Sri Lanka had one of the most diverse landscapes I've been lucky enough to travel, as the days went by we would flit between beaches, mountains and wild jungle. It's fantastic because it means you really can travel there at any time of year and find plenty to do. If, like us, you go there in off season and the weather is a bit stormy you can easily avoid the coast and head inland for more jungle and cultural activities. But let's be honest, when you're going to a country with such incredible nature and such beautiful untamed coastline - you really want to be heading to the beach and enjoying the sunshine.Mirissa is one of the country's most popular stretches of the coastline and an absolute goldmine for beaches - but forget the busier, touristy beaches you find elsewhere in Asia. These are wild, open expanses of untouched beach where you go could all day without seeing another soul. Where you won't be bothered by sellers trying to drum up trade or loud bars dotted along the shoreline. Mirissa is the ultimate in beach escapism and with so many beautiful beaches dotted along the south coast, you have plenty to explore before you settle on your favourite.
Places to stay
Mirissa has no end of accommodation options from the high luxury down to the budget stays - the great thing is you really don't have to pay very much to stay somewhere lovely. My best advice, if you're travelling peak season, book ahead to ensure you have somewhere to go when you arrive. Off season, there's no need to worry as there was plenty of choice when we went in November. We stayed at Sun Hopes, a family run accommodation with several rooms available, usually offering a balcony or terrace to sit outside and a large bathroom for each room. Just a two minute walk from the beach, it's perfectly positioned for exploring the town and you get the added bonus of staying with a lovely local family. We really enjoyed staying at Sun Hopes, it was a great budget find for us with the average price of £9 a night for a room for two, although we paid even less because we went in off-season.
Places to eat
Food is always high on the agenda and Mirissa was fantastic for cheap eats. Don't miss out on the No.1 Dewmini Roti Shop - the roti are considered the best in the area and are freshly made in front of you. This is where I managed to convince the boyfriend street food was better than restaurants - before he was a bit scared of the local's restaurants! We were lucky and this was actually halfway between our apartment and the beach so it was a perfect stop for breakfast. You should also check out the bakery on the main street for tasty filled roti and snacks. For seafood, head to the beach where there are countless seafood restaurants to explore, we treated ourselves to some fresh fish one evening which was delicious. I also heard great things about (but sadly didn't get to try) The Hangover Cafe, Shady Lane and Big Belly Roti Shop.
Things to do
If you love waves, catch a tuk-tuk to one of the many surfing beaches in the area. We headed to Weligama Beach for sunset - a beautiful spot to check out whether you like surfing or not! It's a great place to hang with the hippies, do some yoga or catch a wave, there's even a bunch of surf schools based there for beginners. For those who are a little more experienced there are also great surf spots at the far right of Mirissa Beach (watch out for sea urchins), and Midigama. If in doubt, ask the locals - they're the experts!
Snorkelling with sea turtles
I went for a walk one day to the far left of Mirissa Beach and found myself in a little cove, chatting to the guys who ran the bar behind I found out that you could snorkel with sea turtles in the area. They said sometimes it's possible to see lots of them right there in the bay - we tried but the weather was a bit unreliable so we didn't get to spend much time looking. Definitely worth hiring a mask and snorkel though and having a look.
This is one of the big attractions for southern Sri Lanka and countless boat trips run along the coast to spot these graceful giants in the water. Blue whales and fin whales, sei whales, sperm whales, orcas (killer whales), dolphins, flying fish, turtles, manta rays and whale sharks – all of these and more can be seen along the coast. Don't miss out.
The south is packed full of beaches you have to check out, it's worth hiring a scooter to explore independently, just watch out for the crazy bus drivers! As well as the immediate Mirissa Beach there are lots of others to explore, and if you love sipping on a fresh coconut under the palm trees then whiling away the afternoon in a hammock – you'll be in paradise here. If you fancy a bit of a trip, head to Unawatuna beach which is famed for the golden sands and wild waves Sri Lanka is known for. Check out this post by bloggers Salt in Our Hair for other great beach recommendations.
Feel like escaping for the day? Why not head to Unawatuna beach for a change of scenery or even Galle Fort if you fancy a bit of culture. Both areas can easily fill a day with exploring and sightseeing, or lazing on the beach.
Have you been to Mirissa - what was your favourite part? Where did you stay/eat out? Do you prefer laying on the beach, or surfing?