The Ultimate Guide to Whale Watching In Mirissa | UPDATED 2022

Blue whale in deep ocean whale watching in sri lanka

Rated one of the best places in the world to see the majestic blue whale, have a read to see your best options to go whale watching in Mirissa, Sri Lanka.

Sri Lanka’s biggest selling point has to be its multitude of opportunities to experience nature at its finest.

From the world-famous Kandy-Ella train route to the huge wildlife parks harbouring the coveted Sri-Lankan leopard, Sri Lanka has plenty of fun things to do.

Read More: Here’s How To Take The Train From Kandy To Colombo

Explore temples in Kandy, hike mountains in Ella, chill on the beach in Mirissa or go wildlife spotting in Yala.

Leopard in Sri Lanka walking amongst the grass
this beautiful leopard just walked out in front of us!

Of course, whale watching in Mirissa is up there with the best of them. You are almost guaranteed to see the largest sea mammal in the world, the blue whale, along with a variety of other marine life, for example; Byrd’s whales, dolphins and turtles.

Because Sri Lanka is very cheap in comparison to the stereotypical ‘western country’ this means that whale watching in Mirissa is a lot cheaper than other places in the world you may be able to go. Because of this, tourists flock in great numbers to Mirissa just to go whale watching.

4 adults and 3 children wearing orange life jackets trying to spot a whale from th boat. 1 man is holding a camera to his face
The boat wasn’t too crowded which was nice.

If you choose to go then you will be on a boat with quite a few other people and there will be a large number of boats. You will see other companies breaking the rules and speeding towards the whales and getting too close. We have only given one company suggestion in this post because we know from experience they abide by the rules.

The Best Season for Whale Watching in Mirissa

There are no tours in the peak of monsoon season from May – June. However, sea condition can also be bad from July – October. So if you suffer from seasickness or you just want to have a more pleasant ride, the best time to go is between September – April.

Pro Tips

No tours – May – June

Choppy Tours – July – October

Optimum time – September – April

There is a constant presence all year round from these majestic creatures so do not be worried about your chances of seeing them at any of these times.

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Cost of Whale Watching in Mirissa

Raja and the whales currently charge;

9800 LKR – £41 – US$54 – 1 Adult

4900 LKR – £20 – US$27 – 1 Child (under 12)

Free for children under 5

This fee is almost identical across the board in Mirissa but as I said before, we cannot vouch for any other company so do your research carefully if you go with someone else.

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Who To Use

So as you might’ve guessed, after extensive research, we chose to go with Raja and the Whales.

None of the reviews we read about Raja and the Whales said anything about the boats going too fast towards the whales or getting too close. This was one of our main concerns and if you do see anything like that written about a tour company then it should be avoided.

A man and a woman in orange life jackets smiling at the camera on a boat
So excited to see my favourite animal!

All of the companies will advise you that they adhere to the whale watching guidelines that have been set out. However, it is simply not true. When we were out there on the boat roughly half of the other boats were chasing down the whales, getting too close and clearly impacting on the whales’ routine more than necessary.

The top of a blue whale in the ocean in Mirissa
We saw a blue whale!

We strongly advise Raja and the Whales and, for your own peace of mind, this is not any form of endorsement.

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It’ll be an early 6.00 am start to get down to the docks to check-in, pay and climb aboard the boat.

Yellow sunrise in a boat harbour
The 5 am wake up was worth it!

You’ll then leave in a sort of convoy out to wherever the spotters have seen the whales.

We were lucky as the whales were not too far away and it took roughly an hour to get to them.

Boats going off to find blue whales Mirissa with the sunrise in the background
Luckily out boat didn’t go too fast or get too close to the whales.

We then spent around an hour observing the whales, listening to talks about them and trying to get the best photo of the legendary tail fin.

After that you simply turn around and head home, we got served some sausages, egg, bread and watermelon on the return leg.

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Getting Your Camera Settings Right

Shutter Speed

This is the most important setting whilst photographing whales in the wild. You are going to be on a rocky boat a long way from the whales. If your shutter speed is low then you will end up with blurry, rubbish images. Even if you’re a surgeon, I would pay to see someone keep a camera steady in the rough Indian sea.

Luckily it’s very easy to set the shutter speed to a nice high level to counter the unpredictable movement of the sea. Simply set your camera to shutter priority. Cameras all have very slightly different settings but look for the setting with the big S. When you are in shutter priority, set your shutter speed to a minimum of 1/1000. If it’s a nice bright day you will be able to go even higher than this if your images are still blurry.

When To Start Snapping

No one wants to be holding their camera up to their face for 2 hours waiting for a whale to dive down. Luckily the whales give you ample warning before they swing their tails high into the air. The first sign is to listen for the whales breathing, this will be a big blow of water and air out of their blowhole. 

They will do this a few times to get as much oxygen in their system before diving. The next thing you want to be looking for is a slight arch in the back of the whales. When they are breathing they just float at the top of the water. When they are ready to dive they arch their back.

That’s when you need to be ready to snap away, that’s when the tail comes up and you get the picture to mount on your wall.

Luckily, any good tour guide you go with will be constantly calling out when different whales are about to dive so, in all honesty, you’ll probably just be waiting for instruction. 

If you’re actually looking for a camera perfect for an upcoming backpacking trip then check out my comprehensive guide to backpacking cameras for all people, all budgets and all situations.

What Are You Going To See?

Let me be completely honest. If you are on a good reputable boat that adheres to the laws, you will not see the full length and sheer size of the whales. This is purely because the vast majority of the blue whale is below the surface. At the distance you are at you cannot see even a shadow in the water.

What you will see is the fountain of water erupting from the whales blow-hole as they come up for air. You will see the iconic tail fin rising out of the water as they plunge back into the depths. So is it worth it? 100%. Just to know you are so close to these truly monstrous creatures is humbling in itself.

It isn’t just blue whales that you are likely to see, however. Here is a list of all the species that might be on show when you go whale watching in Mirissa.

Blue Whales

Obviously, if you go blue whale watching then there has to be a chance of seeing a blue whale. As I have said previously, Mirissa and Sri Lanka have the best chance of seeing them in the whole world no matter the time you go. 

A blue whale underwater in Sri Lanka
How huge is this!?

Read More: Your Ultimate Guide To Beruwala Beach

Bryde’s Whales 

The Bryde’s whale can measure up to 15meters and is another great spot if you manage to see one on your trip. They are also off the coast of Mirissa all year round as they are commonly known as the tropical whale. This is because they spend their entire lives in the tropics. Their name is actually pronounced ‘broodess’ whale but I highly doubt you will hear anyone get that right!

A bryde's whale breaching the surface of the water
This is not my picture, if you manage to get a shot of a Bryde’s whale like this then you are one lucky person.

Sperm Whales

It blows my mind that there are three species of whale that you have an extremely high chance of seeing. We saw both the Bryde’s and the Blue whales but sperm whales are just as common. These beasts can measure over 20m long and are the largest toothed predator in the whole world. I hope you manage to see one but if you do, I will be very jealous.

An underwater shot of a sperm whale
The sperm whale is huge, hopefully, one will come over to your boat so you can get a nice close view of it

Whale Sharks

Is it a whale? Is it a shark? Well even though the name is confusing, it is actually a shark and the largest fish in the world. It can measure up to 12 m in length and is probably the best sea creature to see whilst you’re on the trip. This is mostly because it is the easiest to take incredible pictures of. They swim very close to the surface of the water and the colours and pattern across their body really make for some great shots.

A whale shark swimming close to the surface of the water
The colours and pattern on a whale shark are one of the most iconic in the ocean


You will almost certainly see various species of dolphins on your trip as there are so many boats for them to swim in the wake. There are over a dozen species apparently living in the waters of Sri Lanka so I won’t list them all but if you choose to ride with Raja and the Whales then your guide will be able to identify them for you.

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General Advice

Buy seasickness tablets just in case

Do NOT eat breakfast before the trip.

Don’t get on a boat without life jackets!

You can easily buy seasickness tablets in Mirissa in any pharmacy and they are ridiculously cheap. They work and the Indian Ocean is not calm. Raja and the Whales recommend Avomine – we used it and it works wonders but do be aware that you might become very drowsy a few hours after taking it.

Girl wearing an orange life jacket with her hands over her face
A little bit of seasickness!

The company should provide a breakfast which has been specifically chosen to minimise sea sicknesses, such as ginger biscuits and fruit. Take a tablet anyway because you don’t want to be that unfortunate person missing out on the whale sightings because you’re being sick over the side of the boat!

You can also book your whale watching tour online before you arrive in Sri Lanka to minimise any risk of missing out!

Take a look at this comprehensive list of the best hotels available in Mirissa for all different prices ranges so check that out below, or click here to get $55 off your first Airbnb booking!


Mirissa has a very nice selection of different hostels, hotels and villas available for every type of traveller.

Take a look at this comprehensive list of the best hotels available in Mirissa for all different prices ranges so check that out below, or click here to get $55 off your first Airbnb booking!

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Do you know of any other reputable tours for whale watching in Mirissa? Have you had any bad experiences? Have any questions about our experience with Raja and the Whales? Let us know in the comments section below!

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Rated one of the best places in the world to see the majestic blue whale, have a read to see your best options to go whale watching in Mirissa, Sri Lanka. Whale Watching | Sri Lanka | Sri Lanka Blue Whale | Blue Whale | Whale Wathcing Sri Lanka | Mirissa | #whalewatching #bluewhale #mirissa #srilanka #whalewathcingsrilanka #whalewatchingmirissa

By Kev Shepherd

Hi, I'm Kev. I am currently travelling full time with my partner Jade whilst navigating all of the challenges that covid presents to travel. My background is in Exercise science but that really doesn't help in any way...


  1. Hey, I don’t want to be rude but your “Blue whale’s pic” is actually a Humpback’s tail…
    Thanks for the info btw.

    1. Damn you’re right. That’s what rushing the images does! Thanks for letting us know and I will change asap

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