We shouldn't have stayed in Marissa, or at least, in the hotel we booked. Too close to the road, loud music next door, shitty room and bathroom. There was a Chinese restaurant up the road The thing to understand about Sri Lanka is while 80 percent of tourists are Chinese, there are very few eating options for them as Sri Lankan food doesn't always sit well.
There was one reason and one reason only for staying in Mirissa: Whales.
Day 6 of our epic Sri Lankan trip. By doing a place a day and staying in a different guesthouse/hotel every night, means any chance to relax is right out of the window. Plus, one night guests, I think, sometimes get a raw deal. We were told we'd been upgraded. We had been told the same thing at a motel we stayed at in New Zealand.
Being upgraded is code for downgraded. Someone either complained and got put into the room originally intended for you or because it's just one night, the actual staying time is short. Our room had only a ceiling light, no ventilation fan in the bathroom/toilet, dirty bed covers, and there was loud music next door. It didn't matter because we would be gone by 6 am the next morning.
Our whale-spotting tour boat at the nearby harbour, about ten minutes drive. I'd say there were 250 seats and 90 percent were Chinese tourists who, like us, were excited for a chance to see whales in the wild. A good thing to note: the boat will stay out until whales have been spotted. So, if the boat goes out and within half an hour whales are spotted, the boat returns. If not, they stay out for four hours.
The water was a bit choppy and even before we cleared the harbour there was some serious sea sickness happening. The boat captain has a big stack of sick bags for this very reason. We were sat on the top which is better for views, fresh air, whale spotting. Get on and go topside soonest is our advice. Life jackets are mandatory and the boat we were on had a spot check from the coast guard to make sure everyone was wearing one.
There were two other boats that day looking for whales. Each was rammed with people. In the first two hours, we saw some dolphins. The sea swells were OKish but as we headed to the deeper water to try and see whales, the swells got bigger. I'd say 2/3 of tourists were throwing up at this point. We are talking epic upchucks. Felt very sorry for them.
We tooled around for three hours, going so far out we hit the shipping lanes and were unable to see the coast. Then we saw them. A giant blue whale popped up alongside and then dived deep. These beasts are enormous. They came up for air before dropping beneath the surface. Even if we saw them for ten minutes, the site was incredible.
It took an hour for us to return to port and we even had an escort from the Sri Lankan coast guard. The poor sick people were broken but more or less happy. We went to a nearby resort for lunch and a drink before travelling a short way to Unawatuna. In hindsight, we should have stayed in Unawatuna for two nights because the accommodation was so much better and it was near enough to get to the pier for whale watching.