Getting the chance to see the mighty Blue Whale in the wild, is one of Sri Lanka’s star attractions. Blue whale watching in Mirissa is one of the most popular things to do in Sri Lanka with almost guaranteed Blue whale sightings on every trip.
So with this in mind, I have written this guide for Blue whale watching in Mirissa, Sri Lanka – everything you need to know to have a happy, successful, ethical experience.
What you can expect from this article...
- 1 Cool Facts about Blue Whales
- 2 Whale Watching in Mirissa – Things you need to know!
- 2.1 What are the chances of seeing Blue Whales in Mirissa?
- 2.2 What other wildlife are we likely to see whilst whale watching in Mirissa?
- 2.3 How much does whale watching in Mirissa cost?
- 2.4 Is whale watching in Mirissa an ethical experience?
- 2.5 How should we choose a whale watching company in Mirissa?
- 2.6 When is the best time of year to see whales in Mirissa?
- 2.7 What is the best time of day to see whales?
- 2.8 What can I expect on a whale watching trip in Mirissa?
- 2.9 How to spot whales in Sri Lanka?
- 2.10 Top Tips for whale watching in Sri Lanka
- 3 Tips for photographing whales in Sri Lanka
- 4 Are there other things to do in Mirissa?
- 5 Are there any other wildlife experiences that are recommended in Sri Lanka?
Cool Facts about Blue Whales
- The Blue whale is the largest animal ever known to live on this earth.
- They can grow to over 33 metres – that is as long as a double-decker bus!
- Females can weigh up to 180 000kg, 30 000kg more than the males.
- Newborn baby blue whales weigh the same as an adult hippopotamus!
- Just their tongue can weigh the same as a grown adult!
- They can reach impressive speeds of 30Km/hour.
- They can descend to depths of 500m
- Even though its huge, the blue whale feeds off tiny crustaceans called crill.
- During their 4 month migration, they eat very little and survive off their blubber reserves.
- Blue whales are occasionally attacked by some sharks and killer whales and are also at potential risk form injury by big boats.
Whale Watching in Mirissa – Things you need to know!
What are the chances of seeing Blue Whales in Mirissa?
The chances of seeing blue whales are really good – some companies quote around 90-95% The amount of time you’ll be out on the water varies because most boats will travel further if they need to so that you can see whales. So you may be out 2 hours or 6 but you are very likely to see whales even if it takes longer than normal to find them.
We saw about 15 Blue Whales and we were out for 2-3 hours.
What other wildlife are we likely to see whilst whale watching in Mirissa?
Whilst you are very likely to see Blue whales in Mirissa, there is also a good chance you’ll get to see other sea life as well including other breeds of whales, dolphins and turtles including;
- Bryd whales
- Sperm whales
- Whale Sharks
- Pilot whales
- Spinner dolphins
- Spotted dolphins
- Bottle nose dolphins
Occasionally killer whales (orcas) and humpback whales are spotted.
How much does whale watching in Mirissa cost?
Most trips will charge around $50. $20 of this goes towards a government fee that helps protect the whales from tourism.
Is whale watching in Mirissa an ethical experience?
The answer is it depends.
It depends on which company you go with and you should absolutely do your research first. Some companies get far too close to the whales and appear to chase them, stressing them and also putting them at risk from the boats. I personally saw one or two boats do this.
The good news is that there are companies which do abide by the rules and put the Whales welfare first. Please choose one of these companies. Yes, you might not get quite as close but you can go to bed with a clear conscience that you have supported an ethical company, not one which puts tourists ahead of wildlife.
How should we choose a whale watching company in Mirissa?
When choosing an ethical whale watching company in Mirissa, read all the information in the brochure or website. If they stress the importance of following regulations and the whales well being, they are far more likely to be an ethical whale watching company. Choose these companies over the ones which emphasise how whales you’ll see and how close you’ll get. That rings warning bells…
Here are some companies which can be trusted and get great reviews…
When is the best time of year to see whales in Mirissa?
The best time to see Whales in Mirissa is between November and April. During this time, the seas are a little calmer and the marine life plentiful. The best chance of seeing Blue whales is between February and mid-March when there are even more Blue whales because of the availability of crill, the crustaceans which The Blue whales like to dine upon.
What is the best time of day to see whales?
All whale watching trips depart early in the morning as the seas are much calmer in the mornings. They usually arrive back before midday but it does depend on how far the boat needs to travel to find the Whales.
What can I expect on a whale watching trip in Mirissa?
The sea was a little rough so for the first half hour, we just relaxed inside the boat on the rows f plastic chairs. Once we’d found our sea legs, we went to stand at the front and shortly after we spotted our first Blue whale.
You have to be quick getting your pictures as sometimes there were only a few seconds between spotting them and them diving under the water.
How to spot whales in Sri Lanka?
You can spot the Whales by looking for little puffs of mist on the horizon. The boat will then try to get you closer but keeping to the government-set animal welfare guidelines. If you are lucky you will see the tail flip up as the Whale dives down. We saw this happen 10-15 times, sometimes closer than others but never too close.
Top Tips for whale watching in Sri Lanka
- The Indian ocean can get rough so if you are the type who gets seasick, I’d recommend taking some sea sickness prevention medications before you go.
- Take a camera with a good zoom or a telephoto lens and prepare to work quickly to get a good photo.
- Make your way to the front of the boat early as it can be hard to get a good spot if you leave it too long.
Tips for photographing whales in Sri Lanka
If you want to take some nice photos of the whales, you will need a camera with a decent zoom. A phone camera just isn’t going to cut it here!
If you can, set a narrow aperture so that more of your picture is in focus. This is because you have to act quick to capture them on camera so you want to increase the chance of the whale being in focus.
At the same time, you also want to keep your shutter speed fast to get a nice sharp image. I always keep my shutter speed faster than the focal length. For example, if I am using my telephoto lens at 300m, My shutter speed will always be faster than 1/300 of a second.
Are there other things to do in Mirissa?
Yes, it is a great place to base yourself to explore more of the beautiful southern coastline. Not only does it have one of the best beaches in Sri Lanka but there are plenty of things to do in Mirissa even for the most restless traveller.
I loved visiting Secret Beach in Mirissa, a gorgeous and relatively peaceful tropical beach found at the end of a short hilly walk through the forests. The viewpoint at Coconut tree hill is spectacular and you could also consider taking a surf lesson on Weligama beach.
Consider taking a day trip to Galle fort or Dalawella beach near Unawatuna.
Are there any other wildlife experiences that are recommended in Sri Lanka?
Absolutely! There are so many wildlife experiences in Sri Lanka that need to be on your travel bucket list!
I loved visiting Minneriya National park to see huge families of elephants and spotting a leopard on safari in Yala National Park was a trip highlight for me.
You could also visit the Elephant Transit Home to see rehabilitated elephants before they are released back into the wild. You can also visit turtle hatcheries to learn about the conservation work being done to protect endangered turtles.
So hopefully this article has answered all of your questions about Blue whale watching in Mirissa. If you have any other questions (or things you think we ought to know) please feel free to use the comments box below!
I travelled in Sri Lanka as a guest on a G Adventures adventure tour, Sri Lanka Encompassed.
This whale watching tour was recommended by G Adventures and since they always use ethical and sustainable local businesses, I felt confident that the company they used would follow the regulations and wasn’t disappointed!
If you are considering seeing Sri Lanka on a group tour then I couldn’t recommend G Adventures enough – I had an amazing trip with them.
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