Welcome back to the last and final part of my Sri Lanka travel blog, where we finally meet the ocean !
Mirissa and Weligama are two towns located on the South Coast of Sri Lanka, and are only around 15-20kms apart. We can compare them to Goa and Gokarna, where Mirissa is Goa, with wonderful beaches and amazing nightlife making it a popular tourist destination, and Weligama is Gokarna with the same wonderful beaches, but a little quieter and less expensive place. We had booked our hostel in Weligama since it worked out cheaper for us, and we had the luxury of the hired cab to drive us to and from Mirissa as and when we wanted. We reached Hangtime hostel at around 10pm, checked in, and immediately head out to the beach which was right in front of the hostel. There was a group of foreigners on the beach who had a campfire going, and were enjoying with music and dance. The place had nice vibes, and after a leisure walk along the beach, we had dinner and retired for the night.
Pic: Hangtime cafe, by the beach !
The next morning, after a quick brunch, we headed straight to Mirissa beach and spent the entire day there! Forever happy kids on the beach, each of us found our own things to do there. We sat back and relaxed while sipping cool drinks at shacks, dipped ourselves and played with the waves, built sand castles, and two of us went to play some water sports too. We were taken to the Mirissa dive center from where instructors took us on a boat to the middle of the ocean, where they showed us a giant turtle that lived there. My friend went for scuba diving, which was her first experience, and she had a great time seeing corals, fish and turtles down there, and walking on the ocean bed. While she was diving, I was sitting on the boat, chitchatting with another instructor, looking at the calm ocean water surrounding me on all sides, and trying not to imagine what would happen if the boat just happened to capsize right there. (Yes, I’m scared of water, and that’s why I did not go for scuba diving. That, and also because I don’t know how to swim). After the dive, as we headed back towards the shore, they stopped the boat so we all could do some turtle snorkeling there. I took a deep breath and jumped in the water, saw some turtles and was back in the boat within 5 minutes, because I panicked in the water! After that scary, yet wonderful experience, we headed back to the dive center. The instructors told us that turtles come up to the beach at night to lay eggs, and we could see that if we came back after dark. We then headed back to Mirissa beach.
Pic: My brave friend, getting ready to dive!
Pic: Chillin by the beach !
We spent the rest of the evening playing happily in the ocean, and watching the mesmerizing sunset from the beach. As it got dark and the water started getting cold, we headed out onto the streets of Mirissa for some beachside shopping, and then went back to the shacks on the beach for dinner. They sold freshly caught and cooked fish near the shacks, which was very tasty as informed to me by those who ate it (I’m a vegetarian you see). I had a dish called Kotthu, which is basically roti and some vegetables and cheese cut and smashed together and cooked. The beach at night had chill vibes, and after satisfying our tummies with yummy food, we headed back to our hostel in Weligama. Our balcony overlooked the beach, and it had swings where we could sit and relax. We turned in soon, as we were exhausted from playing the entire day. We had a sound sleep that night.
Pic: Freshly caught and cooked Red Snapper
Pic: Cheese and vegetable Kotthu
The next morning, we woke up very early, as we had to head for whale watching. The Indian ocean has blue whales which can be easily spotted, and there are boat services from Mirissa harbor that take us for the same. It was one of the most amazing experiences we had in Sri Lanka, the entire thing was very well planned and we were taken care of very well. After having received instructions, life jackets, and sea-sickness tablets to those who needed it, we left the harbor at 6:30am. We stood at the bow of the boat and had a divine view of the vast ocean ahead of us as we sped across, while watching the sunrise. It felt blissful just to stand there and watch the clear blue water as far as we could see. We soon reached the dolphin view point, where we spotted a huge number of dolphins cruising their way through the water, all around the boat. It was a delightful sight indeed, the dolphins bobbing up and down across the water, perfectly in sync, forming a wave with their movements. We then went inside the boat to sit for a while, where they served us breakfast which included Sri Lankan sweet pancakes, sandwiches and cake. We soon reached the Whale watching area which was around 12km from the shore, and we all eagerly rushed to the bow of the boat again, our eyes searching for any signs of a whale around us. Suddenly, a mighty blue whale just emerged from the ocean and spouted water, right in front of our boat. There was a collective “ooohhhhh” from the crowd on the boat on seeing it! As the boat went around searching for more blue whales to spot, we all were ready with our phones this time, to catch them on record. A short while later, we spotted another huge blue whale to the right side, and one of the guides on the boat informed us that this whale was pregnant (No idea how he knew that!). Just while the boat was turning around, we spotted another blue whale a short distance ahead. The guides on the boats were very friendly and helpful, they took good care of people who felt seasick, gave them place to sleep, and even woke them up in time to see the whales. After having spotted 3 whales, they went around and asked everyone if we were happy to which everyone nodded enthusiastically, and we soon headed back to the coast. We also saw a few fishermen catching tuna in their boats. They served us fresh fruits to eat, and they got some musical instruments, sang songs and entertained all of us too! They even sang some Bollywood songs on learning that we were Indians, they had learnt a bit of Hindi by talking to the tourists. It was almost 11am when we reached the harbor, where we thanked them for the wonderful experience and headed for a quick brunch.
Pics: In the middle of the ocean, waiting for whales!
We then went to a stretch of beaches at Koggala, where the water shimmered beautifully with a royal light blue color that’s too beautiful to even describe! The beach was covered with small corals and rocks and seaweed and shells and what not, rather than the sand which we usually see on beaches. We even spotted some crabs scuttling on the rocks. This beach was famous for stilt fishing, where the fishermen sat on long stilts and caught fish. After spending some good time there, we headed towards the old town of Galle. Galle is one of the oldest parts of Sri Lanka, which had a Dutch rule for quite some time, which is clearly reflected in the architecture of the place. The streets are cobbled, and lined with all kinds of shops and restaurants on the sides. The Good Market in Galle is very famous for shopping. The Galle fort wall lines the area, and there are small beaches on the other side of the wall. The fort was built by the Dutch. As I set off to explore the fort by myself, I realized that it’s a huge one that covers almost the entire town, and I was looking at just a part of it. The walls, though old and damaged at some places, are still standing strong and sturdy at most of the places. There’s a lighthouse standing tall there, used to guide lost ships at night. There are some really good ice cream shops inside the fort, a wonderful treat to beat the heat! There are a lot of peddlers too, selling all sorts of trinkets and souvenirs. I even spotted a snake charmer making a snake dance to the tunes of his pungi! While I explored the fort and the lighthouse and visited the Dutch Children’s hospital, my friends had set off shopping. I soon joined them and did some shopping myself. That area has some shops famous for precious stones. They sell all kinds of jewelry made with different stones for your birth month. We can even buy just the stones, which we can later use to make our own jewelry. After a good round of shopping, we headed to the outskirts of Galle where we had booked our stay for the night, the Smile Beach Hostel.
Pic: Koggala beach
Pic: Remains of the Dutch fort
Pic: Cobbled streets within Galle fort
This hostel felt very homely and nice, and we were delighted to see that it had its own private beach! It did not take us long to jump into the water again! We had a fun evening there, freshened up and came back to sit by the beach and enjoy delicious dinner. Our room balcony overlooked the beach as well. The hostel next to ours had a firecrackers night, and it was delightful to see the sky filled with colorful crackers from time to time. We went for a walk by the beach at night, and turned in soon since we had had an early start for the day. Sigh. Another day well spent in Sri Lanka. Another day closer to going back home (☹).
Pic: Breakfast with a view, at Smile Beach Hostel
After a quick breakfast at the hostel the next morning, we headed to Hikkaduwa. It’s a small, coastal beach known for its exotic fish and turtles. The Hikkaduwa beach was amazing, with very strong waves that almost swept us off our feet. The water was very clear there, and they offered us a boat ride to some distance in the ocean from where we could see the fish, rocks and the corals. These boats had a glass bottom through which we could spot everything clearly. Once we reached the coral area, we dropped bits of bread and other food into the water. As the fish swam up to eat the food, the guide moved the boat over that area so that we could watch the fish from the glass bottom. It was a visual treat, we saw so many different species of fish, some of which were glowing too! Then the guide informed us that all the turtles are near the beach some distance away, and we eagerly went there. We saw huge turtles, all more than 150 years old, happily swimming in the shallow waters along the beach among all the tourists, and eating the seaweed being fed to them. One particularly naughty turtle made me jump by swimming up behind me and touching my foot, I freaked out! The guide told us that her name was Rosy, and she seemed to be smiling at me. It was a delight to play around with the turtles and feed them.
Vid: Watching fish through glass bottom boat
Pic: Rosy the naughty turtle !
We spent good time there and headed back to Colombo. We drove around the city and caught glimpses of the Shrine of St. Anthony, which was one of the sites of the bombings that shook Sri Lanka during Easter 2019, and the Nelum Pokuna (Lotus Pond) auditorium, and R. Premadasa International Cricket Stadium. We did some more shopping at the world market, where we got a really good deal on souvenirs, clothes, leather goods and what not! We checked in to Bunkyard hostel in Colombo, and stepped out for a walk around the city at night. The city still had Christmas feels, and was adorned with lights in all the big buildings and city centers. After dinner we went to sleep, sad that our trip to Sri Lanka was coming to an end so very soon!
Pic: Colombo lit up for Christmas
On our last morning in that cute little country, we headed directly to the airport, as our flight back to Chennai was scheduled for 1:30pm. With a heavy heart filled with fun memories, we boarded our flight and returned to India that afternoon. Sri Lanka was truly a land like no other, with so many similarities to our homeland India, yet so many subtle differences. It was great to see beautiful places there, meet so many people, not only Lankans but people from all over the world, and interact and learn a lot. It is an experience which I will always hold close to my heart. Thank you for patiently reading through this blog, and hope you find this useful if you ever plan a trip to Ceylon! If you do, make sure you let us know. If you’ve already been there, tell us about your experience in the comments below!