Our beach hut at Coco Palm Villa in Tangalle wasn’t really how we imagined. It was incredibly hot and muggy within its bamboo walls and the view looked out to the road below, not the crystal clear waters of the Indian Ocean. Luckily we saw that the air-conditioned room next door was free so we asked to move to that. Sometimes one needs a bit of aircon and this was one of those times! That afternoon we took a walk along the main beach, northeast of Tangalle, Harmony Beach I believe it’s called. We immediately noticed the lack of life. Where was everyone?
We found one beach bar, Doctor Bar, which had a couple of people in it so we sat on some deck chairs and ordered a cold beer. I had a watermelon juice as a beer would have put me straight to sleep (we had been up since 4am on an elephant safari). The staff in the bar, and everyone else for that matter, had dreadlocks and looked as if they had been smoking the wacky backy. SUPER chilled is how I would describe Tangalle (and a bit run down). By mid-afternoon, it became incredibly windy, too windy to swim or sunbathe. We took a walk to the lagoon which was beautiful. People were kayaking on it which would have been amazing but we were so tired after 5 days of little sleep and moving from one place to the next. This was now our time to relax.
Come evening, the main street along the beach had a bit more action. Still, there were little tourists and a lot of the bars and restaurants remained closed. We gathered this was because we were slightly out of season and had we come in November this place would have been bustling. We went to the only restaurant with people in, Doctor’s Bar again, and asked them to put a table in the sand, which they did. Nothing beats having dinner with your toes in the sand, don’t you agree? We were incredibly tired and unfortunately, Tangalle hadn’t ‘wowed’ us so we settled for an early night.
The next morning we struggled to find anywhere that sold Sri Lankan food for breakfast. Everything was tailored towards tourists snd we really didn’t want to eat what we can get at home. Finally, we found Sanjana Bar on the beach and ordered coconut roti and dahl which, we enjoyed with our toes in the sand again. Bliss! We had an hour before check-out so wondered down the other end of the beach, away from the main hotel area.
This area, close to Marakolliya Beach, felt like paradise. It’s certainly more rugged, cleaner and the few bars that were there looked far nicer. We kicked ourselves for not exploring this area sooner. It would have been foolish not to stop for a beer in this newfound paradise, even if it was 11am. We needed to check out but Marco rang our accommodation and they said we could stay out for another hour or two – perfect! I definitely recommend staying closer to Marakolliya Beach than Tangalle Beach.
Fuelled up to depart Tangalle, we caught our first Sri Lankan Tuk Tuk along the coast to Mirissa which took just over an hour. What an experience that was! Tuk Tuk is definitely THE way to travel along the coast, especially with a beer. We had great fun dodging in and out of traffic with the wind in our hair. We arrived at Little Angels Homestay which was basic but comfortable. Mirissa is a lot busier (and more expensive) than Tangalle and there were lots of families and couples. It certainly had more going on and although it wasn’t as peaceful, it provided us with more to see and do. Of course, we went straight to the beach for a cold beer! Marco picked up some spicy peanuts from the street vendor and boy were they spicy! I dare you to try Sri Lankan street peanuts if you ever find yourself there.
Around 5pm a large crowd gathered on the beach so we went to see what all the commotion was about. To our surprise, lots of baby sea turtles were being released into the wild. It ended up being a bit chaotic as the tide brought the turtles back towards the crowds and everyone was shouting “don’t move” as they brushed past our legs. One tiny step back and you may have squished a turtle. What a fantastic experience to actually touch these incredible creatures, albeit unintentionally!
Sunset in Mirissa was magnificent, and as darkness fell, candles lit up the beach as restaurants set up tables and chairs on the sand. Huge tables of fresh fish were laid out to catch our eye and both evenings, we struggled to make up our minds on where to eat and which fish looked the freshest.
Looking back we were a right pair of loons, walking up and down the beach for over an hour getting irritable with one another because we were hot, tired and didn’t want to be the one to choose a dodgy fish that would cause havoc with our stomachs! Luckily we ended up having a fantastic dinner. Our gilled jumbo prawns were to die for and we returned the next evening to Bay Moon Bar, this time for crab and butterfish.
Our one full day in Mirissa started with a visit to Coconut Tree Hill which even at 8:30am, was full of pretty young foreign girls and model couples all after their signature Instagram selfie. You can see our Insta-worthy photo above – if you zoomed in you can see we look like crap! I never understand how people can look so good on holiday, especially in a hot country. On our trip, Marco and I woke up at 7:30am, went straight out the door and we rarely returned before 11pm! There’s certainly no time for makeup or a change of clothes before dinner – there’s too much exploring to do!
The owner of our homestay ran a snorkelling business and he kindly lent us two for free. That morning in Turtle Bay we swam with the most incredible giant sea turtles, one of the highlights of our trip. A Sri Lankan breakfast was again, hard to find, so we ended up picking up baked goods from the bakery Tuk Tuk. These Tuk Tuks are all along the south coast of Sri Lanka and you can hear their music from miles away. It’s all you can hear if close to a road – funny at first but it drives you crazy after a while! Having kind-of skipped breakie, we made our way to Mum’s Kitchen at mid-day for a humungous homecooked curry. Definitely a winner!
After an afternoon of lounging, we walked to Secret Beach which was a lot further than we anticipated – especially in the heat! You’ll be pleased to know that the walk was worth it. Sunset there was very relaxing. They also had a bar there with sun loungers to enjoy a cold beer on.
We really enjoyed Mirissa and Tangalle, although we wish we had stayed longer in Tangalle as we weren’t that impressed, to begin with. It was only when we walked up the coast a little to Marakolliya Beach that we saw this stretch of the coast in all its beauty! Tangalle would have been perfect in high season when there is a livelier atmosphere and when Mirissa gets overcrowded. For our trip in February, Mirissa was definitely our favourite of the two.