Where to surf in Sri Lanka

Where to surf in Sri Lanka

Category : Sri Lanka , Surfing

Sri Lanka is the destination on everyone’s radar, with its jaw-dropping landscapes, stunning architecture and exotic wildlife – everything from jaguars to elephants. But there’s another reason to visit this unassuming island off the south coast of India, when the expansive beaches and blue waves can be appreciated at their fullest: surfing. Whether you’re trying the sport for the first time, eager to brush up your skills or you’re a dedicated surfer constantly searching for the best waves around the world, Sri Lanka has the beach for you (and a beautiful ones at that) all throughout the year. So, get that surfboard waxed as we show you where to surf in Sri Lanka.

Hikkaduwa, Galle District

When asking where to surf in Sri Lanka, Hikkaduwa may well be the answer on your fellow traveller’s lips. Located in the southwest of the island it’s one of the best known surf spots in the country, but still keeps its charm. With a palm-fringed shore lined with drink shacks and restaurants, you’ll find little reason to tear yourself away from the sand. As for the waves themselves, they’re consistent, peeling slowly towards the shore, and particularly ideal for beginners. The best time to surf here is October to April, when the weather is a cosy 30ºC.

The best of the rest in Hikkaduwa

If you want a break from the waves to rest those paddling arms of fury or if the weather has taken a turn, head for some snorkelling in Hikkaduwa National Park. This coral sanctuary is home to plenty of marine life, from turtles to tropical fish. Inland, there are Buddhist temples such as Gangarama Maha Vihara, decorated with hand-painted murals, and Thotagamuwa Rajamaha Viharaya, 2km north of the town.

Hikkaduwa Beach

Mirissa, Matara District

Often regarded as one of the best kept surf secrets in Sri Lanka (sorry for blowing your cover, Mirissa!), this town has great waves and a low-key vibe. A mixture of locals, committed surfers and some travellers, Mirissa Beach is where you can forget about the busy world around you and simply swing in a hammock. And, of course, hit the surf. Like Hikkaduwa, the best time to catch a wave here is October to April, and its mellow reef breaks over deep water provide a perfect introduction to beginner surfers who want to up their game after mastering the basics. The beach is also a delight to be on if you’re looking for a bit more quiet, and the water is some of the clearest you’ll find in the country.

The best of the rest in Mirissa

Mirissa is a great location for whale watching – you can spot migrating blue, sperm, fin and bryde whales as well as dolphins. They are most visible from November to April, coinciding perfectly with the best waves.

Surfers walking on Marissa’s main beach

Arugam Bay, Batticaloa Territory

The main beach at Arugam Bay is very pleasant, but the highlight here is Elephant Rock, an immensely beautiful beach that’s perfect for novice surfers. It’s harder to get to than the main beach – you’ll need to get a tuk tuk (about a 15 minute ride) and clamber over some rocks (wear appropriate shoes!), but it’s well worth it for the solitude and amazing surf break there. Its namesake is no lie either – you may well see wild elephants roaming around here.

If you can’t make the trek to Elephant Rock, the beach in Arugam Bay itself isn’t to be looked down on. People often describe this area as what Bali’s Kuta was 30 years ago, and this moon-shaped bay is a surfer- and traveller-friendly destination with all the amenities you would need for a day at the beach. That means beachside cafes and food stalls aplenty. For surfing, beginners should point their boards towards Baby Point while more advanced surfers should head for Main Point and Whisky Point. Once again, the best time to go is April to October.

Best of the rest in Arugam Bay

The area is on the edge of Yala National Park, so a trip here would be perfectly paired with a safari trek where you could spot elephants, buffalo and more.

Elephant Rock is the perfect surfing spot for novices

Weligama, Matara District

Literally translating to ‘Sandy Village’, Weligama was destined to be on our list of where to surf in Sri Lanka. It’s arguably the best place for beginner surfers in the country. This energetic town is a lot of fun to spend some time in while you surf to your heart’s content. The main beach has its own surf break, while other little beaches along the bay provide their own waves, which you can pick according to your skill level. Conditions are best here between October and April (spotting a theme?) and this part of Sri Lanka gets some 330 days of sunshine a year. All you’ll need is  board shorts, a rash guard and lots of sunscreen.

Best of the rest in Weligama

Watch the stilt fisherman at work here while you taste the culinary delights Sri Lanka has to offer at the beachside shacks that abound here.

Surfboards for hire on Weligama Beach

Eight lesser-known surfing spots around the world

Mention travelling to surf enthusiasts and the same places are bound to come up in conversation. Spots such as Oahu in Hawaii, Byron Bay in Australia, Ixtapa in Mexico and Bundoran in Ireland are world famous for their ripping waves and beautiful beaches, and rightly so.

But what if you want to catch a wave away from the crowds? From jungle-flanked point breaks in Colombia to secluded New Zealand coves, a global array of lesser-known surfing destinations are waiting to be discovered – you just need to know where to find them…

Lesser-known surfing spots – aerial shot of New Chums Beach, New Zealand

New Chums Beach – Whangapoua, New Zealand

Wave type: point and beach breaks; Level: all

New Zealand is home to some unforgettable beaches. This secluded strip of white sand and cerulean water is one of them, and requires a 40-minute hike from the north end of Whangapoua Beach, which is found on the east coast of the Coromandel Peninsula. A trickling stream gives way to a stony coastal trail that passes over the headland and through a forest of native nikau and pohutukawa trees before the beach is revealed.

Wainuiototo Bay has several peaks along New Chums offering both right and left handers, including a small cove with a pearly right that peels around an outcrop, and a beach break in the centre of the strip. Due to its sheltered location, the bay requires decent swell to break and is best enjoyed around mid-tide.


A lone bodyboarder wades into the surf off Oahu, Hawaii © JJM Photography / Shutterstock

Halawa Beach Park – Moloka’i, Hawaii

Wave type: point and beach break; Level: advanced.

Legend has it that early Moloka’i chiefs once surfed at Halawa Bay, where two beaches, Kaili and Kaiwili, are separated by a rocky outcrop.The island as a whole is known for its rich heritage and pride in its indigenous culture.

Today, residents ride the strong winter waves that crash onto the black sand, backdropped by sweeping views of mountains and waterfalls. While summertime swimming is enjoyed by visitors, both coves can be subject to dangerous rip currents. Showing respect is definitely necessary at this unspoilt, low-key location, both to the locals and to the untamed waters.


Lesser-known surfing spots – Amoreira beach, as seen from a wooden walkway on the cliffs. Algarve, Portugal.

Praia da Amoreira – Aljezur, Algarve, Portugal

Wave type: beach and point break; Level: all.

Nestled along the western coast of The Algarve in the middle of Parque Natural do Sudoeste Alentejano e Costa Vicentina, a gorgeous park that stretches over 100km from Porto Covo to Burgau, Amoreira Beach sits at the mouth of the River Aljezur, which forms a tranquil lagoon system right beside the incoming waves.

The unique beach is perfect for swimming, kayaking and surfing, and although it has fairly consistent waves, it’s rarely crowded, even in the best conditions. Praia da Amoreira features a beach break with left and right hand waves, as well as two point breaks that peel into the middle of the bay from the cliffs on both sides.

Lesser-known surfing spots – A group of surf students walk along the beach on Ngor Island, Senegal

Philippes – Ngor Island, Dakar, Senegal

Wave type: reef break; Level: professional.

Peaceful Ngor – a tiny island just off the tip of Dakar, Africa’s most western point – offers a range of reliable surf options. Despite being featured in the iconic 1966 documentary The Endless Summer, Ngor island hasn’t been overrun by surfing enthusiasts, and Senegal remains an often overlooked destination, despite having some world-class waves.

Philippes is a very heavy wave that picks up swell directly from the north Atlantic Ocean. It’s more than 50m deep in front of the spot, so the waves stand up only a few metres before breaking, presenting a short, rocky ride with a heavy barrel. While this unique spot is definitely one reserved for the pros, Ngor Island offers a dozen other locations suitable for all levels.


Lesser-known surfing spots – Aoshima's coast features rock formations called the Devil's Washboard.

Aoshima Beach – Kyushu, Japan

Wave type: beach break; Level: all.

Shrouded in palm trees and surrounded by sheets of wave-like rock formations known as the Devil’s Washboard, Aoshima is a tiny island – complete with Shinto shrine – located on the southeastern coast of Kyushu, Japan. The coastal area on the mainland (also called Aoshima) includes a town, beach park and strip of idyllic white-sand shores perfect for surfing.

It is a popular spot in spring and summer, hosting various international competitions, but it’s never overrun by crowds and is quiet compared to the likes of Okinawa or Chiba. With laid-back waves and a clean, sandy beach, the easily-accessible location is perfect for beginners, while choppier conditions for more advanced surfers can be found further down the coast.


Lesser-known surfing spots - a surfer rides a large wave at Pico de Loro, Colombia

Pico de Loro – Nuquí, Colombia

Wave type: point break; Level: advanced.

With staggered outcrops jutting from the sea and strong waves that break onto a rocky shoreline before a dense jungle thicket, Pico de Loro is definitely a spot reserved for advanced surfers and those with key knowledge of the area.

The beach – which is only accessible via a short boat ride from Nuqui – offers consistent swells and rideable waves, as well as opportunities to spot colourful birds and humpback whales. Surfers seeking the spot can take a plane from Medellín to Nuqui and make arrangements through local guides or hotels.


Lesser-known surfing spots – Ballyhiernan Bay, County Donegal, Ireland

Ballyhiernan Bay – County Donegal, Ireland

Wave type: beach break; Level: all.

Although it’s located only 30 minutes by car from Letterkenny, County Donegal’s largest and most populous town, Fanad Peninsula is a striking example of the hardy, unspoilt charm on offer in abundance in Ireland. The area is a highlight of the Wild Atlantic Way coastal route, featuring undulating emerald knolls and sprawling, world-class beaches – ideal for surfers looking for peace, tranquillity and, quite possibly, completely private wave-riding sessions.

Consisting of a long sandy beach backed by low-lying sand dunes fringed by rocky headlands, Ballyhiernan Bay in particular is a must-visit for surfers, swimmers and casual coastal ramblers.


Lesser-known surfing spots – A silhouette of a surfer standing on the shore as the sun sets.

La Saladita – Guerrero, Mexico

Wave type: point break; Level: all.

Ixtapa was a pastoral coconut plantation up until the late 1970s, when the Mexican Government launched an initiative to transform the area into a family-friendly resort. But a 40-minute coastal drive north brings visitors away from the more densely populated hotels and apartments, to La Saladita, a pristine beach that offers some seriously stunning swells. Its smooth, long-peeling left point break is said to provide one of the longest rides in Mexico and is good for longboarding all year-round, with waves being smaller in winter.



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