If you are looking for a comprehensive Mirissa blog post, you have come to the right place. This article on the 20 best things to do in Mirissa will give you all the in depth practical travel information and tips that you will need to plan a trip to Mirissa Sri Lanka. Includes 20 of the best things to do (plus all the beautiful instagram hot spots), where to stay, where to eat and how to get around. Keep reading to plan your trip to this beautiful beach town!
If you are dreaming of a beautiful beach town that still retains a laidback bohemian vibe, where you can swim with turtles and take lots of pretty pictures for the gram, Mirissa in Sri Lanka might just be the place for you. Best of all, there are’nt that many tourists here compared to the other popular beach towns of Sri Lanka like Bentota, Negombo and Unawatuna. So make sure to add Mirissa to your Sri Lanka travel itinerary.
WHERE IS MIRISSA ?
Mirissa is located 170 kms from Colombo, on the southwest coast of the country. It is a central part of the cluster of beach communities dotting the southern coast of Sri lanka like Weligama, Matara and Tallala. Mirissa actually boasts of one of the best beaches in Sri Lanka.
HOW TO REACH MIRISSA
- FROM COLOMBO:
- BY TAXI: A private air conditioned taxi from Colombo airport will cost 40-50USD/ RS 5000-6000 and take around 2-2.5 hours. If you are travelling with children, have a lot of luggage or simply want a comfortable journey this option is for you.
- BY TRAIN: There is a direct express train from Colombo Fort station To Matara running twice daily that takes around 3.5 hours and costs 300-500 LKR. Get off at Matara and hop onto a tuk tuk or bus to reach Mirissa that is 30 mins away.
- BY BUS: There is a direct bus to Matara from where you have to change into another local bus to reach Mirissa that is 30 mins away. Bus journey from Colombo takes 5 hours and costs 100-200 LKR.
2. FROM ELLA:
- BY TAXI: If you are coming from Ella and have cash to spare, I suggest taking the taxi because it will save a LOT of time and you can reach within 3 hours. The price will be 50-60 USD.
- BY TRAIN: There is no direct train from Ella to Mirissa. All trains travel via Colombo Fort station making the journey very long , almost 13 hours.
- BY BUS: The journey by bus takes 7 hours and is cheap.
WHEN SHOULD YOU VISIT MIRISSA?
Sri Lanka has 2 distinct monsoon seasons striking the north east and south west coasts at different times of the year. So this becomes very important to avoid rains. The best time to visit Mirissa is during the warm and dry months from December to March. The weather is perfect for the beach (though we still got some intermittent afternoon showers when we visited during mid December). The days are sunny and great for beach hopping! However, this is peak season with huge numbers of tourists and high prices that can drive up your budget. November and April are shoulder season months. If you don’t mind some showers and want to cut costs you can travel during this time.
HOW MANY DAYS IN MIRISSA
I would suggest at least 3 days in Mirissa to do some of the best activities listed here along with a day trip or two. Anything less than this means sacrificing some of the things and rushing through the others.
WHERE TO STAY IN MIRISSA
Mirissa has a lot of accommodation options ranging from budget guesthouses to costly hotels. Most of the accommodation is situated walking distance to the Mirissa beach. Some of the well reviewed ones include:
Hostel: Why Not Backpackers
OUR STAY: D CANAL HOUSE- A TROPICAL PARADISE
We chose to stay a little away from the beach and D canal house was a great option. This bed and breakfast is located 10 mins away from the beach amidst nature. The rooms and cottages are surrounded by lush greenery, a big pool and a canal that runs alongside where you can take sunrise and sunset boat tours of the Mirissa lake. The property is extremely beautiful and perfect for relaxing. However, I would not suggest it for families and solo female travellers due to the lack of sufficient staff, on site restaurant and because the road leading upto the beach becomes really dark and scary after sunset.
WHERE TO EAT IN MIRISSA
- Petti petti: chilled out beach side café. Try the home made burgers, coconut shrimp and prawn curry.
- Salt: Beach front restaurant serving eclectic fusion south Asian. Try the Rice and curry and Sesame Tuna.
- Del Tano’s: For amazing Italian pizzas, pastas and Tiramisu.
- No 1 Dewmini Roti shop: A very popular family run local restaurant. Try the Chicken and prawn Kottu roti and Banoffee roti.
- Fresh seafood that is displayed at the beach front restaurants and shacks on Mirissa beach.
- Fish point, Weligama: A local institution that is very popular for its fresh, delicious and reasonably priced seafood.
GETTING AROUND IN MIRISSA
- WALKING: If you stay near the beach, its easy to walk around and see some of the attractions like coconut tree hill.
- TUK TUKS: The best mode of transportation! Tuk tuks are a fun and easy way to sightsee in and around Sri Lanka. For local stops like the beaches or coconut tree hill, the charges are generally 200-500 LKR. You can also use them for longer day trip journeys to places like Galle, Matara or Tangalle for a cheaper option than taxis plus a more comfortable option than a bus. Make sure to haggle and FIX the price before getting in.
- BUS: Local buses are a super cheap way for longer journeys to Galle or Matara. Costing hardly 0.5 USD per trip, travelling via a bus will help you stretch your budget for long. Make sure to keep money of smaller denominations to pay the bus driver.
20 BEST THINGS TO DO IN MIRISSA
- DISCOVER THE SECRET BEACH
This was my favourite place in Mirissa and one of the most beautiful beaches i have ever seen! Despite it’s name, Secret beach is actually not a secret anymore, though the number of tourists here is less than the other major beaches making it a perfect place to escape from the crowds if you are visiting during peak season. Secret beach has 3 different beaches with their own specialties like rock pools with crystal clear waters or palm trees lining the coastline. If you come here early enough, its possible to have the whole place to yourself! This isolated and secluded beach truly feels like a little island paradise. Swim to your heart’s content or just relax on a sunbed and while the time away! It’s also a good place for sunset viewing.
TIP: Look up ‘Secret beach bar’ on google maps as this is the landmark to visit the beach. Most tuk tuk drivers know the place and they will drop you off at a particular point. Since the road is bad, you gotta walk 10 mins from there to reach the beach bar. There are clear directions on the way so don’t worry about getting lost. Tuk tuk charges are around 500 LKR from Mirissa main beach. If you are coming via your own moped, make sure to try and park as close as possible.
‘Secret beach bar’ is the only beach bar here. Though there is no entry fees to access the beach, you can order a few drinks and some food.
2. SUNBATHE AT MIRISSA BEACH
Mirissa beach is the main beach in Mirissa and one of the best ones in Sri Lanka. The beach is long and clean with golden sands and blue waters. Being one of the most popular beaches on the south coast, it’s usually filled with a lot of tourists. Despite that, its possible to go early and find your own spot. There are many beach shacks offering food and drinks, making Mirissa beach perfect for hanging out for a long time. I found this beach to be good for all kinds of travellers: whether you are someone looking for some surf action, couples wanting a quiet nook to sit or families with kids looking for lots of beach fun, this beach has it all.
3. CHECK OUT THE FAMOUS ‘PARROT ROCK’
‘Parrot Rock’ is the name given to a large red mound, sitting amidst the waves in the eastern part of Mirissa beach. Depending on the tidal conditions and water level, its possible to walk from the beach to the rock and then climb it via some rickety steps. The view from above is beautiful and it’s a popular place for viewing sunsets.
TIP: Go at sunrise if you don’t want to share the place with too many people during sunset. Wear proper shoes and climb the stairs cautiously to avoid cuts and injuries.
4. GET INSTA WORTHY SHOTS AT COCONUT TREE HILL
Coconut tree hill is probably the most instagrammed place in Sri lanka and has become one of the iconic images of Mirissa. This small hill mound, filled with a clump of tall coconut trees is surrounded by the waters of the Indian ocean on all three sides and offers stunning views of the scenery especially during sunrise and sunset. This is a great place for photography thanks to it’s scenic location. Due its popularity, it’s usually swamped with tourists most of the time. Luckily, we visited in December 2021 when tourism had just restarted in Sri Lanka after the pandemic. So the number of people at famous spots like Coconut tree hill were far less than usual. Make sure to watch out for any coconut that can suddenly fall from a tree and cause injury.
TIP: To avoid the crowds lined up for a shot, go at sunrise and click your photos in peace. From 9am, people start arriving and it becomes crowded. If you want to visit during sunset, go at 4.30pm.
HOW TO REACH: Coconut tree hill is located around 15 mins walking distance fom Mirissa beach on its far eastern end. Most tuk tuk drivers know the place and will leave you right outside the gates of the coconut farm. From here, it’s a narrow path to reach the hill. You can also get dropped off on the main road outside the Sunset bar and enter via that way. Walk up a dirt path to reach the top of the mound. ENTRY: Free
5. TRY SURFING AT WELIGAMA BEACH
Weligama is Sri Lanka’s surf capital and one of the best places to pick up surfing. It is located 8kms from Mirissa and is easily reached by a 15 min tuk tuk ride (500 LKR). Surf board rentals and lessons usually cost around 1500-2000 LKR for the board, a 1.5 hour lesson and then free surfing time. Apart from surfing, Weligama is also known for it’s assortment of trendy cafes, restaurants and hotels. Some of the best places to eat in Weligama include Ceylon Sliders, Nomad Café and Weligama Roti point.
6. GO SNORKELLING WITH TURTLES
There are 2 places in Mirissa where you can snorkel and watch turtles for free. One is Turtle point, located near the Sunset Beach bar in Coconut tree hill. The other is Polhena Bay also known as Turtle bay because of the abundance of turtles seen here. So grab the opportunity to mingle with some of these cute sea creatures!
7. VISIT AN ETHICAL TURTLE SANCTUARY
There are many turtle hatcheries in the South coast but make sure to do your research before visiting any of them. Look for organisations that work for turtle conservation and are not just looking to make a quick buck. It’s a great way to learn more about Sri lanka’s turtle problem (they almost became extinct) while helping out with some financial support. Avoid ones which offer swims with turtles.
8. GO WHALE WATCHING
Mirissa is one of the internationally famous sites for whale watching. So tick off this bucket list experience here. However before booking any trip, please do some proper research as this a hugely controversial issue. Book with a company that practices ethical whale watching even if they might charge a bit more(look up the box below on how to do that). Apart from whales, another marine mammal that you can see here are Dolphins. There are around 2000 dolphins in the area so sighting them is much easier than whales. Plus dolphins are extremely playful and love to show off in front of boats.
TIPS: The whale watching season is from November to April.
The sea can get rough during the tour so many companies offer anti emetics before take off. However, keep in mind that these medicines can also cause drowsiness as a side effect which can hamper your trip.
Keep realistic expectations in mind. Any wildlife activity is dependent on a fair amount of luck so its possible that you may not get a sighting. A whale sighting requires a lot of patience. And the sighting (if it occurs) lasts for only a few seconds. So keep your eyes open when the boat enters an area where signals have been received. We were extremely lucky to get 2 sightings which lasted for barely 5-10 seconds each.
HOW TO PRACTISE ETHICAL WHALE WATCHING
First of all, READ REVIEWS. Go on Trip advisor and read some real reviews of the company that you are planning to choose. This is what you should look out for in the reviews:
Any company that ‘claims’ to practice ethical whale watching should be practicing some of these things:
- Never chasing Whales
- Never Getting too close to the whale
- Follows international guidelines on whale watching that includes keeping the desired distance and not emitting loud noise.
- Works with scientists and research organizations to combat unethical practices.
Our whale watching trip was with Raja and the Whales (not sponsored) and we were very happy with our experience. This company is well known for their steps on ethical whale watching and they also work with some of Sri Lanka’s marine scientists for research purposes. I am happy to recommend them if you are planning this activity because they did follow all the guidelines that I mentioned above. Plus they have their own camera with telephoto zoom lenses that they use to take some close up shots of the whales and dolphin sightings, which are then mailed to all the passengers of that day’s tour.
9. CATCH SOME STUNNING SUNSETS
While in Mirissa, make sure to catch some stunning sunsets in this beautiful landscape. Some of the best sunset viewing points include:
- Secret Beach
- Coconut Tree Hill
- From the top of parrot rock
- Mirissa beach
- From your boat in the backwaters
Alternately, if you want to avoid crowds especially at places like Coconut tree hill or Parrot rock, its best to go at sunrise to get an equally stunning view but with more peace and quiet.
10. TRY BODY BOARDING AT MIRISSA BEACH
If don’t want to try surfing, you may consider body boarding. A body board is half the size of a surf board and can be rented for 300 LKR per hour on the beach. It’s a great way to have some water fun!
10. GO BEACH HOPPING ACROSS THE SOUTH COAST
Sri Lanka’s south coast is filled with beautiful rustic beaches that are thankfully still free from rampant commercialization. Go off on a beach hopping spree for a day to visit some of them like Tangalle, Talallah, Dickwella, Hiriketiya Bay and Matara. These beaches are free from the crowds that descend upon resort towns like Bentota, Negombo and Unawatuna. I was very happy to hop on a tuk tuk that took us along this coastline to visit some of these beaches and it was the best decision ever!
TIP: To save time and for more convenience, hire a tuk tuk for the day. Our’s charged 5000 LKR for 8 hours, during which time we visited Tangalle, Hiriketiya Bay and Dondra Lighthouse.
12. VISIT HIRIKETIYA BAY FOR FULL ON ENJOYMENT:
Even if you do not have time for a whole beach hopping day, I would highly recommend that you visit at least Hiriketiya Bay. This horse shoe shaped small beach, lined up with palm trees is gorgeous! Turquoise waters, white sand and a vibrant bohemian atmosphere fills the place. Its actually known for it’s surf, so you may want to try that out. There are a few shacks and the number of tourists is not overwhelming. The whole place is filled with a chilled out hippie vibe, making it perfect for relaxing. Hiriketiya turned out to be my favourite spot in Sri Lanka and I was sad that I could’nt spend more time there. Next time I would love to stay overnight and indulge in that vibe!
TIP: Hiriketiya is located 35 kms from Mirissa or 1 hour away in the town of Dickwella. A tuk tuk ride should take 2000-2500 LKR for a round trip. Hiriketiya is also known for some it’s cafes like Verse Collective, Mond, Smoke n Bitters and Salt House.
13. VISIT DONDRA LIGHTHOUSE
If you plan that beach hopping day, add a stop at Dondra Lighthouse as it falls on the same route. Dondra is famous as the southern most tip in Sri Lanka, beyond which lies the vast waters of the Indian ocean. It was built in 1890 and can give some serious competition to the Galle lighthouse. Thanks to it’s coastal setting amidst palm trees and zero visitors, this one definitely deserves a visit.
TIP: The lighthouse was closed when we visited (due to the pandemic) but we bribed a guard to let us in for a few pictures. We were’nt allowed to go on top though i have heard that the views from above are pretty incredible. Timings: 9am-7pm. Entry Free.
14. HAVE A SUNSET BOAT RIDE AT MIRISSA LAKE
This was one of our best Mirissa experiences! The boating takes place through an extremely picturesque canal that ultimately opens into Mirissa lake. Along the way, we got to see mangroves, lush plantations, birds resting on trees and even a few monitor lizards crossing the water. It was nature at it’s very best and the beautiful colours at sunset made it 10 times better. Don’t believe me? Take a look at this picture and decide for yourself.
TIP: We organised our boat ride through D canal House, which was our stay in Mirissa. The property is beautiful and is located right beside the canal from where the boat tour begins. Boating takes place at sunrise and sunset and the price is 2000 LKR pp.
15. DIG ON SEA FOOD AT WELIGAMA’S FAMOUS FISH POINT
Fish point is one of those legendary local eating shacks that travellers rave about. Located right besides Weligama beach, this humble establishment offers some of the best sea food you will get to taste in Mirissa. The fresh catch of the day is displayed and food prices are based on the amount/ weight of sea food ordered. Fish, prawns, crabs, Lobsters, Oyesters… you name it, they have it! Bonus: the food is very reasonably priced and I actually found it cheaper than the Mirissa sea food joints.
TIP: Most tuk tuk drivers know the place, so just say the name. Rides cost around 500 LKR.
16. HAVE DINNER AT ONE OF THE BEACH SHACKS ON MIRISSA BEACH
Mirissa beach is filled with plenty of restaurants and shacks, making it a great choice for a beachfront dinner. The food is delicious (especially the sea food) though more expensive than at other local places away from the beach.
17. TAKE A DAY TRIP TO GALLE
Galle is located only 1 hour away from Mirissa and is a great option for a day trip away from the beaches. Galle is full of old colonial charm and the Galle fort complex is a prime example of this. The Galle fort was built by the Portugese in 1588 and the Dutch later added to it extensively in the 17th century. Spend the morning exploring the fort: its filled with pretty alleys, churches, shops and restaurants and take some shots of it’s iconic lighthouse. The fort wall ramparts are also a great place to catch the sunset.
TIP: You can use your own moped or choose a tuk tuk/taxi. The journey along the southern coast is very scenic.
18. TAKE A DAY TRIP TO UNAWATUNA
Unawatuna is another one of Sri lanka’s popular beach towns on the South west coast. Located only 1 hour away from Mirissa and 10 mins from Galle, Unawatuna is a very popular option for a day trip or staying overnight. Some of the best places to visit in Unawatuna include Dalawella beach with it’s famous Instagram swing shot, the Japanese peace pagoda and Jungle beach that is tucked away in the middle of a jungle.
19. CHECK OUT MATARA
Matara is the nearest commercial town, located around 30 mins from Mirissa. You can visit Matara to experience a slice of local Sri Lankan life. The beach there is devoid of tourists and it also has the beautiful Parwati Duwa Buddhist temple, situated on an island which is connected via a bridge.
20. PARTY THE NIGHT AWAY AT DOCTOR’S HOUSE
The Doctor’s House is THE place to be in the South coast if you are looking to hang out with fellow travellers and have loads of fun. This 200 year old former Ayurvedic Dutch hospital was transformed into a chilled out party zone in 2016 and quickly became the favourite hang out spot in the South coast. It is actually located in Madiha, right on the coast opposite Polhena Bay. They also offer dorm rooms and private bungalows for accommodation. Their Saturday night parties are especially legendary!
WHERE TO GO NEXT AFTER MIRISSA?
UNAWATUNA: For some wholesome family friendly fun, check out Unawatuna that lies only an hour away from Mirissa. Perfect for swimming and relaxing! READ MY COMPLETE TRAVEL GUIDE HERE.
HIRIKETIYA BAY: Dive deeper into the South coast beaches with this beautiful and lively beach that still retains that old bohemian charm and is a hot surfing destination!
ELLA: Take a break from beaches and explore Sri Lanka’s hill country that is filled with stunning mountain landscapes, tea plantations, cooler climes and hiking oppurtunities. Perfect for nature lovers!
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