The Tale of a Whale in Mirissa

When I was researching things to do in Sri Lanka, one of the things at the top of my list was whale watching. Imagine having the opportunity to see the world’s largest creature for real in the wild. I mean if I was awestruck by the giant turtles at Rekawa Beach how would I feel about seeing a blue whale or a sperm whale?

Well I’ll tell you: pretty amazed and wonderstruck. I would strongly encourage anyone visiting Mirissa to join a whale-watching tour.

whale watching mirissa

Where to whale watch in Sri Lanka?

I had read that the best places to see whales in Sri Lanka were around Trincomalee in the east and Mirissa in the south. Our original itinerary did take us to Trincomalee, but we soon axed the entire east coast from our itinerary when we realised it was not that easy to get around the country despite the short distances.

So we hoped to do whale-watching in Mirissa instead. We knew we would definitely be visiting Mirissa on our Sri Lanka backpacking trip.

There are many outfits in Mirissa offering boat trips but not all have a reputation for respecting wildlife, so really do your research before you book. Check Trip Advisor and other blogs to get an idea of which companies can be trusted.

Raja and the Whales

After extensive research we decided to book with Raja and the Whales. It’s true that their tours were at the pricier end of the spectrum, but we were satisfied we would be going with the best company. And in hindsight I do think we made the right choice.

Whale & dolphin watching in Mirissa

That’s what happens when you book with another company!

To book I just gave them a call the previous day and they said we could pay on the day.

We were picked up from outside our accommodation at 6:15am and were taken to Mirissa Harbour. We registered and paid in a small office where we were also warned that the sea was rough. They asked us if we were sure that we wanted to go out. As we didn’t want to hang around in Mirissa for more days than we had to, we accepted.

The whale watching boat tour

I don’t know if the sea was particularly rough compared to a normal day but I thought it was fine. It’s true that the water was seriously choppy when we reached high seas and that it was impossible to stand and walk around the deck but I would have thought that out there in the Indian Ocean it was always like that.

We were given breakfast as soon as we boarded. The friendly crew dished out cups of coffee and ginger biscuits. And then there was a huge fruit platter for each passenger. Later, omelettes were cooked to order and we got a slice of fruit cake on the way back. There was unlimited bottled water throughout the day.

The boys were absolutely amazing, helping us as soon as we had to stand up, answering all our questions with concise knowledge and sharing everything they knew about whales and the sea. Their enthusiasm eased everyone’s apprehension and there was a great atmosphere onboard. The crew even offered to take photos for us with our cameras so that we could just sit back and enjoy the show.

The whale-watching tour itself lasted about seven hours – much more than I had expected. The tours vary in length each day depending on how soon a whale is spotted. I’m glad that we hadn’t arranged to do anything else that day because we were seriously worn out from the intense sun and from rocking around on the sea.

Dolphin Watching in Mirissa

We were just rolling along when one of the crew spotted a dolphin. When we stopped the boat, more came. We were soon surrounded by spinner dolphins and (I think) bottlenose dolphins showing off their tricks and we stayed watching them for at least half an hour.

Everyone talks about the whales in Mirissa but the dolphins were absolutely spectacular. And apparently there are so many that they are always spotted on the whale-watching trips. This was a real bonus for everyone aboard. I mean who doesn’t love dolphins?

Whale & dolphin watching in Mirissa

Whale & dolphin watching in Mirissa

Whale & dolphin watching in Mirissa

Whale & dolphin watching in Mirissa

Whale & dolphin watching in Mirissa

Spotting a Sperm Whale

The moment we saw the whale there was a hush on the boat and everyone was straining their eyes to see. At first we could just see what looked like a black shadow on the horizon, like when you see land from a long way off. It kept appearing and disappearing.

As the whale got closer to us we could see that this was one huge beast. They can measure up to 20m in length. The sperm whale is the second-largest creature on Planet Earth, second only to the blue whale which can also be found in the same waters.

Whales are mammals so they have to breathe oxygen like we do. The whale comes to the surface, takes in air and then dives. They can stay down for around twenty minutes. When they resurface they could be anywhere because in the meantime they can reach speeds of up to 30 miles an hour.

When the whale comes up for air and then dives, that’s when you get the classic picture of the spurt of water from the blowhole followed by the flip of the tail as it disappears.

I am delighted to say that this is exactly what we saw. And together with the wild elephants, the giant turtles and the amazing dolphins, it made my holiday in Sri Lanka.

I’ll leave you with my images.

I would like to remind you that all the photos used on are my own unless otherwise stated.
You can see my whole collection of Travel Photos here.

And at the bottom of the page I’ll share the practical info. Enjoy.

Whale & dolphin watching in Mirissa

Whale & dolphin watching in Mirissa

Whale & dolphin watching in Mirissa

Whale & dolphin watching in Mirissa

Whale & dolphin watching in Mirissa

Whale Watching in Mirissa: Practical Info

  • Best company to use: Raja and the Whales
  • Price per person: 6,500rs (at the exchange rate we were getting when we were there this equals 42€).
  • Length of activity: We were at sea for seven hours so don’t make other plans for the same day.
  • What to take: camera with plenty of battery and storage / the highest factor sun cream you own / hat.
  • When to go whale watching: Well you can only do it when you are in Mirissa, so do it then! Hopefully you will not be visiting during the May-June monsoon!

If you would like to see the rest of my whale and dolphin pics from this trip, click here.

Filed Under: asiafeaturedSri LankaSri Lanka BeachesWildlife


About the Author: Based in Mallorca, obsessed with the world and have a lot to say about both... Step into my shoes and join me on a journey...

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