Mirissa‘s stunning coastline is dotted with palm trees, fishing boats, and some of the best things to do in all of Sri Lanka! This coastal gem is known for its pristine beaches and relaxed atmosphere and has quickly become a popular tourist destination, offering a range of activities.
From the iconic Coconut Tree Hill to snorkeling with green turtles, and visiting a black sand beach, here are the top 9 experiences you can’t miss in Mirissa:
Things to do in Mirissa
1. Sunset at Coconut Tree Hill
Just a short walk from Mirissa Beach is one of the most iconic spots in Sri Lanka: Coconut Tree Hill. It obviously gets its name from the numerous coconut trees that dot the landscape, and it’s become really famous for the breathtaking views of the coastline and the ocean framed by the trees – especially during sunset.
Hot tip: it does get quite crowded during sunset so if you’re looking for that picture-perfect empty spot, you might want to visit it early in the morning.
2. Relax at the Secret Beach
Not really a secret anymore, the Secret Beach is a secluded bay located just a few minutes away from Mirissa Beach. Due to it being a bit harder to reach than the other beaches in the area, it remains emptier and it feels like a small piece of tropical heaven!
To reach the Secret Beach, use Google Maps and ask a tuk-tuk to drop you at the start of the trail down to the beach. The way down takes around 10 minutes and is well-marked. Once you arrive, you’ll be greeted by a pristine beach with turquoise waters, soft sand, and some rocky areas which make it a perfect snorkeling spot!
Tip: there is no entry fee to visit the beach but we encourage you to spend some money on the local restaurant. Their employees are responsible for most of the cleaning and maintenance of the beach and they take really good care of keeping it postcard-worthy.
3. Learn How to Surf in Weligama
If you are looking for the perfect destination for a great surfing experience, look no further than Weligama. Known as the Sri Lankan capital of surfing, surf schools are plenty by the beach and its warm waters and intermediate-level waves make it the perfect destination for surfers of all levels!
A surf lesson in Weligama during peak season costs around 40 euros for a 1:30h lesson and drops to around half of it during the off-season.
Weligama is located just a 10-minute ride from Mirissa Beach and due to its popularity, it’s also filled with trendy cafes, lovely restaurants, and bars! Make sure to grab something to eat at the Hangtime Hostel rooftop (and check the schedule for their amazing rooftop parties!).
Also read: Sri Lanka Travel Cost – Budget Breakdown
4. Visit Unawatuna & Galle Fort on a Day Trip
Unawatuna is popular for good reason – great beaches, buzzing nightlife, and lots of hipster cafes make this a place you might never want to leave! Some of the best things to do here include swinging from a palm tree, hiking to a secluded beach, and partying the night away at a beach bar.
Galle Fort is recognized as a UNESCO heritage site – all to preserve its extraordinary history. Conquered by the Portuguese in the 16th century, fortified by the Dutch in the 1700s, and ruled by the English until 1948, its beautiful old buildings now house boutique hotels, trendy cafes, and hipster shops – all just a 10-minute ride from Unawatuna.
Tip: For more information to help you plan your day trip, check out both our Galle Fort: Things to Do at Sri Lanka’s Colonial Gem and Best 9 Things to Do in Unawatuna posts.
5. Visit Parrot Rock
Parrot Rock is a red-colored rocky island located just off the coast of Mirissa Beach. It offers panoramic views of the ocean and the surrounding coastline and it’s a popular sunset spot.
To reach Parrot Rock, you can simply walk along the beach and through the water during low tide, then climb to the top of the mound. It’s important to make this crossing only during low tide as waves during high tide can be dangerous.
Fun fact: the island is named after its shape, which is said to resemble a parrot‘s beak.
6. Go Snorkeling and Scuba Diving
The pearl of the Indian Ocean is not only tropical sunsets and exotic landscapes – it’s surrounded by underwater beauty too. The best part is that both snorkeling and diving in Sri Lanka are quite cheap and you can choose where to do it from a number of stunning locations!
Some of the best spots in the South are:
🐟 Mirissa Beach for clear waters and colorful fish
🐢 Polhena Beach and the Secret Beach for green turtles (15-minute ride)
🦈 Weligama for diving with whales and sharks (10-minute ride)
🐠 Hikkaduwa for impressive coral reefs, turtles, and shipwrecks (1-hour ride)
🐡 Unawatuna for rare marine species (40-minute ride)
7. Visit Mirissa’s Black Sand Beach
Right in front of The Slow – Vegan Restaurant (location here), after the Parrot Rock, there is a stretch of sand that becomes black from time to time during the year. We visited Mirissa in July and the sand here was completely black, while a couple of friends visited by the end of the year and it was patchy with only a few spots of black sand here and there.
It seems that the Black Beach in Mirissa is a phenomenon that occurs mainly during the Monsoon season when black sand is brought onto the beach by the big waves that hit the shore during this time of year. That being said, we would reckon the best time to see it is between June to August.
8. Do a Safari at Udawalawe National Park
Udawalawe is home to a large population of elephants, making it a great opportunity to see these majestic animals in their natural habitat! It is important to note that the drive from Mirissa to Udawalawe National Park can take around 3 hours each way, so it is recommended to book a tour that includes transportation. Many tours also include breakfast and lunch, making for a full day of adventure!
Also read: Sri Lanka Safari – The Ultimate Guide
9. Perfect Beach Hopping Itinerary
Mirissa Beach is amazing, but there are so many other gems around it! A great way to explore all of what this area has to offer is by renting a motorbike (or a tuk-tuk) and driving through the coastal beaches. Here’s what the perfect itinerary looks like:
Start at Mirissa Beach and drive east for around 12 minutes to Madiha Beach and a few more to Polhena Beach to swim with green turtles. Then continue for another 11 minutes until you reach Matara Beach, where you can visit the main Matara Fort and the Parewi Duwa temple, located on a small island off the coast.
Follow the road for another 14 minutes to the Dondra Head to visit a beautiful lighthouse, then keep going for the same time until you reach the peaceful Talalla Beach. Make sure to visit the Seethagalla Natural Seawater Pool from here!
Keep going for another 15 minutes until you reach Locos Cafe for a quick snack before heading down to the stunning Hiriketiya Beach, where you can enjoy the rest of your day until sunset. The whole way back from Hiriketiya to Mirissa Beach, without any stops, should take you around 45 minutes.
Mirissa Travel Tips
Best time to visit
The best time to visit Mirissa is during the dry months of December to March. October and November are also great options – not so hot but also not rainy. It’s worth noting that we visited in July in the middle of the monsoon and experienced sunny weather and heavy showers only by the end of the day.
Fun fact: Sri Lanka has two main monsoon seasons which occur in opposite parts of the country. From May to September, the Southwest of the country is affected, and from December to February, the Northeast. Therefore all beaches in the southern part of the country are best visited from mid-October to March.
How to visit Mirissa
You can book the tickets online here or directly at the train stations, and the train schedule is available on the Sri Lankan rail website.
Trains comprise three classes, and if you have the budget, the first class offers the most comfortable carriages and is recommended for long journeys. Second and Third-class observation tickets are also a great option, as it guarantees a reserved seat.
If you’re already in the South, you can also organize a tuk-tuk or taxi ride from one of the beach towns to Mirissa.
Pro tip: if you prefer to have more flexibility during your time in Sri Lanka, we recommend the most authentic way of travel in the country – renting and driving your very own Tuk-Tuk with TukTuk Rental! For a special discount, use our code “wheretoflow” when making a booking 🛺
Where to Stay in Mirissa
Mirissa Beach is where most of everything is located so it’s a great area to stay. If you have your own transport, we’d also recommend staying in Weligama, which is usually cheaper.
Note: We highly recommend staying at a guesthouse or a small boutique hotel – local-owned. Not only to support the people whose main income depends on tourism but also to connect and learn from them. The greatest stories we have from our time in Sri Lanka are from the time we spent with locals.