Surfing Vacations in Sri Lanka: Where to Go and What to Bring

Surf in Sri Lanka

Surfing vacations in Sri Lanka are becoming ever more popular as tourism grows in the Indian Ocean country. Whilst most people think of Sri Lanka in terms of a backpacking experience or family getaway, many might be surprised to learn about the small nation’s surfer credentials.

Sri Lanka itself has a lot to offer, it boasts a rich and vibrant mix of cultures and religions, numerous UNESCO World Heritage Sites and a packed festive calendar. However, it’s quite well established as a surfing destination in addition to these other tourism opportunities.

Nevertheless, before booking the flights or applying for a visa for Sri Lanka, it’s always a good idea to have a clear view of what to expect from a surfing vacation in the country.

To help make the preparation for a trip of this nature a little easier, the following article explains where the best-surfing destinations can be found. It also outlines how to pick the right time of year to travel and what to bring for a successful surfing excursion.

The Best Surfing Spots in Sri Lanka

As an island, there are no shortages of great beach destinations to choose from in Sri Lanka. However, the majority of the best surfing spots in the country are centered around the southern coast of the island.

Surfing Spots Around Weligama

This location right at the island’s southern tip is a favorite for many beginner surfers, as well as intermediates. It’s easy to see why with its near-constant swells and numerous sand breaks. It offers easier rides as well as a few bigger waves to enjoy. It is also one of the biggest beach destinations in the south and is a great place to find a surf school or surfing options for the whole family.

Surfing in Hikkaduwa

On the South Western coast of Sri Lanka, next to the city of Galle is the picturesque Hikkaduwa bay. This is the closest surfing destination to Colombo where most new arrivals in Sri Lanka will come to and it is a must-visit location for surfers on the island and one of the most accessible as far as surf accommodation goes.

It has probably the longest established surf scene in Sri Lanka with 25 years of history, so is the best place to get equipment as well as find other members of the surfing community. The waves are big all year round, with left and right formations and there’s plenty of swell to make this accessible to all levels of surfers from beginners to pros.

Spots to Surf Around Arugam Bay

Arugam Bay is one of the few top spots for surfers in Sri Lanka found on the country’s East Coast. This is one of the best surfing destinations in the country to get a view of some of the most popular local wildlife like elephants, wild boar, buffalo and native species of birds.

It is relatively accessible for all levels of surfing and is the best place to head when the weather is too rainy down south. It is a mostly right-handed sand-bottomed and has numerous breaks along its coastline.

What is the Best Time of Year to Go Surfing in Sri Lanka?

There is not simply one single best time to visit Sri Lanka for surfing. The island has a regionalized climate and quite often you could encounter dry weather in the south and wetter weather in the north or vice versa.

However, for the best wave conditions and weather for surfing in Sri Lanka, it’s best to visit most of the principal locations in the South around October to April. However, those thinking of heading East to Arugam Bay should try making the trip between May and September to avoid flatter waves that occur during the other months of the year.

What To Pack for a Surfing Holiday in Sri Lanka

As well as getting the budgeting a trip to Sri Lanka right, surfers visiting Sri Lanka will need to know the right gear to bring. Whilst a lot of items such as boards and wetsuits can often be rented on location, visitors to more isolated surf spots should have the essentials on hand and ready to go. These include:

  • A Sri Lankan visa and passport
  • Surf zinc (The sun here is very strong)
  • Long shirts
  • Board shorts
  • Long skirts or pants
  • Surf leashes
  • Flip flops
  • Surf wax
  • A sim free phone
  • Sim free 4G dongle
  • Rash vests

There are fortunately few customs requirements for Sri Lanka, however, on arrival, visitors should be mindful of what to wear and pack appropriately. Despite the fact visitors will encounter very few issues near the beach, it’s important to remember that locals practice modesty and expect visitors to conform to these standards in the cities and towns.

How to Pick a Surf Camp in Sri Lanka

There are numerous surf schools and camps operating around the country, especially during the high season of October to April around the south coast.

There are many ways to select a suitable camp before traveling to Sri Lanka. Amongst pricing, reputation and special options like surf and yoga combinations. However, visitors are advised to look for features such as the following when picking out the perfect surf camp:

  • Free board rental
  • Proximity to the beach
  • Wetsuit hire
  • Transport to the best wave locations

With its wild coastline and variable Indian Ocean weather, this small island is a great place to travel as a surfer. With its well-established reputation amongst the surfing community and its exotic location, it’s one of the best places to combine a culture trip with a surfing vacation.

Remember, before traveling you must have a valid Sri Lankan visa when you arrive at immigration. This can be obtained online for citizens of eligible countries and processed and sent to a personal email address in minutes.