Surfing Sri Lanka - Accommodation, surf reports, spots, flights, housing, food and other travelling information

Surfing Sri Lanka
Surfing Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka - Geographical position
Sri Lanka - Geographical position
Sri Lanka - Galle District
Sri Lanka - Galle District
Hikkaduwa (courtesy of Tommy Strmmen)
Hikkaduwa (courtesy of Tommy Strmmen)

Surfing Sri Lanka: Accommodation, surf reports, spots, flights, housing, food and other travelling information

Text: Alexander Andorff [Superstoked Surfng Magazine / Gone Surfing Online] Pictures: Wannasurf.com / Dan Luxe / Revox / Tommy Strømmen

Capital: Sri Jayawardenapura-Kotte (Not Colombo, which is the largest, but not administrative capital city)

Total population: 20.238.000 (UN - 2009)

Local population: 100.000 (Hikkaduwa)

Official language(s): Sinhala, Tamil

Time zone: GMT +5hr30

Currency: Sri Lankan Rupee (LKR)

High season: November – April (Start and end of the dry season, respectively)

Low season: April – October

Water temperature:

| Jan-Feb 27º | Mar-Apr 28º | May-Jun 28º | Jul-Aug 28º | Sep-Oct 27º | Nov-Dec 27º |

These are the average water temperatures based on recent years weather statistics, as you can see the water maintains a comfortable 27-28º throughout the year, allowing you to ride like nature intended; rubber less... with boardshorts.

Pros:

+ High standard, Mellow Waves

+ Offshore NE monsoon

+ Buddhist Mecca

+ Inexpensive

+ Warm Water

Cons:

- Conflicting Wind and Swell Patterns

- Relatively small Waves

- No World Class Spots

- Sewage/pollution and Localism

- Civil Unrest (War ended 2009)


Sri Lanka, the teardrop-shaped island located 31km south of India’s coastline (see attached picture), has been frequently portrayed in the world news due to the political instability which has cast a shadow across all that this pearl has to offer; amongst it high quality surfing spots. Do not get me wrong though, the political unrest may have caused a cloaking of Sri Lanka as a tourist attraction, but its natural beauty, with its magical tropical forests, beaches and landscape has still managed to fight through and make Sri Lanka a popular tourist attraction. And depending on how you choose to see it, it is either; positive; less touristic and more natural, or negative; less comfortable, with less luxurious hotels and such. Personally, I will go with the first choice any day of the week. Yes, that includes those lazy Sundays.

However, the official war between the Tamil Tiger rebels and the Sri Lankan military ended in 2009, and thus the shadow which has darkened this fine country is gradually receding. A great example of this is the recent surfing championships which took place in Arugam Bay, the Sri Lankan Airlines Pro Surf 2010, the first ever surfing competition which has been organized, but hopefully not the last. The final winner was a 21-year-old Australian, Julian Wilson. Locals from Arugam and nearby Pottuvil flocked to see the high quality surfing take place, and were not disappointed.

A local tuk-tuk (three wheeled cars) driver, Abu Saleem Muzzamil, stated in an interview with the BBC; “We really appreciate the surfers coming here. It gives us a lot of business - tuk-tuks, restaurants, hotel rooms, vegetable shops. They're really friendly: they talk to the local people and the kids. For us, it is like meeting long-lost friends.”

ASP's Jake White later stated; “I guess Arugam Bay is not as developed as some other surfing areas, but I think surf tourism here is really going to boom after this event put it on the map."

Sri Lanka is divided into nine different provinces, mostly based on their geographical position on the island; however this article will be focusing on the southern province, more specifically the south-west region, in the Galle district. Galle, the capital of the southern province, is the 11th biggest city in Sri Lanka with 97.209 inhabitants (2009). That is 584.837 inhabitants less than Sri Lanka’s capital Colombo, located in the western province, with its 682.046 beautiful people (WARNING: some less than beautiful inhabitants may occur…).

The south-coast benefits mostly from the same regular, long distance SW swells, which have given Indonesia their world-class surf. Arugam Bay, on the east coast of Sri Lanka, as mentioned earlier in this article, was a very popular surf destination for surfers travelling across Asia in the 70’s, but this came to an abrupt end when the civil war broke out in 1983, between the Tamil tigers and the Sri Lankan government. However, as the surfers started looking elsewhere for waves, they quickly came across Hikkaduwa reefs, which provided a safe haven from most of the conflicts taking part mainly in the northern and eastern territories. Seeing now as the conflict has officially ended, more and more surfers are seeking back to the ‘lost’ territories of Arugam, allowing surfers to spread out a bit more across the coastline.

Surfing Sri Lanka
Surfing Sri Lanka
South-West Sri Lanka Surf Spots
South-West Sri Lanka Surf Spots
Hikkaduwa - Courtesy of Tommy Strmmen
Hikkaduwa - Courtesy of Tommy Strmmen
Hikkaduwa - Courtesy of Tommy Strmmen
Hikkaduwa - Courtesy of Tommy Strmmen

As the conflict raged, the south-west quickly became a popular surf spot, enriched with local culture and friendly prices. The surf spots in the Hikkaduwa and Galle region, run from the North Jetty at the western border to the Dondra in the easter border of the district. The most famous surf spots within these limits include (from west to east): North Jetty, Benny’s, Main Reef, Inside, Beachbreak, Rivermouth, Gallè, Kogalla, Midigama, Weligama, Matara, Dondra.

Close to Hikkaduwa, we find Main Reef, which is considered to be one of the most consistent spots in this area, providing fun lefts and rights breaking over this flat coral reef. It is located right next to the Surfing Beach Guest House, which provides accommodation, so you should be aware that the water might be crowded. Localism might be a problem if you are an aggressive surfer, but just be friendly in the line-up and it should not be a problem. Learning a few words of Sinhala is highly recommended as this will earn you some friendliness-points wherever you may roam; here is a quick guide to some Sinhala phrases/words which might come in handy:

Hello : hello | Bye: aayu-bowan | Yes: owu | No: naeh |Please: karuna kara | Thank you: stuh-tee | Excuse me: sama venna | Sorry: kana gaatui | How much is it?: ehekka keeyada? | What’s your name?: oyaaghe nama mokka’da? | My name is..: maaghe nama… | Coffee: koh-pi | Water: watura | Eka-deka-tuna: 1-2-3 | Easy, right?

If you paddle five minutes north of Main Reef, you will find Benny’s, considered to be a more advanced left wave which can hold bigger swells. North Jetty is comparable to Benny’s, with long clean lefts on big swell periods. If we go further south, past Main Reef, we find Inside Reef, another left wave which packs some heat. Past this area, the Hikkaduwa, more towards the Galle area there is a long beachbreak, which might provide some great, non-crowded opportunities for beginners looking to hone their skills out of reach of the more advanced surfers. Reaching Galle, the colonial town in this district, we find an inconsistent, but good quality break which creates a fine left wave when working. Further east of Galle, we find Kogalla, an area which houses some finer accommodation, amongst them two luxury hotels. Same as Galle; a fine left when the conditions are ideal. Travelling eastbound to a small village called Midigama, we find a spot which is located more southerly than for example the Hikkaduwa surf spots, and therefore less consistent, as it is more exposed to southerly winds. Weligama can be surfed most times throughout the year, even when swell periods are small. At the eastern border of the Gallè district we find Matara and Dondre which provide a fine left and right, respectively, when conditions are optimal. However, this is quite rare as the breaks are dependant on some north in the wind, which is a rare phenomenon.

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Getting there:

You can stay in Sri Lanka for up to one month without applying for a visa. The main airport is located in Colombo, and it is fairly cheap to get here with Air Lanka, an airline which takes no charge for carrying surfboards (bless them). Hikkaduwa is a 3 hour drive south of the airport. Taxi’s are very cheap and can get you around to the areas quite easily, but if you choose to rent a car, remember that they drive on the left in Sri Lanka.

Housing and food:

The Surfing Beach Guest House in Hikkaduwa offers cheap accommodation $5-10/double or if you want to live a bit more luxurious (Casalanka hotel) you can get a room for $20-25/night. There is plenty of healthy food available, including rice and curry. The meals are around $3-5 in total.

Heads up:

There have been some cases of violent localism towards visiting waveriders in the Hikkaduwa area, but like mentioned earlier in this article; be friendly, smile and speak some of those local Sinhala words you just learned… and you will have them eating out of your hand in no time. Another thing to be aware of is the local people which make a living by scamming unsuspecting tourists.

Clever tips:

The A-Frame Surf Shop is the base for the Mambo Surf Tours (mambo.nu) whom can arrange trips to waves in other areas of the country if that is what you please. It is also a great way of meeting other surfers/people. Boards can be rented for $1-2/hr.

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Seeing as the Sri Lankan civil war is officially over, I strongly recommend travelling to this tropical paradise checking out its surf scene and the fantastic local culture. So shout the words “Mata yam-eem tikat ekek ganna ohna” out loud, and a return-ticket to Sri Lanka might just magically appear. Most likely not though….. but then again… it just might.

11 comments

David 470 profile image

David 470 6 years ago from Pennsylvania, United States

Nice hub! Good job pointing out the pros and cons.


Resolver2009 profile image

Resolver2009 6 years ago from Bournemouth, UK / Oslo, Norway Author

David 470: Thank you for your comment, much appreciated.


suziecat7 profile image

suziecat7 6 years ago from Asheville, NC

I had a friend from Sri Lanka and always wondered what it was like there. Wonderful travel Hub. Thanks.


triosol profile image

triosol 5 years ago

very useful information. very informative hub. voted up :)


Resolver2009 profile image

Resolver2009 5 years ago from Bournemouth, UK / Oslo, Norway Author

suziecat7: Thank you, hope this gave you a little bit of insight then.

triosol: Thanks Triosol! Much appreciated! :)


atifhameed profile image

atifhameed 5 years ago from Islamabad, Pakistan

Simply awsome!!


Resolver2009 profile image

Resolver2009 5 years ago from Bournemouth, UK / Oslo, Norway Author

Thank you Atifhameed! Yes, Sri Lanka is awesomeness at its purest.


owen 5 years ago

I'd like to contact the Surfing Beach Guest House, but I can't find any contact info. Do you know it?


tonymead60 profile image

tonymead60 5 years ago from Yorkshire

hi

I'm not into surfing, but I do love Sri Lanka, although I hope we beat then at cricket this summer

cheers


SpiffyD profile image

SpiffyD 5 years ago from The Caribbean

Great hub, not just on surfing in Sri Lanka, but useful travel information! Voted up, useful and interesting.


Resolver2009 profile image

Resolver2009 5 years ago from Bournemouth, UK / Oslo, Norway Author

Thank you SpiffyD, much appreciated!

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