When we visited the South Coast we based ourselves at Mirissa and Galle, where it was to make a few day trips from. Arriving at Mirissa by bus from Ella involves the bus terminating at Matara and then catching a tuk-tuk onwards to Mirissa (or whatever beach you are headed to). You can also bus (cheap and frequent) but by the time we arrived at Matara we had been on the road for over five hours and just wanted to get there. Our tuk-tuk from Matara to Mirissa was 600R.
Unfortunately the time of year which we were there meant that the water was quite rough, so we were thankful that our hotel had a pool. We swam loads, including at a little spot known as Secret Beach, which we stumbled across when we went for our morning walk. If you walk along Mirissa Junction (ie. the main road) to the far end of town and take a left towards the water, you will come across the fishing harbour which is crammed full of colourful boats and men unloading the days catch. We attempt to walk right around the headlands and stumbled across a sign down to Secret Beach. There we found an idyllic rock pool with big waves crashing behind and a neighbouring bar/restaurant. We ended up sheltering here for a while when the skies opened and we were hit with torrential rain. The next morning we caught a bus to Unuwutuna (55R, 45 minutes) where we checked out the Peace Pagoda (big effort, low return) and Jungle Beach. It was quite popular with the locals for swimming, and there were a few monkeys clambering around the beach. We made our way to the main beach for the rest of the afternoon.
Foodwise, it is easy to see why Dewmini Roti Shop is #1 on TripAdviser. Mum and I actually ate here twice – it was so good, so cheap, massive portion sizes and the family that owned it were so cute. It was here I tried Kottu (shredded roti through a mixture of eggs and vegetables), a Sri Lankan speciality that I absolutely adored. The sweet rotis (banoffee, and chocolate + banana) were also delicious. We also ate at Zephyr; a waterfront beach bar that sold overpriced basic Western food, but with sensational views overlooking Mirissa beach and the sunset.
The last stop of our trip was Galle, so by the time we got here we were feeling pretty exhausted. I was happy to discover that Galle was so clean, quaint and European feeling. It is a beautiful old port town, with an iconic lighthouse, surrounded by walls which you can climb on and walk the perimeter of the city. We did exactly that, pausing at the beach (occupied mostly by locals) for a bit of an afternoon siesta. For an evening snack we stopped at the Pedlars Inn for some pizza and gelato.