Palm trees swaying, golden sands glistening, and turquoise waters lapping at your feet, welcome to Mirissa! There are so many fun things to do in Mirissa, and this southern Sri Lankan beach community caters to almost any type of vacationer.
Want to learn to surf in beginner-sized waves? Great. Want to sit and read a book at a local cafe in the jungle or treat yourself to a traditional Sri Lankan massage? Cool. Want to be centrally located for day trips to Udawalawe National Park to see Asian elephants or venture over to Hiriketiya beach along the coast for a sleepy afternoon in the lagoon? This is your spot.
Want to know what to do in Mirissa? Follow my essential Mirissa guide below.
Ensure you spend at least 2 days here to make the most of all the best things to do in Mirissa!
Where is Mirissa, Sri Lanka?
Set on the easternmost peninsula of Weligama Bay on Sri Lanka’s central south coast, Mirissa is located about four hours south-east from the capital of Colombo.
Mirissa, with a population of around 5,000 people, sits among some of the best and quaintest surf villages in Sri Lanka and is central to communities like Weligama, Galle Fort, Matara, and Dikwella. Mirissa Beach is favored as one of the best beaches in Sri Lanka.
Best Time to Visit Mirissa
Sri Lanka has two distinct monsoon seasons, each striking the northeast and southwest coasts at opposite times of the year. The best time to visit Mirissa is during the driest months of December to March. Be aware that December is the busiest month as international and domestic tourists flock to the south coast on various holidays.
Weather in the south of Sri Lanka fluctuates only a couple of degrees (roughly between 29 and 31 celsius), so the shoulder months of April and November will still see some sun and are pleasant in regards to temperature (albeit will be slightly rainier). These months offer the perk of lower accommodation prices.
September and October are the wettest months in this area.
How to get Around Mirissa, Sri Lanka
What I consider to be the best way to see a place, walking can enhance your experience with a combination of exercise and time to notice the details. Due to the size of Mirissa, it maintains high walkability. Most of the best things to do in Mirissa can be reached by walking a mere 25 minutes.
If you decide to enjoy the outlying communities of Weligama, Midigama, or Ahangama (and I highly suggest you do), hailing a tuk-tuk is your best bet. Costing approximately 500 LKR each way, a tuk-tuk ride is super fun and can provide you a chance to chat with a local.
Haggling is a must and makes sure you stick to your guns as there is a tuk-tuk mafia operating in this area. Some prices will be firm as the demand for transportation is high between places like Weligama and Mirissa, but make sure to finalize the price before getting into the tuk-tuk.
Sri Lanka’s local bus system is one of the most economical ways to get around the island. On the south coast, the buses are great for day trips to places like Hiriketiya or Galle Fort. Costing a mere $0.50 USD, the #2 and #32 buses run every 15 minutes and will take you down the main coastal road which gives a great view of the Indian Ocean.
TIP | Make sure you have small denominations of Sri Lankan rupees available as the bus driver will not give you change until the end of your bus ride
Where to Stay in Mirissa
The touristy culture of Mirissa lends to a full range of accommodation budgets, from minimalist rooms to luxury suites.
I’ve recommended three accommodations below, but you can also search for all hotel options for Mirissa, Sri Lanka using Agoda.com.
PEACOCK VILLA | MID-RANGE
Located on the backroads of Mirissa, this mid-range villa complex comes complete with colonial Sri Lankan architecture, a large clean pool, and great staff. It is about a 10-minute walk to Mirissa Beach.
LANTERN BOUTIQUE HOTEL | LUXURY
Located on a quiet stretch of the idyllic golden sand of Mirissa Beach, this modern boutique hotel comes complete with a beautiful outdoor pool with views of the ocean, spa and restaurant. Great for couples.
JJs HOSTEL | BUDGET
A quiet hostel can sometimes be hard to find. JJ’s Hostel is a great place to stay if you want to meet new people but still remain in solitude if you’d like. They offer very clean shared and solo rooms and onsite yoga.
THE BEST THINGS TO DO IN MIRISSA - SRI LANKA’S SOUTH COAST GEM
#1 Surfing in Mirissa
Likely the top things to do in Mirissa, is rent a surf board and hit the waves. Mirissa Beach is one of the best places to do this in Sri Lanka, especially for intermediates. The surf here is a point break and experiences only the rare on shore wind making the waves here glassy and smooth.
If you are just out to have some fun and consider yourself a beginner, Weligama Beach is the one for you, located an 8KM tuk-tuk ride west of Mirissa. Surfboard rentals can be easily found at either beach.
COST | Surfboard rentals are 200LKR ($1 USD)
#2 Catch some rays AT MIRISSA BEACH
Mirissa Beach is one of the best all-rounder beaches in Sri Lanka. This crescent-shaped beach offers immaculate golden sands, splashy turquoise waves to play in, scrumptious eats, and refreshing drinks. The clean sand offers a great place to sit and relax, people watch or read a book.
With the good comes the bad, unfortunately, this beach also has a lot of tourists that set up camp on the sands each day. When I went in January of 2020, the beach was busy, but not solidly packed, and I had plenty of space to walk the span of the beach near the water’s edge. For this reason, it’s still a fabulous place to visit in Mirissa.
WHERE | Mirissa Beach, Sri Lanka
TIP | As with most tourist attractions, arrive early to get the best spot on the beach.
#3 Perch on Parrot Rock
Located at the far east end of Mirissa Beach is Parrot Rock. This iconic rock formation is connected to the beach by a ‘land bridge’ and can be accessed by a makeshift stairway to the top, What makes this a great place to visit in Mirissa is the views from the top. Turquoise waters of the Indian Ocean, the golden Sri Lankan coastline, and the hubbub of the beach can make for spectacular views. You can take photos or just hang out enjoying the sun.
#4 Coconut Tree Hill
Coconut Tree Hill is one of the top places to visit in Mirissa. Tall palm trees loaded with coconuts shoot out of the sparse red earth. Located on a hilled peninsula east of Mirissa, the grove backs right up to the Indian Ocean on three sides, making it a picturesque spot for tourists.
If you choose to go at sunset, beware it can get busy and can have upwards of 50 people perusing the area. Make sure to take some time and have a cocktail or fresh coconut at Sunset Bar to watch the surfers in the distance and perhaps spot the odd turtle.
WHERE | How to get to Coconut Tree Hill, Mirissa | There are 2 simple ways to get to Coconut Tree Hill. You can either walk along Mirissa Beach east past parrot rock and the next 2 harbours or follow Matara Road and turn down Coconut Tree Hill Road. To get to the hill, you will pass through Sunset Bar and up the steep dirt path. Voila!
TIP | Go at sunrise to avoid waiting in line or having people in your shot.
TIP | Say no to single-use plastic and ask for no straw in your drink at Sunset Bar. Most establishments in this area provide coconut or bamboo straws, but unfortunately, this place doesn’t.
#5 Day Trip to Galle Fort
The great thing about Mirissa, is its central location. A very easy place to do a myriad of day trips from. But, what is one of the best things to do in Mirissa, is to take a morning and explore the historic Galle Fort.
The city of Galle features a fortified peninsula that was created by the Dutch and Portuguese in colonial times. Now, the fort has built up boutique shops and trendy restaurants. When you arrive in Galle Fort, take a walking tour to discover all the history this place has to offer.
WHERE | Galle Fort, Sri Lanka
#6 Whale Watching in Mirissa
Mirissa is known for having the best whale watching in Sri Lanka and is definitely one of the most awesome things to do in Mirissa. Do note, that whale watching in Mirissa is only good between November to March (the southern coast’s dry season).
There will be a few different companies selling whale watching tours in Mirissa, and they can be caught at the Mirissa Fisheries Harbour. Make sure to keep an eye out for not only giant blue whales, but for dolphins and turtles too!
#7 Breakfast or Lunch at Shady Lane, Mirissa
A two-story modern concrete building surrounded by palm trees, Shady Lane is the destination for new-age health food and vibes. Tucked back in the jungle away from the main road of Mirissa, this hipster spot offers tropical fruit smoothie bowls, loaded avocado toasts, veggie burgers, and a few sweet treats.
Very vegan and gluten-free friendly, their coffee drinks come with the option of traditional dairy milk or coconut milk.
Make sure to check out their small shop on the second floor that features local products, clothing, and artisans.
WHERE | Shady Lane Mirissa, Sri Lanka
COST | Smoothie bowls will run you 700 LKR and coffee approximately 400 LKR
TIP | The second floor seating gives the best view of the jungle and provides a quieter space if you are looking for some peace.
#8 Spend the Morning at Secret Beach
WHERE | How to get to Secret Beach, Mirissa, Sri Lanka | This small cove beach at the west end of Mirissa and can be reached by walking or grabbing a tuk-tuk. If you do decide to walk to Secret Beach in Mirissa, make sure to go early as the trail is steep at the end and the heat of the day makes it more difficult. For more details on how to get there, read this.
#9 DAY TRIP TO UDAWALAWE NATIONAL PARK
If you haven’t gotten your fill of wildlife yet, opt to take a day trip to Udawalawe National Park. This park is mainly home to large packs of Asian elephants and you’ll likely have the opportunity to watch them playing in the river. Located a 2-hour drive north-east from Mirissa, a day trip will leave around 11 AM to make it there in time for a scenic afternoon safari.
#10 Book an Ayurvedic Massage at Secret Root Spa
One of my favorite experiences in Mirissa, the Secret Root Spa provides ayurvedic massage packages in a serene and authentic environment. The spa is integrated into nature, with jungle all around you and the sound of wind chimes gently swinging in the breeze. You will make your way from outdoor building to outdoor building for each of your treatments across a quaint grassy courtyard.
I highly recommend going for Ayurvedic Package Three that includes a Secret Roots full body massage, Shirodhara oil treatment and herbal steambath. This package will cost you 6000 LKR plus tip (around $35USD), but it was well worth it for 2.5 hours of relaxation. Secret Root Spa also offers a la carte experiences, check out their website for more.
WHERE | Secret Root Spa, Mirissa
BOOK | Make a massage or treatment appointment
COST | Upwards of 6000 LKR
#11 Day Trip to Hiriketiya Beach
Imagine Bali 30 years ago and that’s the Dikwella community of Hiriketiya Beach for you. Nestled in the eastern corner of the golden southern stretch of Sri Lanka coastline, this up and coming yet sleepy hipster hub, is a great day or overnight trip from Mirissa. The area near the beach is predominantly run by expats, which features their beachy but modern homestays, health food cafes and even a trendy co-working space.
Hiriketiya Beach is located in a lagoon making it a great surfing destination for beginners 10 months of the year, and nicely protected for swimming and playing in the waves.
WHERE | How to get from Mirissa to Hiriketiya Beach | Take a cab or private driver to make the one hour journey. The trip will cost approximately 5000 LKR (~$25 USD).
Alternatively, you can take the local bus for 200 LKR, but will add 1.5 hours to your drive.
EAT | I recommend trying a fresh bowl at Malu Poke
TIP | Make sure to venture out the expat bubble and to the main Matara Road to try some traditional Sri Lankan cuisine.
TIP | Surfboard rentals on Hiriketiya Beach are available for as low as 250 LKR! A great spot to continue your surfing pursuits.
MORE ESSENTIAL GUIDES FOR SRI LANKA
Want to continue planning your trip to Sri Lanka?
Check out my 3 WEEK SRI LANKA ITINERARY or if you prefer to determine the route yourself, read the specialized guides below for some of the best experiences in Sri Lanka:
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SRI LANKA TRAVEL TIPS | Prepare for your Sri Lanka trip by reading my 21 top tips on what you should know before visiting the beautiful teardrop isle
KANDY | Bustling market streets, quiet strolls around the lake, lush botanical gardens, and ornate Buddhist temples, the cultural capital of Sri Lanka has it all
ELLA | Nestled in the green centre of Sri Lanka, this hiker’s paradise features trails with panoramic views of jagged green hills, deep valleys and rushing waterfalls.
YALA NATIONAL PARK | Majestic elephants, elusive leopards, and a myriad of bird species can all be found in one of the biggest national parks in Sri Lanka.
WELIGAMA | Where surf culture is alive and thriving, this central town is located on the golden south coast of Sri Lanka and offers the best surf beach for beginners, and an abundance of traditional and modern eateries.
GALLE FORT | Fortified stone walls, dutch and Portuguese style architecture, great food and shopping all culminate in this little town that was once a major Sri Lankan trading post.
SRI LANKA PACKING LIST | Take the guesswork out of packing and easily check off my list to all things you will need for Sri Lanka’s warm climate