Welcome to my comprehensive guide to surfing in Sri Lanka!
Sri Lanka is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful and affordable surfing destinations in the world.
I learned to surf in Sri Lanka and am currently writing this post from Arugam Bay, one of Asia’s top surfing hotspots, on the country’s east coast.
There are several reasons why Sri Lanka has become such a popular destination among surfers. Warm water year round (30-degree sea temperature = no wetsuits = win), relatively uncrowded lineups, and a welcoming local surf community, to name but a few.
I’ve had the pleasure of surfing in various parts of Sri Lanka. In this guide, I’ll take you on a journey to some of the best surf spots on this amazing tropical island.
Whether you’re a seasoned pro, an intermediate-level surfer, or just somebody who wants to get into this fun and addictive sport, it’s hard not to fall in love with the excellent waves Sri Lanka has to offer.
From Hikkaduwa to Arugam Bay, the island is home to a variety of surf breaks that cater to all levels of ability.
So grab your board and let’s dive in to explore some of the best surf spots in Sri Lanka.
Surfing in Sri Lanka: East vs. West
First up, there are two main areas for surfing in Sri Lanka: the Southwest Coast between Hikkaduwa and Weligama, and the East Coast around Arugam Bay.
Both of these areas have a distinct season (more on this below).
The South Coast can become fairly crowded during the peak season, but there are also more (and more accessible) surf spots in this region. There’s also a greater range of food and accommodation options here too.
The East Coast is much wilder and less developed, offering more opportunities for surfers who prefer solitude. There aren’t as many places to eat, drink, and stay here, and most of the infrastructure is centered around Arugam Bay itself.
In terms of which region to visit, it largely depends on your personal preferences, as well as the time of year you’ll be there.
Sri Lanka Surf Season
There are two main surf seasons in Sri Lanka: one for the Southwest Coast and the other for the East Coast.
The Southwest surf season runs from November to April.
The East Coast season runs from May to October.
Yes, that’s right – whenever you come, there’ll always be somewhere to surf that’s perfectly in season. Sri Lanka truly is a year-round surfing destination!
Check out this post on the Best Surfing Quotes and Captions for Instagram.
Best Surf Spots in Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka has some of the best waves in the world. And they’re warm!
With a variety of breaks catering to all levels and abilities, this island nation offers an unforgettable experience for novice surfers and pros alike.
Here are some of the top Sri Lanka surf spots.
Best Sri Lanka Surf Spots – South West Coast / South Coast
Season: November to April.
There are many more places to surf on the South (and Southwest) Coast than in the East.
I spent all of January and February this year on the Southwest Coast of Sri Lanka and know all of the following surf spots well.
The majority of these waves are reef breaks. But there are also a few beach breaks that are great for beginners.
There are several bays here that are simply gorgeous. As well as looking like something out of a tropical paradise holiday magazine, these also provide great protection from onshore and cross-shore winds.
This means that many of these waves can be surfed at all times of the day, not only during offshore winds.
Here are some of the best surf spots on the South (West) Coast.
The town of Hikkaduwa (along with Arugam Bay in the East) lies at the very heart of surf culture in Sri Lanka.
Located on the South West coast, Hikkaduwa has been a surfing hotspot since the 1970s. It hosted Sri Lanka’s first-ever surfing competition in 1993.
It’s a vibrant beach town famous for its long, sandy beaches and coral reefs. Here you’ll find many surf schools, and a large range of different accommodation options, from simple beach cabanas to fancy luxury hotels.
Hikkaduwa has a few different surf breaks to choose from, depending on your ability. These include:
- Benny’s: A peeling left-hand reef break and one of the most popular surf spots in Hikkaduwa. Suitable for intermediate to advanced surfers.
- Main Reef: A-frame, with hollow left and right-handers. Again, suitable for intermediate to advanced surfers.
- North Jetty: A long left-hand reef break close to the harbour wall.
- Hikkaduwa Beach: Sandy-bottom beach break, suitable for beginner and intermediate surfers.
Midigama is a small village, between Ahangama and Weligama, on the Southwest coast of Sri Lanka, approximately 140 kilometers from Colombo.
While the village itself is considerably smaller than Hikkaduwa, there’s still a lot going on here, with a good range of different places to eat, drink, and stay. There are several surf shops too, so you’ll have everything you need.
Midigama is a really great place to base yourself if you’d like to try out a few different surf spots in the area.
There are five main waves in Midigama itself, with various others located a short scooter (/tuk-tuk) ride away.
The five Midigama waves are:
- Lazy Left: A famous left-hand deep reef break that’s good for intermediate surfers. The first section can be fairly fast, but after that, the wave gets nice and mellow (hence the name “Lazy”). It can hold up to 4-6 ft swells on a good day and can take you a few hundred metres.
- Lazy Right: An even mellower version of Lazy Left. Waves break predictably over a deep reef, providing an easy take-off. This is one of the best waves in Sri Lanka for competent beginners to transition onto reef breaks.
- Devil’s Rock (/Sion): This is a great intermediate spot, offering consistent left and right-hand waves popular with both long and short boarders. Be on the watch for urchins and sharp rocks.
- Rams: The most advanced surf break in the area, Rams is a fast, powerful, barreling right-hander over a shallow, sharp reef. I’m not good enough to surf here, but I’ve heard from experienced surfers that it’s a lot of fun!
- Plantations: Located between the villages of Midigama and Gurubebila (below), Plantations is another good spot for intermediate surfers. The reef is (mostly) quite deep, but there are a few rocks to keep an eye out for, especially on your way in and out. Mostly right-hand waves, but the reef is fairly wide and you can get decent lefts here too.
Gurubebila / Coconuts
The tiny village of Gurubebila is the first place I visited in Southwest Sri Lanka. I loved it so much that I ended up staying there for a whole month.
The village green lies right next to the beach. It regularly hosts local cricket matches, farmers’ markets, live music, and other events throughout the season.
The wave itself is a powerful A-frame, with fast and long lefts and rights. It’s suitable for decent intermediates and up. Entry and exit can be a little tricky, but there’s normally someone around to ask if you’re unsure.
The whole place is very peaceful and unspoiled, and I found all the locals here to be super friendly and welcoming. There are a few simple restaurants, guesthouses, coconut palms, and a load of cows, but that’s about it.
This is one of my favourite places in the South of Sri Lanka. Sunsets here can be truly magical.
Coconuts is also a great place to watch the local stick fishermen at work, perched on their wooden stilts. And from here it’s an easy walk to Abimanagama Beach, an incredibly beautiful secluded bay.
If you come here, be sure to stay with Lucky. He’s a locally famous stilt fisherman, an amazing surf instructor – and a massive legend – who also owns an excellent surf shop in Weligama.
On the other side of Midigama, you’ll find the small town of Ahangama.
This place hasn’t traditionally been as well known as some of Sri Lanka’s more famous surfing destinations (Hikkaduwa, Arugam Bay, etc.). But it’s no less impressive than its better-known counterparts and has many superb waves.
There aren’t really any truly beginner-friendly waves here (for that, you’re better off heading up the road to Kabalana). But for intermediates and above, this is a fantastic surfing destination.
Here are some of the popular surf breaks in Ahangama:
- Marshmallows: Known for its mellow waves, Marshmallows is a deep water A-frame that’s great for intermediates and up. It’s fairly straightforward to access via a small sandy beach, although keep an eye out for sharp rocks.
- Rajith Surf Point: Another popular A-frame that can hold up to 5 ft, with barrels in the right conditions. A bit shallower than Marshmallows. Intermediates and above.
- Kangaroos: Next to Marshmallows, this reef break has various lefts and rights. Certain sections can be good places for people transitioning from beginner to intermediate, although it’s definitely best to go out with a guide or teacher first to get familiar with the setup.
- Sticks: Named after its iconic stick fishermen, Sticks offers lefts and rights, with multiple peaks, and barrels on the best days. This is another good spot for beginner-intermediate transitioning (with an instructor). The reef break has a mostly sandy bottom, although there are rocks and the reef is quite shallow in parts.
Ahangama is becoming increasingly popular with expats and there’s a great range of places to eat, drink, and stay here. A few of my friends have recently set up businesses in Ahangama and I’ve spent a fair amount of time here.
The town is also only a 5-minute drive away from Midigama, so you’ll be within a stone’s throw from many of the best waves in the South. It has a bit more going on too, although is still way less crowded than places like Hikkaduwa.
There’s a reason people love to base themselves here.
Kabalana is one of my favourite Sri Lanka surf spots. I caught my very first green wave here!
This long, wide white sand beach is located just north of Ahangama and tends to be one of the less crowded spots in the area.
There are two main surfing spots at Kabalana: Kabalana Beach and The Rock.
Kabalana Beach is one of the best beginner-friendly spots in the area. It’s a beach break that’s a great place for first-time surfers to practice popping up in the white water.
Paddle a little further out and you’ll have some perfect opportunities to learn how to catch green waves. It’s almost all sandy bottom, with hardly any rocks.
However, there can be some fairly strong rip currents here, especially on the southern end of the beach, which can make paddling fairly tiring work. If in doubt, ask one of the local surf teachers.
I really enjoyed learning to surf at Kabalana Beach. It’s so much nicer than Weligama (see below). There’s more space, you rarely have to worry about hitting anybody else, and the water is infinitely cleaner and nicer.
There are several surf instructors based here. I had a few lessons with Dad & Son, on the southern end of the beach next to The Sandhya Hotel, and would definitely recommend them.
For intermediate and advanced surfers, The Rock (also known as Kabalana Main Surf Point) is widely considered to be one of the best A-Frame reef breaks in the country. It’s particularly popular with short boarders.
Named after the large rocky boulder that rises out of the water just off the southern end of the beach, The Rock offers super consistent, fun left and right waves. You can ride fast up to 400m, and on a big day, the waves can reach up to 10ft.
In general, the barrelling left waves are harder than the right ones, and should only be tackled by experienced surfers when the swell is big.
When I think of tropical paradise, I think of Hiriketiya. It’s a picture-perfect horseshoe-shaped bay, lined with coconut palms, and teeming with turtles and fish.
I spent a month living here too and totally fell in love with the place. While no longer quite the hidden gem that it once was, Hiriketiya is still a super laid-back, chill place with a great vibe.
Hiriketiya is another place that’s ideal for learning how to surf. The wave breaks on a rocky point at the entrance of the bay. From here it slowly peels all the way across the bay, finally finishing on the sandy beach.
Intermediates and shortboarders can have a lot of fun taking off at the point and riding the first section of the wave along the rocks.
Beginners can start off close to the beach on the opposite side of the bay to the point. Then, as your confidence and ability increase, you can make your way toward the centre of the bay, and then closer to the point.
Much as I love Hiriketiya, there are two main downsides to the place.
Firstly, there’s only really one main wave to surf in the immediate vicinity, and it can get quite crowded, especially in the height of the season (January-March).
Secondly, there needs to be a reasonable amount of swell for the wave to actually work. I spent over a week here frustrated at being unable to surf because the sea was too calm.
(You can always just snorkel with the turtles instead though, which is hardly a punishment :).)
Hiriketiya isn’t just about surfing either. When you’re not in the water, you can chill out on the idyllic beach and soak up the sun, or take a stroll along the shore and explore the little hidden coves and bays around the area.
Check out my post on the 9 best hotels in Hiriketiya!
I had my first-ever surfing lesson at Weligama!
Weligama Beach is one of the most famous and popular beginner surf spots on Sri Lanka’s South Coast. The beach is long and wide, with consistent waves that are perfect for those taking their first lessons.
Weligama Bay is sweeping and sheltered, so the waves tend to be rideable here even when the other, more exposed, spots in the area are blown out.
There are plenty of surf schools and accommodation options nearby, including several surf camps, making Weligama a good place to stay if you’re looking to master the basics.
However, despite its popularity and many advantages, personally, I’m not actually a huge fan of surfing in Weligama. The main reason is the water quality.
Weligama is a city of over 20,000 people and a couple of polluted rivers flow into the bay.
When I surfed here, the water looked, smelled, and felt quite unclean, and I didn’t enjoy it anywhere near as much as in places like Kabalana or Hiriketiya (which are two of the best beginner surf spots).
However, many people love surfing here, so I’ve included it in this guide anyway. It’s also very easy to travel from Colombo to Weligama, with various different transport options available.
First off, there are several “Jungle Beaches” in southern Sri Lanka. I’m not talking about the more famous Unawatuna Jungle Beach (Unawatuna is overtouristed and massively overrated in my opinion).
This Jungle Beach is located just the other side of Weligama, on the way up to Ahangama. See here for the exact location (Google Maps).
One of my friends tipped me off about this place. It’s incredibly beautiful and unspoiled, tucked away in a peaceful and sheltered bay.
There’s one main long left-hand break that’s similar to Midigama’s Lazy Left, though slightly faster. It’s mostly quite deep, although you need to watch out as a few sections of the reef are fairly shallow.
This is another great place for competent beginners to transition onto reef breaks. However, I’d recommend going out with someone who knows what they’re doing if you’re lacking in experience.
When the swell is larger, there’s also a right, although this is shallower and requires a fairly long paddle out to reach.
Popular with holidaymakers, the touristy beach town of Mirissa is located just a few kilometers down the coast from Weligama.
Mirissa is another good spot for novice surfers, with a consistent beach break that’s fairly forgiving and several surf schools in the area.
For intermediates and above, there’s a main right-hand point break over the reef, and an easier left-hander closer to the harbour. Be aware of the tides and watch out for shallow reef beds and urchins.
Due to Mirissa’s location, sheltered in an attractive palm-fringed bay, the waves here are much less affected by onshore winds than many of the other locations in the area.
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Best Surf Spots in Sri Lanka – East Coast
Season: May to October.
Compared with the South, the East Coast of Sri Lanka is much wilder and less developed.
There are fewer tourist facilities here and you’re more likely to see wildlife (elephants, crocodiles, monkeys, buffalo) on your way to and from the various surf points.
Most of the East Coast surfing infrastructure is centred around Arugam Bay. The majority of the surf breaks in the area are within a 20-30 minute tuk-tuk ride from the centre of town, but they’re all totally different.
I was in Arugam Bay at the very beginning of the season this year (late April to mid-May).
Not all of the following surf spots were working at that time. The swell hadn’t yet finished shifting enough sand to reshape the sand bars and headlands which help create the famous waves.
You can still surf Main Point and Peanut Farm at the beginning of May, although you often have to wait until mid-June for all of the spots to be fully working.
In general, the waves on the South East Coast get better throughout the season, with August and September usually being the best months.
Here are some of the best surf spots on the East Coast.
Arugam Bay – Main Point
Arugam Bay is a real mecca for surfers, and Main Point is at the centre of all the hype. It’s widely considered to be one of the best surf spots in Sri Lanka and has one of the best waves in the world.
The natural setting is simply gorgeous. A gently-curving bay, backed by sand dunes, with palm trees and colorfully painted traditional fishing boats.
Main Point can hold up to 6-8 ft swells and is suitable for intermediates and above. It’s a fast and hollow right-hand point break with 3 main sections. On a good day, you can ride it for at least 500 metres, halfway across the bay.
The main downside to this being such a famous surfing destination is the crowds. There’s not much you can do about that though, as it’s busy at most times of the day.
Entry and exit at Main Point can be a little tricky, especially during low tide.
The reef here is generally flatter and less sharp than in many surf spots in the south of the country, which reduces the risk of injuries. But it’s still easy to cut your feet.
I’ve been taken off guard by powerful whitewash a couple of times here and cut my feet up in the process. If in doubt, watch where others are entering and exiting the water.
In general, the waves are at least a couple of feet larger at Main Point than most of the other spots in the area. When it’s 4ft at Peanut Farm or Whisky Point, it’ll probably be at least 6ft at Main Point.
Surfing at Main Point in Arugam Bay is a must-try experience! It’s famous for a reason, and in the lineup, you’ll meet surfers from all over the world.
If you’re a beginner surfer looking to catch the waves in Arugam Bay, then Baby Point is the perfect spot for you. It’s nestled between Main Point and the town and is a great place to practice standing up and catching your first waves.
Baby Point is a beach break with small, gentle waves and a sandy bottom. You’ll have plenty of time to pop up and practice your technique, and you’re less likely to get hurt when you fall.
Most of the surf schools in Arugam Bay take their beginner students here first, before then progressing onto bigger beach breaks like Peanut Farm.
However, Baby Point only really starts working properly from July onwards. If you come in May or June, you’ll probably have to start off at Peanut Farm instead.
Pottuvil Point is located just north of Arugam Bay and is another excellent right-hand point break. It’s more sheltered than Main Point, so is a good place to come when the wind picks up.
Pottuvil offers one of the longest rides of any wave in Sri Lanka – up to 800 metres if you make it all the way! However, you need a larger swell (at least 3-4ft) for this spot to really work properly.
The natural setting is stunning too. The picture-perfect long beach is untouched, with boulders and dunes giving it an otherworldly appearance.
When it’s working, Whiskey Point is a good spot for beginners who have mastered the basics (i.e. you can already stand up) and want to progress onto catching green waves.
Located just around the corner from Pottuvil Point, the wave at Whiskey Point is a mellow, right-hand point break.
This is one of the few places on the East Coast of Sri Lanka where beginners can learn how to ride waves without feeling overwhelmed by bigger swells.
It’s also ideal for intermediates looking to improve their technique and confidence.
However, when I was in Arugam Bay Whisky Point wasn’t working at all, and several local people told me that it hasn’t been working properly for the last couple of seasons. This is essentially due to the position of the sand around the beach and the point itself.
That may change throughout this current season. I’d recommend speaking with somebody with up-to-date local knowledge of the situation there, especially before booking any accommodation in the area.
I really like Peanut Farm. Of all of the waves in the area, this is the one I’m most familiar with. This is also the place where I really started to feel my technique and confidence improving considerably.
It’s a great spot for beginners and intermediate surfers. The wave breaks on a big rock and then peels right towards the beach. It has very consistent surf, with waves forming in virtually the same place each time.
Peanut Farm beach is untouched and beautiful. To get there you’ll pass through rice paddies, jungle, and (yes) a peanut grove. Keep an eye out and you’re likely to see wild elephants here, especially in the mornings and evenings.
Although this is largely a wilderness beach with few facilities, there is a lifeguard station here so it’s a very safe place to surf.
If the waves are looking a bit too big for you at Main Point, chances are Peanut Farm will be perfect.
Type of wave: Beach and Right-hand point break (with a larger, more advanced break further out)
Suitable for: Beginners and up
Where to stay: Surf Gangs, Arugam Bay (there’s currently no accommodation at Peanut Farm)
My favourite place to eat: N/A
Elephant Rock is a large boulder outcrop located between Arugam Bay and Peanut Farm.
As well as being a fantastic place to come and watch the sunset, below the rock is another great right-hand point break.
This is another good spot for beginners and intermediates, with mellow waves and a sandy bottom.
The furthest spot away from Arugam Bay on this list, Okanda Beach is a really special place. It’s a totally wild beach, located on the edge of Kumana National Park.
Getting there is part of the fun. It’s a 30-kilometre drive south from Arugam Bay. After the village of Panama, the paved road ends and you have to drive the last 16 kilometres over a bumpy dirt road riddled with potholes.
I hired my own tuk-tuk and drove myself there. It was awesome, and I’d definitely recommend doing this if you can.
Along the way, I lost track of the amount of wildlife I saw. Elephants, water buffalo, wild boar, deer, mongooses, crocodiles, and loads of birds. It honestly felt like going on a safari!
For good intermediate and advanced surfers only, the waves here are particularly powerful. Steep barrels and 6-8ft waves are fairly commonplace.
It’s part sandy bottom and part reef, with long rides of up to 500 metres. The waves tend to break very consistently, and the lineup is virtually always empty, so it’s a dream surf spot for many.
However, this place really is remote. There are strong rip currents, rocks, and no lifeguards, so you should only attempt to surf here if you know what you’re doing.
Type of wave: Point break (Left and Right)
Suitable for: Intermediates (advanced on big days) and up
Where to stay: Surf Gangs (Arugam Bay)
My favourite place to eat: N/A (it’s pretty wild here – bring your own lunch!)
Useful resources to help you plan your Sri Lanka surf trip
To help you make the most of your trip, here are some useful resources:
- Surfline Sri Lanka – Up-to-date surf forecasts and reports for all of Sri Lanka’s top surfing spots.
- Booking.com – It’s a good idea to book your accommodation in advance, especially during peak season.
FAQs on surfing in Sri Lanka
Here are answers to some frequently asked questions about surfing in Sri Lanka.
What’s the best time of year to surf in Sri Lanka?
Sri Lanka is a year-round surfing destination. However, the best months in the South tend to be January-March, while the best months in the East are usually July-September.
What kind of waves can I expect in Sri Lanka?
Sri Lanka has a variety of waves suitable for all levels of surfer. From mellow beach breaks to powerful A-frames, there’s something for everyone here.
Can I surf off-season in Sri Lanka?
In a few places, yes, you can surf off-season in Sri Lanka.
For example, Hiriketiya is a great place to surf off-season. However, in the East, the majority of the breaks don’t work off-season. And in the South, most of the waves close out too aggressively to be surfable.
Is Sri Lanka surfing crowded?
It depends on where you go. The most popular spots can get very crowded, as can the beginner surf beaches.
If you’re a confident and experienced surfer, you can usually avoid the crowds by heading to the more remote and challenging breaks (e.g. Okanda).
Why is Sri Lanka good for surfing?
Sri Lanka is a great destination for surfers of all levels. The waves here are reliable and consistent, with plenty of beaches to choose from.
The Indian Ocean off Sri Lanka is warm and (in most places) very clean. Plus, there are plenty of other activities and sights to explore when you’re not in the water.
How much does it cost to hire a board in Sri Lanka?
Sri Lanka is one of the cheapest countries in the world to hire a board! Depending on where you are, expect to pay around 500 Sri Lankan Rupees (LKR/about $1.50 USD) for 1-3 hours, or 1,000 LKR for 24 hours.
You can usually negotiate a discount if you want to hire a board for longer periods.
How much do surf lessons cost in Sri Lanka?
Sri Lanka is also one of the cheapest countries in the world to have surf lessons! It slightly depends on the location, but I found that most teachers charge around 5,000 LKR ($15 USD) for a 1-hour lesson.
Again, it’s usually cheaper if you bulk buy several sessions.
Is Sri Lanka good for beginner surfers?
Yes – I learned how to surf in Sri Lanka and can confidently say that it’s an amazing place for beginner surfers.
The water is warm, many of the popular beaches have gentle waves, and there are plenty of teachers available to provide (extremely cheap) lessons.
Do you need a wetsuit in Sri Lanka?
Nope! You do not need a wetsuit to surf in Sri Lanka. All you need is a swimming costume/board shorts and a rash guard or old t-shirt and you’re good to go.
Final thoughts on surfing in Sri Lanka
No matter what your skill level, there’s a surf spot in Sri Lanka that’s perfect for you. With consistent waves, warm water, low prices, delicious food, welcoming locals, and beautiful scenery, surfing in Sri Lanka is an unforgettable experience.
My favourite surf spots in Sri Lanka are Kabalana, Hiriketiya, and Arugam Bay. Have I missed any of yours? Let me know below.