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First off … I am by no means an experienced surfer!
Sure I love surfing and this certainly wasn't my first time on a board. (In 2017 we spent 4 incredible weeks in Bali!)
However I’m by no means an expert.
But after 4 weeks spent travelling throughout the country, we picked up enough knowledge to dig out many of the best beginner surf spots in Sri Lanka.
So I wanted to share my experience with others looking to roadtrip this incredible country and get the most out of surfing in Sri Lanka.
So without further ado ...
There are a number of different surf spots in Arugam Bay. Here are the best ones for beginners:
To be honest, if you take the drive from Matara to Hikkaduwa, you'll see tonnes of empty reef breaks to try out. Just be careful as there are no lifeguards around and you are at risk of getting sucked out. Sadly, this actually happened to someone near Hikkaduwa back in early 2018. Anyway, moving swiftly on ...
There are waves to be found in Sri Lanka all year round. However, depending on the time of the year and which monsoon season it is, you will be better off heading to one or the other coast.
The general rule is something like this:
We visited in October and headed to Arugam Bay first. The waves were very low by this point and any surf was very crowded.
October is a weird time as the surf isn't really great at many of the surf spots in Sri Lanka. But, then again, it all depends on the conditions that year, so don’t take this as a hard and fast rule.
Like most things in Sri Lanka, hiring a board in is soooooo cheap! The going rate in spots like Arugam Bay is 500 LKR for half a day (6 hours) and 1000 for a full day.
On the south coast, I typically paid between 250 and 300 LKR per hour
However, if you’re looking to hire a board for a few days or a week, then you can definitely get it even cheaper. You just need to haggle a little.
Hell yeah you can!
If you want to wait til you’re there, then there are plenty of shops in popular surf spots in Sri lanka that are selling boards. Again, Arugam Bay being one of the best.
Or, you can join local surf pages for whichever area you're heading to first.
Fellow travellers are always looking to sell their board, so you can pick up a pretty good deal there.
Just head to Facebook and search for something like “Surf group *place name*”.
Or a good starting point is South Sri Lanka Surf Community.
Surf lessons are pretty cheap and seem to come in at around 2000 LKR for a 1.5 hour lesson. You will also then be able to use the board for another hour afterwards to practice on your own.
On the most popular beaches there are people there hiring out their boards. These are the same people that offer lessons, so just feel free to ask.
Yes, all of the beginner ones at least. I can't comment on the more remote areas. However, as long as you're in a popular surfing town, then you can get a tuk tuk there without any real trouble.
Head over to Magic Seaweed.
Accommodation is pretty cheap all over Sri Lanka. Budget hostels start at around $3 or $4 a night. Nice hotels or resorts are still cheap. We usually paid between $14 and $20 per night for a double room with air con and a pool.
We used Booking.com everywhere in Sri Lanka and would recommend it as it’s great value and all properties have tons of reviews.
Or, if you’re visiting just one spot for a month or more, then look into getting a longer term listing.
You can find these on websites like Airbnb. Or, join the group linked to above (South Sri Lanka Surf Community) and ask on there for any long term lettings in your chosen destination. You’ll be inundated with responses!
We’ve also put together some awesome posts on the best accommodation options all over Sri Lanka. So check out:
If you’re planning on visiting a number of locations, then I recommend getting your own transport. We hired a tuk tuk in Colombo and used it to get round the entire island.
It was $18 a day, which might be a bit pricey for some.
But there are ways to get it cheaper, especially if you hire from a local tuk tuk owner as opposed to a rental agency.
Just make sure you get your license sorted in Colombo beforehand!
Or, just hire out a moped for a few weeks and strap your board to the side of that.
Getting to Sri Lanka is pretty straightforward and there’s loads of flights in.For booking flights, we always use Skyscanner.
You’ll land in the main international airport which is in Negombo.
From there, you're about a 4 hour drive from the south coast beaches, depending on where you end up.
You’ll need to arrange a visa before you can legally enter the country. I recommend doing this ahead of time a it saves you a lot of time and hassle once you land.
You can get your visa online through the official government website here.
Once you land, you’ve got a few ways of getting to and from all teh surf spots in Sri Lanka. These include bus, taxi, Uber or train.
We used our tuk tuk almost everywhere and the rest of the time Uber which is incredibly cheap.
Living in Sri Lanka is so cheap. You can expect to get a nice quality meal for between $2 and $5 in most restaurants. Even cheaper if you eat at purely local spots.
Drinking isn't that cheap, as there are high taxes on buying any alcohol yourself in Sri Lanka.
For example, wine is like $10 a bottle, and vodka about $15 for 70cl.
You can get cheaper beer and cocktails at most bars and restaurants during happy hour. The cheapest we saw was in Mirissa at the restaurants along the beachfront.
It was 300 LKR for most cocktails between 6pm and 10pm every night.
Whilst you're in the country, make sure you take the time to enjoy the other incredible places on offer.
If you’re heading out for more of a Sri Lankan surfing holiday, then you’ve still got plenty of great coastal cities to stop off at all along the south coast.
As well as some of the best national parks in Sri lanka. Such as Yala and Udawalawe.
Each of these offer perfect chance to see lots of animals in their natural environment. Particularly elephants.
Here’s a quick overview of the 3 week itinerary we took. And below, there are links to any of the places we've currently written posts about, so you can find out more:
For even more info, we actually put together a ridiculously in-depth backpacking Sri Lanka travel guide that you should check out.
Other than that, I hope you have an incredible time surfing in Sri Lanka!
If you have any more questions or know of any other great Sri Lankan surf spots, just let me know below.