Mirissa and its glorious palm-fringed sandy crescent beach is perhaps the best-known south-coast resort in Sri Lanka, and a haven for whale watching.

The beach’s tranquil sense of tropical-island peace and solitude is due to the fact that all the hotels, guest houses and other tourist accommodations are set well back and mostly out of sight.

So chilled beers at sunset, and moonlight walks in the surf, are a particular pleasure for visitors as they wind down from the rigours of enjoying all the generous and big-hearted hospitality that Marissa has to offer.

The town was badly affected by the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, with numerous homes, guesthouses, shops, schools and temples destroyed or damaged.

As a result, much of was rebuilt and redeveloped into what is today an increasingly popular magnet for holidaymakers from all over the world.

However, the local provincial government is reportedly anxious to avoid spoiling the special Mirissa vibe, and are trying to restrict the kind of popular tourist development that is taking place along much of the southern coastline.

If it succeeds, it will mean that Mirissa may survive as a rare example of paradise not lost to the increasing encroachment of ‘civilisation’. But only time will tell.

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