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Mirissa is one of the foremost places in the world to see blue whales and sperm whales. Between December and April, when the sea is relatively calm, they arrive off the coast to feed in the rich waters.

The world’s largest mammal, the blue whale, grows to around 33ms in length and weighs up to 150-180 tonnes; it lives individually or in very small pods, but frequently swims in pairs. Its blow rises severalms high in a tall column, and is easily observed at a distance. In Sri Lanka, whale watching was first mooted in the 1980s following the documentation of sightings of both blue, and sperm whales off Trincomalee, on the east coast. Frequent sightings of resident and migratory whales, crossing from the Bay of Bengal to the Arabian Sea, off the south coast around Mirissa, and to a lesser extent off Kalpitiya, have made whale watching extremely popular.

The sperm whale has teeth in its lower jaw and feeds on fish and other animals such as squid, which inhabit deep water. Sperm whales are the deepest divers of all, reaching depths of twokms or more, and can remain over an hour without breathing. The front of their heads -the melon – is filled with hollow tubes that contain an oil known as spermaceti, which had great value as a lubricant, which is, of course, why the whales were hunted with such zeal. Its blow is small and bushy compared to that of the blue whale. Its blow hole is slanted forward, and angled to the left of its body, although this is not always discernible from the distance.

Three specially designed boats currently operate whale watching trips out of Mirissa.Trips last between three and four hours, depending on sightings and sea conditions. All boats have a roof that provides some shade, although you should still ensure you are well-protected from the hot tropical sun, seats, toilet and are equipped with life rafts, life jackets, life rings and communications equipment. 

View suggested itineraries

Key info

  • Ideal for viewing: blue whale, sperm whale, humpback whale, spinner dolphin, bottlenose dolphin
  • Where: Southern Province, Sri Lanka

Wildlife trips

This wildlife location is featured in the following itineraries:

Blue Whales & Dolphins

This itinerary endeavours to show you the wealth of cetacean life to be found in the balmy waters around Sri Lanka, from spinner dolphins around Kalpitya to blue whales and sperm whales off the south coast. The trip also visits Udawalawe and Yala National parks for sightings of elephants and leopards.

  • When to go: Nov-Apr
  • Duration inc. flights: 14 days
  • Price inc. flights: From £2,895 pp
  • Trip type: Group tour

Elephants, Blue Whales & Leopards

This superb wildlife itinerary takes you to see Sri Lanka’s big three. See huge herds of elephants on wildlife safaris in Udawalawe National Park and some of the world’s largest leopards at Yala, before continuing to the south coast to see charismatic blue whales at Mirissa.

  • When to go: Nov-Apr
  • Duration inc. flights: 10 days
  • Price inc. flights: From £2,795 pp
  • Trip type: Tailor-made trip idea
Suggested accommodation options are shown below. Please contact us for further recommendations.

Mandara Resort

This beautifully designed boutique hotel is nestled on the south west coast of Sri Lanka, along Mirissa’s palm beach, and is the perfect base for excursions to see blue whales and dolphins. With just 20 rooms, the property offers a personal feel while delivering a high standard of service and comfort.

Paradise Beach Club

This resort is conveniently located a short walk from Mirissa, one of the best places in the world to see blue and sperm whales, and also a great spot for surfing. Accommodation consists of 40 deluxe air-conditioned rooms, each with private balcony and some with an ocean view, plus some family bungalows.