Whale watching in Mirissa, Sri Lanka is an experience of a lifetime, but if you’re lucky enough to get the chance to do this, you’ll want to do it right.
When to go whale watching in Mirissa, Sri Lanka
Between November and April it is possible to spot Blue Whales off the coast of Mirissa along with fin whales, sei whales, sperm whales, orcas (killer whales), dolphins, flying fish, turtles and manta rays. Before you book the trip I recommend you research it heavily to make sure it is right for you. We heard many horror stories from other travellers about overcrowding and general bad practice. The last thing you want is to end up on a trip that doesn’t put first the wildlife you’re so desperate to see.
Which whale watching company to use
We took advice from friends who had used ‘Raja and the Whales’ based in Mirissa and raved about their level of sensitivity towards these beautiful creatures. We didn’t regret it. Their levels of knowledge and thoughtfulness were excellent and it was clear that their top priorities were the safety of their passengers and the protection of their source of income-the Blue Whales. They work alongside several research companies to help protect the whales from ship strikes, as sadly many live in a main shipping route off the coast of Sri Lanka.
There are several other ecologically minded companies in Mirissa, check out the reviews carefully on trip advisor to get an idea of what to expect from the company you book through.
How much will a whale watching trip cost?
Expect to pay around £40 each for a half day trip. For us this included breakfast and lots of snacks and drinks throughout. If you’re on a budget like us this is an extravagant spend, but we felt it was well worth it and I would happily take the trip again.
Where to stay in Mirissa
We were staying about an hour out of Mirissa, in Dalawella. For a small fee ‘Raja and the Whales’ sent a minibus to collect us from our doorstep. Be aware-you will have an early start! If you are doing the same give detailed instructions about where they will find you.
If you stay in Mirissa you can look forward to an extra hour in bed! There are numerous options on booking.com or air bnb. For hostel style accommodation try Space Garden.
For something higher end a little way out of Mirissa there are places like Parrotfish Bay, boasting a private beach area.
Get your facts straight!
Blue Whales are the largest animals known to have lived. They are also the loudest animals on Earth! For over a century they were hunted, nearly to extinction, and they are classed as endangered on some animal protection lists. We were fascinated to find that because they eat mainly krill, their excrement is a bright red/pink colour. On our trip the crew were collecting samples for research so we got to have a good look at it!
What to expect from your whale watching trip
On signing in (at 6am!) we were given a briefing, and offered sea sickness tablets. Once aboard we were relieved to find that there was plenty of room for everyone, lots of shade and room to spread out. We were all given good quality life jackets and a huge breakfast. This was Adam’s favourite part of the trip.
Once on our way we were given a briefing from the staff, who spoke excellent English and were obviously extremely knowledgeable. They explained that they would only get within a certain distance of the whales and that they would not chase the whales…..and they were very strict about litter and what they expected from us behaviour wise while on board. It was so refreshing to see a company taking the protection of these creatures so seriously.
Within the first hour we had seen several pods of dolphins dancing alongside the boat. The staff monitored the sides of the boat, making sure everyone had a chance to be near the front for a good view.
Then, after a few hours of searching we got our first glimpse of a Blue Whale. And it was magical.
The creature arched through the water, so you could never see the whole of it at once. You will spot the trademark jet of water first, then they will arch on the surface several times before taking a final breath to dive down. The guides knew exactly when the whales were about to dive under so you could be ready with your camera for the perfect shot.
We stayed watching until the staff were sure everyone had seen, we never got too close (don’t expect David Attenborough style close ups of these magnificent animals, expect to stay at a respectable distance.) ‘Raja and the Whales’ follow strict approach guidelines as laid out by the be whale wise regulations.
As soon as a herd of jam packed, fast moving boats showed up it was time to leave. I was relieved I didn’t have to be witness to a mass of boats surrounding these mysterious mammals and was more than happy to slink back to the marina, camera full and heart happy.