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Surf Sri Lanka, and why you’re not the only one with this idea this winter.
Surf Sri Lanka should be on your bucket list!
Do doubt, Sri Lanka is a dream destination for your holiday, and this is no secret. Fun Fact guys, the cover shot of the first ever-published Lonely Planet was actually from Mirissa in Sri Lanka’s South.
Unfortunately, the long-lasting civil war kept tourism on the island low. Of course, some people went to Sri Lanka during the war, as some parts of it were considered safe – But that wasn’t the norm. In 2009, only months after the war finished, tourism and more interesting for us, surf-tourism started to pick up fast. And over the last years, tourism exploded!
No surprise. With affordable and easy flights (usually one stop-over, coming from Europe or Australia), airlines that take your board for free, and mellow user-friendly waves, Sri Lanka has everything, many of us are looking for. Sure, it’s further away than the Canary islands or Morocco (for Europeans), but with 12-14 hours travel time, it might be worth going there for two weeks.
Sri Lanka has two different surf seasons, but if you want to escape the Northern hemisphere winters, then Sri Lanka’s South-West coast is your final destination. A reasonably short trip from Colombo, you can almost see the waves from your airplane window. For the best and cheapest Sri Lanka experience, make your way to the train station and enjoy the scenic ride along the coast. That is if you have some spare time on your hand. The train ride is beautiful and doesn’t take much longer than driving. But the question is if a train is leaving anytime soon? Want to check it online? But if your time is limited, I would recommend getting a driver that takes you straight down to the coast in just 2 hours. The first stop, if you are all about surf, should be in one of the country’s more famous surf towns – Hikkaduwa.
has many different accommodations for every budget, various delicious restaurants, and a few bars if you’re in need of a night out. But the real gem of the city is a perfect breaking A-frame not far from all the hustle and bustle of the town. It’s a short paddle out to the peak, and it’s your preference of choice if you want to go left or right. The left is usually not great but definitely fun. While the right can get epic! It’s steep enough to do whatever you want, barrels sometimes, and has a user-friendly pace. But as it is such a great and easy wave, it’s usually packed from dusk till dawn. It gets hectic in the water! But there is a fun beach break just a few minutes down the beach. The beach break is usually better in early season, but even if you come for Christmas, it’s worth a look.
Down the coast are various reefs that produce good waves. And many of them are rarely crowded.
Most people who keep heading further South than Hikkaduwa won’t stop before Midigama.
became another famous Surf town in recent times. It has a couple of surf camps/ houses, surf shops, motorbike rental, coffee shop, parties… In short, it has whatever you might need aside from waves. And yes, it has waves. Quite a few within walking distance actually. Plantations and Coconut point are reef breaks right next to each other. Be careful where to enter the water, and where to get out again. Just watch the others. But once you know where not to go in, and you made it to the lineup, the waves are fun and mellow – like most waves in Sri Lanka.
A few hundred meters up the coast is Rams. Rams is a bit heavier than the two before, and a bit tricky sometimes. If this is not your piece of cake, just keep walking. A few minutes up the road are “Lazy Left” and “Lazy Right”. Two waves that are more for people who know a bit how to surf (can do a turn and surf parallel), but who are not looking for anything challenging). Your board needs a lot of volume to get waves here, as they are often really fat. But if you’re happy with your Mini Malibu, this could be for you. This is for many people the “real” surf Sri Lanka.
3km south of Midigama is Welligama.
has a train station, what is great if you’re coming straight from Colombo, or if you want to travel to other parts of Sri Lanka. Welligama has a huge bay with some of the easiest and friendliest waves you can imagine! Because the waves break so far inside the bay, they are usually still clean, even though it might have gone onshore everywhere else. They are much smaller and less powerful than let’s say in nearby Midigama. This might sound boring to you, or perfect! – Depending on what you’re looking for. However, countless people are looking for exactly those gentle waves to learn how to surf. Take a tuk-tuk from the train station to the beach (a few minutes/ few $), and you’ll have more than enough surf schools/ camps/ hotels to choose from.
It’s busy here, no doubt about it. Actually more than busy! Russians, Germans, and every other Nation make this break sometimes look more like a testing ground for crash test dummies on foamies, than anything else! But if you can handle it, it might be alright for you. You’ve got friendly waves in front of you, 3 km to the West is Midigama with its reef breaks, and 3 km to the West is Mirissa.
Of course, you can also decide to stay in Mirissa. This is one of the “main tourist zones”, as they call it. It used to be a gorgeous beach, but became a bit of a Sri Lankan version of Thailand’s tourist hotspots. The whole shoreline is packed with restaurants. They serve delicious seafood but turn into a Techno party later on. The main wave is a short right point break, but sometimes the long beach has good waves too. Depending on the sand. But most the time, it’s only close outs at the beach.
I used to love it here, and I had many days with great waves. But the vibe has changed a lot. Just go, and decide for your self, if you like it or not. Same goes for the world famous whale watching you can do in Mirissa.
This is not all of Sri Lanka of course.
Only the best-known places, and what surf Sri Lanka means to the maiority. This time of the year has waves all the way down to Matara and even a bit further. If you’ve got time, rent a bike and go exploring. If not, go to one of those well-known places, or book one of the various surf camps, which is obviously much more expensive than doing the trip solo. But up to you what you’re looking for.
Sri Lanka is definitely an incredibly beautiful island. The people are friendly, the food delicious, and you’ve got waves every day. Don’t think they are as good as Indonesian waves! They’re not! But they are fun, mellow and easy to surf. Traveling here is getting more and more expensive every season, but it’s still relatively cheap if you use public transport and like the local food (how could you not?!). You know you’ve got great weather, and if you can sacrifice a day of surfing or a few, there are many other things worth seeing. Go to Udda Wallawe National Park to see elephants, or go to the highlands, climb Adams peak, and visit tea plantations. To be honest, the highlands were one of my highlights of my three trips to Sri Lanka.
So if you don’t mind the flight, love rice and curry, and are happy to share the waves with countless Russians, Israelis, Swiss, Germans and more people from all over the world – OR if you want to go and find less crowded waves on your own, Sri Lanka is probably your perfect choice for this winter get-away.
Great write-up and review. Thanks.
I ve been to sri lanka three times as well and the last time i stayed in mirissa for three months , your article couldn’t be more accurate !!! Well done , great job and you your blog is rocking