Ultimate Travel Guide To Mirissa, Sri Lanka

Last Updated on March 8, 2023 by Sam

Mirissa, a small town on Sri Lanka’s south coast, is a common stop on traveller’s itineraries. The main attraction of the town itself is the numerous whale watching tours on offer – as it’s one of the best places in the world to spot blue whales. Yet there are plenty more things to do in Mirissa, Sri Lanka. Mirissa beach stretches far along the coast and is the perfect place to soak up sun for a day or two. A number of restaurants and bars back onto the beach, so there are plenty of places to watch sunset and enjoy a drink or two come nightfall. For such a small place, there’s everything travellers could possibly want and need, which is why it’s the first stop on our ultimate 2 week south Sri Lanka itinerary! Find out everything you need to know before visiting with this travel guide to Mirissa, Sri Lanka.

Save yourself the time and hassle of figuring out what to pack for your trip with this packing guide for Sri Lanka. It covers everything you need to pack to make it the trip of a lifetime!

How to get to Mirissa, Sri Lanka

Bus

The first thing we will cover on our travel guide to Mirissa is getting there! Buses run regularly to Mirissa from a number of places in Sri Lanka, including Colombo and Tangalle. If no bus is running directly to Mirissa, someone at the station will always be willing to help tell you where to change bus to get there.

In Mirissa, buses will drop you off near the beach so you may need to pay for a tuk tuk to your accommodation.

Depending on where you’re coming from, the cost of the bus will vary. Fortunately buses are extremely cheap in Sri Lanka so you’ll probably only pay a maximum of around 200 rupees per journey.

Unfortunately, some buses don’t allow you on with large backpacks, as they have no storage space, so you may have to wait a bit longer for a bus.

It’s also important to note that depending on how long the service has been running you may not be able to get a seat. If you have a long way to go this can be pretty exhausting as the buses can end up very cramped.

Train

Trains in Sri Lanka run much less frequently than buses, but in some instances they are quicker. Tickets can be booked in advance but often sell out, so if that’s the case you’ll need to turn up and buy a ticket on the day.

To book a ticket in advance we recommend using 12GoAsia – a website we’ve relied on throughout our travels in Asia. It’s slightly more expensive than buying tickets in person, but it’s one of the only ways to get a reserved seat.

Reserved seats go on sale 30 days in advance of travel, but 12GoAsia allow you to make bookings in advance of this. They will then confirm once they have booked the seats after they have gone on sale, at which point your reservation will be fully confirmed.

If you’re travelling from Colombo Fort and want a reserved seat, then you’ll need to take a train to either Matara or Weligama. You can then take a taxi onwards to Mirissa, which should be relatively inexpensive.

A ticket from Colombo Fort to Matara or Weligama should cost around 3,800 rupees for a first class reserved seat.

Click here to book a train to Mirissa on 12GoAsia’s website!

The alternative is to simply buy your ticket on the day, with a train from Colombo Fort station costing 260 rupees for a second class ticket or just 145 rupees for third class. If you don’t book in advance there’s a good chance you won’t get a seat, but to maximise your chances make sure to get on as soon as the train arrives.

If you plan to travel by train or bus, we recommend reading this guide to public transport in Sri Lanka.

Private transfer

If you don’t have a tight budget and want to get around faster, private transfers or shared taxis are available between destinations. The cost will be dependent on how far you need to go and your negotiation skills. Travellers often use the following facebook groups to split costs of transfers or taxis between locations:

Sri Lanka Backpackers
Backpacker Taxi Share Sri Lanka

In some instances it’s worth paying more for a private transfer or taxi. For example, getting to Mirissa from Ella and Nuwara Eliya is quite hard by public transport and so if you travel by bus you’ll need to make at least one change.

If you’re coming from Ella or Nuwara Eliya then you may prefer just to take a taxi straight to Mirissa – just make sure to agree on a price in advance! Prices generally start at around 12,000 rupees for a one-way journey from Ella.

View of Mirissa beach

Getting around Mirissa, Sri Lanka

Mirissa is a small enough town to reach everywhere on foot. If your accommodation is a bit further out of the way though, there are plenty of tuk tuks available to get you from a to b. If you’re looking to explore some of the surrounding areas then you can rent a scooter or hop on one of the buses passing through the main road.

Best time to visit Mirissa, Sri Lanka

Mirissa’s peak season is between December and March as this is generally the driest time of year in the southern province of Sri Lanka. As the main thing to do in the town itself is enjoy the beach, your options are going to be limited on rainy days.

For that reason, you’re definitely best of visiting during this time of year if you can. In particular, January, February and March are the driest months.

April and May tend to be the hottest months, but the increase in temperature leads to more rainfall. Outside of January-March, the months with the least rainfall are July and August. Even if you visit at this time though, the weather can be quite unpredictable in both Mirissa and Sri Lanka as the country has 2 different monsoon seasons.

Things to do in Mirissa, Sri Lanka

Whale watching

Whale watching in Mirissa, Sri Lanka, is an incredible experience. Mirissa is one of the best places in the world to see blue whales, and so whale watching is one of the best things to do in this area of Sri Lanka.

The main whale-watching season in Mirissa runs from November to April, with sightings on around 95% of trips during this time. From May to October tours still run, but sightings are less common due to rougher seas.

Tours are also more regularly cancelled due to weather during this time. May and June in particular are bad months to go as this is the area’s monsoon season.

It’s not just blue whales that are found off the coast of Mirissa. It’s possible to see an abundance of marine life including dolphins, orcas, sperm whales, whale sharks, turtles and more!

Whale watching tours cost around 4000-6000 Rupees per person, but prices do vary between operators. There is a government tax of approximately $18.50 USD to pay, which is sometimes included in the price of your tour.

We recommend going with an ethical operator as they take more care around the whales, even if it does end up costing slightly more. Make sure to do your bit to protect the area’s marine life by reading our guide to ethical whale watching in Mirissa.

Personally we went with the Mirissa whale watching club. They make sure not to overcrowd the whales and keep a reasonable distance, whereas many other operators group together around one whale at a time.

Responsible animal tourism is at the top of our list of 14 tips for travelling Sri Lanka, and so we strongly recommend that you check operators reviews online before booking through them.

Tours depart early, and so a tuk tuk will be sent to pick you up from your accommodation at around 5.45am. Mirissa whale watching club provided food and drink on board, as well as having a friendly and extremely knowledgeable crew.

Whale Watching Mirissa

Coconut Tree Hill

The best place to watch sunset in Mirissa is Coconut Tree Hill. When we first visited Mirissa in 2017 this was a relatively quiet spot, but it was a lot busier when we last visited in early 2020.

Coconut Tree Hill is approximately a 30-minute walk from the main beach, and there’s something special about the way the palm trees line up and tower above you that make it a beautiful spot to visit.

There are 2 ways to reach Coconut Tree Hill, which is sometimes referred to as Palm Tree Grove. One option is to walk walk along the main road out of Mirissa town until you reach Maison D’hotes Sanda Beach. From there take the path on your right and you’ll come to a gate, behind which you should be able to walk directly to the palm trees.

Alternatively, walk from Mirissa beach along the seafront past parrot rock and continue round until you eventually reach the palm trees. Once you’re there you can find a good spot and just enjoy the view!

Coconut Tree Hill, Mirissa

Mirissa Wildlife Walk

During our second visit to Mirissa we decided to take a walk along the river and it turned out to be one of the highlights of our stay. As we walked we saw some water monitor lizards, as well as a number of monkeys playing in the trees above us and diving into the river below.

This walk isn’t really something we’ve seen suggested elsewhere before, but it’s relatively easy to do. We started the walk after a visit to the Dewmini Roti Shop by following the path towards the river, and then taking the route marked on Google Maps as ‘footpath to the beach.’

Monkeys on the Mirissa wildlife walk

Surfing

Mirissa does have some relatively large waves – good for beginner and intermediate surfers. In particular a lot of surfers seem to gather near Coconut Tree Hill to ride the waves. If you’re looking to surf, the locals will be friendly enough to point you in the right direction.

Mirissa Beach

Mirissa beach is perfect if you’re looking for a relaxing few days in Sri Lanka. It was one of our favourite beaches in the country, although admittedly we didn’t see too many! You can easily spend a few days enjoying the sun and cooling off in the waters of Mirissa beach.

Mirissa Beach, Sri Lanka

Polhena Beach

If you’re hoping to go snorkelling in the area, catch a bus towards Matara and visit Polhena beach. Turtles are regularly seen just off shore and the visibility is fairly good, so it’s one of the best places to go snorkelling near Mirissa!

It’s a great place for a day trip, although try to visit on a weekday, as weekends can be more crowded with locals also heading to the beach! We didn’t get chance to visit on our first trip to Mirissa, but we’re so glad we had time to visit during our second trip to Sri Lanka.

For more information make sure to read our guide to snorkelling with turtles at Polhena Beach near Mirissa!

A turtle at Polhena Beach near Mirissa

Secret Beach

Many travel blogs have documented a secret beach as one of the places to visit in Mirissa. As a result though, it’s not so much of a secret anymore.

When we visited the area was quite busy, which we weren’t expecting, although this may be as we visited during the Christmas period. Sadly, the beach is also quite stony both in and out of the water.

Personally we were left feeling disappointed with Mirissa’s ‘hidden gem’ and so didn’t spend long there before heading back to the main beach.

If you still want to go, the easiest way to reach Secret beach is to use the app maps.me. Search for ‘Secret beach bar’ and it will lead you enough of the way until you start seeing signs directing you.

Some local kids may ask you money for directions but don’t feel pressured as you’re fine continuing without doing so. Follow some steps down and you’ll find the secret beach a bit further down the road.

There’s a restaurant and bar by the beach if you do plan to spend a relaxing day down there.

Secret beach Mirissa

Parrot Rock

Parrot Rock is a towering rock island situated at one end of Mirissa Beach. It’s one of the town’s most notable landmarks, and is a popular spot to climb to enjoy some wonderful views.

In high tide you’ll need to wade through the sea to reach the path up parrot rock, but it’s still possible to get there. The stairs leading up the rock aren’t the best, but as long as you don’t rush you shouldn’t have a problem.

It’s important to be careful as the path can be slippery times, so it’s worth taking a bit longer to walk up if you need to. Once you do reach the top though, Parrot Rock provides amazing views of Mirissa Beach and the surrounding area.

Day Trips

There are a number of great day trips possible from Mirissa, including to Yala National Park, Dondra Head Lighthouse, Udawalawe National Park and more. Check out our guide to the best day trips and tours from Mirissa so you don’t miss out on visiting these incredible places!

Where to stay in Mirissa, Sri Lanka

Budget

Oasis Hotel Mirissa

If you’re sticking to a budget, one of the best options available is the Oasis Hotel Mirissa. For around 3800 rupees per night you can get a double room with air con, while being less than a 10-minute walk to the beach!

Click here to see the latest prices at Oasis Hotel Mirissa on Booking.com!

Nethum Rest

One of Mirissa’s best value options if you’re happy to make do without air con is Nethum Rest. The guest house is run by a friendly family and is just a short walk to both the beach and Dewmini roti shop – one of the best places to eat in Mirissa.

Rooms come with a fan and prices start at around 1900 rupees per night. At this price it’s some of the best budget accommodation in Mirissa, Sri Lanka.

Click here to see the latest deals at Nethum Rest on Booking.com!

Mid-Range

Palm Villa Mirissa

If your budget stretches further then another option is Palm Villa Mirissa. With instant access to Mirissa beach, this is one of the best located hotels if you’re looking to spend your days relaxing by the sea. Rooms start from around 7,800 rupees per night.

Click here to see the latest prices at Palm Villa Mirissa on Booking.com!

Randiya Sea View Hotel

Should you prefer to have a pool, the Randiya Sea View Hotel is a great alternative. With discounts regularly available, air con rooms can be found starting from as little as 7,500 rupees per night including breakfast.

Click here to see the great prices available at Randiya Sea View Hotel on Booking.com!

Treat yourself!

Beach Mirissa

The beautiful Beach Mirissa is one of the best hotels in the area. Located on the beachfront, the property has its own private beach, which is perfect if you don’t want the crowds found on the main beach.

If you don’t like swimming at the beach then you’ll be pleased to know the property also has a lovely pool for you to take advantage of! All rooms at the property are modern, comfortable and have a furnished balcony with a sea view.

Prices start from 24,400 rupees per night.

Click here to book a stay at the fabulous Beach Mirissa Hotel!

Sri Sharavi Beach Villas and Spa

For complete luxury and an incredible pool, book a stay at the Sri Sharavi Beach Villas and Spa. While the property is located just outside of Mirissa town, this means it’s a serene place to relax.

Fortunately it’s also just a short 3 minute tuk tuk ride to the town and beach too. You won’t find better than this in the area! Rooms start from 37,000 rupees per night, although prices may be higher or lower than this.

Click here to take a look at the luxurious Sri Sharavi Beach Villas and Spa on Booking.com!

Where to eat in Mirissa, Sri Lanka

Shady Lane – If you’re looking for a decent breakfast/brunch in Mirissa, then head to Shady Lane. It’s definitely one of the best breakfasts we had in Asia, so we couldn’t help but come back for more.

The food and drinks really are delicious, with smoothie bowls available for 600 rupees, toast with toppings (from feta to eggs to mashed avocado) starting at 400 rupees and more!

Dewmini Roti Shop –Dewmini Roti Shop is another good budget option. Rotis start from 200 rupees, with kottu, curries and more available! Although it’s a bit further away from the beach and the service can be quite slow when busy the food is worth the wait!

Barracuda – Although slightly more expensive than some other options, Barracuda is an option for tasty dishes on the beachfront. In particular the Thai green curry was delicious, although the portion size was a bit small so it’s potentially a better choice for lunch rather than dinner.

Mirissa beach restaurant

Dhana’s Curry Pot – This small buffet-style restaurant is one of the best vegetarian/vegan restaurants in Mirissa. For just 400 rupees you can enjoy a tasty selection of local vegetarian and vegan dishes. Dhana’s Curry Pot is located on the main road by Mirissa beach, and in our experience is the best value option in the area.

Rekha Art Gallery & Restaurant – The Rekha Art Gallery & Restaurant is a brilliant option if you’re looking for homemade Sri Lankan food. We visited a few times during our stay and every time the food was fresh and good quality. The owners and staff are extremely welcoming too, so it’s worth visiting to enjoy the restaurant’s friendly atmosphere.

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