Why You Should Visit and Surf Sri Lanka

If you are into surfing or just want to enjoy a perfect vacation, visit Sri Lanka!

South West Sri Lanka is one of the world’s top surfing playgrounds, providing something for everyone from beginner to professional, thanks to a diverse range of waves, easy access, and tropical water. 

Beyond its’ waves, the country itself is breathtakingly gorgeous. You’ll be in good company with magnificent sights wherever you go, thanks to the local nice people and impressive sceneries. The mountainous and magnificent island of Sri Lanka is 30 kilometers southeast of India’s lower tip, so attractive that ancient Persians and Arabs called it Sarandb — the origin of the word serendipity. Sri Lanka is an intriguing and diverse country with a diverse range of religions, ethnic groups, and languages, as well as Asia’s highest biodiversity density. 

Sri Lanka, which means “Beautiful Island” in Sanskrit, has been at the heart of the region’s shipping and commerce routes since the days of the Silk Road, resulting in a great multicultural population spanning a variety of religions, races, and languages. The official languages of Sri Lanka are Sinhala and Tamil, while English is frequently spoken, particularly in tourist areas. Despite the growth in travel to the island, the approximately 1,600km of coastline has palm-fringed beaches that have remained relatively untouched.

The island’s interior features a diverse range of scenery, including wildlife-rich jungles that are home to elephants, leopards, and a plethora of bird species, 51 natural waterfalls, Ceylon tea plantations, and mountain peaks that rise to over 7,000 feet.

While the culture, history, and wildlife are all appealing, the variety of waves, warm water, and consistent Indian Ocean swells are the main draws for surfers.

Here are some tips to help you plan your next surf vacation to Sri Lanka:

Warm Water and Tropical Weather

Sri Lanka’s weather is typical of a tropical island. The weather is mostly hot and humid, with occasional tropical thunderstorms.

If you’re looking for the best waves in the eastern and southwest provinces, you’ll want to go during the hotter and dryer season.

The dry season in South West Sri Lanka coincides with the Northern Hemisphere winter. While surfers in Europe and North America shiver their way into soaked wetsuits and blustery beach-side parking lots, everyone in Sri Lanka will be basking in the warm tropical sun, with air temperatures hanging around 25-30°C and water temperatures hovering around 28°C.

If you visit any of the surf provinces during their monsoon season, aka “off-season”, note that there will be fewer dining and sleeping alternatives. Many hotels and eateries have closed their doors completely.

The east-west monsoon patterns divide Sri Lanka into two halves: the monsoon affects the south-west of the island from April to September and the northeast from November to March. During the Northern Hemisphere winter, the dry season brings offshore winds to the Hikkaduwa and Midigama region (the epicenter of Sri Lankan surf culture) on the South West coast, grooming long-distance Indian Ocean groundswells (the same swells that fire up Indo) into very great waves. It’s the ideal situation for surfers searching for a warm water getaway during the cold winter months – so wonderful that we sent the Surfing Life crew there in November.

61949f0ee9b1aceada4a2dce Surf Wave Sri Lanka 1

Waves of Various Sizes

Sri Lanka is one of the best places in the world for novice and intermediate surfers, whether they are first-timers or want to learn how to ride the larger Indian Ocean swells and reefs. Beginners will love the sand-bottomed beachies at Weligama and Hikkaduwa, while intermediates will love the deep reef at Midigama’s ‘Lazy Left,’ and advanced surfers will love the hollower waves and occasional barrels at the punchier reef breaks like Rams Right and Mirissa.

The same swells that hit Indo hit Sri Lanka, but because it’s one of the higher-latitude surf zones in the Indian Ocean, the waves are smaller – normally clean, offshore 2-6 feet in the dry season (Nov-March). Hikkaduwa rarely goes flat, and head-high peaks are typical even during the quietest swell period of December-February — the greatest time to get glassy conditions.

In Sri Lanka, there are two primary surf hotspots: Ahangama and Weligama on the southwest coast, and Arugam Bay in the eastern province.

61949f3bd85f4a2c1bde612d Surfing Sri Lanka

Difficulty Level: 
Sri Lanka is a fantastic area to learn to surf or hone your skills before moving on to more challenging waves. Surfing in Sri Lanka caters to all levels of skill, with a range of user-friendly waves and some fantastic surf instructors to help you advance.

The temperature of the Water: Throughout the year, the sea temperature in Sri Lanka ranges from 80 to 84 degrees Fahrenheit (27 to 29 degrees Celsius). So get ready to enjoy all of those board shorts and bikini sessions, though you may want to wear a rash guard from time to time for more sun protection.

How to Get to the Beach: In most situations, hiring a tuk-tuk driver is the most convenient method to travel to the beach, and it’s also part of the excitement of surfing in Sri Lanka. The majority of hotels and resorts will gladly assist you with this. You can also talk to local drivers and negotiate costs on your own.

61949e6034e6c331073d4525 Tuk Tuk Sri Lanka
Tuk-tuk at Sri Lanka

The Cuisine

You should try Sri Lankan cuisine! Fruit salads are frequently served for breakfast. If you’re looking for something a little more substantial, order a ‘hopper,’ which is a crispy pancake bowl filled with egg, dhal, and zingy tomato. You won’t be short on a morning brew either, being one of the world’s biggest exporters of high-quality tea and coffee.

The freshest of fresh fish and seafood or exquisite curries are served for lunch and dinner. Other traditional dishes include kottu, hoppers with various fillings, lamprais, and kool. Pickled fruit or vegetables, chutneys, and coconut sambol are commonly served with meals.

Culture, History, and Natural Environment

Sri Lanka has so much more to offer than just surfing, snorkeling, and sunbathing. You can visit ancient settlements and caves like Belilina, which is famous for the discovery of the prehistoric ‘Balangoda Man.’ Sri Lankan prehistory goes back for over 125,000 years, spanning the Palaeolithic, Mesolithic, and early Iron Ages.

The Indian monk Mahinda Bhikkhu brought Buddhism to Sri Lanka in the third century BC, and it is still practiced by roughly 70% of the population. Thousands of Buddhist temples and monasteries are all around the island, including some of the world’s oldest, largest, and best-preserved ‘stupas’ (hemispheric constructions used as tombs or meditation sites).

61949ec5ecbcf832a783cae8 Temple Sri Lanka
61949f69bc4f83bbcf9210b0 Sri Lanka Golden Buddha

The natural history is equally captivating. It’s not uncommon to see wild elephants and monkeys crossing the road, but the UNESCO World Heritage Site Sinharaja Forest Reserve offers a closer look at monkeys, leopards, elephants, and water buffalo.

It’s also worthwhile to spend a few days in the hill country. Green-cloaked mountains climb up out of the tangled jungle into the hazy skies, sprinkled with large waterfalls, massive tea plantations, and ancient temples, creating a realm apart from the rest of Sri Lanka. 

6194a0f0b9ec03194910675d Elephants Sri Lanka 1

Local fishermen in Sri Lanka, particularly on the southern shore, practice stilt fishing, which is a traditional type of fishing. Fishermen sit on cross-shaped beams with perfect balance and inexhaustible patience, waiting for their catch of the day! The fishermen are positioned a few meters above sea level, allowing them to capture mackerels and herrings from the shallows without disturbing the water. The catch is then placed in a bag attached to the angler’s pole or his waist.

61949edd0123a29c0953ad45 Stilt Fishers Sri Lanka
Stilt Fishing

A trip to Meet Everyone’s Needs

Sri Lanka’s diversity ensures that there is something to satisfy every taste and budget. You can splurge on luxury resorts and boutique beach villas or save money by staying in affordable local motels. Couples, honeymooners, and families can stay in one of the many private villas available, while single travelers can socialize and make new friends at one of the many surf camps.

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