Whilst it may not get the attention of the Hill Country and the Cultural Triangle, Mirissa Beach and the South Coast has a lot to offer. The beaches are some of the best in all of Sri Lanka and there are plenty of opportunities for wildlife watching too. The sunsets south of Mirissa were easily the best of our five week stay in Sri Lanka.
Starting at Mirissa, you can have a lot of fun hopping from beach town to beach town all the way to Tissa and on to Galle.
So what are you waiting for? Here's the best things to do in Mirissa and the South Coast.
Best things to do in Mirissa Beach
The town of Mirissa has taken an abrupt change recently. When driving along the main road, you'll see many building have been knocked down, supposedly as an action by the government for those who did not have the correct permits. At first it makes the area feel a bit derelict, but as soon as you look past this you'll find a pretty, laid back beach and some back alleys to explore.
Here are the best things to do in Mirissa.
1. Coconut Tree Hill for sunset
Ok, so we didn't do this one at sunset, but that's because we didn't have a sunset in the three days we were in Mirissa! In the late afternoons, the skies clouded up and the sunsets were a drab affair.
However, if you visit and there's a clear sky, head to Coconut Tree Hill at the south end of Mirissa Beach. If you're after a sundowner there is a makeshift bar near this spot too.
Getting there - Depending on the tides, you could walk here from Mirissa Beach. Alternatively, you can get there by taking a tuk tuk to Villa Saltasia and walking down the passage (and smile very nicely as you do!) towards the sea. You'll see the grove and the path to it from here.
Next stop: Best things to do in Kandy
2. Chill on Mirissa Beach
Whilst the beach in Mirissa isn't going to win any awards, it is a pleasant place to chill for an afternoon. It can be quite wavey here in low season, but there's plenty of space to lie under a palm tree or grab a cold drink from one of the cafes along the beach. It was a popular spot for body boarding on our visit, but we heard there are far fewer waves during peak season.
Must-do in Sri Lanka: The Kandy to Ella Train
3. Eat your own weight in Rotis
Tucked away on a backstreet, No.1 Dewmini Roti Shop offers up every kind of sweet and savoury roti you could think of. Having devoured hundreds of these in Thailand, we loved the opportunity to have our favourite chocolate, banana and coconut roti once more.
There's plenty of copycats around the area, so make sure you follow the map below to Dewmini. The owners are lovely and you won't be disappointed.
4. Find fireflies before your dinner
Until we visited Mirissa, we had no idea that a lot of places in Sri Lanka had fireflies! There were no need for tours like in Cambodia, we saw hundreds by the side of the roads when walking for dinner. In the evenings, keep an eye out for them as we saw them every night by our accommodation in Madiha.
Read more: Hill Country adventures in Nuwara Eliya
5. Go blue whale watching
We visited Mirissa in late June, technically outside the whale watching season (November through to April). We then found out from others we met along the way after leaving Mirissa that they saw blue whales on their trip. We were gutted that we missed the opportunity to see the largest mammal in the world!
Don't make our mistake and miss out, even if you are travelling in the low season.
The Place to stay in Mirissa
Oceans views from your bed - Villa Oceane
As soon as we read the review that said "one of the biggest problems with this place is that the waves were too loud" we were sold. The idea of falling asleep by the sound of the ocean was what we'd longed for having been in Colombo and we weren't disappointed.
Tucked away in Madiha (a five minute tuk tuk from Marissa Beach), Villa Oceane is situated on it's own beach. The whole place has only five rooms and serves delicious local breakfasts and dinners. You can see the palm tree and ocean from your bed and even the shower! It was on the roads around Villa Oceane where we saw fireflies every night.
Best things to do in Dikwella
If you thought Unawatuna was too busy and Mirissa had too many tourists (a bit of a stretch of the imagination but has been heard), then Dikwella's going to be for you, especially the area around Hiriketiya. When we stayed during low season, we only saw a handful of other people. If we were going to stay on a Sri Lankan beach again, this would definitely be the one we'd pick.
1. Check out our favourite beach in Sri Lanka: Hiriketiya
We'd originally planned to stay in a hotel in Dikwella, but once we found it was closed for the low season our tuk-tuk driver suggested going to Hiriketiya next door. What a brilliant suggestion this was!
This beautiful, secluded beach is as quiet as they come in Sri Lanka and is fringed by palm trees all along the horse-shoe shaped bay. It was a little wavey, but once we got into the motion, jumping into the waves was so much fun. We heard it is a great place to spot turtles in the sea but sadly we weren't so lucky.
The food in the area is also great. We highly recommend going to Salt for some delicious food if you're after a change from rice and curry. The fish tacos were so good we went back again the following night.
2. Go swing at sunset on Dikwella Beach
The sunsets along the South Coast are stunning, so why not get the best seat in the house to take it all in. Dikwella Beach is a beautiful and huuuuuge stretch of beach, as you can see in low season we had the whole thing to ourselves!
Close to Dickwella beach hotel is a swing that's been attached to a palm tree that looks out towards the ocean. Whoever put it there picked the perfect spot!
3. Hang with the locals at Mahi Mahi Restaurant
The small beach by Mahi Mahi restaurant feels pretty wild. Apart from the restaurant, it felt like there were no other businesses on the beach and it was a place where only the locals frequented. They seemed to be more than happy to chat, ask all about our lives and frequently ask us to join in with what looked like the start of a heavy night!
Oh, and of course it has the staple of the South Coast of Sri Lanka: a swing! Which incidentally was a huge hit with the local men : )
The place to stay in Hiriketiya
Seacoast Sanctuary Beach Hotel
If you're sold on Hiriketiya as the place to stay, then Seacoast is a great budget choice. It has a wooden gate to the beach and we were able to take 10 steps across the lawn to the waves each day!
The rooms are big, clean and very comfortable, with most having a balcony overlooking the ocean. The shower was great, powerful and hot and the staff were lovely. It's another place where you'll hear the waves as you fall asleep rather than the roads!
If you are looking for a slightly fancier option then definitely check out Salt. It was also a short walk to the beach and had the best western food we tried in Sri Lanka. It's modern and funky, with doubles starting from $75 USD when we stopped by.
Further afield: Yala National Park
Yala National Park is the place to go if you're an animal lover and are visiting the South Coast of Sri Lanka. Here you'll get the opportunity to see leopards (it's actually known as one of the best places in the world to spot them), elephants, sloth bears and hundreds of birds.
We've written a whole guide on how to pick the best safari and what to expect.
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Are you thinking of visiting the South Coast of Sri Lanka? Have you visited and think we missed a gem? Let us know in the comments below!
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