Mirissa’s main beach is located in a moon shaped arc, cut away from the other beaches surrounding it that are less pleasant and much quieter. The sand is soft to touch and as the waves repeatedly smash the surf, you can see why many people surf here, choosing a secluded crescent of natural beauty with wild surf, rather than the unkempt fisherman village nearby of Weligama. Some rocks dot the beach, one offers a way to see the sunset- to see pink, orange and purple hues merge together in union, brightly shining through gloomy clouds. Mirissa is a popular destination for all due to its close proximity to Colombo (roughly 4 hours) and is a hotspot for whale watching. Babies strapped onto Dad’s clutching surf boards and mothers rubbing sun-cream onto their children, is a familiar sight. Restaurants pop up on the beach, with small gaps in between, which makes the beach not as hectic and tourist as Hikkaduwa.
I will be honest with you as I always am. Mirissa is a very nice beach to visit, and the surf here is a fantastic spot. But for those who don’t catch waves or worship the sun, there is little to do here. Of course, you could hire a motorbike and escape to the nearby quieter beaches of Tangelle and Weligama, as during peak season, this beach is over flowing with people because of its restraints in size. I like beaches that either offer stunning views and quiet peace, or are large and filled with nearby things to do and places to eat, or even offer some scope to local life. I feel Mirissa does not fulfil any of these. It being to small to be quiet, with little activities and too touristy to be local, I felt although beautiful, it fitted nowhere.
Sri Lanka has many private, untouched beaches- mainly on the east coast. I spoke to other backpackers whom had travelled all over and their experiences were: the beaches around Trimcolee offers fantastic snorkelling, Tangelle quiet, beautiful but unkempt in places, Unu Wathura is over crowded and not as nice as it could have been, Weligama: a local beach filled with fisherman and great for surf, Aragum Bay great for surf not the best for sunbathing and Hikkaduwa: overcrowded and noisy. Please note with all of these beaches, you are able to find a quiet place off the beaten track, or even a beach further away from the main beach, however these are my experiences – and many others experiences of Lanka’s beaches. In this respect, I feel beach life in Sri Lanka did not meet my expectations, and balance my experiences of beaches in the Carribean, Mediterranean and in Thailand, (Wow- I didn’t know I was such a beach snob until now!)
What I would advise, is to travel beaches on the east coast, and by motorbike or private car along the south coast, enabling you to stay in one place, and venture to the beach in another.
The main attraction that pulled me to Mirissa- and many others as well, is whale watching. There are many tours on offer, I went with “Whale Watching Mirissa”. For 2 thousand rupees, I woke up bright and early, at 6:30 am to go on a boat trip, with a breakfast inclusive of a cheese sandwich, a banana, a piece of cake, a cup of tea and a bottle of water. I was told the duration of the trip would vary depending on if we saw anything. Luckily, we were rewarded pretty quickly due to the sharply trained eyes of the staff. We saw dolphins jumping in the air in ecstasy, and a mother Blue Whale close behind her child, hugging one another and swimming together as one, whilst gasping up out of their blow holes in the air. It was magnificent seeing such colossal creatures in their natural habitat, doing what they do best. I felt very privileged, so I recommend doing this trip to all.
My favourite places to eat in Mirissa are Wadiya Seafood Restaurant– where it seems all the staff are massive fans of dreadlocks and Bob Marley. Here you can pick fresh seafood from the days catch and have it grilled with chips and salad for a reasonable price. Looking up at the stars with the sand beneath my toes, listening to the rumble and tumble of the waves whilst munching messily on crab and sipping a luxurious glass of wine, I thought to myself, although this beach is small, unadventurous and busy- it still is beautiful and you should still feel lucky to visit. A great backpacker place to eat is the Rotti Shop, at Green Garden Mirissa– it offers decent local food at a cheap price in a picturesque garden away from the noisy main street, compared to the expensive surrounding restaurants.