The Mirissa beach stretch is really beautiful and one of our favourite places to be in Sri Lanka. If you've never been, you're probably thinking what's the big deal - it's a beach and we have that in Colombo too. The big difference is that it's impeccably clean, and even at night it feels safer than Colombo beaches or the ones in Unawatuna and Hikkaduwa.
The Mirissa beach stretch, flanked by beach-side bars and restaurants, is actually short compared to the long one in Una. There's a sort of exclusive feel to the place, and it is mostly a foreigners-zone. That's the other difference - you get some locals here but not a lot. Even when calling to book a hotel - a lot of places are kind of elitist and only give you a room if you're a tourist, or at least if you sound like you are.
On the one hand, this means you don't get everybody's extended families having messy picnics on this beach, and the chances of getting 'ah-nangee!'d at here are way less (everyone seems to mind their own business), on the other hand a foreigners-only policy feels unfair and exclusionist. We don't get why the locals who live here don't frequent the beautiful beach more often though, there isn't anything actually stopping them.
Besides the glorious view of the beach, which is by the way the most photogenic beach I've ever seen (you know, those clear blue-green ones you see in magazines), this is also an ideal beach for watching the sky. Despite the beach bars and the seasonal mass invasion of tourists, the shore still feels uncluttered and clearer than other beachy favourites. Our other favourite sunset places are Negombo and Kalpitiya, but the shore here gets the prize.
The best views of the Mirissa beach are from the Rock Island, and from the Ratnagiri hilltop temple nearby. The Rock Island is a whimsical looking semi-grassy landmass suddenly cropping out from the waves in Mirissa. It's a wonderful space on top to quietly enjoy the view, and also to laze about in its own natural pools. Read more about it here.
Surfing is huge in Mirissa, for obvious reasons. The waves here are magnificent - and you'll see surfers strolling by during all parts of the day. You can check out some of them braving the waves up close from the natural pools in the Rock Island. Watch our surfing video and read our post on surfing if you're interested in learning the art.
Mirissa lights up at night - but they don't have much of a night life here compared to Una or Hikka, everything winds up by midnight. Still, after-sunset is a great time to stroll about. It doesn't feel dodgy at all.
You might bump into the fresh fish guy on your way.
The beach-side restaurants are more fun in the late evenings, with warm lanterns and dance music. Zephyr is one of our favourites on the stretch, a definite must-visit after dark, and Mirissa Eye does a super banana and chocolate milkshake.
You can take a comfy A/Ced Expressway bus to Galle from Pettah's Gunasinghapura bus station (about 1 hour, Rs. 380). When you reach Galle near the Galle Fort, the bus station is right there - take an ordinary bus to Mirissa (about 45 minutes, Rs. 50). All things considered, Colombo to Mirissa will probably take about 2 hours. The Galle-Mirissa bus is a crazy fast bus that deserves a spot in the next Need For Speed, and there's baila on TV and LED gods above the bus driver - altogether a mesmerising journey.
We love the Mirissa beach. If you've got a weekend to kill and are in serious need of down time, this is a good choice - for its peace and quiet, wide shore and clear blue waters.
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