Two of Sri Lanka’s best beaches side by side
We consider Mirissa and Weligama as twin destinations. Although only a few kilometres apart, they offer a contrast of experiences. Mirissa offers great beaches, a splendid array of accommodation, restaurants and nightlife, Weligama wins for its surf-friendly beaches and village life setting. If you are heading down the coast from Colombo, you would first come across Weligama and you would immediately recognize it with its fishing boats bobbing in the waters and the waters that are full of surfers. A few minutes down the road is Mirissa.
What was once a small fishing village is now one of the island’s most well-known beach destinations. Mirissa can be accessed via train or through the Southern Expressway. If you select the latter, your closest stop will be the Matara town. From here you can hop on a bus or take a tuk-tuk for about Rs.500 to 750. Mirissa has grown so much in popularity, size, and the sheer number of activities available in such a short time. So it is a place with issues. There have been occasional harassment, unchecked development and other complications arising from over tourism. Thankfully these have also led to changes with the destruction of unauthorized properties, a backlash against the bad behaviour of a few and so on. Regardless of all this, Mirissa’s beautiful beaches still draw in thousands of visitors from around the world, every day. New Year celebrations in Mirissa have become massive with hundreds and thousands of revellers ringing in the New Year on the beach and having the best times of their lives.
Mirissa also boasts of a fishing port. You can take a walk there and meet with the local fisherfolk or watch them pull in their nets.
Mirissa is also a popular destination for those seeking to head out on a whale watching expedition. The waters off Mirissa (like Trincomalee and Kalpitiya) are home to numerous species of whales and dolphins. Foozoo Travel works with a selected group that has been taught the value and importance of respecting the whales, the dolphins and the wider habitat when going on a whale watching ride. We also offer an option to watch whales by air. Speak to us on more of this.
Mirissa also offers a wide spectrum of accommodation to choose from. Exclusive and private boutique hotels, luxury hotels, small bnbs and quirky hostels are all ready to welcome you. Our tours feature an expert selection for all types of budgets and expectations. The array of seafood, coffee shops and roadside shops (kades) selling Sri Lankan fast food and the not to be missed, chocolate rottis are just another reason to make this a definite stop when down south!
Weligama is a town adjacent to Mirissa. The name Weligama, literally means “sandy village” which refers to the area’s sandy sweep bay. The main industries are tourism and fishing. Weligama is a popular tourist destination and hosts several boutique hotels including an offshore islet known as Taprobane, which houses a villa constructed by the French Count de Mauny, and is currently owned by Geoffrey Dobbs. It was the birthplace of the scholar monk Weligama Sri Sumangala.
There are a number of sites of historical importance within Weligama and its vicinity, including a 3 metres (9.8 ft) high statue of Bodhisattva Avalokitesvara, carved into the surrounding rock, between the 6th-9th century AD. Weligama is recognized for its ‘Beeralu’ lace-making. First introduced by the Portuguese in the 16th-century lace-making has remained a traditional handicraft along the coastal area of Weligama, with a number of households producing crochet and tatting lace.
The area is also famous for its distinct stilt fishermen, who erect a single pole in the chest-deep water on the beach, just a few meters offshore, where they perch on a crossbar and using bamboo fishing rods cast their lines out beyond the surf break to catch small fish.