The surfing coastline of South West Sri Lanka lies between Hikkaduwa and Matara, stretching for approximately 65 kilometres. Suitable for all levels of surfers, the water is scattered with reef, beach and point breaks. October to April is peak season in the south, as there is little rain, the winds are offshore and the swell consistent. SurfStaySriLanka is Sri Lanka’s premium surf travel company that is acquainted with all the best surf breaks on this coastline. We contacted SSSL several months prior and they found us some luxurious accommodation, right next to some great surf spots. The waves in Sri Lanka are not overly powerful, though they are consistent and if you’re keen you can get a wave at any time and on any day.
Our first stop was Kabalana Hotel by Ceilão Villas, which is a twelve room boutique hotel about a five minute walk to Kabalana Point, also known as The Rock. The rooms at Kabalana Hotel were a perfect escape from the Sri Lankan heat, with white exteriors, polished concrete floors, air-conditioning and fans. The private outdoor bathrooms were exquisite, and enough to make even the most A-grade celebrity jealous. The Rock really turned it on one morning, with 4-6 foot peaks and an inside barrelling section. As the tide drops, the inside becomes more tubular and much faster, so make sure you pull out before the closeout, or it’s bye-bye. The wind usually comes up by about 10am (generally cross-shore) and settles down by 5pm, so there is always a morning and late surf to be had; and in the afternoon if you’re really keen.
On our second day we rented scooters with board racks (international licence needed), which is highly advisable as getting a tuktuk for every surf becomes tiresome. It allowed us to explore farther afield and check out Mirissa Point, a bumpy right-hander (watch out for sea urchins), Devils Island (beginner reef break) and Lazy Left (it is lazy). It also enabled us to stock up on the essentials like Arrack (local liquor) and Lions (Sri Lankan lager). The stretch of coastline is littered with great surf breaks, some still unnamed, and there are bars, restaurants, hotels and hostels where you can pull up and enjoy a seafood rotti and a beer, while you wait for the wind to die in the afternoon. With the coconut palms, 28 degree water, and friendly Sri Lankan hospitality, the south west coast is a perfect holiday destination, for surfers and non-surfers alike.
Sri Lanka is not a country that you visit but a country that you feel. The moment you get off the plane, it is hot; the trains are jam packed with families, workers, people selling food, musicians playing guitar, and beggars. The curries are spicy and you can hear Kottu, a traditional Sri Lankan dish being prepared from afar, with the clanking of the metal blades against a hotplate. The roads are organised chaos with an extraordinary hierarchy. On the sides dogs, people and bicycles meander; scooters, tuktuks and small cars sit slightly on the inside; vans and small trucks dare to edge close to the centre, and buses steamroll right up the middle, stopping for nothing and nobody. When you are cruising along at night on your scooter and a bus slowly breathes up behind you; then roars past merely a foot away, you know you’re alive and you know you’re in Sri Lanka – it is a country that awakens your senses.
Our next stop was Ebb and Flow Jungalows in Midigama. Again, the rooms were clean, comfortable and easily counteracted the heat, with a pool right in front, and outdoor showers that sit in a lush, colourful garden. The highlight of Ebb and Flow is that it has unparalleled views of Rams Right, a clean, bowling right-hander that jacks up upon hitting the rock shelf. With the right swell direction it can also break left, forming a great A-frame desirable for goofy footers. Rams delivered some perfection one morning and we surfed for three hours before we needed to come in for breakfast. It was a memorable session and one that I will dream about for years to come.
Pictures: Ryan Anderson, Edward Richards and Martin Richards
Predominately a Buddhist nation, the Sri Lankan culture epitomises generosity, respect, honesty and compassion. Its citizens are warm, genuine and hospitable, and it is a must visit for travellers and surfers alike – it’s a pearl in the Indian Ocean.