Surfing the South
Words by Emma Wijayasinghe
Photos by Julien Binch Binet
Southern Sri Lanka is truly a place that dreams are made of. Between the sparkling seas, smiling locals, sweeping palms and abundant ocean life, there are spectacular surf breaks that range from punchy reef breaks and rolling barrels to flowing beginner waves.
Today, I want to take you on an adventure of southern Sri Lanka’s surfing hot spots. I’ve gained this knowledge from living in and traveling around Sri Lanka over many years. As a qualified surf instructor back home in Australia, I fell in love with the diversity of waves available on this island. Currently, I’m in love with long boarding and I’m most often riding my Chipiron (@chipironsurfboards) 9ft turquoise log (in case you see me out there. Make sure to say hello).
We begin our wave journey 1 hour south from the city of Colombo, at a surfing and party capital since the seventies, Hikkaduwa. The closest surf break from the capital has many reef breaks and beach breaks with left and right-handed waves for all levels. Hikkaduwa’s main point is an ‘A frame,’ that works November to April for more experienced surfers. It breaks over a reef, so you’ll be enjoying this spot with many colorful fish swimming around you. Board hires and surf lessons are available for beginners. To quench the post-surf thirst, I recommend Salty Swamis (@saltyswamis) for some great grub and the best coffee on the island.
Traveling further south and just a half an hour tuk tuk ride we reach the historically rich town of Galle and the bay beach of Dewata. Here, there are scatterings of small restaurants, bars and surf hire shops. It’s a perfect place for beginners and has a consistent beach break. Also, the beach is next to one of my favourite places in the south, the eccentric Galle Fort.
If you’re looking for more serious waves, take a short drive along Galle road to the village of Kabalana, where you’ll find a real Sri Lankan gem. A long white sand beach, local stick fisherman and an ‘A frame’ surf break. This break is known as ‘The Rock’. The wave is best suited to intermediate to advanced surfers and with a small selection of surf hire available, but best to BYOB (bring your own board). This wave has a steep takeoff, early barrel selection (in the right conditions), with a hittable lip for perfecting cutbacks. To the left of ‘The Rock’ is Kabalana beach break, which is better suited for all levels. In my eyes, this is one of the most beautiful strips in the south. Frequently, the days end with pink sunset skies setting over some of the best waves you’ll find in south Asia.
So, it’s no surprise that Kabalana is where my husband and I chose to begin our boutique accommodation ‘Gitano House’ (@gitano_house), which opened at the end of 2018 and a five-minute walk from ‘The Rock'.
If you find yourself further south, the next stop would be the town of Midigama, which much like Sri Lanka itself offers something for everyone. Lazy Lefts and Rights live up to their name with a slow fat beginner wave and a little extra surprise with the swarms of turtle’s bopping about with you out in the break. A few minutes walk towards the next town is the surf spot ‘Rams’, a barrelling right hand reef break suited for advanced surfers only. If tube time is your bag, then Rams is the place for you.
Next door is Weligama and this bay may be the most well known beach for beginners. Many people I know, both locals and visitors, began their surfing career right here amongst these gentle beach breaks. To me, the most special place in Weligama is to the right at the iconic Taprobane Island. When the waves aren’t working anywhere else, Taprobane is a sure thing. Just opposite you will find the much loved ‘Bunkyard Hostel’ (@bunkyardhostel) with double and dorm rooms available, its the ideal place to kick back and relax after a day on the waves.
Traveling a further 10 minutes south via tuk tuk is Mirissa. A very popular beach with a headland you cannot peel your eyes away from. Dreamy, thick palms and a turquoise right hand point break. The last time I surfed here we were riding over schools of Parrotfish, superb! Be sure to walk out close to the point to avoid the jutting rocks and sea urchins. Mirissa is spoilt for places to eat and grab a drink. A favourite of ours is Zephyr Bar and Restaurant (@zephyr_restaurant_bar). It’s unique style; fresh produce, high quality cocktails and welcoming atmosphere make it a spot not to miss.
Back on the road and just before hitting the major town of Matara, you’ll find a superbly lush coastline with both left and right handed reef breaks called Madiha. It’s a quieter spot to surf and with that comes a lot of charm. Get in quick before everyone puts it on their surfing program.
The south coast of Sri Lanka is a smorgasbord of breaks. There are many more consistent surfing spots (like Coconuts, Jungle Beach, Weligama and Hiriketiya) that break most days of the year. But there are also many more spots that I haven’t named, which work only in the right swell and wind conditions. These spots remain for the intrepid surfer seeking solitude (besides the occasional local and turtle). Come on down to the south of this superb country, get salty and enjoy all it has to offer. The highlight is the truly extraordinary feeling of freedom. Happy hunting.
Catch you out in the surf!
This article was originally published at:
Tripin Publication 2019 - www.tripinsl.com