I think I’ve found my Paradise, my happy place. Sri Lanka on the whole brings me enormous joy, but the little seaside village of Mirissa is, I think, as near to perfect as I’ll ever find.
Right now I’m sitting in a shady spot drinking tea from a china cup watching a monkey happily munch on a mango up in the tree. I can hear the crash of the waves from the beach and little three striped squirrels are rushing about on the grass. It’s not too shabby at all!
Two easy bus rides south of Hikkaduwa, changing at Galle, things have quietened down a lot. There are no more big hotels and pizza restaurants, although it looks to me like that may change soon, there is building going on. All that we have in Mirissa is a perfect beach, the main coast road that runs the length of the country lies just behind with a few rudimentary shops and local style eateries and beyond that, the village, nestled into the abundant greenery. That’s all that’s here and it is perfect.
The beach is the cleanest I have ever seen, I haven’t spotted even one piece of washed up plastic or litter. The sea is crystal clear and warm, but not too warm. The surf is huge, there are rips, you need to read the sea but they don’t stop the waves being the best fun. At the north end of the beach the surfers look very happy with the break ( is that what they call it?).
The sand is dotted with beach shacks and restaurants, mostly simple bamboo and palm frond affairs, no big developments. For me that is perfect, I love to have a shady table to sit at while I watch the children play in the surf. Better yet, a shady table with cold beer and great curry at reasonable prices. At night each table has a candle, each palm tree it’s own fairy lights. I really don’t think I’ve seen a prettier curve of sand anywhere.
A large Lion beer on the beach is under $2, a few cents more buys you a cocktail during the evening happy hour. Chef’s pina colada and my mojito were both excellent.
If you eat on the beach prices are relatively high. A tuna steak, chips and salad set us back just under $5, fish curry and rice $3, fried squid rice and salad $4.
Eat at the simpler restaurants on the main road or in the village and family lunch can be as cheap as $1.50 for 4 small, but filling, vegetable roti.
There are a few rooms to rent on the beach but we’ve opted to stay in the village. We’re boarding with an elderly Sri Lankan couple. For $16 per night we have our own bathroom, large double and single beds, mosquito nets and fans, it’s perfect. It’s not too hot here, the rooms seem to be plenty cool enough without air con.
These houses have lovely gardens, the place we stayed in last night had a large expanse of grass running down to the riverside and a resident troop of monkeys . The riverside walk is cool, green and shady, watch out for the huge monitor lizards. As we walk home from dinner in the early evening we always see fireflies in the greenery.
There are plenty of private homes turned guest house, everybody seems to be building a block of rooms on their land, they’re cheap ( all around 2000Rs $16), clean and new, but tourism hasn’t taken away the village feel of Mirissa. A local fisherman sells his catch on the corner, opposite is a fruit and veg stall. People say hello to strangers.
The Sri Lankans are lovely people, I’ve already posted about their beautiful manners and good looks in Why Visit Sri Lanka? If you can make it this far south, Mirissa is a real treat. Hikkaduwa was more like this 12 years ago, the first time I came, it’s not now.
The big draw in this area is the incredible whale watching, I posted about it yesterday in We Saw A Blue Whale! Now we’ve done that we’re just going to stay here and relax for a while, enjoy the beach, the wildlife and old-fashioned Sri Lankan hospitality.
We’ve only been here 36 hours, we haven’t fully explored yet, but as I sat listening to reggae under a palm frond roof this afternoon watching the boys play, I couldn’t have been any happier. This is it, my paradise, what I’ve been looking for.