Exploring the Beach Town of Mirissa
Mirissa, a sprawling beach town attracting a hip surfer vibe, is so different from the bustling, near-chaotic capital city of Colombo. We spent one day and one night exploring the local spots of this quickly developing coastal town. Many travelers prefer Mirissa to nearby Unawatuna, which in the last few years has apparently become somewhat of tourist mayhem. Personally, we felt that Mirissa was well on its way to becoming similar to Unawatuna (read my posts about Tangalle and why it's the best beach of them all).
How to Get to Mirissa
Mirissa is still on one of the main train lines and you can take a train here directly from Colombo. We had previously taken the train from Colombo to Galle, which is a a beautiful coastal town further west. From Galle, trains continue on to Mirissa; this part of the stretch is just 80 Rs for a 2nd class unreserved seat. By comparison to stations like Colombo Fort and Galle, where multiple trains arrived and departed from multiple platforms, Mirissa station is a smaller, single-platform station that resembles a concrete ledge in the middle of a field of rice paddies. A single dirt road leads into town.
Tuk-tuk drivers seem to have the train schedule memorized, because as soon as we pulled into the station, six drivers bombarded us and the two other pairs of travelers to haggle the best price into town. We negotiated with a driver to pay 200 Rs to drive us from the station to our hotel on the beachfront in the centre of town.
We had a 1-night stay booked at this hotel, and while the hotel itself was pleasant enough, the location was the winning factor. It was across the road from the beach, barely a 20-second walk. Breakfast was included in the cost, even though TV, hot water and mosquito coils were not.
Things You Should Do in Mirissa
The beach wraps lazily along the main road in Mirissa on the southern side. Cafes spill out on to the sand, playing hooky with the tide line. Most ideal at sunrise before the town wakes up, this beach is the perfect place to catch sight of hermit crabs scuttling along the shore.
At the eastern end of the beach, a jutting-out sandy island dominates the horizon. You can walk across the peninsula to climb the jagged steps up to the island's peak. Nearby, surf schools offer lessons and rentals for the adventurous souls among us seeking to get out into the acclaimed waves of Sri Lanka's southern coast.
If you're looking at the Randiya Sea View Hotel from the main road, just to the right hand side there are a steep set of rocky steps leading up into the jungle away from the road. Take these steps to reach a gorgeous temple, nestled among the palm trees. What you're really making the climb for though is the incredible view over Mirissa Beach and towards Weligama Bay that will greet you from the top. If you take the back road down from the temple rather than returning the way you came, you will pass a number of yoga retreats and sweet little guesthouses, before returning to the main road.
Mirissa Town & Dewmini Roti Shop
Bustling with elephant-pant shops, roadside roti restaurants (and the #1 Lonely Planet recommended Dewmini Roti Shop), fruit markets, markets and touts, the town of Mirissa is worth a wander through.