Sri lanka surfing

Video Sri lanka surfing

Ditch the wetsuit, grab a coconut and tropical wax, Sri Lanka surf is warm-water heaven. Reef breaks, beach breaks, point breaks – there’s all sorts on this stunning island.

An introduction to Sri Lanka surf

Sri Lanka surf

When most people think of Sri Lanka, they think of mystical Buddhist temples and coconut-infused curries. Only recently has surfing come into the frame on this tropical island. But boy has it gained popularity fast.

These days, the whole south and west coasts, from Colombo to Tangalle, and the surf mecca of Arugam Bay, are on the map of wave hunters. They’re not quite as built up as Bali (yet!). But thousands come in search of their promised breaks.

And what breaks they are! Variety is the keyword. Most are reefs of some shape or form, starting with zippy shallow reefs with high walls and barrels near Ram’s and Mirissa going all the way to mellow A-frame reefs like the ones in Midigama. You’ll also get some beach breaks, like the up-coming peaks of SK Town, or the fun beginner-intermediate wave of Hiriketiya (a personal fav).

On top of all that, you can look forward to a Sri Lankan surf culture that uber-chilled. There’s hardly a trace of localism to be found on the main breaks. Most people are forever smiling, happy to help you get to grips with the reefs, and have a little chat in the lineup.

We might use affiliate links in this post. Basically, you click em’ and we get a little something from your booking or purchase. They help us keep offering more and more in-depth surf guides to awesome places all around the globe. So, thanks for that!

This guide is a part of our larger ultimate guide to surfing in Asia

Sri Lanka surf at a glance

What will I find in this guide to surfing in Sri Lanka?

  • An intro into Sri Lanka surf
  • The top surf spots in Sri Lanka
  • The best surf hotels and surf camps in Sri Lanka
  • When to surf in Sri Lanka
  • How hard is the surfing in Sri Lanka?
  • How much does it cost to go surfing in Sri Lanka?
  • Sri Lanka travel guide

The top Sri Lanka surf spots

There are more surf spots in Sri Lanka than you can shake a bowl of dal at – but don’t do that, it’s too good to waste! From the popular bays of the south-west to the legend that is Arugam Bay, this guide has info on the lot, along with in-depth guides to each destination on their own (just click on through!)

Surfers in Sri Lanka

The best hotels for surfing in Sri Lanka

Surf camp in Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka has arguably the best range of upcoming surf camps in Asia right now. Seriously, it’s like every time we go back there’s another one in the mix. We’ll stick to that after recently completing another month-long journey up the southwest coast. It just seems to keep getting better and better when it comes to surf hotels on this island…

Dedicated surf camps in Sri Lanka

The Salty Pelican Surf Camp

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If you’re keen to fill everyday of your trip to the Teardrop with surfing, want tuition included, and don’t fancy doing the organization all yourself, a surf camp could just be the perfect thing. The good news is that there are some seriously AMAZING surf camps set up on this island. The quality is now generally very high, with trainers that can direct lessons and spot choice to all levels, and accommodations that are indistinguishable from the best hotels around.

The problem is that for every one great surf camp in Sri Lanka there are 10 cowboys looking for a quick buck. The ones below aren’t the latter…

  • 4-day surf camp with yoga at The Salty Pelican – The Salty Pelican has been making waves (pun totally intended) in Sri Lanka since it first opened. Said waves were a touch dampened by the pandemic shutdown, but the brand-new facility is now doing its thing. Nestled between the palms back from Hiriketiya Beach, they run 4-day camps with some of the best beginner tuition around plus morning yoga wake ups. What sets it apart is the quality of the stay, which is more boutique hotel than surf lodge. This is well worth it!
  • 8-day epic surf camp at Gota Dagua – Ahangama is the playground for the all-new iteration of Gota Dagua surf camp out of Portugal. These guys really know what they’re doing. They keep it simple with days of free surf sessions and yoga, followed by in-depth surf analyses and tuition. We’d choose this for intermediate surfers looking to improve since Ahangama has some of the punchier reefs around.
  • 7 days of surf and yoga in Arugam Bay – If it’s the off season in the west, choose this week-long excursion to Arugam Bay. It’s a well-balanced package that will show you the best of the local waves (Whiskey Point is literally steps from the camp), give daily yoga sessions, and trips to many local landmarks – the Kumana National Park and the monastery-temple of Kudumbigala are both included in the price.

A guide to the Sri Lanka surfing season

You can break the Sri Lanka surf season into two easy portions. That’s because there are two separate wet seasons that dictate the weather (and swell/wind) patterns on the islands. Get a feel for these and it should be easy to decide where to go to get in the water:

Difficulty of surfing in Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka shines when it comes to the easier end of the surf spectrum. Beginners will find super-soft waves to get started on at places like Hiriketiya and Ahangama. That’s largely down to the fringing of reefs that help temper the strong SW swells that push through in the peak season on the southwest coast. Arugam Bay is the exception to that rule. It’s better for intermediates. However, it’s still got point breaks that are suited to total learners and an abundance of surf schools to show for it.

There’s something else that we think Sri Lanka is great for: Getting you from beach breaks to reefs. The truth is that the vast majority of breaks here are reef breaks. But they aren’t the shallow, urchin-infested things you get in Bukit. There are plenty that are actually quite deep – Marshmallow in Ahangama and Coconuts in Midigama come to mind. That makes them perfect for getting used to seeing hard coral and rock glide by if you’ve not yet made the jump.

How much do surf trips to Sri Lanka cost?

Sri Lanka cost

That really all depends on what you want to spend. As a ballpark figure, you can get a fully fledged surf camp package for around the $700 mark for a week. That usually includes board and breakfast, all surf rentals, surf lessons, and usually at least a few extras like excursions to temples and national parks. What it doesn’t include is the cost of flights over in the first place, which can set you back between $500-1,200 depending on where you’re coming from. You can check pre-made surf packages for the island here.

If you’d prefer to organize your whole surf trip yourself, then that’s cool. Sri Lanka is actually one of the cheapest places to do that in South Asia. We’d estimate the average cost of a very classy surf trip here to be about $1,300 per person. That’s setting aside $80 per night for accommodation, $300 total for all surf lessons and surf tuition, plus extras for food and flights to the island.

You can also spend WAY more than that if you like. Sri Lanka is now home to some of the most luxurious surf-yoga retreats we’ve seen in Asia. They can charge upwards of $150 a night easily, sometimes even more. On the flip side, you can spend LOADS less if you want. We recently stayed on the front row of SK Town, an intermediate beach break spot on the southwest coast, for just $10 a night and surfed there basically alone for three days. No complaints. In fact, the breakfast was real nice!

Top things to do in Sri Lanka when you’re not surfing

Sri Lanka is a bucket-list-busting destination. Make no bones about it, this isle is about much more than just warm waves and reef breaks. It’s steeped in a fascinating Buddhist culture, has some of the tastiest food on the planet, and bursts with temples, shrines, and stunning lengths of sand…

Yala National Park safari

Safari

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What’s awesome is that many of the top surf destinations on the Sri Lankan southwest coast also happen to get you real near to the major safari destinations of the island.

Yep – you did read safari. Sri Lanka channels a touch of the Serengeti with its vast plains filled with elephants and leopards.

Don’t bother trying to organize it yourself. The parks are quite distant and you need to be early, so pick ups and drop offs are the key. This two-day Yala Safari is the creme-de-la-creme, but there are shorter day trips if you don’t want to be away from the waves too long.

Sigiriya Rock

They call it the Eighth Wonder of the World, this jaw-dropping palace on a bluff of stone. Thought to date way back to the 5th century, it’s a must for any history buffs and culture lovers.

You’ll be able to scale the great rock palace and see ancient Buddhist shrines. There are also sweeping views across Sri Lanka’s central plains.

Guided tours like this planned walk are the best way to do it, as traveling in from the main surf regions of Sri Lanka can be a bit of a headache.

Go hiking in Ella

You can prime those hamstrings for your Sri Lanka surf adventure by making for the highland town of Ella. It sits up in the mist-haloed highlands.

A land of tea fields and craggy peaks, it’s got some breathtaking views. Do the trek to Ella Rock. Conquer Little Adam’s Peak. And then visit a tea factory to relax a little.

Laze on a beach

The beaches of this gorgeous isle aren’t just for Sri Lankan surf trips, you know? Strewn with coconut husks and backed by sea pineapple trees, there are darn picturesque places to boot.

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Bring the sun cream. Pack your favourite bikini. There’s oodles of time for swimming and Kindle reading in the hammock. Some of the best are around Mirissa and Dikwella.

Travel essentials for anyone surfing in Sri Lanka

How to get to Sri Lanka

Colombo Airport is the main gateway to Sri Lanka by air. Long-haul links on major carriers arrive there from Europe, the Middle East and beyond. The best option for surfers is usually Qatar Airways. Their indirect connections link with airports in London, Manchester and Cardiff, and they allow surfboard carriage as part of your standard baggage allowance.

Short-haul connections join Sri Lanka to loads of places across South Asia and Southeast Asia. We caught a direct flight in from Bangkok and were on the ground in under four hours this year. You can find bargain deals in from KL, India, Indonesia – the list goes on.

How to travel around Sri Lanka

We found that the local bus was a really fun way to get around Sri Lanka. Uber-cheap and great for people watching, these multi-coloured vehicles will rock and rumble their way between the major towns. Of course, this isn’t the best option if you’re carrying your own surfboard.

For those with their board in tow, we recommend private taxi transfers. You can use groups like Sri Lanka Taxi Share and Sri Lanka Car and Driver Hire to organise lift shares and check the ratings of various drivers. You can haggle vis Whatsapp before your departure date. This worked really well when we had longer distances to travel (say Weligama to Colombo, Colombo to Kandy).

Tuk-tuks are probably the best, and the cheapest, choice if you’re moving between two Sri Lankan surf destinations on the south coast. They are ubiquitous and never cost us more than 1200 LKR for a single journey. You’ll need to get used to the driver lashing your board to the roof – they sometimes aren’t the most secure racks. But hey, that’s part of the fun.

If you’ve got anything to add to this ultimate guide to Sri Lanka surf, then we’d sure love to hear it in the comments below! We’re always looking to update and change the information here so it’s in line with what’s currently happening on the island – otherwise, it would hardly be the ultimate guide, eh!?

We might use affiliate links in this post. Basically, you click em’ and we get a little something from your booking or purchase. They help us keep offering more and more in-depth surf guides to awesome places all around the globe. So, thanks for that!

This is just one country guide in our complete guide to the surf in Asia

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