if all the other boats stayed together.After the first sighting of the blue whale you can see the many boats in the background.
We also came back loads later than the other boats at 12:30pm so we had a good six hours on the boat. The guys also working on the boat were really passionate about the ocean and you could really feel it.Apparently we could only see 20% of the whale. They truly are massive!!
Reasons to go to Mirissa
- If you’re on holiday and want to obviously feel like you’re on holiday with good nightlife, good western food and don’t mind being on a busy beach.
- If you’re up for some nightlife, each night the ocean bars take it in turn to host a party. You’ll know which one by the batman-esque light which can be seen from miles away (slight exaggeration but you get what I mean!) and there’s fireworks which are let off to start the night every single night.
- If you’re not really interested in Sri Lankan culture because this town is very much just a tourist town now.
- Happy to be around loads of girls taking selfies because it was a selfie heaven along the beach.
- Want the option to explore the coast for the day and having Mirissa as your base such as visiting the famous Instagram swing at Dalawella beach near Unawatuna.
- And obviously if you want to see the blue whales which to me was the main highlight of this town.
Personally if I were to do it again, I would have just stayed for the night and gone to see the whales in the morning and got myself a good smoothie bowl from Shady Lane before heading up to Unawatuna or down to Hiriketiya.
A huge guide on Sri Lanka will be coming your way very soon!
But first, have you read my other posts on Sri Lanka yet?