Taking advantage of the stay in Narigama Beach and to break the routine made from swimming in the warm sea and walk along the beach, a boat ride for whale watching show up as a good option, as the south coast of Sri Lanka is considered one of the best places to observe the Blue Whale, the largest mammal on the planet.
The best time of year for whale watching, not only blue whale but also of other species is from November to April and July to September when this giant remain in the warm waters of the Indian Ocean for feed. But the months of December to March are the ones that provide a more quiet sea, however, it is still easy to get sick with the ripple that is not so smooth.
The boat ride to the favorable place for watching cetaceans takes over an hour to go, but not that far that you can not see the coast. Along the way, a group of dolphins (Spiner dolphins) crossed the boat’s trajectory always offering a lively show.
When the boat arrived at the place and put the engines in slow rotation waiting for some whales to show up, already about one-third of the passenger was sick, not even giving the chance to eat the breakfast provided at the beginning of the trip along with a tea in an unexpected china cup!
Once that was seen one of the characteristic winches breath of the cetaceans, the various boats waiting on site, over ten, speed the engines trying to get the best position to watch the whales, which even considering that the safety rules are being respected may cause some stress to the animal.
However the creature spotted, a blue whale, returned two more to the surface to breathe, between long intervals, always creating a strange feeling of a shiver for being there before such gigantic animal, able to shows an unreal gentleness, each time it comes out to breath or when the tail emerges from the water.
The return, that always looks faster than the outward journey, there was time and “stomach” for the breakfast and to observe a sea turtle swimming in the same direction of the boat and that briefly remained on the surface before diving into the dark waters of the southern coast of Sri Lanka.
The little time spent in Mirissa, once a fishing village and now focuses more on tourism, where the main attraction is the observation of marine animals, whether on boat rides or diving, revealed to be a quiet and laid back place, that keeps the local lifestyle and where people are always willing to receive us with a genuine smile.
Where to stay in Mirissa
There are handfuls of options in terms of accommodation in Mirissa, including many guest houses and homestays that rent rooms. Prices are slightly higher than in Narigama but also Mirissa attracts more people because it has a more lively nightlife, that focuses on a small but nice beach along a bay a bit more sheltered from the swell.
Moon Glow Guest is a homestay, where friendly and very willing owner rents rooms on the ground floor while the rest of the family occupies the top floor. The house is new and is spotlessly clean, with the room with mosquito-net (a must) and a clean and modern shared toilet. It is located on a small side street off the main street that connects the Mirissa beach the harbor; is about 5 minutes walk from the harbor where whale watching boats leave.
double room (with shared toilet): 2000 LKR
Address: Kapparamulla, Mirissa
Contact: 077 3955172, 041 2254901
Where to eat in Mirissa
Along the beach line up many restaurants as also some hotels serving both Sri Lankan food as international food but where the bet is on grilled fish and seafood.
But along the national highway A2 are many local food restaurants, which usually do not serve dinners, but where you can find rice and curry for lunch. For a later meal or a dinner, the options are rotis and kutus.
How to go to Mirissa by bus:
The most economical way to get to Mirissa is by bus, but many people choose to make the journey in a tuk-tuk, which is more comfortable to do the 35 kilometers that separate the two sites and it takes about 1 hour; expect to pay more than 1000 LKR, depending on each one negotiation skills.
If you choose to do the trip by bus you must change bus in Galle Bus Terminal, but that shouldn’t take more than 5 minutes since the frequency is really high during day time.
Bus Narigama – Galle: 35 LKR; 30 minutes
Bus Galle – Mirissa 50 LKR (or 52 LKR); 1 hour
Whale watching tour:
A bit everywhere, even in Hikkaduwa and Narigama, there are ads for excursions to see the whales along the southern coast of Sri Lanka.
At Hikkaduwa, these tours cost 5000 LKR per person and include tuk-tuk ride to Mirissa and the boat trip. The tour starts at 5 a.m. and ends by 12 p.m.
At Mirissa, you can get a better price, with the boat ride costing 4000 LKR.
However, going directly to the harbour, where dock the boats that make this whale watching trips, easily identifiable by the double-deck filled with chairs and benches, and speaking directly with the boat staff you can easily get at least 2000 LKR per person, including breakfast (a small sandwich, boiled egg, pineapple and bananas) and water, as the mandatory lifejacket. On board are also available pills for sea sickness.
However this option being the cheapest it involves spending a night in Mirissa because the boats depart at 7 am, but you need to arrive early at 6 am, that makes it difficult to arrive on time if you came by bus to Mirissa. After the boat ride that can take longer than just the morning, depending on the distance to where the whales can be watched) one just take any bus that passes on the national road towards Galle and then look for another bus towards Hikkaduwa (150 LKR total per person, both ways).
The boat was the Blue Ocean, that limits the number of passengers to about 10 or 12, which means that there´s plenty of room on board, and don’t risk the stability of the vessel when all passengers rush to one side to see and take pictures to the whales.
Whale watching tour: 2000 LKR… and few rupees more for tipping the crew.