Weligama and Mirissa: Exploring the South Coast of Sri Lanka
March 19, 2020
Sri Lanka is undoubtedly famous for its gorgeous coastline and beautiful beaches that stretch from the south to the west coast. In fact, anyone visiting Sri Lanka on vacation usually favours the South. And with good reason. During season, the south of Sri Lanka glitters in shades of blue and gold, with shimmering waters dancing under open skies making it a perfect destination for travellers. The waves of Weligama and Mirissa are a huge draw for surfers.
Weligama and Mirissa are 20 minutes apart, which is why I’m talking about them together. Surfers usually make a beeline for Weligama, whereas vacationers and non-surfers usually head to Mirissa. I was very eager to try surfing again after giving it a shot in Arugam Bay, so we made our way to Weligama instead.
Best Time to Visit
The best time to experience Weligama and Mirissa is from December to March when temperatures are warm. It’s also dry season.
That doesn’t mean you can’t visit during other times, because the South of Sri Lanka is a beautiful place to visit at any time of the year. It starts getting wetter from April onwards though, but these aren’t incessant downpours that leave you locked indoors for days. They’re brief spells of rain.
If you’re looking to surf, specifically, though, then you might want to time your visit right. The swells had started getting choppier when I visited, in late April. While this is okay for intermediate and advanced surfers, I wouldn’t recommend surfing at this time for beginners like me.
I was in Sri Lanka when bomb blasts had ripped through Colombo (April 2019) and brought the country to a standstill. Felt safe, though, and didn’t have to worry too much. I was in Arugam Bay before coming to Weligama, and we’d heard the news of another blast somewhere near Batticaloa, around 60 km from where we were. Some fellow travellers and I decided the best way to head to Weligama was probably private transport, and we booked a taxi. Come to think of it, though, this is also the easiest and quickest way to reach Weligama and Mirissa.
As always, the more people you are, the lesser the per head cost. Our cabbie was charging us LKR 12000, which split among four, came to LKR 3000 each (INR 1200 / $16).
If you want to use public transport and reach Weligama by bus, you will need to take a bus from Pottuvil, change at Monaragala and catch a bus to Matara. From Matara, you’ll need to take a Tuktuk to Mirissa / Weligama.
It’s not the most convenient option, but it is the most cost-effective one.
Where to Stay
You can stay in either Weligama or Mirissa. It doesn’t matter, because the two are just around 20 minutes away from each other and it’s very easy to travel from one to the other by tuk-tuk.
I stayed at this lovely, lovely hostel called Mudra Hostel. It has a delicious breakfast spread, free water refills, the sweetest staff ever, yoga classes every morning, and is walking distance from the beach. I extended my stay there just because I liked the hostel so much. They also run a cafe right by the hostel, called Deli Ceylon. Try the smoothie bowls. Thank me later 🙂
Weligama Beach is super famous for its waves and surfers usually stay on for weeks. Surfing is quite budget-friendly here. I met people who came here and stayed for weeks, just to surf and were able to offset costs by volunteering at surf schools by the beach. Consider the idea if you’re a surfing buff.
For beginners, there are PLENTY of surf schools lining Weligama Beach. The waves are ideal for beginners only during season. When I was there, the waters were a little too choppy for my liking. After my experience with surfing in Arugam Bay, I was quite kicked to go surfing again!
I booked an early morning lesson, got to the beach, attached my GoPro onto my surfboard and followed my instructor into the water. One wave later, he looked at my board and said, ‘Where’s your GoPro?’
Turns out the wave was so intense that it swept my GoPro off its safety hatch and swept it up. Just like that, my GoPro was gone. And with it, it took every inclination I might’ve had to get onto a surfboard that day. All I could do was think about my lost camera and my lost footage. I remember walking along the length of the beach talking to the ocean, “It’s a piece of plastic. It’s bad for you; you don’t really want it. How about you give it back to me instead? That way, it’s a win-win for both of us.” Call me crazy, but this is what I was doing while a whole group of fishermen rallied together and waded into the water. Given the size of the swells and the high tide, I wasn’t holding out on much hope.
It must’ve been a miracle, but somehow, after half an hour of me madly walking around and the locals actually searching for the lost GoPro, they found it. The ocean returned my GoPro to me.
Alright. I digressed. But coming back to the point, surfing is an excellent idea in Weligama.
There are also a lot of other beaches you can hit if you don’t want to go to the main beach. Hiriketiya is what used to be considered a ‘secret spot’, but that information spread like wildfire, and it’s not such a big secret anymore. In fact, I saw surfers crashing into each other when I went, so it seems to have really filled up now. This, during shoulder season. I’m not sure what peak season would look like.
2. Lounging at Mirissa Beach
Mirissa is right next to Weligama, a short Tuktuk ride away. It’s one of the calmer beaches in the area and offers a lot of shacks and restaurants. Mirissa Beach is a beautiful place to soak up the sun, go for a swim, grab a cocktail or two and simply relax.
3. Visit Parrot Rock
Parrot Rock is a small rock island situated towards the left off Mirissa Beach. There’s a rickety bridge or sorts roughly hewn with bamboos that make for a staircase to climb the rock. The rock itself offers expansive views of Mirissa beach and the ocean.
To get to the rock, you will need to wade through waist-deep water, so carry a waterproof bag for your belongings and turn up in your swimwear. There isn’t a whole lot to do up there except walk around the rock and take in those views, click some pictures, maybe have a picnic. It’s a pretty place.
4. Visit Coconut Tree Hill
This is one of those very Instagrammable spots in Mirissa. Coconut Tree Hill is a tiny hillock peppered with tall coconut trees swaying gently in the wind, opening out into endless views of the ocean. The melange of colours – golden-red sands, green trees, and the turquoise waters are enough to make you want to sit there for hours on end.
5. Dig into rotis at The No. 1 Dewmini Roti Shop
This place has the highest ratings on the internet, and they are very proud of it. It’s in the name! Even locals recommend the No. 1 Dewmini Roti Shop, and once I went there, I could see why. Firstly, they have a massive menu with tons of options for Rotis, kottu and hoppers. I tried the egg, cheese, vegetable, prawn kottu. My mouth waters all over again at the very thought of that deeply flavoured, intensely textured meal. The dish was divine.
They even have dessert rotis. Do yourself a favour and have the Banoffie roti. Ooooooh yum!
6. Try the rice and curry at Shirani Rice and Curry
I dream about this place. I spent a total of 25 days in Sri Lanka and ate a lot of rice and curry in my time there, and I can say without a shadow of a doubt, Shirani Rice and Curry in Weligama makes the best of them all.
It’s a house. The family running the restaurant hosts guests in their porch area, and everything they serve is cooked in their home. Sri Lankan food is delicious, and I LOVE the flavours used in a typical rice and curry meal that’s served with fresh coconut sambol on the side. Everything about this meal – the perfectly cooked rice, the dhal, the three vegetables, and the tangy sambol – was delicious. Just go there already. Give them your money.
Mirissa and Weligama are the perfect destinations to kick back and chill. Slow down a little bit. Go surfing and do some yoga. Relax at one of the newer hipster cafes that have opened up if that’s your thing. Eat well.
I’ve written a bit more (okay, a lot) about the other places I visited in Sri Lanka. Check them out!