Planning on Sri Lanka Surf trip? Well here’s everything you need to know about surfing Sri Lanka – surf spots and seasons to accommodation and budgets!
A Sri Lanka surf trip ticks all the boxes for any traveller surfer – it’s a place where tropical waters, epic street food and pumping waves all combine making surfing Sri Lanka an epic adventure and some of the reasons it’s one of the top surf destinations in the world right now.
A relatively easy flight from Europe, it’s a country where you can surf in boardies (or bikinis!), live on the cheap and score epic waves year round.
So if you’re planning on surfing in Sri Lanka soon here’s everything you need to know – from when to go and where to surf to what everything costs and how to get around…
Surfing Sri Lanka – Your Ultimate Guide
Where Is Sri Lanka?
Incase you didn’t know where Sri Lanka is on the map already, it sits in the Laccadive Sea, just off the South East Coast of India. In fact at their closest points there’s only about 50km between the two countries.
Another surfing hot spot – The Maldives – then sit just to the South East of Sri Lanka, just under 2 hours flight away.
Getting To Sri Lanka (and onward travel)
Another big appeal of surfing Sri Lanka is the fact it’s the closest tropical surf destination to Europe – with plenty of airlines offering routes into the capital of Colombo.
Sri Lankan Airlines offers a great direct route from many European cities, whilst the firm surfer favourites of Emirates, Etihad and Qatar offering a range of indirect routes from all over the world, complete with generous luggage allowances, which most importantly include surfboards!
For those coming from Asia and Australia – there are a good range of low coast airlines flying in- like Air Asia, or Virgin Australia and Qantas for more comfortable, long haul options.
If you’re adding in Sri Lanka as part of a bigger surf trip (check out my top surf destinations guide here!) then there are a few notable places you can easily fly to from Columbo.
The Maldives is super close (just under 2 hours direct flight) where some epic surfing lies. Alternatively you can bounce into the main part of South East Asia with the likes of Air Asia – with countries like Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia and the Philippines an easy and relatively affordable flight away.
Sri Lanka Surf Season
The Sri Lanka surf season is divided into two sides and two seasons – East Coast and West Coast.
The West Coast season runs from November to April (which includes spots like Ahangama, Weligama and Mirissa), and the East Coast season is May to October (which includes the famous Arugam Bay).
Rather perfectly – both surf seasons coincide with the dry season on their respective sides, meaning you get pumping surf and tropical weather too!
What Surf Levels Is It Suitable For?
One of the main reasons surfing Sri Lanka is becoming so popular is the fact that it really does cater for all levels of surfer, especially when it comes to beginner and intermediates.
The coastline boasts some really awesome surf spots for beginners and those learning to surf – like Midigama and Weligama – whilst intermediates have plenty of forgiving reefs and points to choose from.
Although advanced surfers don’t have as much choice as they would in places like Bali – spots like Aragam Bay, Rams and Lazy Lefts offer up some punchy waves that will keep them more than happy!
More about the surf spots later in the guide…
Sri Lanka Surf Spots
There are plenty of surf spots all along the coastline of this beautiful country – and if you’re surfing Sri Lanka, here are some of the top surf spots you should be checking out;
The most famous spot in the country – this epic right hand point break on the East Coast of Sri Lanka serves up some super fun, carveable walls and even plays host to a number of surf comps
The little brother of Arugam Bay this is a favourite for beginners and longboarders when the East Coast is working. A fun, sandy bottom point break.
One of the more punchy and hollow waves on the West Coast. This A frame slab/reef offers some fun cover ups on the right and a longer left hander.
Another one of the more advanced waves in the West, Lazy Lefts breaks over a reef and offer super fun rides. If it gets busy or you’re not quite at the skill level yet then the neighbouring Lazy Rights is a solid option too.
Similar in wave and backdrop to Noosa in Australia, this long reeling point break is nice and mellow – perfect for longboarders and intermediate surfers. Just be aware of the coral reef and the urchins!
Named after the iconic stilt fisherman in front of the break Sticks was a semi secret spot – but it’s fun A frame setup means its becoming increasingly popular with all levels of surfer.
If you want to learn to surf in Sri Lanka then this is the spot to head. A favourite spot for surf camps and surf lessons Weligama sandy bottom beach breaks offers a great, fun beginner wave. It is a horse shoe bay though and the middle of it is a pretty punchy beach break which will keep higher levels of surfer happy.
At the far end of Kabalana Beach lies The Rock (in front of a massive rock, surprise, surprise) which is arguably the most powerful on the South West Coast of Sri Lanka. An A Frame which offers a short, but intense right hander and a long, walling left. Advanced to expert surfers only
My in depth Sri Lanka Surf Spot Guide is coming soon…
What Board Should You Take?
I took along my Firewire Seaside – a high volume, quad fin fish – and it was exactly what I needed up my feet to make the most of the huge variety of waves on offer.
But honestly whatever board you usually ride will go great in Sri Lanka and there are waves to suit all surfboard shapes.
That being said if you usually ride a stick thin shortboard it might also be worth packing something with a bit more volume, like a groveller board, to make the most of the less performance based spots on offer.
Just remember you’re not in Indo – so the waves are slightly less powerful and more playful…unless the swell is pumping of course!
One thing that’s worth pointing out here is there aren’t a huge range of surf shops in Sri Lanka – so I’d advise bringing along 2 boards just in case. There are plenty of rental shops perfect for beginning/intermediate surfers – but if you’re an advanced surfer I’d say bring your kit with you.
Wetsuit Or Boardies/Bikini?
One of the biggest appeals of surfing in Sri Lanka is the fact you definitely wont need a wetsuit – its bikini and board shorts all the way!
With an air temperature of around 28-30 degrees and water temperature not much lower you’ll be more than comfortable in the water – although I might suggest a wetsuit top or rashie to keep the sun off you!
As you’d expect from any popular surf destination – there are plenty of Sri Lanka surf camps to choose from, for all styles and most importantly, budgets.
From luxury, style surf villas (like Dreamsea), to more budget friendly options (like Elsewhere Surf Camp) to in depth surf coaching for all levels (like Ticket To Ride Surf House) there’s something for everyone.
Some of the top picks include;
Ticket To Ride Surf House
Right in front of Sticks and Marshmallows, the Ticket To Ride Surf House is the perfect base for anyone looking for high level coaching – whether you’re learning to surf or pushing your skills to the next level.
Ticket to Ride also offer a couple of epic Sri Lanka Surf Trips too – which are well worth checking out if you want to combine waves with exploring the country too.
A favourite with Scandinavians LaPoint Sri Lanka follows suit on their high end surf villa style that they offer in numerous spots around the globe. Not the cheapest, but you certainly get what you pay for accommodation wise!
Solid Surf House
With camps already in Morocco and Bali, Solid Surf House now also offers Sri Lanka too in Weligama Bay – the perfect spot for those wanting to learn to surf. Their 7 day, all inclusive packages have everything you need to score super fun waves.
Elsewhere Surf Camp
Setup by my buddy Mark (who I surf coached with years ago in Morocco) Elsewhere Surf Camp offer fun, laid back vibes without breaking the bank. A great option for those learning to surf and solo travellers wanting to meet a sociable crowd.
Having setup a string of epic surf camps around Bali, Kima Surf have recently launched a Sri Lanka surf camp – offering the same awesome boho vibes their Indo camps are famous for. With a range of room options from dorms to luxury privates it’s always a solid choice, not matter what you or your group want.
Lanka Living Surf
Nestled amongst the jungle, just behind Ahangama town in a local village, Lanka Living Surf is a great place to meet the locals and hit the waves. With a range of all inclusive packages its great for those who want everything sorted and stay in a more unique setting.
Dreamsea Surf Camps
If you’re looking to learn to surf in luxury then Dreamsea is the way to go! Absolute beachfront, epic pool overlooking the ocean and pristine rooms that ooze that Bali boho vibe, just stunning!
Click here for more info and to book
Safa Surf Camp
Based out of Sand Dune Hotel near Arugam Bay, Safa Surf Camp offers a range of packages for those wanting to learn to surf, push their skills to the next level or surf and stay packages for the more experienced surf.
Surf Camp Arugam Bay
Another Arugam Bay option, Surf Camp Arugam Bay is a small setup of 7 rooms offering both guiding and coaching packages.
Check out my Top 10 Sri Lanka Surf Camp post here for more surf camp info
Sri Lanka Surf Trips & Instructor Courses
Want to learn to surf in Sri Lanka or combine a number of surf spots and adventures with waves and coaching? Well there are a few epic surf trips and even surf instructor courses to choose from too with the Ticket To Ride Crew – who also run that epic South Africa surf trip I recently jumped on!
4 Week Option – Ahangama, Arugam Bay & Hill Country
This is the perfect option for those wanting to cover a whole heap of Sri Lanka as well as surf surf surf! With your stay at Ahangama and Arugam Bay covering 3 weeks of the trip (the length of stay in each stop varies depending on the season) and a week exploring the Hill Country this combines surf and travel perfectly.
3 Week Option – Arugam Bay and Ahangama
Want more waves and less inland travel? Well the 3 week option takes out the Hill Country stop and splits your time between Ahangama and Arugam Bay, again varying slightly depending on the trip date you choose.
5 Week Instructor Course
Want to combine your surf instructor course with an epic adventure around Sri Lanka? Well this 5 week Sri Lanka surf instructor course is a combination of the 4 week Sri Lanka surf tour and the 1 week instructor course. Suitable for those already at an experienced surf level.
1 Week Instructor Course
If you’re already at a level where you can pass the ISA Level 1 surf assessment and simply want to complete your course somewhere tropical this is an awesome option.
Again – much like the rest of South East Asia – Sri Lanka has a huge range of options when it comes to accommodation, no matter what your style and budget – from backpacker hostels and guesthouses to 5* luxury villas and hotels.
For budget travellers surf hostels, normal hostels or guesthouses are going to be the way forward. There are a few hostel chains which are worth checking out (like Hangover Hostels) which not only have bases in surf spots, but also elsewhere in the country too. Another favourite is Surfing Wombats in Midigama which offers a solid budget option and epic pizzas!
There is also a huge range of guesthouses all over the coastline and you can score a basic private room, walking distance from the beach and surf quite easily for under 2,400LKR per night (approx £10GBP, $20AUD, $13USD)
For those who want a little more comfort there are plenty of higher end guest houses and mid range hotels to choose from too – offering better facilities, A/C and awesome locations.
Honestly though with this section you have prices at all ends of the spectrum, so chuck a search in Booking.com and tailor it to your personal budget or look around!
Want to go all our with a luxury Sri Lanka surf trip? Well no worries that’s on offer too.
Rent a villa with some buddies or treat yourself to an epic AirBnB or hotel. Plus you can grab $76AUD off your first AirBnB booking by clicking here!
Again the sky’s the limit with pricing on this, so have a hunt around and again Booking.com is a good place to start!
Food & Drink Costs
As you’d expect from travelling around any South East Asian country, food and drink costs in Sri Lanka are relatively low.
When it comes to eating out your best bet is going to be the abundance of delicious street food and little local restaurants – which serve up a huge array of delicious curries, rotis and coconut pancakes.
Expect to pay around 200LKR (approx £0.84GBP, $1.6AUD, $1.10USD) for a solid feed here, but in tourist hotspots you can also expect to pay around 1,250LKR (approx £5GBP, $10AUD, $7USD) – so hunt around for the local bargains!
Unlike other surfing hotspots like Bali, Sri Lanka doesn’t have the same abundance of western style restaurants and cuisine, so just be aware that you wont be able to grab a maccas or Mexican that easily!
That being said there are more and more hipster style restaurants (like the Kip in Ahangama) which will give you a break from local cuisine. Expect to pay around 1,000-2000LKR for a meal in these sort of spots.
When it comes to drinking alcohol Sri Lanka doesn’t have the same style of party scene like Thailand or Bali – but you can still grab a post surf beer. Expect to pay around 300LKR (approx £1.20GBP, $2.40AUD, $1.60USD) for a large beer at the bottle shop or about 350-400LKR (approx £1.40GBP, $2.80AUD, $1.90USD) in a restaurant.
Apps like Pick Me are the Sri Lankan version of Uber/GoJek and is something I’d recommend using for longer distances and it takes the haggling out of the equation which is super handy.
If you’re just doing a short trip or heading off for a quick surf then flagging down a tuk tuk is the best value – although be prepared to haggle and try to have an idea of what an individual journey will cost so you don’t get ripped off – so its best to ask your hotel/hostel/guesthouse for a rough price.
And then of course you have the famous, iconic train journeys of Sri Lanka linking the more inland destinations, which vary in price but on the whole are really cheap – so upgrading to first class might be a wise move!
There are also train connections through to the coast and surf towns (expect to pay around 600LKR to get from Colombo to Ahangama) as well, although these aren’t the easiest if you have a board in tow.
Hire A Photographer
Want to get some photos of you surfing in Sri Lanka? Well there are plenty of awesome freelance photographers kicking around for both seasons.
Hire them for a single shoot or a couple of sessions and score some epic shots of you from in the water or even some drone footage of your waves!
Whilst surfing with Ticket To Ride we had David on hand as an in water photographer and he produced some amazing pics of our sessions.
He also freelances too, so drop him an email on [email protected] to book a session or check him out on Insta over at @soul_snapss. He’s also got heaps of epic shots on his website which you can find here.
For those wanting a bit more of photoshoot, or drone shots of your surf sessions check out Inna aka @surf.stories on Instagram – she usually heads out to Sri Lanka for the main West Coast season.
Solo Female Travel – Is It Safe?
Obviously I’m a dude, so can’t really comment much on the solo female travel side of things in Sri Lanka – so I’m going to hand it over to Charlotte from A Broad On A Board – who has spent a prolonged period surfing and travelling this beautiful country – for some female travel tips.
“I spent almost three months travelling around Sri Lanka and while I’d say it’s a safe country to travel, my experience as a solo female was very different compared to when I was in the company of a guy.
Obviously you can’t generalise, but I found that when I was alone I got a lot more unwanted attention from Sri Lankan men, ranging from irritating to outright creepy.
They will routinely ask you where you’re going as you walk down the street or make kissing noises to get your attention. Another favourite is asking where your husband is – in this situation it’s easiest just to lie and say he’s back at the hotel.
In worse cases you might find someone getting too close for comfort on the bus, or (and this actually happened to a friend) masturbating in the water while you lay on the beach. Obviously this isn’t an everyday occurrence – and I definitely wouldn’t let it put you off – but it’s best to be armed with the possibilities so that you have a better chance of avoiding them.
The key is to use common sense: Don’t walk down the street in a bikini (thongs are a definite no-go); if you’re travelling on public transport cover your shoulders, legs, and cleavage; if possible travel in a group or with a guy; and don’t walk alone at night.”
General Sri Lanka Travel Tips
Is Sri Lanka Safe?
Generally speaking in my personal experience the Sri Lankan locals have always been incredibly friendly and nice and I’ve always felt pretty safe there.
In built up areas and tourist spots there’s always the risk of scammers and pick pockets etc – but that’s true of everywhere in the world, home or abroad.
As with my travel advice for anywhere – always be a little on guard, don’t take stupid risks (like flashing expensive cameras, carrying heaps of cash or walking down unlit road at night) and be sensible.
Of course if you’re travelling solo as a female it can be a very different experience, but read the section above for more info on that.
When it comes to visas things have changed quite a bit recently and many countries can now apply for a 30 day e-visa before flying into Sri Lanka.
At the moment this visa is also free for many countries too which is a bonus – as it was originally $20USD. Visas on arrival can also be an option, but double check with your local consulate for the most up to date advice for your passport.
Check out the official visa website at http://www.eta.gov.lk/slvisa/ for more info too.
For those wanting an extended surf trip many nationalities can extend for up to a further 60 days (so 90 days total) – which can either be done in Colombo in person or you can pay a visa agent to get it all sorted for you, which costs around 14,500LKR (approx £60GBP, $115AUD, $79USD)
Sri Lankan currency is the Sri Lankan Rupee (LKR) and this is the rough exchange rate as of writing;
- 1 Euro = 200LKR
- 1 Aussie Dollar = 125LKR
- 1 British Pound = 240LKR
- 1 American Dollar = 180LKR
Higher end restaurants and accommodations will accept card payments (many of which will have a surcharge ranging from 1-3%), but you’ll need cash for the smaller places and tuk tuk drivers.
There are plenty of ATMs around Sri Lanka where you can get money out of – but be careful and try to avoid carrying large amounts of cash. Advice I’d give wherever you are in the world!
If you want to get cash at the airpot when you arrive head to the left of the currency exchange places as you enter the arrivals hall (after immigration etc) and there’s a block of about 4 options.
Be aware your card may work with some banks and not others, so if it gets declined try another option.
UK traveller check out the Starling travel card for fee free travelling – click here for my review
Aussie traveller check out ING Orange for fee free travelling – click here for my review
Wifi & SIM Cards
Wifi in Sri Lanka is available but honestly it’s not that reliable or fast in a lot of places. Your best bet is to grab a local SIM card as data in Sri Lanka in pretty cheap.
I got an Airtel SIM in the arrivals hall at the airport and paid 3,000LKR (approx £12GBP, $24AUD, $16USD) for 30GB of data.
Be aware some data plans in Sri Lanka split the allowance between day and night time – so sometimes aren’t as good as value as they first seem. That deal I got above works 247 though.
When it comes to language 70% of the population speak Sinhala. English is also widely spoken across the country too – but not as fluently as some Asian countries so be prepared for a few language barriers, especially in smaller or more remote places.
There are a few religions in Sri Lanka but over 70% of the population are Buddhist – so there are plenty of beautiful temples to visit across the country. If you do plan on visiting though make sure you’re respectful and cover up shoulders and knees.
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