Whale watching in Mirissa, Sri Lanka, is an experience of a lifetime. If you’re lucky enough to get the chance to do this, you’ll want to do it right!
This ultimate guide to booking your whale watching trip in Mirissa will help you to make sure you get the most out of your trip, and help you avoid booking a trip that isn’t any good for you, or the whales you are hoping to see.
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.
Which whale watching company to use
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.
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 in Mirissa 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 spend the money to take the trip again. Seeing Blue whales in the wild really is a once in a lifetime experience.
If you book through Raja and the Whales (which we honestly do recommend!) then their prices are determined by the Whale Watching Community of Mirissa. They therefore cannot offer any discounts for group bookings and the like. The current prices are as follows:
–54 USD per adult
-27 USD per kid from 5 to 12 years of age
-Kids below 5 years of age are free of charge.
What time and how long does the trip take?
For a trip with Raja and the Whales expect to leave at 6.30am, with a check in at 6am (trust us, it’s worth missing your lie in for!)
The duration of the trip varies daily and Raja and the Whales will not be able to tell you exactly when you will be back, so try not plan anything else for that day. The length of trip depends on where they can find the whales, meaning the trip can take anywhere from 2 hours to 8 hours! The average trip time is 4-5 hours, which was bang on for us!
Where to stay in Mirissa
If you are staying Mirissa then Raja and the Whales will send transport for you to pick you up from your hotel free of charge.
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 make sure you 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 trip whale watching in Mirissa
On signing in (at 6am!) we were given a briefing, and offered sea sickness tablets. Make sure that is you have sea sickness tablets with you, you take them an hour or two before you get on the boat. You don’t want to spend your whole trip with your head down the toilet!
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, obviously!
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.
They also made sure we understood how important it was to take turns to see the wildlife. All clambering over to one side of the boat at once would put everyone in danger, as boats are not designed to have all their weight over one side.
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.
Whale watching in Mirissa: Top tips
- Do your research. Book with a whale watching company that takes animal welfare seriously.
- Take sea sickness tablets before you go, just in case! You can buy them in Mirissa.
- Make sure you bring sun cream, a hat and something to cover up with in case you can’t find a spot with shade.
- Don’t forget to charge your camera, and bring a long lens if you have one!
- Take plenty of water, being out at sea is thirsty work.
- Be prepared not to see Blue whales. They are wild animals, and although your tour company will do everything they can to find them, sometimes it just won’t be possible. Many tours offer a free trip, or a heavily discounted one, if you don’t see them. Check their terms and conditions before you book.
What to do in Mirissa
Your whale watching tour will probably be over by around lunch time since you will have set off so early. If you don’t need to rush off then Mirissa is a lovely place to spend the day. There is a long stretch of beach just a short walk from the harbour, where you can chill out with a drink or three, grab some lunch or go for a dip. The beach is a little crowded and obviously a popular spot with the tourists, but it still has a laid back vibe.
If you fancy a bit of an explore then head to Parrot Rock. You walk through the water to get here, so aim for low tide, but it’s a lovely little island to explore. The sunset from Mirissa beach is beautiful.
Where to go next in Sri Lanka
There is so much to see and do in Sri Lanka, you could easily spend months there and not see it all. If you’re staying in Sri Lanka for a while, then check out our suggested two week Sri Lanka itinerary for ideas on what to do next.
If you have a limited time in the area then you may want to head into central Sri Lanka to explore the contrasting scenery of the highlands and tea fields. The Horton Plains trek to ‘The end of the world’ was incredible, and in the nearby town of Nuwara Eliya, otherwise known as ‘little England’, you can visit Lover’s Leap waterfall, where you will find equally as stunning views.
Been on a whale watching trip in Mirissa? Let us know how you found it in the comments below!