Whale Watching In Mirissa

September 22, 2019Niry Fidelis
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It was in February that two friends of mine and I decided to visit Sri Lanka.
Mirissa was the starting point of our vacation and it was supposed to be a relaxed way to begin those great adventures together. A friend of mine, Consuelo, was excited about what she had read in the lonely planet guide book about the whale watching in Mirissa. In fact, it seemed a must.
There were two reasons why I didn’t have a particular interest in trying it: first of all I’m not a sea-friendly person and secondly, I have tried whale watching already once in Akureri, during my trip to Iceland. Consuelo didn’t want to miss it at all and Valeria wanted to follow her. So I gave up and decided to join them.
Only later, I realized that it has been a terrible idea. I should have stayed in the hotel sleeping peacefully. 
There were board signs everywhere in Mirissa offering whale watching boat trips. The average price was Rs. 3500.00 (€22.00) per person. It also included pick up, drop off and on-board breakfast. We tried to negotiate but the price didn’t go down much. Most of them stopped at Rs.2500.00 (€15.00), therefore at the same price, anyone was as good or as bad as any other. We chose a place anywhere, the nearest one to our hotel.

And that is how we bought the tickets at one of those agencies in Mirissa. At that moment we didn’t have enough experience to know that probably a lower price meant a smaller boat and this would be a big problem in case of rough seas. Bigger boats are obviously more stable therefore the smartest thing for whale watching in Mirissa would have been spending more for a bigger boat.
No one informed us about this and no one told us what to expect during the trip.


All the agencies had a watchword: If you didn’t see a whale on the first day, you
will be taken for free until you see them. 

The day after, we woke up early around 5 am because the boat was supposed to leave at 6.30 am. A threewheeler (Tuk Tuk) came to pick us up at our Hotel (ExtremeHost Guest House) at 5.50 a and when we reached the dock, we were so surprised to see the infinite number of boats getting ready for the excursion. Dozens and dozens of boats were leaving that morning: some were a bit bigger than ours but others smaller as well. It was absolutely overcrowded!!! Poor whales! Too much disturbance!

Our boat didn’t leave until seven; on-board, we were served water bottles and sandwiches and we were all given a lifejacket. We sat outside, we had our breakfast and then we sang songs until that terrible moment arrived. 

After the initial dive, just ten minutes later, we started to feel sick. Consuelo got terribly nauseated and after her, me and Valeria. The sea was rough and at one point it started to drizzle but the boat was moving so crazily without caring about the passengers who had already started to vomit. 
The more time passed, the more Consuelo was getting destroyed. She was vomiting hopelessly and she reached a point where she couldn’t even lift up her head to collect the plastic bags (for her to vomit in) hanging close to her. Valeria and I reached this stage slightly later. Someone, that I didn’t even know, had to pass us the plastic
bags. We wanted to be returned back to the shore but it seemed impossible. 
The guys were determined to show us the whales and since the trip was 4 hours long, at a point we lost all of our hope. The whale watching trips in Mirissa can last even longer, the guys will insist on continuing until the whale is seen. The raindrops were hitting us and we got wet but we had no strength to take any action. We couldn’t even move, in fact. Once we left the shore it was very difficult to stand or move around on the boat. 
Water bottles and many other things were falling down into the sea and nobody seemed to care about that. One could smell vomit all over the boat. In the middle of this horrible trip, in search of whales, when I saw the other boats sailing in the opposite direction, probably the ones who had already finished the whale watching and were now returning back to the dock, I was feeling so sick that I wished I was with those boats going towards the land.
There were lots of whales of course; but seeing them was not our priority anymore. I forced myself to see one and Valeria also saw one. But meanwhile, Consuelo was unable to lift up her head every time the guys shouted for a whale. We arrived back to shore with no energy to move. I have never been that sick and that angry or that disturbed, although I have done so many boat trips before. It was a nightmare!!! We cancelled the plans for the rest of the day and went straight to the hotel to sleep all day long! 
That’s not how we wanted to start our vacation and this is the reason why at all costs I wanted to share
this experience with you.

 

 Tips for whale watching in Mirissa. 

1. Avoid it if you suffer from
seasickness. What are you going for? Do you really want to risk those few hours
of sickness in the middle of people vomiting for that? Sri Lanka has plenty of
other options, there are wonders at each step. There is no reason to take this risk.
2. A 15 L backpack is helpful because you need your hands to keep strong and things tend to fly off the boat;
3. Take the sea sickness pills;
4. Go for the biggest boat
even if it is expensive as they are the most stable ones.
5. If you want to save money
with whale watching in Mirissa, instead of buying the tickets from the agencies
you just go directly to the harbour and buy from the operators. In this way,
you can avoid the commissions applied by the hotel or travel agencies;
6. Waterproof clothing is
surely advisable because the waves are very high and you will get wet easily
even if it doesn’t rain. 
 
My apologies (🙏🏼🙏🏼🙏🏼)to all the fishermen who try to improve their life conditions with what they already have.
I don’t want to penalize this sector in relation to the others. That is not my aim. Why not try to schedule the excursions according to the meteorological conditions for example? One more thought goes to all the sea mammals. Whale watching in Mirissa can contribute sustainably to the local economy but it need to be moderated and regulated in order to ensure the natural life of the mammals. Something needs to be changed with the whale watching in Mirissa! Since now I’m getting goose bumps just talking about it!
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Comments (14)

  • sumit walia

    November 27, 2017 at 1:01 pm

    Hi
    a very relevant article indeed , truly seasickness can ruin a trip very easily . i found this article very helpful and does need wide publicity

  • Neil Alvin Nicerio

    November 28, 2017 at 7:31 am

    Short but crisp article. Whale watching really is fun. 🙂 However, the smell of vomit is still something one would not want to experience. Hahaha. Overall, thanks for sharing such unique adventure.

    More power to your blog.

  • dennisallacross

    November 28, 2017 at 1:46 pm

    When is the best time to do the whale watching in Sri Lanka? Or all-year round? Have been to other places in the world where whale watching is possible, but it always happened to be off-season… 🙁

  • Alexander Popkov

    November 28, 2017 at 3:57 pm

    15 sounds really good price to me. I paid 40 Canadian dollars to see whales.

  • Ann Yamagishi

    November 28, 2017 at 11:18 pm

    Felt sorry for your friend. Lesson is, be prepared! Come to my hometown Cebu, Philippines, a famous whale watching plus interaction is a hit there!

  • KatchuTravels Travel Documentaries

    November 29, 2017 at 2:23 am

    Aaaah! I thought Mirissa was not a place that was well known. Looks like its also part of the tourism circuit. Every place that I think i discover is already a few years past its prime. I get your feeling of being angry for most part on a trip like this that basically drives away the whales.

  • Carola K

    November 29, 2017 at 2:10 pm

    I was thinking about visiting Sri Lanka next year. A friend of mine has visited this year as well and she had such amazing stories. The boat trip sounds terrible. I also had such a boat trip in Sicily! I felt horrible.

  • Ami

    November 30, 2017 at 11:25 am

    Sorry to hear that you all got sick. Such incidents leave such terrible memories for you. glad you got back safe. Like you said, if you are sea sick, maybe you can opt out of this one for the other things in Sri Lanka

  • Anonymous

    December 1, 2017 at 5:58 am

    Mirissa seema to be a perfect place if you want to spend time with the friendly whales. I never heard of this place before. Thankyou for sharing the information.

  • Erica

    December 1, 2017 at 5:04 pm

    same sentiments we share with you. we have similar problems here in Cebu for our whalesharks I agree if the excursions cannot be helped as it is also helpful that us humans get acquainted with these lovely creatures, i hope the sleep or other routines are not disrupted so there should be stricter regulations and yeah tourists whould be aware and responsible.

  • Veritru ST

    December 2, 2017 at 1:07 pm

    This sounds absolutely horrible! I've always wanted to go whale watching but I will definitely be taking your tips into consideration before booking any trips. Very scary.

  • Marjorie Gavan

    December 10, 2017 at 4:28 am

    I thought you had a great time when I read the article and then that opening paragraph, I was like uh-oh, what could have happened. I am so sorry that you had to go through this terrible experience, I definitely wouldn't want that to happen to me. Getting seasickness is one of the worst things in the world. I wouldn't risk it just to see some whales. I don't think I'd be doing this when I go to Mirissa.

  • Lily wallies

    January 29, 2018 at 10:08 am

    Full story reading… very interesting visiting plan and place… I would like to go there if anyone have plan to go there will you pls contact with me bcz I want to go with a team… pls

  • Alexander Albert

    December 5, 2018 at 2:33 pm

    Your weblog seems astounding – complete with high quality content articles.. and so forth. I feel you’ll get even superior good results with including some far more movies and pictures. What do you feel. Even though I’ve bookmarked it. Thank you. Pensacola Beach fishing charters

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