Mirissa, you might have heard of it when people talk about Sri Lanka. This little town is located in the Matara district of the Southern province. It’s about 55km from Hikkaduwa and it’s also a very famous beach for tourists. This place is fairly new to tourism though, about 10 years ago there was nothing but an empty beach with a few homestays but today it has developed into an important holiday destination for many people. Next, I’m going to tell you what you can do in Mirissa but before that check out this video we made when we were there!
Things to do in Mirissa
1. Whale watching outside of Mirissa
This is one of the oldest tourist attractions in Mirissa and one of the best places in the world to spot Blue Whales, the biggest animal on Earth. Some companies also offer a money back guarantee if you don’t spot any whales or a free tour the next day in hope for better luck. The price range is around 30-35€ and it’s a half day trip. Definitely worth it!
There are a number of surf spots in the area and the easiest and usually consistent break is in the north end of the Marissa beach. This is an intermediate surf break and is often surfed by longboarders rather than shortboards. If you want to get more punchy waves you better head south a few hundred meters and there will be more advanced surf spots.
3. Chill at Secret beach
This is a fairly new addition to the Mirissa area. Actually, the beach has been there for a long time but in recent years more and more tourists have found this peaceful “secret beach” and now there is also a restaurant and bar to make it even more comfortable for people. This is a place where you can easily spend a day from morning to sunset just hanging out on the beach and maybe go snorkeling a bit in the clear water.
4. Visit the Parrot rock
This is a very iconic rock formation just outside the Mirissa beach and when it’s low tide you can walk there and climb the rock. This is where most tourists visit once and take a picture to Instagram. I don’t blame them, it’s a beautiful place!
5. Go to Coconut Hill and take pictures
Okay, this one is probably the most shared place from Sri Lanka on social media. This hill is facing west and the sunset is in a perfect angle with the coconut palm trees that grow on this slopy hill. If you go there, beware of falling coconuts, they can kill you instantly so better check out the area before entering.
6. Snorkeling and Scuba diving
This is another great place for snorkeling or scuba diving. It is very likely to see sea turtles here because of some turtle hatcheries nearby. The water is warm and crystal clear and there are many different tours to choose from depending on what you want. You can also go snorkeling straight from the beach but it’s not gonna be that rewarding so a boat tour is your best bet.
7. Party at the beach
Mirissa is also famous for various beach parties. The beach is packed with different bars and the easiest way to find a party is to just go out in the night and see where there are lights and loud music. There are no clubs or such bigger bars so all the parties are pretty laid back Sri Lankan style parties. It’s fun for sure!
Own thoughts of Mirissa
For me, Mirissa has always been a nice place to hang out in for a day and one night but I have never stayed there for a longer time. I have many times called this “the little Phuket” as referring to the popular Thai island whit massive tourism. It’s not a bad thing, I just like to stay in another place and just visit this kind of places. This place is probably the best beach for a family holiday because everything is close by and you have everything you need here. This is for sure one of the villages and beaches in Sri Lanka that you want to stay at least one day at, probably you want to stay for another too.
Where to stay
There are many places to stay at and the number is growing all the time but I’ll tell you the ones that I would stay in to have the best value.
Calidan* is a very great choice if you are planning on surfing the Mirissa break as it’s right in front of it.
Mirissa Beach Inn* is another great place to stay, just 50 meters from the beach and all the rooms have a private balcony
Sea World* is located on the southern end of the beach and has a more private beach area for those who really want to relax. There are also surf spots just in front of the boutique hotel.
Ballena Regency* is your choice if you need a swimming pool. All rooms are equipped with A/C and a flat-screen TV.
Triple O Six* is the best hotel in the area and is located a bit South of the village to keep it private.
This place is one of my personal favorites in the world and I have visited Hikkaduwa for the past six years. This is where you can really sit back, relax and enjoy life. This relatively small stretch of coast is loaded with a lot of stuff to do, or if you don’t feel like doing anything that’s totally fine.
With many resorts and homestays located right on the beach, you wake up to the sound of the ocean and you can right away feel the laid back feeling of the place. The food is delicious and cheap, the climate is tropical perfection and the sea is warm. This is also one of the oldest tourist spots in Sri Lanka so they are used to tourist and it’s a very safe environment for everybody. Here are some things to do in Hikkaduwa!
1. Visit a turtle hatchery or find some turtles near the beach
If you want to see turtles in the wild and also go swim with them, this is the place. There are some turtle hatcheries and one turtle rescue center if you feel like knowing more about these dinosaur-like creatures. In the hatchery, you can see baby turtles that are later set free into the ocean. The rescue center might be a bit of a sad sight with turtles that are missing limbs and such but they are also the reason the turtles are still alive.
The other option is to visit the outer point of Hikkaduwa beach, where Hikkaduwa National Park begins, to go feed and swim with adult turtles. The turtles come here every day to feed on seaweed that locals have been feeding them for a long time. It is a very exciting feeling to see these animals so close up and they are very friendly. Keep one thing in mind, they are wild animals and they should be respected so DON’T TOUCH them.
2. Eat some Sri Lankan rice & curry
This is the main food that Sri Lankan people eat and you can find it pretty much everywhere. Many different varieties of curry and spices used, usually, you get four to five different kind on one lunch or dinner serving. This is for sure one of the best dishes in Sri Lanka and my advice is that you should try it in many different places for a real experience with the flavors. I have a few favorites and they are Ranjith’s Beach hut and The Book Worm. The Book worm only have one serving every night at 18.00 but it is as close as you can get to the authentic Sri Lankan Rice & Curry.
3. Go shopping in the street and find some amazing things
Street shops are where most of the things are sold in Hikkaduwa. Most of the shops are located on the one main road that goes through the village and you can find anything from clothes, jewelry, paintings and souvenirs here. Most of the shops are open from morning to evening so choose the best time for you, to go explore. Remember to bargain and do it with a smile, it works a lot better this way. Be careful of buses and other vehicles driving by on the road because sometimes they drive really fast.
4. Custom order tailor maid beachwear, bikinis or shorts
Sri Lankans are very good at handicrafts and there is a very talented man working in a shop called APSARA TAILOR. He makes custom swimwear (actually he can make whatever you wish, but swimwear is his thing) in a few days for only about 20-40€, depending on material and design that, of course, you can choose yourself. The quality is really good and the man himself is very lovable.
5. Go for a sunrise walk or run at the beach
There are two beaches in Hikkaduwa; The Hikkaduwa beach which is smaller and more of a “big hotels” beach with a lot of tourists. Then there is Narigama beach that is a lot longer (5km) and less developed, this is the beach where you want to go or stay at if you want a more relaxed feeling to the place. It is perfect for morning runs or walks. The northern part of the beach is where most of the resorts and homestays are located and if you start here, you will run or walk straight towards the rising sun and the further you get the less there are people or houses.
6. Rent a boogie board or bodyboard for the beach waves
The Narigama beach also offers some beach activities and this is a very good beach to start your ocean hobbies. Most of the shoreline is just sand and is perfect for boogie boarding or bodyboarding. There are several surfboard rental places where they also have boogie boards for them who don’t want to surf. If you don’t like to have a board, the waves are super fun to play in just by swimming into them and “surf” with just your body. You should be a little bit cautious about this if the waves get bigger because then it gets dangerous so look at the ocean for a while before you decide to enter or just ask some locals what the situation is that day.
7. Take a surf lesson or go surf Main Point
A lot of people start their surfing life at this beach, there are many small rental shops for surfboards and they all offer surf lessons too. This is a very good place to learn and progress in surfing. One great surf school is YULA Surf School that has the perfect location and have very friendly staff. If you are a little bit more experienced surfer there are also some reef spots to surf on that are more demanding. One of the most consistent surf spots on the west coast is the Main point or Main break and this is where it can get really heavy if there is a big swell, then it’s only for experienced surfers.
8. Go snorkeling or scuba diving in Hikkaduwa National Park
Right outside of Hikkaduwa beach there is a rock formation and a healthy coral reef that make up for the Hikkaduwa National Park. You can choose to rent the snorkeling gear and swim there yourself (beware that sometimes the current might be strong) or go on a boat tour and they will take you to the best parts, snorkel gear included. You can spot a lot of different fish there and some colorful soft and hard corals. If you are into diving there are also many dive shops that offer different dives around the area. One great local shop is Barracuda Diving center that I use when I go diving there.
9. Relax in a beach chair and drink king coconut
This is probably the most common thing why people want to get to the tropics and Hikkaduwa is perfect for that. You don’t need to pay for the chair and you can stay there the whole day if you like and there will be local salesmen walking the beach and offering all kinds of stuff. The best drink for sure is Thambili, also called King Coconut, that is a yellow coconut that tastes delicious and is very good for hydration. You can also choose the chair by a restaurant and have them bring you food and drinks to you. Just relax and enjoy!
10. Visit an Ayurveda spa and get a treatment
Ayurveda is originally from India and is one of the oldest medicinal treatments in the world and has a history of almost 8000 years. In these spa treatment facilities, they first talk to you to learn about you to be able to give the right treatment. Then you get to decide what kind of treatment you need. Mostly they do aroma massages and herbal treatments but also offers manicure, pedicure and such things.
11. Go on a river safari day trip
There are vast networks of rivers just behind Hikkaduwa, and you can choose from several different tour operators and tour packages but the main thing is that you get to see some unspoiled nature from a boat on the river. You can spot a lot of different tropical animals here and really feel the “jungle” vibe.
12. Visit a moonstone mine and shop for gems
Moonstones are gems that are white, grey and purple in color. They are believed to have energetic properties like calm sleep and clearing of the mind. Not sure how it is but these stones are beautiful and near Hikkaduwa, there are a few mines that you can visit and see how the process works. It is an interesting thing to see how the mining works. There are also many jewelry stores in Hikkaduwa where you can find special stones and have them custom made to jewelry if you like, and the price range is very cheap compared to other parts of the world.
13. Enjoy the amazing sunset at the beach
This is one thing you definitely want to do, go to a restaurant or sit in a bar and have a cold drink an watch how the “big boss” drops below the horizon for a very beautiful sunset. Words can’t describe the feeling and the sight of this so you better experience it for yourself.
14. Party all night long!
Last but not least. Hikkaduwa is pretty famous for some of its parties and for a good reason. Every weekend people from other beaches, even Colombo, come to party at some of the best nightclubs on the west coast. When I say nightclub it has a slightly different meaning here, all the parties are usually open-air events and 90% of them are on the beach. The bars are most of the time open as long as there are customers and it’s not rare that there still might be a party going on when the sun rises at Saturday or Sunday morning.
Some parties you don’t want to miss are Vibration on Fridays and Chill space or Mambos on Saturdays. There are more parties if you really feel like going out, usually, every day of the week at some bar. Just check out your surrounding when you are in the area. Oh yeah and remember to ENJOY and take it easy on the arrack (local coconut rum)!
Where to stay in Hikkaduwa?
There are many options where to stay and I have personally stayed in a lot of different places. I will try to help you out with the best places I know of, for you to have an awesome time in Hikkaduwa.
*Hansa Surf is where I usually stay. The location is perfect, right on the beach and it’s cheap and they have good food.
*Thiranagama Beach Hotel is another great cheap place to stay in and it’s located on the beach but a small distance away from all the nightlife so it’s calm and quiet.
*Thambili Cabanas is for you who want to relax on the quiet side of Hikkaduwa. There is a swimming pool and a private beach area just 300m away and they have also one of the best organic restaurants in the area.
*Funky Hotel is the place to stay if you like to party. This is the place where they have a party downstairs if all the other places are closed.
*Coral Sands Hotel is the place when you want to enjoy a large pool area next to the beach where the turtles are swimming.
*Hotel Suite Lanka with a private beachfront area and castle-like building this is one very beautiful place.
*Villa 46 is a high-class service mansion in an area where no other tourists usually go. They also have a spa and wellness center for your maximum relaxation.
*Riff Hikkaduwa is the best hotel in the tourist area. You will get celebrity treatment with world class service here and it’s right on the beach.
*33 Lake Terrace is for those who like to stay out of the noisy streets and enjoy more of nature. Located a few kilometers from the town this hotel is right next to a lake and they offer a luxurious experience unlike any other in the area.
Have you ever been to Hikkaduwa? What did you like and not like about it? Comment below! I hope this article was helpful and wish you a nice experience in this beautiful place called Hikkaduwa, Sri Lanka!
Ko Lanta, Thailand – a paradise island located on Thailands Andaman coast. It is actually not just an island, but an island district that belongs to the Krabi province. This place is packed with natural beauty like white sandy beaches, crystal clear water, mangrove forests, limestone rocks, and some tropical rainforests. And not to forget what’s under the ocean surface, a lot of fish and colorful coral reefs! What more can you ask for?
Short history: The Island district was founded in 1901 and it consists of 4 different island groups: Mu Ko Lanta, Mu Ko Klang, Mu Ko Rok and Mu Ko Ngai. The name was officially changed to “Lanta” in 1917 and has since been called that. The main island for tourism is Ko Lanta Yai which always and still is the most populated island in the area.
The first people who settled down on Lanta was the ChaoLay (Sea Gypsies) who mostly spend their time on the sea. Then came the Thai-Muslim people and finally the Thai-Chinese. All these groups still live on the island and have developed their own cultural ways. There are over 500 years of recorded history of all the groups living in peace and harmony and that’s why Lanta today is a charming multi-ethnic community.
All the people here share a common warmth and welcoming vibe and that’s locally known as “the Ko Lanta charm”.
Next, we are going to tell you all the different activities and things you can enjoy while visiting this amazing island.
1. Rent a scooter and explore the island
This is probably the best way to see a lot of the island beauty in just a few days. There are scooter rentals in almost every corner (even some restaurants rent out their own scooters) so finding one should not be difficult. The price is usually around 200 baht (about 5,50€) per day but if you want it for an extended period you should always try to bargain a better price, as with everything in Thailand.
Make sure you get a proper agreement of the deal you make and check the condition of the scooter before you put your name on the paper. If there are some scratches or marks on the scooter, you better take pictures of them so when you return the scooter you can show that it is in the same condition as when you took it out. Remember to bring your passport or a deposit for the time of rental, this is just a guarantee for the owner that you are going to bring the scooter back. Drive safely, on the LEFT side, and wear a helmet!
2. Visit Koh Lanta Old Town
This small town is located on the east side of the island, while most of the “happening” is on the west coast, this is a relaxed traditional small town. The sea-gypsies were the first to settle in this town and later on, when the Thai-Chinese arrived it became a port of trade. This was the main town back in the days but after more and more people arrived in the north and west of the island and Saladan (main town nowadays) was born, the Old town got its name. Before it was just called Lanta town.
When you visit the place now it feels like going back in time, it’s mainly built of wooden houses. It is very relaxed with some shops and restaurants for tourists but there are no big crowds here. It is actually one of few remaining traditional Thai towns in the country. There are still some remaining Sea-gypsies on the south side of the island but it is highly suggested to leave these people alone and don’t take any photographs.
The best things to do in the town is just walking around and admire the magical old feeling, do some shopping and have some good food at a restaurant on top of the water build on wooden stilts and just enjoy!
3. Go on a snorkeling day trip
There are many different tours to choose from and every one of them has a little bit different schedule and program. The most popular is the 4 island trip and the day trip to Ko Rok. If none of them is interesting to you, you can always rent a longtail-boat for yourself and visit the islands and beaches you like. The second option is more expensive but with a lot more freedom to choose when or where to go (this might be a better idea because of the massive tourism on the organized tours).
With the organized and scheduled tours, you don’t have a choice but to go with the flow and do what the tour guide says, and there are many other people doing the same thing. Either way, you will see some really impressive limestone islands rising up from the sea and some very beautiful beaches. The snorkeling is also very impressive with a lot of fish and different corals. Highly recommended to do a trip, one way or the other!
4. Party and enjoy the nightlife
Ko Lanta is not really famous for its parties, like the neighbors Phi Phi and Phuket, but there are still some pretty good party possibilities on a smaller scale. You can find a party every day if you like, but it is also very easy to not go out. In general, Lanta is a pretty silent place during the night with a few exceptions. The places are, to name a few:
Funky monkey – A karaoke bar that is open every day and there is always something happening, they also serve good food here. Pangea beach bar – Party on Tuesdays and sunset party on Sunday, located right on the beach with no other bars around so it’s a quite good place for parties. Ozone beach bar – Party/disco on Thursdays, some laser light and techno music for the more “fast people”.
There are several other bars on almost every beach but these are the main attractions that are located on Long Beach. Check out street signs or flyers that are handed out on the beach for more specific parties. The famous “Thai bucket” is included in every single party if you like to have some more alcohol at once. It’s cheaper to buy drinks this way but beware that you will get very drunk very fast when drinking these so be careful. Enjoy!
5. Eat delicious Thai food
Thai food is some of the best this planet earth has to offer, and it’s affordable too! Rice is the main ingredient in almost every dish, plain white rice as a side to many dishes or then there are several different types of fried rice too.
There are several different curries to try like Green curry or Panang curry. Pad Thai is one of Thailands national dishes, fried rice noodles with egg and shrimp and is a must try if you visit Thailand. There is also a big variety of fresh seafood that the many restaurants cook in their own brilliant way, often barbequed with some delicious sauce added after.
Soup is another specialty of Thailand and there are two soups that rise above the other, Tom Yam (spicy and sour) and Tom Kha (smooth coconut milk soup) to which you can add the protein of your liking: chicken, beef, seafood or shrimp. As a dessert, you should definitely try Mango sticky rice or the traditional Banana pancake.
Whatever you eat, you will love it! Be brave and try some new things and you will find some amazing flavors!
6. Visit a viewpoint spot
There are several viewpoint spots and restaurants around the island, some are located inland and others on the coastline. If you are a sunrise lover you could visit some on the east coast and if you are more the sunset person, just choose one on the west side. The east side has more island and coastline views when the west offers a faded view of the Phi Phi islands and the wide open Andaman sea.
7. Try some Thai massage
Thai massage is famous for being one of the best massages in the world. The quality is really good with the experienced older ladies and the price is more than okay, 300 baht (about 8€) for an hour and they will twist you in so many different positions that you will feel like reborn after. The best massage places are usually located close to the beach where you can hear the ocean breeze, so comforting!
8. Visit Mu Koh Lanta National Park
This park is located on the southern tip of the island and extends out to the nearby islands where the 4 islands day trip also takes place. This is a place with unspoiled nature and a lot of wildlife. There are a lot of monkeys, lizards and other small animals native to Thailand. You have to pay a park entrance fee, 200 baht (5.50€) per person and an additional 20 baht (0,60€) if you bring a scooter.
There is a nature trail that is about 2km long that lingers through the jungle and has some breathtaking views. It is pretty exhausting and a lot of steps so remember to bring a lot of water with you. Then there are also two beaches, one that is very rocky and another sandy. In between these beaches are some big rocks with an old lighthouse on it with again some really nice views. You can spend a whole day here or just visit it quickly, up to you but worth it anyways.
9. Go to a Thai boxing event
This is another thing Thailand is famous for and it can get pretty brutal on a “fight night”. Many foreigners also go to Thailand just to train and fight the locals so there might be some interesting fights. They usually arrange it one or two days a week and tickets are sold in advance or at the “arena”. It’s usually around 800 baht (about 22,30€) for a normal ticket and even more for VIP tickets. If you are a fan of fighting then this will for sure be entertaining. There is a lot of advertising prior to events so you better check the surroundings or ask a travel agency to hook you up with tickets.
10. Enjoy a fire show at the beach
After the sun has set and the beachgoers has left for the day it is time for the local “firemen” to step in. Almost every beach has some restaurant or party where there will be fire performances performing with different equipment. These guys are really talented at what they do! It’s a really nice extra when dining next to the dark beach and a perfect situation for some long shutter photography. After the show the “firemen” will go around the restaurants and ask for a tip from people who liked what the did, this is how they get paid.
11. Relax at the beach and enjoy the calm waters
There are about 20 different beaches on Ko Lanta so finding one that suits you and your needs should not be that hard. The most popular and most developed are Klong Dao Beach and Phra Ae Beach (Long Beach). Here you can find a lot of restaurants and beach bars, but also some pretty quiet places along them because of the size of the beaches.
Klong Nin is another fairly long beach that’s not overly developed yet. For more private and undeveloped beaches you should head more south and visit Nui Bay beach, Klong Chak beach or Bamboo beach. Remember to bring water and some sunscreen because it’s hard to find some shade on many of these beaches.
12. Go scuba diving
Scuba diving is very popular at Ko Lanta and there are very many spots you can go diving on. There are scuba diving shops on nearly every beach and they all have PADIor SSIcertification so they are safe for everyone. Best way to find the scuba shop you like is to just walk into one and ask around, where they are going to dive in the next few days and different requirement criteria they might have.
If you are a beginner, this is also a good place to start because of the price level in Thailand is one of the lowest in the world and the sea currents are pretty nonexistent in the area. Many dive shops also have a swimming pool for beginners where you train to know all your equipment before you enter the ocean.
13. Take a tuk-tuk ride
This is the second best option to get around the island, after the motorbike. These motorbike modifications are a specialty to Asia and this part of Thailand. They are very convenient, you can find them almost anywhere and they are fairly cheap. Especially if you go out partying this is the best option for you to get around. Drunk driving (if you have rented a scooter) is just stupid and should not be done in any circumstance! The tuk-tuk rides are also a good way of supporting locals directly because they work for themselves.
14. Try horse riding on the beach
On the more popular beaches, there are also some horse riding possibilities. The price is about 1000-1200 baht (about 30-35€) for 1-2 hours. This tho is a little bit controversial because of the hot climate when they do the riding during the daytime. If you still want to experience this thing it is best to do during sunrise or sunset to ease out the stress on the animals. It is also possible to take a jungle route instead of the beach if this seems more interesting.
15. Mangrove kayaking
There is a lot of mangrove forest on the North side of the island and again there are many companies doing day trips there. You get to see the inside of the mangrove forest and how this ecosystem works. The tours are working with the ocean tide – the best time to go is when it is high tide and the ocean fills up the floor of the forest. The price is about 1000 baht (about 30€) for a half day trip. If you are not interested in kayaking there is also the possibility of taking a long tail boat tour thru the mangrove but these don’t go that deep into the forest because of the size of the boat.
16. Visit Khlong Chak Waterfall (if it rains)
This waterfall is also a part of the Mu Ko Lanta National Park but is a little bit apart from where the park entrance is. To get to this waterfall you need to hike about 25 minutes through the lush jungle. The path is not so good and you might find a bit difficult to find without a guide.
Luckily there are a lot of tours made to this waterfall but you should only go there if it has been raining. The tour has been disappointing for many who hike there in the dry season only to come up to an almost dried up waterfall. The waterfall itself is only about 7 meters high so it’s not that spectacular. On the way back there is also a possibility to hike to the Klong Chak cave which is a small cave with massive roots growing through the rocks.
Where to stay on Ko Lanta?
Are you going to backpack or maybe spend your honeymoon here, no problem, we got you covered! Here are some of the best places to stay on Ko Lanta in every price range!
Dreamy Casa offers nice air-conditioned rooms right next to the main street on Long Beach for a reasonable price.
Lanta Happy Hill is surrounded by greenery and lush gardens and the walk to the beach takes only 5 minutes.
Lazy Days is a beach bungalow style resort right next to the beach. Location is perfect with everything you need for a vacation.
SER-EN-DIP-I-TY offers air-conditioned rooms in a quiet area just next to Long Beach.
Siam Lanta is a bestseller in Ko Lanta, the resort has a swimming pool and is surrounded by jungle.
The Houben – ADULTS ONLY offer some villa-style accommodation with stunning views.
Alanta Villa offers spacious villas built with natural materials and every villa has a private pool. The natural choice!
Lanta Casa Blanca has one of the best location ratings on the island and the resort has it’s own private beach area.
5 -Star travel:
Rawi Warin Resort and Spalocated on the west side about half way the island. This is a quiet place with all the luxury you could possibly need!
Layana Resort & Spa – ADULTS ONLY is on Long Beach and is still surrounded by tropical greenery with a view over the sea, with world-class service of course.
Pimalai Resort & Spa which is rated no.1 on trip advisor as travelers choice. It is located more south than most resorts and has complete privacy and excellent service!
That’s it from us at BEMBALYFE! Hope you enjoyed the article and found it somewhat helpful. Have you ever been to Ko Lanta and done something we didn’t cover here, please let us know in the comment section below.