Some of the World’s best surf packed into unpopulated coastlines, near rustic villages, with welcoming locals; Sri Lanka surf is pumping and right now is the best time visit.
Predicated to follow in Bali’s footsteps, surfing Sri Lanka will see you ride a plethora of epic waves within close proximity to one another. Small, budget backpacker accommodations fringe coastlines where just $10/night will have you wake up to swell views. All this under the heat of the Sri Lankan sun, without the intensity that Asian countries are renown for.
Because surfing Sri Lanka is a relatively new concept, there is limited information on how to reach the best breaks and where to stay so that you are close to the waves. To reduce the guess work, and increase your surf time, we’ve put together your Sri Lanka surf guide; where to stay, where to ride, how to get there and of course the most important point; what the waves are like.
Sri Lanka Surf Regions
There are two regions for surfing Sri Lanka. The East coast (Aragum Bay) serves for surfing between May and September. Aragum as a region is completely devoted to surf culture and the kind of place you arrive at but would choose never to leave; remote by new World standards, excellent waves, chilled locals, plenty of travellers, and rustic vibes. The only problem with Aragum Bay is that outside of the dry season, cyclones and rainy spells mean there is no swell. For the rest of the year the south coast is where you go for Sri Lanka surf.
While Aragum Bay is the most celebrated Sri Lanka surf destination, the south coast won’t disappoint. Numerous breaks dot the coastline, there’s a surf culture happening which includes surf schools and beginner waves in some places. The major difference is that the south coast is closer to major international hubs like Colombo, tourist attractions like Yala and Udawalawe National Park. Inevitably this means that there is more than just surf on the south coast; tourism is also prevalent so you’ll also receive beach bars and restaurants, a selection of accommodation standards and social scene that extends beyond surfers.
We’ve got everything you need to know about surfing Sri Lanka during the south coast season right here.
Surfing the South Coast of Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka’s south certainly doesn’t lack variety – beginner waves and surf schools, surf and yoga retreat packages, first timer reef breaks, and of course plenty of breaks for experienced surfers. Some locations have the extra benefit of being the kind of place the whole family could come with you to; even those that don’t surf. Swimming holes, sun loungers, bars and restaurants line the coast with World class breaks directly behind; paradise for the whole family. For other spots bring your surf crew of varying abilities and all of you can be challenged in one spot.
When people associate Tallala with Sri Lanka surf, they are most likely referring to Tallala retreat. The retreat itself is a high end, romantic resort which specialises in yoga and surf packages. Rooms are open aired, the grounds are beautifully manicured, and the location is beachside. The only problem is that while Tallala has a surf reputation, there is no surf in front of the resort. At Tallala the surf school drives 10 – 15 minutes away for the daily surf lessons.
Tallala is the best Sri Lanka beachside accommodation if you are planning a romantic getaway where you plan to surf as a part of the overall holiday, but it’s not the main feature. You won’t find a better resort, but you will find better surfer. If you are a surfer coming to Tallala, make sure you have transport (or don’t mind buying a tuk-tuk each day to find waves with). There are 3 surf breaks within 15 minutes drive from the resort. Tallala retreat charges USD$50 for surf lessons outside of their retreat packages, and drop in yoga classes are USD$15/session.
Hiriketiya is the closest surf spot to Tallala retreat and is located on the A2 around 20 minutes drive West. A local favourite, this spot isn’t well known to travellers but the locals are friendly and happy to direct you there if needed.
At Hiriketiya the middle of the beach has a sandy beach break which is best for beginners. The Eastern side has a left hand reef break which is suitable for intermediate and advanced riders. Fun waves can be caught on the right tide; check the tide boards at Tallala Retreat for tide information. There’s little point in staying at Hiriketiya though. If your intentions are to learn to surf, you’re better off heading to Weligama; Hiriketiya is more or less just a spot to surf if you happen to be enjoying the luxury accommodation and romantic vibes of Tallala resort.
Madiya is the next Sri Lanka surf spot, travelling West along the A2, and the first spot you’ll reach that includes a very small, nomad surf village. It’s rustic, simple, beach-shack style and potentially best suited to the younger surf nomad. Directly across from the main break is a narrow back road which has a couple of cheap backpackers, one or two casual bar shacks. There’s also a clear tolerance to weed happening here. Madiya is the place to go if you’re after shoestring budget travelling, and are travelling with a couple of your surfer mates. Even better if it’s one of your first backpacking trips; Madiya will serve you well.
The surf is on a reef break and best for experienced surfers. Waves are long and the spot is unpopulated. It’s a perfect spot for a day or two of riding before heading West to the next spot. To reach the break, head to Surf Rest accommodation. The break is a walk directly out the front and easily accessed by tuk-tuk but the tight roads can be challenging for cars.
Mirissa is the hidden gem when it comes to Sri Lanka surf spots, mostly because it’s better known for the stretch of white sandy beach with turquoise swimming ocean that is popular for tourists. Mirissa beach will undoubtedly become a mini Bali in the recent future and is already accommodating seafood restaurants and bars on the sand with the odd sarong retailer. it’s as close to a surf town as you’ll find in Sri Lanka, and one which is done remarkably well.
What most people don’t realise with Mirissa though, is that down the far West end is a rocky reef break with the perfect set up. The break is directly in front of the Surf Sea Breeze Hotel which offers sun loungers, good food and cheap beer. In front of that – before the break – is a small rock pool which makes for an ideal swimming area. It’s hard not to park up here for the day or even the week; The Surf Sea Breeze would be a great place to stay for direct access from your front door to one of the best breaks in the region, plus all the benefits of a coastal tourist town.
If you want to dodge the crowds, drop into this break around 6:30am. From mid morning it becomes crowded. To access, simply walk straight through the Surf Sea Breeze Hotel (they won’t mind!) and the break is directly in front.
When you think of Sri Lanka surf this is potentially the place you’ve been told to go to. Weligama is known for surf schools, hotels, and certainly aims to lure the surf crowd.
Beginner surfers will have numerous surf schools to choose from at a standard rate of USD$50 per lesson. Boards are available for hire and the vibe is relaxed and comfortable. The high rise generic hotels have created a mass produced tourist vibe in place of the Sri Lanka culture found elsewhere, but there is no better place to learn to surf; every day you’ll be award with perfect sets.
Weligama is located along the A2 road heading West from Tangalla. There is nothing here to offer the intermediate or experienced surfer and family holidays override backpackers.Ocean Breeze Hotel and Hang Time are in expensive accommodation options in suitable locations, so if learning to surf is your priority, see the team here.
Midigama is a smart choice for experienced surfers, but there is not much of a town here. A few breaks, guesthouses, one or two curry houses and rustic ocean vibes; what more does a surfer need? Stay on the top floor of Kumari Guest House and you’ll be able to look at the swell from your room.
Coconuts is a left and right reef break straight in front of you Kumari Guest House in Midigama. There’s a rocky entry and the waves are best for a standard short board. The same applies for Plantations, which is another of Sri Lanka’s best surf spots, a short walk West along the same strip.
Rams break located directly in from of Rams guest house and is mainly a right reef break that is shallow and better suited to advanced riders.
Your options are to stay at Kumari guest house of Villa Tissa and have access to coconuts and plantations, or stay at Babas or Rams guest house for closer proximity to Rams. All three breaks here are walking distance to each other.
A further 5 minutes drive west along the up a2 is lazy left which is a good spot for beginner reef surfers. Lazy left has a little more going on with swimming bay and food or beverage vendors too. We recommend staying at Babas or Rams guest house for this location too.