Mirissa had a really chilled out vibe to it. Although, I believe they do have some big party nights, we just didn’t find them. The beach front is home to some great bars, all of which have a happy hour which lasts way more than just 1 hour 😉 We made Central Beach Café our watering hole of choice, mainly because it happened to be the first place we stumbled across when we were trying to figure out how to get on to the beach. Both the food and cocktails were super tasty and reasonably priced. Cocktails were just 350 rupees during happy hour.
Whilst in Mirissa we arranged a whale watching tour. If you’re a responsible wildlife tourist – DON’T GO! I’d done lots of research before arriving and thought I was a being responsible animal lover. I asked the company all the right questions and they assured me that the whales would be respected. Around 12 boats loudly revved and spun viciously in the water, all eager to get as close as possible for a glimpse of the giant blue whale when it surfaced. I didn’t move from seat once during the trip in protest, that’s not the way I wanted to see a whale. I think this kind of tourism is in it’s infancy in Sri Lanka. The tour operators are just trying to give customers what they paid for, only people like me and you can help make a change.
Regardless the bad write up from Lonely Planet, Unawatuna turned out to be my favorite beach town. I liked the fact that the main road wasn’t directly behind the beach, in fact the only time we ventured on to the ‘main’ road was to go to the wine store. Una is known as being a party town, and that’s what we got. We met up with a couple we’d met earlier on in our trip and all ended up at local’s house party up on the cliff side.
Partying aside, Unawatuna is just a short tuk tuk ride away from Galle. I didn’t feel like I was in Sri Lanka in Galle, it felt more like a European town, it was a Dutch colony after all. As pleasing on the eye as the town was with its fancy Italian gelato and boutique shops, I didn’t really like it. I much preferred the hustle and bustle of the real Sri Lanka, the manic roads, welcoming people and tasty food – we couldn’t even find a roti shop in Galle much to our disappointment.
We arrived in Hikka with one aim – to see turtles. With the high tide comes the 4 or 5 resident green turtles, encouraged by the locals who feed them seaweed. Whilst I don’t necessarily agree with encouraging wild animals to come in to contact with humans, the man who feeds these giant turtles is trying his best to educate tourists in how to respect not only the turtles but the ocean in general.
The tsunami museum which was once someone’s house before being affected by the tsunami in 2004 is also worth a visit. There’s not much to see other than pictures, drawings and newspaper clippings, but it still really tugged on my heart strings, within the first five minutes I was in tears. Everyone in the area has been affected in on one way or another, even whole families were wiped out. Visiting the museum made me realise that I want to do some good during my travels and help others.