Whale Watching in Sri Lanka & Why my Trip was a Disaster

Whale Watching in Sri Lanka & Why my Trip was a Disaster

It is strange how an experience can be so scary but so wonderful at the same time. I have been on a couple of whale watching boat trips and not had any luck to spot any whales.

During a Sri Lanka vacation I had heard about the whale tours in Mirissa and got so excited that I might actually see some whales as they were often spotted on the South Coast of Sri Lanka at the time of year I was visiting.

Going on the Whale Watching Tour

Even getting up at 5am didn’t put me off doing a whale watching trip as I thought at least I get to see the sun rise too which was beautiful even through tired eyes.

I was on a 2 week Sri Lanka trip and during the trip each destination in Sri Lanka, surprised me more.

At the time this whales watching trip in Mirissa was one of the scariest things i have ben on but looking back on it, it is still an experience that I would say you have to do when in Sri Lanka as it is great to see wildlife in their natural habitat.

The Port of Mirrssa

The port in Mirissa was packed with different size fishing boats, we were told how the bigger boats go out for weeks at a time but the little boats will only go out for the day.

It was interesting watching the fishermen preparing their boats, whilst we were waiting for all the passengers on our whale watching trip to arrive.

Boats in Mirissa port

Fishing boats in Mirissa

I was doing this whale watching trip with some fellow travelling on my G Adventures tour in Sri Lanka. It was an optional pat of the tour so not everyone did the trip but it is also very easy to organise if you are travelling Sri Lanka independently as there are plenty of companies offering it online or if you ask at the place you are staying they should be able to help you organise.

When our Whale watching Trip in Mirissa, started getting scary

The boat we went on, had two decks and we went to sit up the top, two members of the group sat at the front and the rest of us went to the back of the boat. We were told to put on our life jackets and off we went.

The sun was started to shine but after a few minutes of heading out to sea, grey clouds started to appeared. These clouds grew darker and darker, drops off rain started to fall. We were all still upbeat though as our tour guide said the boat always spots some whale activity.

Then the swell started getting bigger, when one wave reached us on the top deck and drenched us we were starting to get a little worried but it all still seemed fun. I love it when there is a bit of swell makes the boat trip exciting.

The crew handed out small plastic bags and one girl in my group put it on her head I said that’s a sick bag and she thought it was a rain hat.

storm during whale watching tour

Large waves during the storm

But then the few drops of rain turned into a full-on downpour. The boat was rocking so much everything was going flying, people were slipping and sliding everywhere. I had a rain hat on but it was no use I was soaking wet.

The crew put on life jackets and said we all had to go to the lower deck. This was easier said than done though as I couldn’t even stand up. Someone carried my bag, held my hand and we grabbed the railings and worked our way to the front of the boat to the stairs to go down a level, holding on for dear life. I was sure someone was going to go overboard.

I hate stairs at the best of times but this was very nerve-wracking as I just imagined falling but the crew were great and helped us all down.

However, when I got to the lower level I was greeted by a group of passengers being sea sick. This is my worse nightmare as I have Emetophobia, a fear of being sick and I was surrounded by people vomiting into sick bags and making the loudest retching noises. I love the swell of the sea it is not that which makes me feel sick but seeing and hearing others that makes me want to vomit myself.

The boat was rocking even more and the crew looked frightened which started to scare me. I started to imagine all sorts of things and was working out what I would do if the boat suddenly capsized but my brain wouldn’t calm down enough to think rationally.

After what seemed like hours but was probably only about 5 minutes we had passed through the storm the rain stopped the swells shrunk and the boat stopped rocking. Then the sun came out as though nothing had happened.

We were told the storm was over and we could go back upstairs. The boat still rocking slightly and I managed it to the top of the stairs and took the first seat I could find and plonked myself down.

But then it was magical as we spotted our first sprouts of water which meant a whale was near. The boat moved closer and we got a glimpse of a blue whale. We saw a few more and it was then worth going through the nightmare for me to see my first blue whale in the wild. Unfortunately, there was no breaching but it was still a great experience to see whales in Sri Lanka. Luckily it has not put me off future whales watching trips.

blue whale in Sri Lanka

Blue Whale in Sri Lanka

When we were told we would have to head back to shore, I started to dread the return but thankfully the storm had passed and we had a smooth journey back and still with a few green faced passengers we got back to port in Mirissa.

I did this tour with my G Adventures group I was touring Sri Lanka with and our tour leader he said he does this trip every couple of weeks and has never experienced a storm so do not let my adventure put you off.

It is worth going whale watching in Mirissa just make sure you don’t have a full stomach and take some sea sickness prevention just in case.

Click here for latest deals on G Adventures tours

Due to the boat still rocking and I was too in awe of seeing these great mammals I didn’t get any pictures of my own but the memories I have are worth a whole lot more.

Interested in Wildlife Read about Spotting Elephants in Sri Lanka

Best time to see Blue Whales in Sri Lanka

The best time to spot whales in Mirissa is November to April. However I went in August and they can still be seen but the seas are much rougher so it might not be a good experience as I found out. Whales can also be seen in the North of Sri Lanka in Trincomalee 

Places to stay in Mirissa

I stayed about 30 minutes drive from Mirissa in Unawatuna the beach here is beautiful and there seems to be more going on here than in Mirissa.

Cocobay Unawatuna 4-Star

No:10/4,Roomassala Road, Roomassala, Unawatuna Beach, Unawatuna, 80600, Sri Lanka

Beach front hotel Book Here

Thaproban Beach House 3-Star

Wella Devala Road, Unawatuna, 80600, Sri Lanka

Book Here

Mandara Resort 4-Star

416 A Pelena Mirissa, Weligama, 81740, Sri Lanka

Beach front with Spa  Book Here

If you enjoyed this article about Sri Lanka, these may be of interest :

Vesak Day in Sri Lanka

My India and Sri Lanka Trip 

Planning my trip to India and Sri Lanka 

Have you spotted a whale in the wild comment below and tell me about your experience.

If you enjoyed reading my story about whale watching in Sri Lanka please share and pin for others to see.

Whale watching in Sri Lanka is one of the best things to do when touring Sri Lanka but it doesnt always turn out to be fun!! ǀ best places to see whales in Sri Lanka ǀ whales in mirissa ǀ where to see whale ǀ whale tours ǀ seeing whales in the wild

Whale watching in Sri Lanka is one of the best things to do when touring Sri Lanka but it doesnt always turn out to be fun!! ǀ best places to see whales in Sri Lanka ǀ whales in mirissa ǀ where to see whale ǀ whale tours ǀ seeing whales in the wild

Whale watching in Sri Lanka is one of the best things to do when touring Sri Lanka but it doesnt always turn out to be fun!! ǀ best places to see whales in Sri Lanka ǀ whales in mirissa ǀ where to see whale ǀ whale tours ǀ seeing whales in the wild

Whale watching in Sri Lanka is one of the best things to do when touring Sri Lanka but it doesnt always turn out to be fun!! ǀ best places to see whales in Sri Lanka ǀ whales in mirissa ǀ where to see whale ǀ whale tours ǀ seeing whales in the wild #SRILANKA #WHALES #WHALESPOTTING #WILDLIFE #TRAVEL #ASIA

  • Original article 2017 updated in February 2019


25 thoughts on “Whale Watching in Sri Lanka & Why my Trip was a Disaster”

  1. Wow that storm sounded scary! I don’t get sea sick very easily but I think I would have if I was there. Luckily the storm cleared and you were able to see the whales.

  2. Wow.. I love your description. . And the way these boats are lined up it feels like our port the Karachi port is somewhat like this one .. great work thanks for sharing 🙂

  3. Nothing worse than being next to people barfing on a rocking boat! The smell mixed with salt water can often make me want to hurl too! But at least you guys got through it safely and then whammo! Thar she Blows!! What a great experience to see such a magnificent beast in the water!

  4. Wow! When I started reading about the storm and the scene on the lower deck, I thought this was the crux of the post. But it was heartening to see the storm pass after creating such a havoc. But I am sure the sight of the blue waves would have quickly erased the memories of the bad storm. Looks like a real adventure and something I would love to do when in Sri Lanka.

  5. Oh god ! That’s a scary little story ! When in a foreign land such things scare you more, and water anywhere is enough to engulf us.
    Since Srilanka lies so close to India, we have strong plans for it, and we shall visit it some day soon. This one will help us out. Whale watching can’t be given a miss, so I take your suggestion and we shall only plan it between November to April. Height and water scare me the most.

  6. It was really scary and heart racing, great to know that it is possible to go whale-watching in Sri Lanka. I did it in Iceland and had the same experience, many passengers got seasick and luckily I held on the side of the boat and made it back in one piece. all in all it was a great experience and it’s rewarding to see the whale in the end.

    @ knycx.journeying

  7. I haven’t experienced whale watching and I’m such a scaredy-cat when it comes to boat ride. Perhaps I’m gonna freak out if I will experience what you had during your whale watching adventure. But to see those whales are truly magical.

  8. Your whale watching turned from wow moment to scary situation. I understand your anxious moments as I have myself faced in my adventures.

  9. Oh my there is nothing worse than being trapped on a boat with people being sick!!! This sounds like quite the experience, thankfully everyone was safe. It is easy to underestimate the power of the ocean.

  10. Wow what an amazing adventure for you, well not everything was superb but I truly can relate, I myself has also a sea sick and it happend the same way as your experience. I went for a dolphin watching in Bohol Philippines and my head just turned into a screw driver hahah reminiscing this day it could make me laugh hard. Anyways I love you photos and you should be proud of yourself!

  11. Loved this post, having experienced it with you, it reminded me, I really wasn’t exaggerating when I described it back home!!! It was so terrifying and exhilarating all at the same time. It took me days to come down from the experience. Well worth doing it.

  12. Oh that storm sounds awful; I do not do well in choppy water. But I’m glad you got to see whales! They are majestic animals. I have seen some in Alaska and in Mexico, it never gets old.

  13. Omg! I loved the story because it was very exciting to read. Passegners vomiting on the lower desk were not that sweet though. Luckily, you could still see the whales and that’s great. We did the whale-watching in Gold Coast and it was fortunately smooth. The sea was calm:)

  14. OK so Sri Lanka has been on my bucket list for some time but I didn’t even know you could go whale watching! that is awesome – definitely need to book a trip asap!

  15. I haven’t had chance with Whale-watching. I think it’ll be a memorable experience to me. But sometimes it’s a little scary. Thanks for sharing me this story.

  16. Oh my gosh I’m so sorry this happened to you!!!! I have severe emetophobia as well. We are going to Hawaii this summer and I desperately want to go on a dolphin boat trip but I just can’t- I’m so afraid this will happen. If I see or hear even just one person throw up I will have panic attacks for days and days- and I don’t want to risk ruining our trip with that!

  17. Whale watching in Mirissa is a wonderful experiencing if one goes on it at the right time.the whale watching in Mirissa is an all year recreational activity with peaks from November to April. The blue whale is the largest creature ever to live on Earth. hundreds of tourists call in to Mirissa annually to see this giant mammal in its natural habitat. Mirissa is the top hot spot for whale in the world.since the the continental shelf is very narrow along the southern coastal belt of the Island. that is ,just a few seam miles off ,the sea gets deeper deeper where the whale could dive on their own. and the other reason is the the sea bed has been discovered to be so rich with KRILL on which the blue whale feed on.Any way it is a once lifetime opportunity and if you visiting Sri lanka never miss it.

  18. Totally agree I would love to go back and do it again hopefully get some better sightings instead of just their backs.

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