As the train to Weligama left Galle Train Station, we found ourselves not in the second class carriage for which we had bought tickets, but with the train driver at the front of the train! By a stroke of luck we were invited to ‘ride up top’ and in doing so got to have a chat with the driver about Sri Lanka and Sri Lankan life – one of the many joys of travelling.
At Weligama we took a Tuk-Tuk for the short drive to Mirissa, where we were dumped at the side of a busy and dusty road… Nothing however prepared us for what was to come as we crossed the road and followed a short path through the palms… We were met with a view so perfect that it was in danger of being a cliché! Gently swaying palm trees led down to soft white sand and crashing turquoise surf:
Along the beach stood several wooden beach restaurants, where in the moonlight we were able to site at tables on the sand as the sea lapped at our toes. Behind the beach were palm covered hills extending up to an azure blue sky, while in front of us beyond the crashing surf, the sea was painted every imaginable hue of blue.
Without a moment’s hesitation I dropped my bag and dived straight into the sea… We never wanted to leave. But while we enjoyed our day and evening on the beach, this wasn’t the reason we had come to Mirissa…
At 6AM the following morning we were on a small boat heading out of Mirissa Harbour and into the Indian Ocean swell.
Every day the largest animal ever known to have existed thunders through the choppy waters past Dondra Head. At over 30m in length and 200 tonnes in weight, the Blue Whale has previously been the source of tales of sea monsters and terrors of the deep… But in truth there is no more majestic creature on this planet.
We had joined Raja and The Whale on a whale watching expedition. We choose Raja as we felt their philosophy was much closer to our own in terms of protecting the whales and respecting their space… Some of the companies who do the tours will chase the whales mercilessly and get far too close to them. The crew were excellent and as we blasted through the growing swell, a delicious breakfast of fresh fruit and Sri Lankan omelette was served.
Nothing prepares you for that first glance of a Blue Whale… The swell was running at around 3-4m, causing a lumpy sea and at 15km offshore, you find yourself feeling dwarfed by the sheer magnitude of the ocean, but what came next took it to a new level.
Above the breaking crest of a wave came a waterspout easily getting 10m plus into the air… Following this came an enormous dark body, arching above the wave… On and on it went, then came the breach as the whale raised its tail towards the heavens, a magnificent display of power and size and a moment that we will never forget… It felt as if time had frozen as water cascaded from the whale back into the sea, but then in an instant it was gone… Down into the depths to graze on the nutrient rich waters off Sri Lanka that make it the best whale watching spot in the world.
As the day continued more whales were sighted… Giants of the sea, as amazing as anything you will ever see. We could never get tired of seeing these mighty creatures in their natural habitat.
There is something deeply magical about seeing whales… Whether it is their size, their mystique, their song, or just their energy… Powering through the impossible depths of the oceans, crossing the wildest seas; harmonious and immediately at one with their surroundings. Seeing the Whales is not just something you do, it’s something that never leaves you.
While our time in Mirissa had to come to an end, our memories will never leave us. A beautiful paradise on the south coast of Sri Lanka and home to the largest animal ever seen.
May the Whale Song continue in our hearts and minds forever more.