The main reason we chose to visit Mirissa originally was so that we could go whale watching, but we found that Mirissa is definitely worth going to in its own right as it has a lovely atmosphere.We chose to use Raja and the Whales for our whale watching expedition after reading really good reviews on trip advisor and online about them. We wanted to use a company who wouldn’t hound the whales and were more environmentally friendly and we were really glad we chose these guys!The trip with Raja and the Whales is more expensive than other companies we saw, it cost 6000 rupees (approximately £30) per person, but we would say the extra expense is well worth it, and still cheap compared to Western prices.
Raja and the Whales organised for us to be picked up by tuk tuk in the morning at 5:55am, this is included in the ticket cost. We were then taken down to their office where we queued, paid and were given our tickets. Their office is directly opposite the habour, so we then had just a short stroll over to the boat.
We boarded the boat, and were offered tea or coffee with ginger biscuits while the other passengers boarded, the coffee was much needed at this time in the morning!The habour is a pretty beautiful place to be at sunrise, the colours of all of the fishing boats look even more spectacular.We also got a chance to see lots of other whale watching boats which were crammed with people. We had a lot more space, as Raja and the Whales limit the number of passengers.
We were the first whale watching boat out of the habour that morning. Once we started on our journey we were all given a fruit platter to enjoy while we were given an informative talk about the company and about whales, dolphins and the strict global guidelines on whale watching that they follow. Raja and the Whales was one of the first whale watching companies to start up in Sri Lanka and they ensure that they do not go too close to the whales and approach according to the wildlife guidelines.The boat was very comfortable during our journey out to sea, there are lots of cushions on the floor to sit on at the top deck, where we say. On the lower deck there are proper seats, so you have a clear choice. The sea in this area can be quite wavey so they recommend you to sit on the lower deck if you get sea sick, they also offer sea sickness tablets for free.After about an hour we came to the area where spinner dolphins tend to be. We saw two large pods of spinner dolphins which were chasing and eating yellowfin tuna. It was amazing to see so many dolphins in one place and to see one of them leaping out of the water and spinning full-circle round!
It was brilliant to see local fisherman out in tiny boats catching tuna amongst all of the dolphins.We then continued our journey onwards out to sea, we had been warned that this could be a long day, 8 hours, as the blue whales were quite a distance from shore at the moment. On our route Stu and I spotted a flying fish, a sight I had never seen before, it reminded me of the Life of Pi!The guides were very knowledgeable and pointed out the large cargo ships you could see on their journey between South East Asia and South Africa/the Indian Ocean and Europe. Their route unfortunately is the same as the Blue Whales this means that some whales are hit and killed by these boats. The whales live in this area because of the krill that accumulate due to the large river at Matara which reaches the sea.After approximately 2 hours we saw our first whale. The guides caught sight of spray from the blow hole of a sperm whale. We then saw the sperm whale moving out of the water and flipping its tail back in. It was incredible! The sperm whale then stays under water for a long time, so we didn’t see this one again.
The guides very quickly then saw the spray from a Blue Whale’s blow hole, this can reach as high as 10m!We started to follow the route of the Blue Whale then. It was amazing. We kept our distance away, they always followed the environmental guidelines. You can recognise a Blue Whale by its small dorsal fin.The blue whale comes to the surface for air approximately every 15 minutes, so we were able to see it a few times surface and blow water.
It was amazing, until we saw another Blue Whale close by! Two sightings! This second whale was even larger and on the last time we watched it before heading back to shore, it even flipped its tail out of the water!
These creatures are magnificent! They are so large, it is hard to grasp the full scale until you watch its whole body move through the water and see its tail. We felt very humbled to see such a beautiful animal.
It was a wonderful experience, even more so, when we had seen approximately 20 other whale watching boats all gathered round what must have been one poor whale. I cannot believe that other companies do not follow the whale watching protocol and the harm humans can do to animals.
On our journey back to harbour we were also lucky enough to see one more sperm whale to finish off our trip.We reached habour at about 2pm in the afternoon. We were the first whale watching boat to leave in the morning and the last to return at the end of the day. It was a wonderful day and I cannot recommend this experience enough, but make sure you take some patience for the long day. But remember, 2 pods of dolphins, 2 sperm whales, a flying fish and 2 blue whales makes it all worthwhile!