Mirissa – Best Beach Town

I am jealous of crocodiles – They often go basking. So the whole point of our Sri Lanka trip is to go basking like crocs with great views and some excellent food. We chose one of the most popular beach destinations of pearl island, Mirissa, and we had the best time sunbathing on the beaches and witnessed one of the best sunsets of our life.
Here is your complete guide to being a croc (there is no croc in Mirissa sea) on the sand and eat delicious rotis in Mirissa.

Index

24 hours of Mirissa in a minute

Why Visit Mirissa

We find small towns are the best place to know and understand at least a bit of the essence of a nation. When a small town is a beachfront one, it gets even more exciting and relaxing. Bathing in the sea, basking under the sun, little hike for sunset watching, long walks for tasty Sri Lankan rotis and Kuthu parathas/rotis – Mirissa was an ideal place for us for the beach vacation. Plus, the sunset behind the palm tree leaves is heavenly when the sky wears a thin sheet of gold foil. This is neither a town nor a village.

So many locals know each other. Somethings is very homely about this little town.

I can’t specify if this is the best beach town in Sri Lanka as we visited only two – Bentota and Mirissa. However, I assure Mirissa won’t disappoint you. Any day, we suggest Mirissa over Bentota for multiple reasons – less touristy, more shade on the beach, smaller town and fine food. I heard that its neighbouring towns Negombo, Hikkaduwa, Thangalle, and Unawatuna, are equally beautiful and less visited by tourists. So day trip options are also plenty. But Mirissa beaches are enough to tan your skin and soothe your soul with mild waves and wide palm fields.

Stay

One side of the highway is the beach, and the latter is the town. There are a few narrow side streets. So the main restaurants/homestays are located by the highway side. You find lots of homestays run by locals more than the branded resorts here. Accommodation in the side streets is cheaper because you don’t get the sea view. The ones beside the highways give you an excellent sea view and hence pricey. While booking Mirissa homestays, it was hard to find cheaper accommodation. So you have to dig deeper when you want to book cheaper rooms. 

We stayed in the Morning star guesthouse. This cosy mid-range guest house is a 10-minute walk from the famous Coconut hill. It is easy to locate it right by the Galle-Matara highway even when you travel at night by bus. The spacious rooms had big balconies from where we could have a glimpse of Mirissa beach.

They served excellent yoghurt and the freshest fruits for breakfast. 

How to reach Mirissa

  • Nearest airport – Colombo international airport (176km)
  • Nearest railway station – 4km outside the town.
  • Buses – We took a bus from Galle to Mirissa. I think we saw at least three buses leaving within 30 minutes. The only trouble is, buses don’t leave unless they are complete. When you come from Ella to Mirissa, you need to come to Matara and take another bus from there to Mirissa. Though it is a small town, there are multiple bus stops on the highway. Show the guesthouse address to the bus driver or a local co-passenger who knows Mirissa and get down at the right stop to avoid spending on tuk-tuks.
  • Tuk-tuk – This is the soul of the town. Whether to go to the train station or a secret beach, you will need Tuk-tuks.

How many days to spend in Mirissa

We spent two full days and three nights in Mirissa, and we are quite content with the time spent here. This isn’t as touristy as Bentota, but spots like Coconut hill (which is amazing) receive many tourists. So keep two to three days for Mirissa so that you can explore the towns of Hikkaduwa, Unwavatuna and Tangalle, too next.

Our favourite eateries in Mirissa

The dinner starts early in Mirissa. By 8 PM, all the cafes and restaurants will be full. On two nights, we went to Dhana’s curry pot for dinner and had to wait 45minutes to get a table – which is impossible when the stomach is growling. Hence we never ate at Dhana’s curry pot. So leave early to grab a table at your favourite eateries. The prices are usually displayed outside the restaurant, so you need not worry about the price after you enter.

We tried around four eateries in 2 days at Mirissa, and these two remain the best for us. SAMAGI CREAM HOUSE & O MIRISSA CAFE. 

Samagi cream house ($)

A small cafe serves Lankan feast on plastic tables and chairs next to the busy Galle-Matara highway. Mirissa roads are clean and almost dust-free. So don’t imagine your food covered with dust and smokes of buses and tuk-tuks.

We ate Egg fried rice, Banana roti and Kottu roti. We know Kottu Parathas from Malabar but was curious about Kottu Roti. Tasty and spicy egg Fried rice was similar to what we get in India, Banana roti tasted more like crepes, and Kottu roti ( pieces of torn rotis with chillies, fried onions, lots of Sri Lankan spices and chicken) was delicious – Great for taste buds and safe for the wallet.

O Mirissa cafe and Bistro ($$)

When you crave for icecreams in hot tropical weather, this cafe is a great place to cool down your tummy after spicy Lankan food. There was nothing Sri-Lankan about its appearance – Super-chic, modern interiors gastropub like you find in Amsterdam. The menu read had expensive Italian and Asian choices. The fresh fruits and icecreams were the cheapest and worth the money.

Things not to do in Mirissa

 On our third day, we left for Ella via Matara to visit the University of Ruhana. It is one of the creations of master architect Geoffrey Bawa – The building wasn’t in great condition and ill-maintained. It was a waste of my time. I wish I had spent that morning in Mirissa beach and left late to Ella or stopped at Matara beach instead. Reconsider your visit to Ruhana university if you are dreaming of seeing Bawa’s masterpiece.

A day trip to Galle is a great option. Galle is the town I love most in Sri Lanka. But I recommend at least two days and an overnight stay there the town deserves more than a day trip.

Day trips to Koggala to see stilt fishermen are most common among travellers – Often considered scams by those who visited. Read here to know why. If you are looking to capture an amazing photo of this unique fishing method and are ready to pay for fishermen posing and not really fishing – You will have one of the best frames of shot.

Nightlife in Mirissa was good but not great. First of all, we aren’t night owls. To top it, the prices of beachfront clubs in the night was over the roof. So we went, checked out clubs and came back to preserve our wallets. Our guesthouse owner alerted us that the pickpocketers and chain snatchers wait on the main highway. Whenever there are no street lamps, the lights from the roadside restaurants are the only source of dim light. Beware of these troublemakers.

SECRET BEACH

Be careful at the beaches: The ocean may look calm and pristine, but sudden strong waves can be deadly if you are in an “unsafe” or “restricted zone” Usually, locals warn tourists not to go beyond a certain point. Listen to them and follow them. Else, you end up having an “almost near to death experience” like I had – because of my overexcitement. Read our post “Sahana & Sea Urchins” to know more. 

Things to do in Mirissa

Do not plan too much: Take it Easy – peasy, lemon squeezy. You won’t even realise how time flies on Mirissa beach. Go beach and cafe hopping – There are too many of them for you to enjoy. 

If you are in Mirissa for two days like we did, don’t make day trips to any other place. Instead, savour the beach town to the fullest. Anything more than that, consider taking day trips to Wellangama or Matara beach.

What we did

Wandered in Mirissa streets to try local dishes at different eateries, bathed in the Indian ocean, snoozed ourselves On the sands for two days and hiked up a hill to see one of the best sunsets of our life.

Mirissa Beach

The obvious first visit is the main Mirissa beach that is very open to the highway. The good part is the beach has many cafes, so your options for food is plenty. The bad part is – You sleep on the sands next to the main vehicular road. It is touristy, and you hear lots of noise constantly. Plus, the main Mirissa beach stretch is located between two coconut groves on the hill. So, there is almost no shade here if you want to take a break from tanning. So, the best thing is to avoid the beach from 10 AM – 4 PM and go basking in the adjacent stretches.

As per our guesthouse owner’s suggestion, both mornings, we walked to the beach, right opposite the guest house. So there is sun, shade, and including us, there were seven humans! This beach has no particular name, but it is the best place to start your day.

Secret beach

It is a beautiful secluded beach from the main town and is embraced by coconut groves on the hilltop on either side. Hence the name “Secret”. There are two ways to reach the beach – tuk-tuk or bikes. We paid 200 LKR for one way tuk-tuk ride after haggling (the distance was 2km). The tuk-tuks drop you at the hilltop from where you see the cyan water between rustling coconut leaves. Then, a 10 min walk down the rugged road takes you to the beach. You hear the ocean but can’t see it even at the foothill because the ocean hides behind woods. The straight walk from the foothill takes you to a wide-open beach nestled between coconut tree groves on the hills where locals sat and listened to tacky music and dogs slept on that shingle beach.

A right turn from there takes you to the real “Secret beach”, A natural pool kind of a thing made by two big rocks in a semi-circle with small gaps between them. There hides the paradise with sunbeds (rented hourly by the small cafe) shaded by trees and perfect for a lazy swim and snoozing.

There is only one cafe on the beach on which you have to depend on food and water. The food was ok, but not the best in Mirissa. It is pricey and cooked to suit the traveller’s taste than authentic Sri Lankan taste. The cafe got showers and toilets, so don’t worry about changing later if you are heading somewhere directly from the beach.

Coconut hill

This is the main reason why you should visit Mirissa. The sunset here is unrealistic. A gorgeous mound stretches out onto the sea and is covered in swaying coconut trees. The boulders and rocks by the mound make it a perfect place to let your stress out and get one with nature, watching the changing colours of the sky from silver to gold. You do find many tourists at sunset time, but the place is so big that nobody matters. The sound of waves makes you hear nothing else other than itself.

The hill is 15 min walk from Colombo-Matara road. Towards Matara, near Triple O six resort, a narrow mud lane opposite takes you to the private estate Coconut hill. You walk beside a small temple and shacks without missing out on sea view even for a minute. The hike isn’t tough with suitable footwear for those who go on mild hiking usually. But the trail is definitely not easy for those with walking disabilities. 

Make sure to be there before sunset -not to secure the seat but to see how the vibe changes with each inch of sunrays going down. The blue Indian Ocean is usually blue till the afternoon. By the time sun slides towards the west, it glitters silver. Then, as he bids a goodbye, the magic happens, and the sky glitters in all gold. Wait until dusk – The sky turns pink as an artist’s background for tall bent coconut trees. You will realise why Sri Lanka beach is beautiful at that moment.

Two days of Mirissa was all about the sun and sea vibe. It reminded us a lot of Perissa in Santorini. Are you a croc too? How often do you go basking in the sun, and where? Let us know in the comment section below.

Published by Sahana Kulur

Traveller | Blogger | Architecture and history

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