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Impromptu trips to the beach, whale watching and more — slow it down at Mirissa

Lose yourself to the charms of one of Sri Lanka’s most idyllic beach getaways

Ashwin Rajagopalan | Published 08.08.23, 06:01 PM
A view from the Coconut Tree hill in Mirissa

A view from the Coconut Tree hill in Mirissa

Shutterstock

Kick off your flip flops, wade through the water with the waves splashing against you. Climb a jagged little mound and catch the sunset and 360-degree views of the Indian Ocean and a pristine beach. Walk back through the waves and finish your sundowner as time almost stands still. If only I could have left my smartphone behind and allowed myself to totally lose myself to the charms of one of Sri Lanka’s most idyllic beach getaways. But Instagram FOMO is a thing.

An hour from Galle and a world away

Tourists surfing near Weligama beach

Tourists surfing near Weligama beach

Ashwin Rajagopalan

Galle has long been one of my comfort zones in Sri Lanka but the plan to drive an hour further south and discover Mirissa was one of the best decisions I made this monsoon. My surfing coach – Chuti, said I couldn’t have picked a worse time to visit Mirissa. He had already moved to Trinco (local slang for Trincomalee on the east coast). June and July are the peak monsoon months on Sri Lanka’s west coast and the surfing action shifts to the East Coast of the country where the monsoon sets in towards the last quarter of the year. But I was set on Weligama and braved the rain warnings.

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Newbie surfer’s paradise

Weligama is easily one of the best spots in Asia for newbie surfers

Weligama is easily one of the best spots in Asia for newbie surfers

Ashwin Rajagopalan

Weligama is easily one of the best spots in Asia for newbie surfers (me included). The waves are gentle, the waters are not too deep. Charith — one of the few local surfing instructors who stayed back — guided me through two fun days of surfing along with other beginners from Russia and Germany. I won’t go into my surfing routine and how many waves I managed to ride. All I can say is that it was a fun experience with overcast skies and the perfect waves to try and get a toe-hold on the surfboard. Weligama is 15 minutes from Mirissa on the Galle-Mirissa Road that runs along Sri Lanka’s south-eastern coast and passes through other beach towns like Ahangama. If you love the relaxed pace at Galle, Mirissa takes it a few notches further.

Panoramic views from the Parrot Rock

The Slow (the name is no coincidence) typifies Mirissa’s relaxed and easy vibe. This vegan restaurant and boutique accommodation features an eclectic menu with local flavours and international bestsellers. There are tables where you can feel the spray of the ocean, especially when the waters are slightly choppy. I picked such a day and walked through the ocean to scale Parrot Rock. This is easily one of Mirissa’s ‘high points’ — a red coloured cliff that offers stunning views of the ocean. The walk up this mound can be tricky. Be prepared to be completely drenched during high tide when the thin sand strip that connects the beach to Parrot Rock is submerged by the waves. The picture-perfect sunsets are totally worth the wet clothes.

The Parrot Rock

The Parrot Rock

Ashwin Rajagopalan

Mirissa is full of photogenic beaches. There’s Secret Beach, that’s actually a cluster of three beaches on a headland that’s slightly away from the busier Mirissa beach and then there’s Coconut Tree Hill, which is a short walk from Mirissa Beach. This secluded coconut farm offers beautiful views of the ocean through swaying palm trees.

Whale watching hub

Tourists in life vests on the boat watching whales, Sri Lanka, Mirissa

Tourists in life vests on the boat watching whales, Sri Lanka, Mirissa

Shutterstock

There’s one activity I couldn’t experience thanks to the cloudy weather, one reason I would suggest making a trip to Mirissa during its busy season – typically November to April. This is the best time for whale watching. The coast around Galle and Mirissa is one the best spots in Sri Lanka to spot whales. I’ve experienced this around Galle and it’s not just blue whales. If it’s your day, you could spot dolphins, sperm whales or whale sharks. While many tour operators offer cruises through much of the year, the sightings are better during the high season.

I soon realised that Mirissa is not a spot for Instagram fame. By Day-Two, I had started to ditch my smartphone and soak into the Mirissa vibe. Lazy meals at shacks (there’s no dearth of seafood in Mirissa) and sundowners at hipster bars like Petti Petti. Impromptu trips to the beach, walks through the rain. The charms of slow travel. Mirissa is the perfect antidote for the restless traveller with itchy feet (that describes me).It’s less than four hours away from Colombo and a part of Sri Lanka that is truly rejuvenating. And then there are the sunsets.

Last updated on 08.08.23, 06:06 PM
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