Today was an early morning start – 5:30 am pick up this time in a van, to be transported to Mirissa beach for our whale watching experience with Raja and the Whales. We had selected the dearest company around $60 each as the reviews far exceeded that of others and included discussions about the ethics and care that this company shows in regards to the whales themselves.
When we got to the port it was crazy with Tuk Tuk’s buzzing around all over the place, vans dropping people off and others walking from the different company headquarters to the boats waiting in the harbour. One thriving little happening place despite the time.
We quickly paid for our tickets and were ushered onto a two deck boat. The reviews had indicated that sea sickness was a distinct possibility and I suppose that it was reiterated when upon getting our tickets, an offer of sea sickness tables was made. Now the reviews also suggested that if possible the best place to sit is on the second deck as it provides more air and also better viewing should a whale be seen. When we went up the stairs, we found that there weren’t any seats just padded cushions on the floor and for some reason (maybe because they were wet) everyone had chosen not to take the ones at the very front. These are the ones we love as you can see both sides and in front and can’t be pushed from side to side. Therefore we gleefully took these spots, also donning the mandatory life jackets that were handed out.
At around 6:30 we set off; dosed up with our own sea sickness tablets and set for the worse should it hit. The ocean however appeared to be quite calm so there was a level of optimism that we hoped would prevail. On the way out a good sign occurred when we spotted a large turtle bobbing around on the surface. An even better sign was that the boat didn’t stop for us to look at it so we were hoping that this meant that they knew that there were better things ahead.
After about an hour, we spotted a large number of fishing boats; traditional type small boats with even more traditional type fishermen in them. They were pointing and beconing and the crew on our boat were yelling and screaming at them) ok that’s what it sounded like – it may have just been talking loudly in Singalese) In front of us were three large blue whales; a huge female and two males following her. These whales are massive and that’s saying something seeing that we’ve seen a lot of whales in the past.
It appeared that these fishermen go out early in the morning and are paid to ‘spot’ for this particular company. It subsidises their income and I guess helps support the whale watching business in the area. After watching these three whales for a while, a further couple of boats appeared, bringing about great disgust from the crew who said that the other boats were not ethical and chase the whales, causing them to go into the shipping channels and become injured. They also said that they don’t look for the whales themselves but rather wait for the ‘Raja’ company to find them and then come.
With such disdain, they decided to move us away from these whales which didn’t seem a particularly good idea in that we weren’t sure that we would see any others.
As we left them, we were served up great plates of fruit and also cooked eggs, toast and sausages. Not what we’d had on other whale watching expeditions although we passed on the eggs being not sure if we should given the risk of sea sickness.
In the course of the next three hours we spotted another 6 whales, some numerous times as they dive for up to 12 minutes and then re-surface elsewhere. In the total of nine, there were also numerous times where there was more than one with the females being chased by the males – hey you sure they’re blue whales and not ‘hump backs?’
We were also served up chocolate cake and juice, making for an incredible experience, one where no-one on the boat appeared to be sick; the prime position occupied by us was an absolute success and we experienced a fabulous whale watching time, returning back to land after four hours out at sea.
After getting back much earlier than we expected, we were dropped off in what we call town but is not town according to the locals – that is Galle. We were going to have lunch at this ‘hippy’ kind of place but when we sat down the guy informed us that they were closed even though it was 12 and he wasn’t sure when they would open again as they had had a busy breakfast. Hmm your loss – missed out on a sale there!
With no lunch there, we headed down to the beach where there are so many restaurants to choose from. We selected one that suggested that it also had some Italian on offer,rather than just seafood. Turned out to be a good choice as the food and drinks were particularly good and the view of the beach was also a highlight – yep another beach side meal.
From there it was a walk along the beach and back to the Villa for a swim and shower before heading out again to a BBQ Buffet dinner at the Jetwing Lighthouse restaurant and hotel in Galle. A tuk tuk ride from Unawatuna to Galle and then securing the opportunity for our drivers to wait for us (something they don’t seem to mind doing for a pretty low price) The hotel was standard Jetwing – actually no there ain’t anything standard about the Jetwing group of hotels or their buffets (this being the same company that we had for New Years Eve)
The buffet was beautiful – pretty much everything you could think of cooked on a BBQ was there along with a number of other food stations and a dessert selection that made it hard to choose. Again all nestled into rocks and adjacent to the ocean. A big favourite was the mini pavlova, crispy on the outside and creamy caramel custard on the inside.
After eating more than our fill, we jumped back in the awaiting two tuk Tuk’s and back to the Villa – a really good day had been had by all.