Mirissa Beach, Sri Lanka
January 14, 2015 – January 16, 2015
We continued our tour of Sri Lanka’s southern beaches by hopping on a bus for a forty minute ride to Mirissa. Along the way we passed dozens of long stretches of pristine empty beaches and clear blue water. The abundance of beaches and lack of tourists is clear. It seems a vast stretch of perfect beach can be found just a few minutes by bus from just about anywhere along the southern coast.
Once in Mirissa, a small beach town of nearly a dozen shops and a couple streets, we checked into our guest house a short distance from the water. Our host was delighted to hear that we were Americans, he had only had one other visitor from the states, and he showed us a picture of the guy. We dropped off our heavy bags and headed out to check out the beach.
Mirissa Beach is a popular stretch of beach which you will definitely find crowded with tourists. You will also find around a dozen hotels and many restaurants and bars along the beach. While empty beaches are everywhere sometimes its nice to be near a place serving cold drinks. We spent the day relaxing on the beach, never too far from a refrigerator. Mirissa’s beach is much wider than the beach in Unawatuna and felt much less crowded.
When we returned to our hotel we found a candle lit feast. Our host was so excited that we were there he pulled all the stops and prepared an amazing Sri Lankan dinner. Some of the most delicious Sri Lankan curries we had in our whole time there! He was so excited he took pictures of us eating, presumably to add to his photo album to show to the next Americans who came along.
Stilt Fishermen of Sri Lanka
The next day we set out on a mission to find the famous stilt fishermen of Sri Lanka. The stilt fishermen are local fishermen who set up poles in the water with a cross beam to sit on all day while they fish in the surf. Our quest was fairly easily accomplished as they can be found in many places along the coast. Be sure to go early in the day though, as they disappear once it gets hot.
We found a spot about 20 minutes away by bus where there were still enough fishermen out for a good picture. And they even let us climb up and try our hand at fishing. It has become quite touristy, we contributed the equivalent of a few dollars for the opportunity to take pictures and join them on one of the stilts. Given the fishermens’ location close to shore and the apparent lack of line on some of their poles, it was clear it is no longer fishing which sustains these fishermen.
Once we were done with deserted beaches and pretending to know how to stilt fish we headed back to Mirissa to relax on the beach once more. Unfortunately this was not as relaxing as we anticipated, as we realized the SPF 60, Thai-brand sunscreen we had purchased the day before was ineffective and we were both quite sunburned from our day’s activities in less than two hours of sun. After a little time spent in the only shade we could find, we headed home and saw some fresh caught fish on display at a beach side restaurant. We decided to come back in the evening and pick out a fish and have dinner right there on the beach!
After exploring the beaches for nearly a week we headed north into the high country to explore the mountains and the tea plantations that Sri Lanka is famous for. On our way out our host gave us a gift, a printed picture he had taken of us, a postcard and box of Sri Lankan Ceylon tea!