In recent years, Mirissa has become synonymous with Southern Sri Lanka as more travellers make their way here in search of a perfect beach. Although a small town, the whole area has positioned itself to serve the growing demand for international food, nightlife and other modern comforts. Here’s 5 things not to be missed!
Top things to do in Mirissa
COCONUT TREE HILL
Starting from the east, we kicked off your day of exploration at a Coconut Tree Hill, a magnificent hill covered with palm trees. It’s a bit hard to find but it’s on Google Maps and you can always ask people around you.
From Coconut Tree Hill head down via a short path towards the first beach lined with resort villas and guesthouses. Take a peek into Seaworld Resort famous for its mini-infinity pool looking out to the coast. If you are not staying here, it will cost you around $4USD to enjoy the pool.
Past the first beach, you will arrive at the second slightly smaller stretch with more resorts. Continue walking and note the Island Bay Bar famous for its sunset cocktails.
Here is where most of the action happens, with areas of the beach occupied by casual swimmers and surfers alike. During our stay, the waters were somewhat rough and although it makes for quite a bit of fun on the surfing board the swimming experience wasn’t best during mid-July.
If you are up for a treasure hunt, there is also the Secret Beach. A short 10-15min trek from Mirissa beach will take you to a miniature beach sheltered by a line of palms and a high cliff with an adjacent beach bar. This place was recommended to us by various blogs, but unfortunately we were underwhelmed by its size and the fact that it was littered with plastic debris. It would probably be more lively and better taken care of during high season.
As mentioned earlier, Mirissa beach is a great place to find the inner surfer in you. Ask your hotel for a recommendation of an instructor. You can always call Surf & Yoga and ask to borrow theirs!
WHALE & DOLPHIN WATCHING
We have heard mixed feedback from fellow travellers about the experiences. Depending on the season the chance of seeing whales varies significantly. The best time to go is November to March/ April, when seas are calm. Some people we met went while we visiting in July and complained about being really sea sick due to rough seas. So if you go off-season, make sure you are comfortable with staying on a rocking boat for 4-5 hours.
Although quite keen, due to bad timing and high cost (~40$+ per person) we passed on it on this occasion.
Eat & Drink
There are quite a few more eating options in Mirissa when compared to other locations we have visited.
For some local Sri Lankan dishes, we visited No.1 Dewmini Roti Shop tucked away from the main hustle and bustle of Mirissa’s high street. This joint dishes out authentic and delicious rotis, rice and curries and juices. We liked it so much we came here twice. Note that you will have to pre-order curry dishes either a day before or in the morning. Rotis and kotus are available all day.
For even cheaper dishes you can pop over to Samagi Cream House & Food Corner on the main road behind Mirissa beach. The food here is served all day, quickly and at a very cheap price (2$ for a hearty rice & curry!).
For more upscale and western dishes, you will do well staying on Mirissa beach. Towards the evening, the local restaurants lay out wide tables with an assortment of fresh fish on display. Red snapper seemed to be the most popular and can be grilled at a price to be agreed with your host. We heard mixed reviews about these restaurants but undoubtedly the setting here is magnificent.
If you miss Western food, pop into Zephyr Restaurant & Bar in Mirissa beach for their burgers with a view! Beware though the prices here will be understandably high and the service unfortunately a little bit slow.
Good to know before you go
- Getting to / from Mirissa: We negotiated a tuk-tuk from Galle to Mirissa for 1500 Rps which took about 1 hour (40km). From Mirissa we continued on to Tangalle on a tuk-tuk for 2000 Rps. We felt reasonably safe riding the long distances with our Tuk Tuk drivers. The only downside is that you are exposed to an occasional wave of exhaust fumes from bypassing vehicles. Wearing a light scarf helps.
- Safety: Wherever we went in South Sri Lanka we always felt safe. In general, people are nice, kind and welcoming in line with the local Buddhist culture. Most people speak some level of English so don’t be afraid to ask questions if need be.
- Main Highway: Most of the coastal locations in South Sri lanka are located off the A2 highway. The traffic here is somewhat heavy with a constant flow of buses, tuk-tuk and the rest. Thus, I would suggest factoring in your accommodation’s proximity to the highway to gauge the noise levels.
- Beach Beds: Similar to elsewhere in the south, the general rule here is that the beach beds are free of charge as long as you purchase a drink of your choice. On one occasion the host at the Mirissa Bay Resort allowed us to lounge without bothering us to buy a drink!
Best time to visit Mirissa
High season in the South / East is between November and March. We were visiting in July which meant that we generally had the beaches for ourselves and were able to negotiate prices (transport, services) at 15-20% discount. Note that the ocean is fairly rough at this time and tide seems to be higher than in high-season making it less pleasant to swim.
- Related Articles: Things to do in and around Galle
Where to stay
Having done some research, we settled on a quirky and cool Surf & Yoga Guesthouse for a 2-night stay. True to its name, there are resident Surf and Yoga instructors ready to render their services at pre-agreed times.
The guesthouse was only short walk to a nearby Mirissa beach and was reasonably priced considering the breakfast was included (which by the way was delicious!). In fact, I would highly recommend booking any hotel with a breakfast as it’s hard to find decent shops that are open in the morning. We were lucky to stay in one of the rooms on the top floor with our own balcony overlooking the surrounding fruit tree garden – a beautiful place to relax and practice our own yoga! Rooms start at $45 USD/night. Read reviews and book here.
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