Sri Lanka -- A Surfer's Guide
As an island nation, Sri Lanka offers the visiting surfer a unique combination of cultural experiences, natural wonder and near endless surfing opportunities. Read on to discover when and where to go for that surf trip of a lifetime.
The first thing to know is that despite its small size, Sri Lanka has two distinct monsoon seasons. The west experiences rough seas, frequent rain and strong onshore winds from May to November, during which time the east is hot and dry.
From October to April the east experiences monsoon conditions while the west is sunny and humid with light winds.
Storms in the Antarctic Southern Ocean send waves for thousands of kilometres before they reach Sri Lanka’s tropical shores. Due to the direction of these swells, the best of the surf is confined to the south-west, south and south-east of the country.
The waves on the island rarely get over head-high, with most days during the surf season offering up beautiful waist-to-chest-high peelers. These conditions make a surf trip to Sri Lanka a great choice for experienced surfers as well as those trying the sport for the first time.
We’ve picked a selection of Sri Lanka’s best surf spots for you, including a few locations that the guide books often overlook.
Main Reef – Hikkaduwa
One of the first surf breaks to become popular in Sri Lanka, Hikkaduwa’s Main Reef is a real wave magnet, creating consistent left and right waves over a rocky reef with barrel sections when bigger. Though Main Reef is best suited to intermediate to advanced surfers, closer to the shore there is a gentle beach break which is ideal for learning. Hikkaduwa itself is a well-developed beach town with a vibrant social scene, and has several other surfing alternatives nearby, even if it is not quite as on-trend as some of the other coastal towns and villages further south.
Dewata Beach – Galle
Set back from the hustle and bustle of the main road into Galle, Dewata Beach offers up gently breaking lines of bubbling white water, perfect for the beginner surfer to hone their skills. This is one of the few spots that is surfable during the south-west monsoon season as the protective Rumassala headland shelters the beach from the worst of the wind. There are plenty of places to take a lesson and hire boards here.
Directly in front of the famed Wijaya Beach Restaurant you will find both left and right breaking waves over a bottom of sand and rock. Not the best spot in the area but fun all the same, and you’ll find a friendly group of local surfers here, most of whom work at the restaurant. The beach is beautiful, as are the sunsets behind the bay’s ‘Frog Rock’.
South Beach – Kathaluwa
A brilliant place to escape the crowds, South Beach is heaven for the longboard surfers among us. With an easy paddle-out and broad softly breaking waves over a deep water rocky reef, it’s a great location to get to grips with surfing in the tropics.
The Rock – Kabalana
One of the best surf breaks in the area, waves refract around an offshore rocky outcrop to produce long powerful lefts and rights. Better suited to intermediate to advanced surfers, there is a sandy beach break for beginners to practice on closer to shore.
Sticks – Ahangama
Named after the fishing stilts that line the shore, Sticks is a fun spot with peeling left and rights over a rocky bottom. There is no beach here so it’s best left to more experienced surfers.