As you know Sri Lanka is one of my favorite countries. What I love about it is hard to put in words. I have met some incredibly friendly people there, the food is awesome and the country seems to provide just the right mix of adventures and creature comforts - it is not called "India light" for no reason while still having its own signature.
I decided once again to combine a trip to the Maldives with a visit to Sri Lanka. That is quite easy to do as there are cheap flights between the two countries so you can just check whether flights from your country to Sri Lanka or the Maldives are cheaper and turn it into a little two-in-one holiday: culture and food in Sri Lanka, beach-bumming and diving in the Maldives.
This time I had a hard time when deciding on where to go in Sri Lanka. I wanted to return to Galle for personal reasons but also wanted to explore something new. The one problem I had was transport. The country's first class trains are suspended and busses and regular trains can get incredibly crowded. This is not an issue per se but for me, it was since I was carrying all of my diving equipment in addition to a huge bag full of electronics. The only option I had was taking taxis or tuk-tuks which can get quite pricey if you are traveling solo in Sri Lanka and need to cover longer distances.
With that in mind, I looked for destinations by the ocean not too far from Galle and Colombo so that I could afford my own safe and comfortable transport. After some research, I decided to spend a few days in Dalawella purely because one of my favorite restaurants is right there, Wijaya Beach, and then head to Mirissa beach. From Galle or Dalawella you can just take a tuk-tuk to Mirissa which is affordable and takes about 40minutes. Heading from Mirissa to Colombo I took a taxi which was a bit pricey since I traveled on my own but also very comfortable. If you are traveling with less luggage I definitely recommend the trains or buses in Sri Lanka which are really inexpensive and also provide a great cultural experience - just make sure you don't mind standing.
There is no shortcoming of Mirissa hotels as it is a popular beach destination in Sri Lanka but as per usual I was looking for something special. Small, budget-friendly and with a certain something. While I do like Sri Lankan interior and architecture I was also looking for something a bit more modern yet still somewhat local. While this sounds like an impossible wish I somehow got lucky when I was browsing through Airbnbs in Mirissa and came across the Mirissa Bed and Breakfast.
The little guesthouse is run by Estonian native Ingrid and her Sri Lankan husband Babi and was everything that I was looking for: a few rooms, merging modern design with traditional Sri Lankan handicraft, a lush garden, some dogs to keep me company and of course, good wifi. Best of it all for me after three almost sleepless nights in Dallwalla? A cool air-conned room, a comfy bed I spent most of my time working in (I not only judge a bed by its sleeping comfort but also as a workplace), and peaceful nights only disturbed by some frogs.
In addition, they offer a great breakfast and guests can have unlimited free coffee, tea, and water throughout the day. If you want you can also store your food in the fridge and use the cooking facilities.
If you'd prefer one of the best hotels in Mirissa with some more amenities and like to stay closer to the ocean stay tuned as they are opening another property shortly called Mamma Mia, a proper Mirissa beach hotel right by the harbor.
Find rooms at Mirissa Bed and Breakfast on Airbnb here.
What to do in Mirissa
Needless to say, people also come to Mirissa beach for a good dose of sun and vitamin sea. The beaches here are stunning and great for surfers. The main beach does get a bit too crowded for my liking but luckily it is long enough that you can always find a corner that is if not secluded at least somewhat quiet.
Alternatively, head to Secret Beach. While the name has become a bit of an insider joke - it is so not secret anymore - it comes with a little hike making it less crowded.
Whale Watching, Mirissa
While not a huge city there are plenty of things to do in Mirissa beach. The biggest tourist draw is whale watching in Mirissa. From October blue whales come to the warm waters of Sri Lanka to breed and Mirissa is considered one of the best places in the world for whale watching. If you are staying at the Bed & Breakfast I recommend booking with
"Whale watching Mirissa with Geeth". Not only is that Babi's brother's business and located right next door which means your breakfast will be served according to your whale excursion schedule but they also adhere to strict rules as to not impact the whales too much - always an important consideration when booking such animal activities.
Unfortunately for me, there weren't many whales around when I was in Mirissa so I can't give you a first-hand account of the experience but I am sure, it is pretty exciting - whales are amazing and I can only imagine how special it must be to see these majestic creatures up close. Read this post about whale watching, Mirissa from my friend Janet of Journalist on the Run for more infos.
Coconut Tree Hill
If you are looking for the Instagram spot in Mirissa you have to head for Coconut Tree Hill. The place is not only stunning but also quite famous by now and it tends to get busy during sunset. I decided that I rather wanted no people and could do without a sunset and went early in the morning. Most tuk-tuk drivers know where to drop you and if not - Google map can help. Once you have walked down a little path from the main road you will need to do a little hike. It is really short but I had to make my way over some spikey fallen palm trees and through the shrubbery and wearing Birkenstocks and a short dress definitely wasn't the right attire. There is a big gate with a more straightforward path however when I came it was locked - I am not sure if it is open later in the day.
In any case, I didn't mind a little adventure and just pretended that any potential snakes where surely still asleep. And once I made it to the top I was really in awe - the place is absolutely stunning and it is no surprise that photographers love it here as the perfect coconut grove awaits once you make it to the top.
One thing to keep in mind when you are taking pictures - those are real palm trees with real coconuts which may or may not fall on your head. Hugging a tree might not be the best idea (see my face below once I realized that).
Spas in Mirissa
Unlike Galle, spas are still quite affordable in Mirissa beach and I highly recommend a massage or two if you are staying for a few days. I tried Badora Spa which is set in a pretty jungley garden, something I personally loved. My massage was really good too and the prices are moderate enough that you can afford 90 minutes.
However, if you prefer a proper air-conned spa this might not be the place for you. A great alternative and apparently the best spa in Mirissa is Secret Root Spa so try that instead.
Just like any other busy beach town, you will find a myriad of different restaurants in Mirissa. I tried a too few to write a comprehensive guide of the best restaurants in Mirissa but here is where I ate:
No. 1 Dewmini Roti Shop - This place is famous thanks to LP and TripAdvior and a little bit overhyped in my opinion. Mind you, I realized that I am not a big savory pancake fan in general and that's pretty much what a roti is. If you go try the Kothu Roti, a Sri Lankan specialty.
Aloha Coffee Gallery - Great little spot for good coffee and breakfast bowls.
O Mirissa - Not bad for a pizza though they don't have a liquor license and I personally think a good pizza always comes with a glass of wine.
Zephyr Mirissa - This is the most famous restaurant in Mirissa and not unlike Wijaya Beach. Great for fresh dishes and seafood but also an awesome spot for sunset cocktails.
I also tried another beach restaurants but to be honest, the food wasn't really memorable. I think a lot of these places live off their great location and don't really (need to) put much effort into their food. If you want to have a beach view I recommend just to have a beer at these places and eat elsewhere.
Ceylon Sliders - Take a trip to Weligama, Sri Lanka to eat at Ceylon Sliders and do a yoga class on their roof. It is the perfect cute hipster setting, has an innovative yet affordable cocktail menu and some great food options throughout the day. They also have some rooms which I am keen to check out next time because they look really chic and nicely designed.
If you are going for dinner don't worry about getting around - it is really easy to catch tuk-tuks between Mirissa beach and Weligama and the drive takes about 10 minutes.
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