Mirissa is a small but bustling town on the south coast of Sri Lanka. It is located around 2.5 hours from Colombo airport and can be accessed by bus from Colombo via the towns of Galle or Matara. Besides Mirissa’s beautiful, palm lined beach, it is home to some spectacular whale watching – being one of the best places in the world to see blue whales. Scuba diving off Mirissa and the nearby beach of Weligama offers the chance to get in the water with manta rays and whale sharks, as well as the biggest animal that has ever lived!
Average rating: 4.0 (very good)
Average spend per person: $56
Number of reports: 2
Best time to visit: November – May
Typical activities: boat trip, scuba diving, whale watching
Wildlife in Mirissa
According to reports submitted to WildSide, the species visitors most want to see here are as follows:
Blue whale – 50% of VISITORS (1/2) reported sightings
A large population of blue whales is resident year round in the waters off Mirissa. Over a three-year period, tour operator Raja & the Whales recorded a total of 485 blue whale sightings. While these whales are actually a subspecies of ‘pygmy’ blue whales, they still measure up to 20 metres long!
The whale watching season runs from November to May. During the rest of the year, the waters are rougher due to the effects of the monsoon. Sightings of blue whales are pretty much guaranteed on tours operating out of Mirissa during the season. WildSide recommends choosing a company which is committed to responsible whale watching. This means operators which follow the criteria set by the WDCS (Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society) such as Raja & the Whales.
Scuba diving trips are run from Mirissa and the nearby beach town of Weligama. Tour operators suggest that encounters with blue whales are possible when diving in the area. However, we didn’t see any and we couldn’t find any evidence of actual recorded sightings. If you want to see the whales your best chance is on a boat.
Manta ray – 0% of VISITORS (0/2) reported sightings
Giant oceanic manta rays are present in the waters off Mirissa and there are reports on TripAdvisor of people spotting them on whale watching tours. Scuba diving operators in the area also advertise the chance to dive with mantas. Like the whale watching season, the southern Sri Lankan dive season runs from around November to May. During this time, it is possible to see mantas although there are few reported sightings on TripAdvisor – we didn’t see any when diving. Unfortunately, there are also reports of manta rays being caught and sold at the fish market in Mirissa which may be affecting the local population.
WHALE SHARK – 0% of VISITORS (0/2) reported sightings
If manta rays and blue whales aren’t enough, the area also attracts whale sharks. Reports suggest that juveniles can be found in the nutrient rich waters close to the shore in Sri Lanka. Based on TripAdvisor reports, the chance of seeing whale sharks appears to be higher than for manta rays. Visitors to Mirissa have reported relatively regular sightings of whale sharks on whale watching tours. In terms of scuba diving, sightings appear to be relatively rare although somewhat more regular than those for manta rays.