Mirissa is a laid back beach paradise on the south coast of Sri Lanka. The town is easily accessible from the capital city of Colombo; the journey takes just 3 hours by car. It is also just a short taxi ride from another of the country’s popular attractions, Galle Fort. Mirissa is the perfect place to relax with a hammock and a cocktail and watch the world go by. It’s appeal centres around its scenic shoreline, so you won’t have to waste any time getting to and from different places. One day here is more than enough to enjoy exploring the area as well as schedule in some downtime.
Where to Eat
If you start to feel peckish in between meals, head to KAMA, the trendiest food spot on the beachfront. Their deliciously refreshing (and homemade) coconut ice-creams are well worth the slightly higher asking price. KAMA has a very comfortable seating area on its balcony, which overlooks the beach.
Little Tuna is a relatively upmarket sushi restaurant whose ingredients are sourced directly from the sea, caught by local fishermen. Apart from the tasty food, the place has a wonderful cosy ambience due to the fact that all the seating is on the floor.
For a lovely evening meal you won’t even have to leave the beachfront! Many of the restaurants that line it put out tables lit up by candles and lanterns, and have seafood barbecues. A short walk to Mirissa’s smaller bay will reveal a somewhat hidden bar known as Papa Mango’s – a charming thatched cottage with white tables and chairs arranged under the palm trees in the yard. It’s the perfect spot to down a cocktail or a freshly cooked dinner as the sun sets.
Being a small seaside town catering mainly to tourists and built upon a small local fishing economy, Mirissa doesn’t have a lot in the way of cultural or historical monuments. But that’s not to say that visitors can’t experience the local way of life. Choosing to stay in a homestay or a family guesthouse rather than a resort will provide a more authentic example of Sri Lankan life. No. 1 Dewmini Roti Shop is a popular guesthouse combined with restaurant that also offers Sri Lankan cooking classes!
Mirissa is made for sunbathing on the beach, but there are still plenty of options for the active traveller. The water is crystal clear, making it perfect for snorkelling around the rocks and reefs. Surfing is also a popular pastime due to the good breaks at the western end of the beach. The waves haven’t become common knowledge yet, so usually there is only a small crowd of surfers around. That makes it prime territory for both beginners to learn to surf, and more experienced surfers to have the waves to themselves for the most part.
Yet the star of the show in Mirissa is undoubtedly the chance to see blue whales. It is one of the best spots in the world to observe these gentle giants; their migration season is from March to December, when they are likely to pass through these waters. Avoid any tour operators who advertise swimming with whales – this is banned under Sri Lankan law due to the potential damage it could cause to the animals. Instead charter a boat from the harbour that promotes sustainable tourism, so you can hopefully view blue whales at close quarters but in a safe manner.
Parrot Rock is an unmistakable red-coloured natural formation just off Mirissa Beach. The prominent rock is connected to the shore by a thin spit of sand that can be walked across at low tide. After climbing Parrot Rock you will be rewarded with spectacular views of the town and the neighbouring coastline. The island is actually private property but visitors are still allowed, especially if they are customers of the aforementioned Papa Mango’s café – the land belongs to the owner’s family. However for safety reasons it’s best not to venture out to Parrot Rock during high tide or bad weather.