When Sahana almost died in Sri Lanka.

Can Sea Urchins or waves kill anyone at Sri Lanka?

This post is about what Sahana did in Sri Lanka that none of you should ever try to do! There is a thin line between being adventurous and being stupid. Unfortunately, Sahana forgot it on that beautiful day in Secret beach of Mirissa.

woman in swimsuit standing at the rocks of secret beach in mirissa

The beautiful day!

At around 9AM, the soul of Sri Lanka- Tuk Tuk dropped us at the hilltop. The pristine blue water was shined between the gaps of coconut trees.

view of blue indian ocean from the cliff seen between the gaps of coconut trees at Mirissa Secret beach

One of the best beaches of Sri Lanka – Secret beach in Mirissa!

Forget the beach; this view from the mud road itself captivates you. With some snacks and coconut water, you can sit here and gaze at the endless ocean forever. 

Why is it called “Secret Beach”

Walking down the rugged mud road, we reached the bottom. The name “Secret” suits the place because you can hear the faint sound of the ocean but not see it. Making our way through the trees, we walked straight to see the blue seawater lined with coconut trees on top of a hill at one side.

Tacky-creaky Lankan music from shoddy boombox dominated the sound of ocean. A cute four-legged friend was busy digging the sand, perhaps making his abode for sunbathing.

a stray dog walking on the beach of Sri lanka on a sunny day

Sensing the clueless tourists on the sand, a local man came out of the woods, smiled and asked if we spoke Sinhala. When we said “Nehe”, he spoke to us mixing Sinhala with English, and we understood what he meant,”

 Do not get into the water here. It is not safe. Walk to your right side; there is a natural pool kind of a thing, that is where you should get into the water. Not here”

Said the man who owned a bad boom-box

The beginning of “over” enthusiasm

Yay! That’s where the isolated heaven of Earth was! One right turn and a 2 minutes walk took us to the paradise shaded by trees and surrounded by rocks and sunbeds with shade from the trees, Turquoise water, a small cafe, and fewer humans- A perfect place to lay back and forget the world basking in the sun – And my lady hadn’t heard a word that Sri Lankan man said.

coconut trees  bent towards the ocean at secret beach in mirissa

Are There Sunbeds At Secret Beach Mirissa? 

Yes, they cost 500Rs for the day, or they are free if you buy food/drink at the bar. The food seemed to be expensive and we rented two sunbeds.

Later, we changed to our swimwear and decided to get into the water. That feeling of cold water hitting your body, your feet touching the soft sand below and sunshine making your body warmer is heavenly in every part of the world. So I slowly moved towards the rock where three more visitors were relaxing and soaking in the sun.

vacaywork author soaking in the shallow ocean water at secret beach, Mirissa

It was so calming that I even forgot where Sahana was heading to. While I loosened up, Sahana was (over)excited. I turned to my left and saw her moving away from me towards that gap between two giant rocks.

While I shouted don’t go far, a man from the shore began shouting, “Don’t go, something… lalalalala….” in Sinhala.

The final call before……

Though I heard him, I didn’t completely understand what he was trying to convey. Floating in her own world, Sahana couldn’t hear a word from the local man. She was way too far from me to pull her back. And I thought she is safe and clicker her picture!

tourists chilling in Srilanka's ocean

The two rocks make a natural pool.

While I was busy clicking her, a man was running towards Sahana, shouting and screaming. Meanwhile, a super-strong wave hit the rocks, made its way through the gap between them at full speed and swept Sahana away!

big waves crashing the rocky boulders at Secret beach in mirissa

I lost her just two days before our 1st wedding anniversary!

I thought so!

The currents were so strong that I could not run towards her. I fell, But somehow, the villager ran, grabbed her arms and pulled her towards him. She had almost gone two metres ahead of those rocks into the deep ocean.

I thought I had lost her forever. I was so traumatised that I couldn’t process the happenings. We were there to celebrate our first wedding anniversary, but what could have happened if that man hadn’t pulled Sahana?

She wasn’t gone. Not yet!

I could neither walk nor talk for a few seconds. She was in her conscious, getting pulled away to the safer side of the pool by him. Sahana sat in the shallow water, taking quick breaths recovering from the wave shocks I asked her if she was ok, she said yes, and we couldn’t talk any further.

The fear of losing her had masked my mind. She hadn’t anticipated this, so she was shocked too. Everything happened in fractions of seconds that we really needed some time to digest and understand what just happened.

Cooling down the anxiety

We just sat in the shallow water without talking to each other and calming ourselves down. There was complete silence all around us, except the waves hitting the rocks. There were hardly six-seven people around, and everyone watched the incident in shock. We just sat there without moving and talking for the next 20 minutes or so.

After a while, she looked at me and smirked. I didn’t know if I should hug her and cry out. Or shout at her for running into the danger zones. Without speaking, I held her hands and saw her palm.

I could see a few black dots. She screeched when I tried to wipe it away- There were almost 50 of those dots on the palm. When I touched those dots, she whimpered.

Hearing her cry, the same villager called us back to the shore. She tried to stand, but her foot pain was unbearable. With her arms around my shoulders, I took her to the shore with her limping leg. At that moment, I confirmed that she had broken a bone or two of her foot. 

What the hell are those black dots?

 I laid her back on the sunbed to see what was up with her foot. My crazy lady was laughing at her foolishness despite of her pain. I didn’t know how to react. I just bent down to have a look at the hurting foot.

When I touched the foot, the lady was she was laughing and crying at the same time “Thank god I didn’t die. Will you get married to someone else if I die accidentally like this.” 

When I touched the underside of the foot, she screamed again. The laughter stopped, and she was crying in terrible pain – Her foot sole was full of black dots similar to what I touched on her palms.

tree shading the shore of secret beach in mirissa with sunbeds under it

Attention everyone!

With her second scream, that easy-peasy beach vibe had vanished for everyone. More tourists had arrived then. Most of them weren’t aware why my lady was crying out loud.

The villager came, lifted her foot, saw it and said,” You have stepped on dead sea urchins on that rock which you held on to while the waves were sweeping you away. These are the spikes on your palm and sole. We have to remove it before they go deeper, else you will get into trouble with their venom.”

“What the hell, is she gonna die of Sea urchins toxins” 

This was my first thought.
group of sea urchins under the ocean
FYI – These are Sea Urchins alive as seen by Sahana during her Scuba dive in Thailand

Sea Urchins and their venom

We both had thought that the terrible times were over. But it looked like the danger was now in her foot and palms. I called up Mirissa guest house owner in panic mode and explained the situation. He was ready to arrange an Ayurvedic doctor’s appointment immediately.

The man who saved Sahana’s life talked to the guesthouse owner and told him that he would handle the situation. He brought the first aid kit from the restaurant—a needle, spirit, cotton and Neosporin.

The “Make-Shift” clinical procedure at the Secret beach, Mirissa

So there it began: a “Clinical surgery” with a “non-surgical” needle on one of the most beautiful beaches we have ever seen.

He dipped the needle inside the spirit bottle and picked each thorn from her palm. Sahana squeezed my hands and controlled her screams in pain. All I could do was hold her still so that she doesn’t move and the needle hurts instead of removing the spikes. It was devastating to see her like that. I was just praying and observing her if at all she started turning blue.

Is she going to survive?

After 30 minutes, he removed almost 50% of the spikes- both on palm and foot. The rest were deep under the skin. It wasn’t easy for him to pull. Finally, he took a long breath, put the needle in the case and said, “You tourists trouble us. I risked my life to save you. Why can’t you listen to us and stay safe where everyone else is. See how much are you suffering now.”


 After removing 50% spikes, Sahana felt better but not fine. She doesn’t feel ok with her right foot even today. Luckily, it wasn’t venomous. So she didn’t turn blue. If he wasn’t there, I am unsure if Sahana could be alive!

We met our ” Guardian Angel” there!

humble signposts showing way to secret beach in Mirissa

He is the owner of that cafe at the beach – our Guardian angel that day! I took a long time to forget the scary moment and talk to Sahana usually. She kept asking what would I do if she was taken away by the waves and laughing. Ultimately, I felt lighter and laughed at my lady’s stupidity.

The Pizza at his cafe was good, the views were excellent, but the owner was godly. Honestly, it isn’t enough to thank him. We paid for our Pizza and sunbed. What he did to us was beyond paying some amount of money.

Certain things can’t be measured by money. But as ordinary tourists who leaves the town after a few days, what else could we do. So hesitatingly we requested him to take money from us for what he did. He rejected it and said, ” No money I want. Tell your friends not to put a local villager’s life to save theirs like you did. Don’t repeat this anywhere. Stay safe” 

He even called for a Tuk-Tuk down to the beach and bid us goodbye. Apart from being foolish in water, we even forgot to ask our guardian angel’s name and click a photo!

a hut with thatched roof converted to cafe on the shore of secret beach in mirissa, sri lnaka

So how is her foot now?

Sahana’s right foot is permanently damaged because of the tiny spikes measuring in microns on some specific nerves. It can be removed by surgical procedure, but it will damage lots of nerves, which will cause more problems than the pain of sea urchins spikes. So she always has to wear a silicon sole in her shoes. Otherwise, it starts to hurt after a minute of walking without the silicon sole.  

Added disadvantages are boring footwear- only soft shoes with the medicated silicone sole, and she can’t wear sandals at all. If flip-flops, she has to buy the ones with the softest and thickest sole.

types of footwear with soft and hard sole

It did affect our trip, too – We wanted to stay back in Ella, hike to Little Adams peak, or Diyaluma falls, which became impossible because of her foot pain. So we ended up taking a taxi to Kandy instead of the beautiful train journey and missed all the beautiful hiking trails of Adam’s peak.

BE WISE, STAY SAFE- Don’t get killed -neither by sea urchins nor waves in Sri Lanka

Latest Update as of December 2022!

Oh, as weird as it sounds, The pain returned when she took her COVID Vaccination. And she limps at times – Like when we were hiking in snow to Jigokudani Monkey park in Japan!

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Have you ever faced such a “Near to death” Experience? Let us know in the comment section below.

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8 responses to “When Sahana almost died in Sri Lanka.”

  1. shrikanthballalgmailcom Avatar

    Well narrated story a must read for any tourist planning to visit this place

    1. Sahana Kulur Avatar

      I hope nobody does the stupidity as I did!

  2. Prathima ranjan Avatar
    Prathima ranjan

    Thank you so much for the information plz be careful.
    Every tourist should read this story before going to such places.
    We have so many ppl around us who never listens they just ignore n start doing what ever they like.

    1. Sahana Kulur Avatar

      Yes! True Prathima. I was lucky to have someone save me. And I caused unnecessary trouble to local residents

  3. Sakshi Avatar

    Very well written.. i could feel the emotions while reading it and a lesson to all ..

    1. Sahana Kulur Avatar

      Thanks Sakshi! While Ashrith wrote this, I was sceptical if my stupidity in the name of over adventurism should be told or not. But later I realised people shouldn’t do the same mistake as I did.

  4. Prajwal Kumar Avatar

    Take Care Sahana! Thanks for creating this site and sharing your experiences. Reading one blog post at a time. More power to you Ashrith and Sahana 🙂

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