Mirissa Beach Sri Lanka (Paradise Found!)

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From now on, when people ask me where to stay in Sri Lanka, I’ll tell them Mirissa Beach. I think I’ve found my Paradise, my happy place. This beautiful island as a whole brings me enormous joy, but the little beach village of Mirissa is, I think, as near to perfect as I’ll ever find. After months spent in the country, over many years, Mirissa Beach is the place we keep coming back to. Read more below.

Mirissa Beach Sri Lanka
Mirissa Beach. As close to a perfect beach – for me – as I’ve ever found.

Mirissa Beach Sri Lanka

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.

Earlier there was a wild peacock perched on a neighbouring roof. Staying in Mirissa, just soaking it up, is not too shabby at all.

Monkeys Mirissa Beach
Wild monkeys in the treetops. Mirissa Beach Sri Lanka.

Two easy bus rides south of Hikkaduwa, changing at Galle, things quieten down a lot. There are no more big hotels and pizza restaurants, although it looks to me like current building rates will change that soon. 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 even for small children with Dad watching them closely. At the north end of Mirissa Beach the surfers look very happy with the break.

Eating in Mirissa Sri Lanka

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 a cold drink and great curry at reasonable prices. At night each table has a candle, each palm tree its own fairy lights. I really don’t think I’ve seen a prettier curve of sand.

Beach restaurants and beach shacks Mirissa Beach Sri Lanka
Beach shacks and beach Restaurants after sunset on Mirissa Beach

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.

Fish restaurant Mirissa Beach
Fresh fish for sale Mirissa Beach. Some is fresh, some isn’t so fresh, know what to look for.

Where is Mirissa Beach on the Map?

It’s easiest to explain where Mirissa Beach is in Sri Lanka by actually showing you on the map. Mirissa should appear centrally below. If you zoom out you’ll see that Mirissa lies on Sri Lanka’s southeastern coastline, south of Galle and adjacent to Weligama.

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How to Find the Best Accommodation Deals for Mirissa Beach

Agoda is normally considered the best online booking engine for hotels resorts and hostels in Asia. They are local specialists and can often access the best deals. We’d suggest you try them. Use our comparison tool, below. If you’re looking for fully refundable deals, maybe you’re booking a long way in advance, then Booking.com is often a good choice. All of the above will have villas, hotels, guest houses, and hostels, just click through.

There are a few rooms to rent on the beach but we usually opt to stay in the village. We’re currently boarding with an elderly Sri Lankan couple. For under $20 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. This couple now owns the excellent Tithira Guest House (check current prices/ room types here) with family rooms under $50.

Riverside Cabanas review family room
A typical family room at Riverside Cabanas, with mosquito nets and balcony. A lovely budget choice with superb breakfasts and resident monkeys. (see below)

These houses have lovely gardens, the place we stayed in last night (Riverside Cabanas- above) 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. For Riverside Cabanas. Check prices and rooms on Agoda here.

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 at 2014 prices, they charge more now, see below), 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 but sadly that’s no more.

Surfing Mirissa Sri Lanka
Surfers at sunset Mirissa beach

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.

Since 2014, when this post was first published, we’ve been back to Mirissa 4 times. It’s still our favourite beach area on the island but every time it gets busier and more developed. Despite this, we still highly recommend Mirissa. Unfortunately, we’ve heard that this town has changed a lot since we were last there.

Weligama or Mirissa Beach?

You could choose to stay in Mirissa itself or in the larger bay immediately to the north, Weligama. Here you will find stunning Taprobane Island and still see plenty of fishing activity and fishermen selling their catch near the beach. Weligama has all sorts of accommodation including larger hotels. It is a short bus or rickshaw ride to Mirissa. We feel that Mirissa has a much better beach.

Hikkaduwa or Mirissa Beach?

For us, Mirissa wins hands down. Hikkaduwa is a far longer stretch of beach and the southern end is still quieter, but the northern end, near the harbour and coral gardens, is horribly over touristed. It’s sad to see. Mirissa will no doubt go the same way in a couple of years. Hikkaduwa is a shorter drive from the airport and has abundant large hotels catering to package tourists.

Mirissa or Unawatuna?

It’s hard to pick between these two. Unawatuna town is still very nice and if you look for them there are some great places to eat and abundant small shops. However, Unawatuna is undoubtedly more “spoiled” by tourism. That said, Mirissa could be too quiet for some tourists looking for a 1 base holiday. Unawatuna is much bigger. Unawatuna’s proximity to beautiful Galle Fort and Markets is in its favour. Jungle Beach, Unawatuna, allegedly a “secret” beach, is over-run with tourists but the sunset spot with its huge crashing waves is well worth seeing.

In 2016 we re-visited Mirissa to update these old posts and fill in some gaps. These are our current recommendations. Mirissa Beach is busier now, but it’s still our favourite beach spot in Sri Lanka and we’ve tried most of them. (See our full travel blog, link at the end of the post, we’re in the process of updating after our last 1-month trip visiting Jaffna in the north and the east coast.)

Family room Mirissa Sri Lanka. Recommended guest house
Pretty rooms and gardens at Celestial Inn Mirissa

Celestial Inn (above) is another guest house we’ve used, twice in fact. We really liked it and had a triple room here with one small child staying free. Rates and availability on Agoda here.

On The Rock (below), we used in 2016. Again, this one only takes bookings for 3 online. This place wasn’t built in 2014, it’s new and spacious with 3 good-sized beds each with attractive mosquito nets. The build quality isn’t great, I can see them having damp problems in years to come, but right now this place is a great choice. It’s next door to Celestial Inn. Take a look at On the Rock at our link above.

Recommended guest house hotel in Mirissa On The Rock
On The Rock, Mirissa, downstairs family room with patio
Mirissa Sri Lanka On the Rock hotel family room
Clean, white, spacious family room at On The Rock with air-con and good bathroom.
  • For On The Rock find rates and availability find on The Rock Hotel on Agoda, here.
  • We’ve also used Riverside Cabanas ( breakfast included) from $34/night. Check rooms and rates here
  • Another one we tried was Tithira Guest House ( breakfast included) from $42/night. Check rooms and rates on Agoda here,
  • We tried 2 other budget guest houses in Mirissa in 2016 and wouldn’t recommend either.

You can find more detailed reports on the 4 hotel/guest houses above in “Cheap Family Accommodation, Mirissa Sri Lanka” None of these 4 are absolutely bottom end, you will find cheaper, but we’ve tried a couple and they just weren’t good enough for us. These 4 offer best value for money and reasonable comfort.

The High Mid-Luxury Hotels and Villas on Mirissa Beach

Although we haven’t tried the luxury hotels and villas in Mirissa, we have tried many luxury properties elsewhere in Sri Lanka and have found the standard to be superb. You certainly get more for your money here than you would elsewhere. There are plenty to choose from on Mirissa Beach and all should be available from the booking engines we mention above.

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Mirissa Beach Sri Lanka, Why after 4 visits, we still think it's paradse and some great recommendations on where to stay. From the writers of the ultimate Sri Lanka travel blog and guide.

Where to Eat in Mirissa Beach

Wadiya, in our opinion, still has the best every-day food on the beach. You’ll spot Wadiya easily, it’s usually the busiest. Service is good and the staff are friendly. As everywhere on the beach, be cautious with fish, it’s often not so fresh.

We’ve tried to get into Mirissa’s top beach-side restaurant, Zephyr, but unfortunately, it gets fully booked. If you want to try it fly by when you arrive and make a reservation.

There is now a real coffee shop in Mirissa on the main street, village side, towards the north end of town. This is a real luxury in Sri Lanka.

For real Sri Lankan breakfast or curry and rice, roti, etc, we still recommend Samagi creamery and roti shop. It’s just before the bridge, main road, village side and is ultra-cheap and authentic.

Breakfast with real coffee in Mirissa Beach Sri Lanka
Breakfast with real coffee in Mirissa Beach Sri Lanka. The coffee is take-away from Barista coffee shop, the breakfast is at Samagi.

Visit our Sri Lanka travel page for full information on travel in and to the country as a whole. We hope you enjoy visiting and staying in Mirissa Beach as much as we have. As I said above we were last in Sri Lanka in 2016, we aim to return in 2024 and see how much Mirissa has changed.

If you'd like to hire a car during your stay, use this car rental comparison tool to find the best deal!

We also suggest you take a look at this company to get a quote for all kinds of the more tricky adventure or extended travel insurance.

Try Stayz / VRBO for an alternative way to find rentals on homes/apartments/condos in any country!

About the author
Alyson Long
Alyson Long is a British medical scientist who jumped ship to chase dreams. A former Chief Biomedical Scientist at London's West Middlesex Hospital she started in website creation and travel writing in 2011. Alyson is a full-time blogger and travel writer, a published author, and owns several websites. World Travel Family is the biggest. A lifetime of wanderlust and over 6 years of full-time travel, plus a separate 12 month gap year, has given Alyson and the family some travel expert smarts to share with you on this world travel site. Today Alyson still travels extensively to update this site and continue her mission to visit every country, but she's often at home on her farm in Australia.

33 thoughts on “Mirissa Beach Sri Lanka (Paradise Found!)”

  1. Hi,

    I’ve just spent some time reading through your blog. Thankyou for all of the info! We are 2 AD & 2 Ch (8 & 9) travelling to Sri Lanka for 3.5 weeks in January. Its our first time visiting, We have travelled through Vietnam, Thailand, Malaysia etc with the kids previously though. How would you split your time?

    Thankyou Alex 🙂

    PS I read that your in HoiAn! Love it there

  2. Hi Alyson, my wife and myself are flying to Mirissa from UK tomorrow and staying for 3 weeks we normally research allot before deciding on a destination and we’ve always had a great time because we’ve researched travelling all over the world in everything from beach huts to 5 star hotels has been fantastic,but this time for some unknown reason I booked our flight and small hotel in Mirissa without doing my usual research and since have found allot of very negative reviews regarding Mirissa from the high price low quality food to the low standard high price hotels and rip of tours,so I would like to thank you for your very refreshing positive article,I know nothing is perfect but the beautiful way you describe Mirissa has reassured us,Keep up the good work,Alistair and Joanne.

    • It depends a lot on the persons’s attitude and how experienced they are in travel I guess Alistair. You’ll struggle with the restaurants I suspect, but that’s all of Sri Lanka, not just Mirissa. We’re in Hoi An Vietnam now, we’ve been here over 2 months and love it, yet I’ve read shocking reviews from inexperienced tourists who only spent a day or two here, had a bad time, and just need to last out on the useless, fake, review sites. You have a great trip. Mirissa is growing alarmingly fast, but the last time we were there, I think last year, it was still lovely, it has a long way to go before it becomes another Hikkaduwa. Cheers!

      • Hi Alyson, we’re 10 days into our three week trip to Mirissa and beyond and absolutely love it here we were a bit worried about the food reviews but to be completely honest with you we love the food so much even the Street food iv got a week tummy and have eaten everything the grams (spicy chickpeas) are great for a snack and all the fish dishes on beach are just yummy, we’ve found so many little back street haunts that are so lovely and welcoming with so much effort being put into preparing the food we even had to pre order our evening meal in a little restaurant and were not disappointed the following night with what seemed like a banquet for 3 or 4 pounds sterling,I do agree with you if you’re not used to traveling that it’s not your usual UK high street restaurant but that’s the attraction for us I guess.we were all over Vietnam last year from phu quoc island to Hanoi and everything in between and loved it all,we loved our fish on the beach a few night in Hoi an we were told not to eat on the beach by the local hoteliers but we were bad and did it anyway and loved it????. enjoying Mirissa so much thank you for your valued advise,keep on blogging, Alistair and Joanne.

  3. Hi! We are going to Sri Lanka June 25th- July 12.th. 2017. Family with three girls, 6, 8 an 11 years old, from Norway. Starting up with a one week roundtrip. Now were wondering where to stay the last 7 days. How is Mirissa in July? (Beach…) Do you have any suggestions for us? We want high-mid to luxury hotel. Swimmingpool and beach. Would east coast be better? We are struggling to find out where it would be nice to stay,,,
    Thank you!

    • Hi. I am interested whether you went in July. I am going in July with my family who surf. Wondering what your thoughts were of Mirissa.

  4. This post has made me very excited as we have just booked to go to Sri Lanka next year!! We are staying in Weligama but may wander up the coast to check out Mirissa when we are on the coast. X

  5. Yes its definitely a week of packing in as much adventure as poss but we’ve got a week to relax in the Maldives so not too bothered! I think we have a driver for the full week we are there so he can take us where ever. Like you say though if it’s away from where we are were prob better doing the local attractions to us. We’re only at kandy for 1 night so I really want to see the temple of the tooth and the botanical gardens. I def need to see the elephant orphanage too! Is this better to go from sigariya or kandy?

    • You won’t have time to go from Kandy if you’re only there for 1 night, try to go from Sigirya. It was a full day trip for us from Kandy, you’ll be there a while plus drive time. Maybe just get your driver to work out a route for you, they’ll know exactly what’s best.

  6. I’m going to sri lanka for a week as part of my honeymoon. I love getting back to nature and the less touristy the place the better! Ive never been before so would love some advice on where to go and what to see to make the most of our experience. we are staying at Vil Uyana sigariya for 3 nights, cinamon citadel kandy for 1 night, then negombo for 3 nights. Any info would b much appreciated. Does anyone know if we are a taxi ride from mirissa or the tea plantations? Thanks in advance

    • Kandy would be closest to the tea growing areas, but it’s a fair way. Mirissa is a Looong way south. But, you can hire a vehicle and driver to take you anywhere it’s doable. Sounds like you’ve pretty short of time though with 7 nights already booked of your stay.

  7. Those beaches look amazing!! I would love to try some of that fish as well. Sometimes travelling can lead to a whole lot of over indulging and it’s always nice when eating healthy can be so fresh and delicious.

  8. Wow, this definitely sounds like paradise. Every time I read about South Asia I get this feeling and want to pack and rush off there. I’ll definitely keep Mirissa in mind when I head to Sri Lanka. Your post is already bookmarked.


  9. I know this is a bi old, but I wonder…do they post lifeguards on the beaches? With those rip currents, I could see problems happening.

    In any event, Sri Lanka was never a place I’d thought about as a beach paradise. But now…well, I’ll just add it to the list!

    • Yes, there are lifeguards Chris. A very fancy lifeguard station with a fireman’s pole too. I’ve seen tourists get caught in a rip at Hikkaduwa beach, the local surfers were straight out to bring them back in, there weren’t lifeguard there then, that was 15 years ago.

  10. Your admonition to get there sooner, rather than later, reminds me of how I felt about the area south of Cancún, Mexico. Tourist development has pushed many miles beyond there now.

  11. I love these photos – Sri Lanka looks like an absolutely amazing place, and I don’t blame you for wanting to stay there forever! So glad to hear you have found your happy place.

    I especially love the monkeys – lol but it’s not just bananas they steal!! We were in Costa Rica and had to take all of our jewellery out when visiting an animal sanctuary because the monkeys were known to rip “shiny objects” out of your ears!!!

  12. Sorry … delete the above post and this one as well (it must be winter-fatigue!), but the comment above that one, should have been a comment on your post about Ella Gap… Sorry for the mess!!

  13. Hello Alyson,
    I inadvertedly posted my comment on the “About”-page, and the system doesn’t allow me to duplicate the post here … so if you want to read what I said, you’ll have to go to the comments on the “About”-link…

  14. Hello Alyson,
    I am supposed to finish a paper on canonical law (yes …) but I just don’t feel like it – so thanks for this post of the Ella Gap Temple and you telling us there’s an icy drizzle dripping on your head. The weather is cold here in the Alsace (east of france) but we have a clear blue sky and lots of light today. I just decided to hang the Advent’s calendar on the wall and the Advent Wreath on the door … and I just may go out and buy some candles, so as to fit the upcoming “Christmas atmosphere”. Gives you something to look forward too while you’re on your trip to Kandy!

  15. Can you give us the names of some of those nice guesthouses – I’d like to make reservations there – sounds wonderful!

  16. I am so happy to read this post after being on a cruise and not hearing how you are going since reading how unhappy you were on facebook.

    It does sound like an awesome place. Suddenly Sri Lanka is one my radar! Sigh… I really don’t need anything else on the list!! 🙂

  17. Wow! It looks fantastic, and look at the fish – huge.
    What would you say is the main difference between India and Sri Lanka as a means of going on an adventure?

    • People describe Sri Lanka as “India Light” Victoria. That’s not far off the mark. It’s easier here, there are fewer crowds, less pushy money grabbing going on, everyone is just so nice! Getting a bus here is a joy. I love Indian trains but it’s certainly not as easy as getting around Sri Lanka. I love India too, Chef and I were talking bout this yesterday, I think in part it’s the remnants of Britishness that we love here. You see it in the tea sets and in the way some Sri Lankans and Indians speak. It’s really charming. You have far more diversity in India, but you’ve got to work for it, it’s a huge and fabulous country. Sri Lanka is compact and easy to tour independently in just 3 or 4 weeks.

  18. Enjoy! I also loved Sri Lanka and Mirissa. Have you been in the mountains yet? Tea plantations around Ella? It is also gorgeous. I would highly recommend to take the train from Ella to Haputale for the scenery.


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