When it comes to vacays we love all types, from blissed out spa escapes to adrenaline-pumping adventures, urban escapades and everything in between. For our latest foray we wanted to amp up our surfing game, so we set off in search of some of the best waves in the region. While Bali seemed like the obvious choice, we kept hearing that Sri Lanka was a sublime spot for surfers of all levels. So off we went to this tiny island to the south of India, and man are we ever happy we did. Here we found a plethora of spots where the waves roll in cleanly and consistently with few lineups if any at all, plus amazing beaches, phenomenal food, and colourful culture to enjoy when you’re not hitting the barrels. If surfing is on the agenda for your next holiday, you can’t go wrong with these incredible Sri Lankan surf spots.
The southwest coast of Sri Lanka gets the best surf between the months of November and April. This is also the dry season, so you’re almost guaranteed sunny or at least partially sunny days.
Hikkaduwa is a great spot for beginner and intermediate surfers because the reef and beach breaks are easily accessible and not too gnarly, and there are tons of surf schools and freelance surf instructors lining the beaches. The mornings are the best time to hit swells, as the offshore winds create large waves that roll in over the sandy reefs. Hikkaduwa is also a popular tourist hotspot, so you’ll find tons of beachfront restaurants and lively bars to hit up once you’re on dry land.
Where to stay:
We stayed at Hikka Tranz by Cinnamon and were pretty blown away by this gorgeous spot. Think contemporary rooms that overlook the ocean, a huge freeform pool amid manicured lawns and gardens, and a variety of restaurants serving fresh seafood, curries, and all manner of drinks. Plus, you’re just steps from the beach and surf.
Hikka Tranz by Cinnamon, Hikkaduwa, Sri Lanka. +94 11 216 1161
The south coast of Sri Lanka gets some of the most consistent surf all year round because it benefits from the swells that come in from both the east and west. It also gets also a good mix of easy-going and powerful breaks.
Unawatuna’s long crescent-shaped beach makes it popular with all sorts of travellers who come for the sun, sand, and surf. The gentle beach break is perfect for beginners with its easy-going left and right hand breaks. Just stroll along the beach to find surf schools or ask where you can take lessons at your hotel. More advanced surfers can head towards Mirissa for larger swells and fewer crowds.
Where to stay:
It may not be directly on the sand, but Thambapanni Retreat is a real hidden gem tucked away on the hillside. This boutique hotel has beautiful rooms that boast plenty of character, yoga classes every morning, a glittering turquoise pool, Ayurvedic spa room, and a chic restaurant serving up exquisite Sri Lankan cuisine.
Thambapanni Retreat, Unawatuna, Sri Lanka. +94 914 381 722
Midigama is one of those places where you could easily get stuck for a few weeks enjoying the laid-back beachy vibes and perfect waves. Beginners can hit up Lazy Left and Lazy Right, both point breaks that roll into a sandy bay. More experienced surfers will want to give Ram’s Right a go, as this powerful break has a steep drop and a fast ride over a coral reef. The best part is that the various breaks are all within walking distance of each other and easy to paddle to from the shore.
Where to stay:
There are tons of easy-going budget guesthouses and hotels geared towards surfers in Midigama, but if you’re looking for something a bit more upmarket, Ebb & Flow Jungalows might be more your style. This private villa offers two spacious rooms with sea views, a swimming pool, a chef on call, and six different surf spots just a six-minute walk away.
Ebb & Flow Jungalows, Midigama, Sri Lanka. +94 72 225 7784
Looking to escape the crowds and hit a few easy waves? Mirissa is a chilled out spot with a wide bay where you can cruise the easy-going right hand break. After a day out on the water, sit back and chill with a few beers at a beachside bar and chat up the smattering of surfers and intrepid travellers who rock up to this sleepy town. Mirissa is also known for the blue whales and dolphins that cavort in the deep waters offshore.
Where to stay:
If you want to stay right on the beach, then Palm Villa Mirissa is a great choice. Each room in this colonial style building has a verandah that looks out to the gardens or ocean and a chic bathroom with colourful tiles. There is also a lovely al fresco restaurant where you can dine while listening to the sound of the waves crash on the beach.
Palm Villa Mirissa, Mirissa, Sri Lanka. +94 41 225 0022
Sri Lanka’s east coast is far less crowded than the busy west and south coasts and offers mile upon mile of soft sandy beaches and some of the best surf in the country. High season is April to October, although the surf can be good any time of the year.
If you can only surf one spot in Sri Lanka, Arugam Bay should be it. Here you have a long point break where the surf is consistently good nearly all year long (but especially between April and September) and suited to intermediate surfers. Beginners can try their luck at Whisky Point and Lighthouse Point, while Peanut Farm offers advanced rides. It should be noted that surfers flock to Arugam Bay during high season, so you may want to come between November and April to avoid the lineups.
Where to stay:
Bright, breezy, and right next to the beach, Stardust Beach Hotel is a pretty sweet spot to shack up in Arugam Bay. You have your choice of lovely rooms with balconies in the main building, a villa where you can rent a single room with a kitchen or the whole 2-bedroom space, and rustic, back-to-nature cabanas.
Stardust Beach Hotel, Arugam Bay, Sri Lanka. +94 63 2248 191