Our daughter had been most excited with our plan to go whale watching in Sri Lanka. And no, the need to wake up at 4am did not ebb the excitement in any manner. She looked forward to a morning when she would see the ‘kings of the ocean’.
Mirissa is about an hour’s drive from Unawatuna. That’s where the small fishing port is and also the place where the boats for whale and dolphin watching dock. If you happen to reach a little before than the others, you will be able to look around a bit and admire the colours of the little place that get accentuated by the early morning sun, the colours of the boats and their masts, the coconut groves, the deep blue ocean…
It is not until you would have rode at least an hour towards the deep blue ocean that you can expect to see the inmates that it shelters. As every boat made a beeline for the ‘right area’, our boatman explained to us that although there is some bit of predictability in looking for the place where whales can be sighted, the search can be long and often, might involve going deeper southward. We however, had been, ‘lucky’, for, we sighted many during our 2-hour search. The first is always special. And the boatman teaches you how to spot one. He asked us to look-out for ‘fountains of water’, the water puffs that whales send out when they exhale near the water surface. And with that, it was a squealing and screaming 2 hours of pointing out water puffs and gaping at the majestic whales swimming elegantly in their turf.
Tips for the Whale Watching Tour in Unawatuna
Once you reach the harbour, you will find quite a few operators who will sell the tickets for the whale watching tour. We wanted to take the operator called Raja Whales, but upon finding that they were fully booked, Sushanta, our guide, took us to this other operator saying that they were offering good rates. Looking around us, since the other operators looked the same, and we had no way of knowing which the best was amongst them, we went ahead with these guys.
They turned out to be really bad. The boat didn’t have enough life boats for all. Only when the passsengers refused to set out without lifeboats, did they get them God knows from where! There weren’t enough seats for all. Most had to sit on the floor of the deck. Other boats, that passed us by, had seats for all its guests. So beware of such bad customer service.
- The tour can take anywhere between 4-5 hours. It generally starts around 7am. And by the time you are back, it’s 12pm.
- Carry enough sunscreen. Don’t forget your sunglasses and hats.
- Take a tablet for sea-sickness if you are prone to it. Remember, it is a super ’bumpry’ ride in the waves..
- The boat operators provide dry breakfast of sandwiches, fresh fruits and water. Hence, you needn’t carry food.
- Better still, have a heavy dinner the previous night. Since, once at the sea, you might not have the stomach to eat or drink anything..
P.S: For a complete Sri Lanka itinerary and tour details, read — Best Itinerary & Blogs for Sri Lanka Road Trip