The Ultimate Guide to Sri Lanka Surf

by Asia Kaczmarczyk

Ditch the wetsuit, grab a coconut and tropical wax, Sri Lanka surf is warm-water heaven. Reef breaks, beach breaks, point breaks – there’s all sorts on this stunning island.

An introduction to Sri Lanka surf

Sri Lanka surf

When most people think of Sri Lanka, they think of mystical Buddhist temples and coconut-infused curries. Only recently has surfing come into the frame on this tropical island. But boy has it gained popularity fast.

These days, the whole south and west coasts, from Colombo to Tangalle, and the surf mecca of Arugam Bay, are on the map of wave hunters. They’re not quite as built up as Bali (yet!). But thousands come in search of their promised breaks.

And what breaks they are! Variety is the keyword. Most are reefs of some shape or form, starting with zippy shallow reefs with high walls and barrels near Ram’s and Mirissa going all the way to mellow A-frame reefs like the ones in Midigama. You’ll also get some beach breaks, like the up-coming peaks of SK Town, or the fun beginner-intermediate wave of Hiriketiya (a personal fav).

On top of all that, you can look forward to a Sri Lankan surf culture that uber-chilled. There’s hardly a trace of localism to be found on the main breaks. Most people are forever smiling, happy to help you get to grips with the reefs, and have a little chat in the lineup.

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This guide is a part of our larger ultimate guide to surfing in Asia

Sri Lanka surf at a glance

The good:

  • Warm water.
  • Chilled surf towns with coconut palms and gorgeous beaches.
  • Approachable reef breaks for intermediates looking to move up.

The bad:

  • Some crowded breaks.
  • Some busy lineups.
  • Not many surf shops to buy your gear.

What will I find in this guide to surfing in Sri Lanka?

The top Sri Lanka surf spots

There are more surf spots in Sri Lanka than you can shake a bowl of dal at – but don’t do that, it’s too good to waste! From the popular bays of the south-west to the legend that is Arugam Bay, this guide has info on the lot, along with in-depth guides to each destination on their own (just click on through!)

Surfers in Sri Lanka

Arugam Bay

Think Sri Lanka surf, think Arugam Bay. This surfing mecca is the jewel of the east coast. It’s known for having brilliant conditions during the summer months between June and October, when the more popular southwest coast of the island is under the monsoon.

A great mix of waves are on the menu. There’s fast Elephant Rock with its barrels. There’s Baby Point with is sand-bottomed breaks for novices. Oh, and the town is a blast after dark too!

Read our full ultimate guide to Arugam Bay surf


Shh – please don’t tell too many people about Hiri! We’ve just dusted off our second trip (Jan-Feb 2022) surfing in this hidden horseshoe bay in the south and we are still well and truly in love! There’s more development now and the lineup is busier but there’s still a good vibe about it all.

The break itself has the best of both worlds – a beginner beach wave that rolls into golden sands; a steeper left hander rockets over shallow stone reef.

Read our full ultimate guide to Hiriketya Bay surf


Dickwella (also Dikwella) is a bustling town that’s sat on the far south coast of Sri Lanka. It’s been known for its beaches for some time, but only recently is its surf scene becoming a thing. That’s largely down to the excellent waves and chilled out vibe found in Hiriketiya Bay (see above) just over the headland, but there are also some other spots in the vicinity worth checking…

Read our full ultimate guide to Dickwella surf

SK Town

We’ve got a real soft spot for this hidden beach break midway between Dickwella and Mirissa.

The name SK Town actually refers to the cluster of Sri Lankan surf camps and hostels that sit on the eastern end of the bay, but there are great peaks to be had right up and down the length. On heavy days, this one shapes up into neat wedges that can go both left and right. When it’s really powerful, closeouts are the game.

Read our full ultimate guide to surfing in SK Town


If you can pull yourself away from your pina colada and coconut juice, Mirissa has a few waves that might be worth a look in.

It’s not your out and out Sri Lanka surf mecca like some of the other places on this list, but it’s got a popular reef on its western side and a really easy-going beach break with a few foam board rentals.

Read our complete guide to the surf in Mirissa right now


Surfing in Sri Lanka for beginners at its very best. Weligama hugs a huge bay on the southern end of the island. It’s protected from the heaviest swells by two elongated headlands.

So, even when there are high walls bashing through the reefs of nearby Midigama, you can catch slow, soft beach breaks here. And it is all a beach break, with some of the highest-rated Sri Lanka surf camps going on the road just behind.

Check out our ultimate guide to Weligama surf


When the December offshores cut through the Midigama coast, the waves here can offer some seriously fun rides. There are a few worth marking on your Sri Lanka surf spots map.

Start with Coconuts, a neat left-hander that goes right-left fast and hollow. Then graduate to Ram’s where high barrels crash right in front of a few uber-cool surf houses.

Read our full ultimate guide to Midigama surf spots


Ahangama is the area that comes on the Matara Road after Midigama. It keeps the reef theme going with island favourites like Rajith Point, which has even been used for local surf competitions. However, Ahanagma is long and drawn out along the shoreline, so there’s room for beach breaks like the upcoming spot at Kabalana too. Expect some of the best Sri Lankan surf camps of all in this region!

Read our full ultimate guide to Ahangama’s surf spots


Unawatuna is well-linked to the south-western city of Galle. It’s also got a good spread of breaks, starting with super-chilled beginner beaches and leading to faster reefs for intermediates. It’s a great place to begin any Sri Lankan surf journey, mainly because it’s accessible, has decent surf schools, and is connected to nearby Ahangama and Midigama for when it’s time to progress.

Check our complete guide to the surf in Unawatuna


Hikkaduwa might just be the most popular Sri Lanka surf spot on the south-west coast. That’s why you’ll almost always find a lineup out in the water. There’s lots to get stuck into.

The main beach is the place where the surf schools operate. It’s a sand-bottom break with some fun peaks if the swell’s up. More expert surfers can head to Benny’s, a high-speed and steep reef left hander that’s adrenaline through and through.

Read our full ultimate guide to Hikkaduwa surf


We wouldn’t recommend making the R&R hub of Tangalle your main place if you’re heading to Sri Lanka to surf and do nothing else. It’s not got any waves of its own and is much more about recharging by the waves and jungles. However, if you’re keen to kick back in fantastic and romantic hotels and do one or two surf trips in between, this could be the top option for you.

Read our full ultimate guide to Tangalle surf


Matara is a city, not a surf spot. But it is conveniently plonked on the main road that links up some of the top locations for waves on the south coast of the island. The closest place to hit it is SK Town, where there are some beefy A-frame beach breaks that turn to whitewash for all levels. But you can also tuk-tuk to Mirissa and the leaning mecca of Weligama. The gain is that you’ll have the buzz of a proper, lived-in Sri Lankan town to return to after you’re finished.

Read our full ultimate guide to Matara surf

The best hotels for surfing in Sri Lanka

Surf camp in Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka has arguably the best range of upcoming surf camps in Asia right now. Seriously, it’s like every time we go back there’s another one in the mix. We’ll stick to that after recently completing another month-long journey up the southwest coast. It just seems to keep getting better and better when it comes to surf hotels on this island…

Dreamsea Sri Lanka ($$)

Right by the reefs on the main Matara Road in Ahangama, this boho-chic hotel is one of our new favorites on the south-west coast. You’ll be near Kabalana and the reef breaks of Midigama but get to bed down in uber-cool suites that open onto balconies facing the Indian Ocean. The garden is spectacular, with a small pool and a specking of coast palms before the sea. This is what you’ve been dreaming of folks!

Le Cabanon ($$)

Best for: Your own surf shack by one of the island’s very best breaks

One of the great things about Sri Lanka is that it’s relatively easy to find medium-term accommodation in surf shacks right by the beach. Cue Le Cabanon. It’s a standalone cottage below the coconut palms of Hiriketiya Beach (one of our absolute fav spots on the island for surfing). You get your own lush garden area, a kitchenette, an outdoor shower, and lovely hosts.

W15 ($$-$$$)

Best for: Beginners

W15 is one of swishiest places to stay in the beginner surf mecca of Weligama. Uber-cool and really spacious rooms in the perfect part of the bay for learning are on the menu. There’s also a big pool and garden, and a pretty generous breakfast spread. The main pull is just how close you’ll be to the waves, though. They’re less than a stone’s throw away.

Global Surf Lodge Kabalana ($$)

Ah, man – life as a traveling surfer hardly gets better than this! Seriously, just check out that stunning garden topped with its coconut palms, that shimmering swimming pool, and those deluxe suites filled with muted colours and lovely wood tones. Location wise, you’re smack dab in the heart of Ahangama, a region famed for the Kabalana Beach breaks and loads of reefs. Expect a true surf-camp experience making tonnes of new friends with a dash of luxury on the side! We love Global Surf Lodge Kabalana!

Dedicated surf camps in Sri Lanka

The Salty Pelican Surf Camp

If you’re keen to fill everyday of your trip to the Teardrop with surfing, want tuition included, and don’t fancy doing the organization all yourself, a surf camp could just be the perfect thing. The good news is that there are some seriously AMAZING surf camps set up on this island. The quality is now generally very high, with trainers that can direct lessons and spot choice to all levels, and accommodations that are indistinguishable from the best hotels around.

The problem is that for every one great surf camp in Sri Lanka there are 10 cowboys looking for a quick buck. The ones below aren’t the latter…

  • 4-day surf camp with yoga at The Salty Pelican – The Salty Pelican has been making waves (pun totally intended) in Sri Lanka since it first opened. Said waves were a touch dampened by the pandemic shutdown, but the brand-new facility is now doing its thing. Nestled between the palms back from Hiriketiya Beach, they run 4-day camps with some of the best beginner tuition around plus morning yoga wake ups. What sets it apart is the quality of the stay, which is more boutique hotel than surf lodge. This is well worth it!
  • 8-day epic surf camp at Gota Dagua – Ahangama is the playground for the all-new iteration of Gota Dagua surf camp out of Portugal. These guys really know what they’re doing. They keep it simple with days of free surf sessions and yoga, followed by in-depth surf analyses and tuition. We’d choose this for intermediate surfers looking to improve since Ahangama has some of the punchier reefs around.
  • 7 days of surf and yoga in Arugam Bay – If it’s the off season in the west, choose this week-long excursion to Arugam Bay. It’s a well-balanced package that will show you the best of the local waves (Whiskey Point is literally steps from the camp), give daily yoga sessions, and trips to many local landmarks – the Kumana National Park and the monastery-temple of Kudumbigala are both included in the price.

A guide to the Sri Lanka surfing season

You can break the Sri Lanka surf season into two easy portions. That’s because there are two separate wet seasons that dictate the weather (and swell/wind) patterns on the islands. Get a feel for these and it should be easy to decide where to go to get in the water:

South-western monsoon (May-September)

One word: Arugam Bay. There’s really no decision to be made. As the rains sweep across the south coast and the swells are all chopped up on the south-west by storm winds, you’ll want to make for the Sri Lankan surfing mecca of the east. The best months are around June and July, which is when even the sand-cushioned beginner wave of the main beach starts to get into full swing.

  • Wear: A rash vest, board shorts, swimwear – it’s always warm on the Sri Lanka surf!

North-eastern monsoon (October-April)

Things dry out all around the stunning beaches of the south-west coast. Offshore winds are more common and the swells form up to tidy sets for the reefs. This is by far the season with the widest variety of working Sri Lanka surf destinations. That’s because everywhere from Hiriketiya to Hikkaduwa is on the menu. As the season wears on, things tend to mellow even more, so January-March can be lighter than pre-Christmas.

  • Wear: Rashies all round, all year.

Difficulty of surfing in Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka shines when it comes to the easier end of the surf spectrum. Beginners will find super-soft waves to get started on at places like Hiriketiya and Ahangama. That’s largely down to the fringing of reefs that help temper the strong SW swells that push through in the peak season on the southwest coast. Arugam Bay is the exception to that rule. It’s better for intermediates. However, it’s still got point breaks that are suited to total learners and an abundance of surf schools to show for it.

There’s something else that we think Sri Lanka is great for: Getting you from beach breaks to reefs. The truth is that the vast majority of breaks here are reef breaks. But they aren’t the shallow, urchin-infested things you get in Bukit. There are plenty that are actually quite deep – Marshmallow in Ahangama and Coconuts in Midigama come to mind. That makes them perfect for getting used to seeing hard coral and rock glide by if you’ve not yet made the jump.

How much do surf trips to Sri Lanka cost?

Sri Lanka cost

That really all depends on what you want to spend. As a ballpark figure, you can get a fully fledged surf camp package for around the $700 mark for a week. That usually includes board and breakfast, all surf rentals, surf lessons, and usually at least a few extras like excursions to temples and national parks. What it doesn’t include is the cost of flights over in the first place, which can set you back between $500-1,200 depending on where you’re coming from. You can check pre-made surf packages for the island here.

If you’d prefer to organize your whole surf trip yourself, then that’s cool. Sri Lanka is actually one of the cheapest places to do that in South Asia. We’d estimate the average cost of a very classy surf trip here to be about $1,300 per person. That’s setting aside $80 per night for accommodation, $300 total for all surf lessons and surf tuition, plus extras for food and flights to the island.

You can also spend WAY more than that if you like. Sri Lanka is now home to some of the most luxurious surf-yoga retreats we’ve seen in Asia. They can charge upwards of $150 a night easily, sometimes even more. On the flip side, you can spend LOADS less if you want. We recently stayed on the front row of SK Town, an intermediate beach break spot on the southwest coast, for just $10 a night and surfed there basically alone for three days. No complaints. In fact, the breakfast was real nice!

Step-by-step guide to planning your Sri Lanka surf trip right now

Step one: Book flights to the Sri Lanka surf…We use Skyscanner and only Skyscanner for this. The reason? We’ve always found it the best site for comparing deals from basically ALL airlines and somehow seems to offer deals that beat going direct.

Step two: Book your surf lodge. There’s That has consistently unbeatable rates for hotels and a nifty map feature that lets you check how close EXACTLY that hotel is to particular breaks. Or Book Surf Camps, which is the numero uno online booking platform for fully-fledged surf-stay packages.

Step three: Book surf lessons and other activities For advance booking, you can use GetYourGuide or Viator. To be fair, though, we usually just leave this until we’re there – it’s easy to book in person in most surf destinations.

Top things to do in Sri Lanka when you’re not surfing

Sri Lanka is a bucket-list-busting destination. Make no bones about it, this isle is about much more than just warm waves and reef breaks. It’s steeped in a fascinating Buddhist culture, has some of the tastiest food on the planet, and bursts with temples, shrines, and stunning lengths of sand…

Yala National Park safari


What’s awesome is that many of the top surf destinations on the Sri Lankan southwest coast also happen to get you real near to the major safari destinations of the island.

Yep – you did read safari. Sri Lanka channels a touch of the Serengeti with its vast plains filled with elephants and leopards.

Don’t bother trying to organize it yourself. The parks are quite distant and you need to be early, so pick ups and drop offs are the key. This two-day Yala Safari is the creme-de-la-creme, but there are shorter day trips if you don’t want to be away from the waves too long.

Sigiriya Rock

They call it the Eighth Wonder of the World, this jaw-dropping palace on a bluff of stone. Thought to date way back to the 5th century, it’s a must for any history buffs and culture lovers.

You’ll be able to scale the great rock palace and see ancient Buddhist shrines. There are also sweeping views across Sri Lanka’s central plains.

Guided tours like this planned walk are the best way to do it, as traveling in from the main surf regions of Sri Lanka can be a bit of a headache.

Go hiking in Ella

You can prime those hamstrings for your Sri Lanka surf adventure by making for the highland town of Ella. It sits up in the mist-haloed highlands.

A land of tea fields and craggy peaks, it’s got some breathtaking views. Do the trek to Ella Rock. Conquer Little Adam’s Peak. And then visit a tea factory to relax a little.

Laze on a beach

The beaches of this gorgeous isle aren’t just for Sri Lankan surf trips, you know? Strewn with coconut husks and backed by sea pineapple trees, there are darn picturesque places to boot.

Bring the sun cream. Pack your favourite bikini. There’s oodles of time for swimming and Kindle reading in the hammock. Some of the best are around Mirissa and Dikwella.

Travel essentials for anyone surfing in Sri Lanka

Quick facts

Where exactly is Sri Lanka?

  • Currency: Sri Lankan rupee (LKR)
  • Population: 10.5 million
  • Capital: Colombo
  • Language: Sinhala & Tamil

They call Sri Lanka the Teardrop of India. Check the map – it’s easy to see why. The island is like a speck of H20 that’s just dribbled off the subcontinent.

At their smallest distance, Sri Lanka and India are just 883 miles apart. The resplendent atolls of the Maldives are also close, just in case you wanted to top off that Sri Lanka surf trip with a honeymoon or something romantic.

How to get to Sri Lanka

Colombo Airport is the main gateway to Sri Lanka by air. Long-haul links on major carriers arrive there from Europe, the Middle East and beyond. The best option for surfers is usually Qatar Airways. Their indirect connections link with airports in London, Manchester and Cardiff, and they allow surfboard carriage as part of your standard baggage allowance.

Short-haul connections join Sri Lanka to loads of places across South Asia and Southeast Asia. We caught a direct flight in from Bangkok and were on the ground in under four hours this year. You can find bargain deals in from KL, India, Indonesia – the list goes on.

How to travel around Sri Lanka

We found that the local bus was a really fun way to get around Sri Lanka. Uber-cheap and great for people watching, these multi-coloured vehicles will rock and rumble their way between the major towns. Of course, this isn’t the best option if you’re carrying your own surfboard.

For those with their board in tow, we recommend private taxi transfers. You can use groups like Sri Lanka Taxi Share and Sri Lanka Car and Driver Hire to organise lift shares and check the ratings of various drivers. You can haggle vis Whatsapp before your departure date. This worked really well when we had longer distances to travel (say Weligama to Colombo, Colombo to Kandy).

Tuk-tuks are probably the best, and the cheapest, choice if you’re moving between two Sri Lankan surf destinations on the south coast. They are ubiquitous and never cost us more than 1200 LKR for a single journey. You’ll need to get used to the driver lashing your board to the roof – they sometimes aren’t the most secure racks. But hey, that’s part of the fun.

If you’ve got anything to add to this ultimate guide to Sri Lanka surf, then we’d sure love to hear it in the comments below! We’re always looking to update and change the information here so it’s in line with what’s currently happening on the island – otherwise, it would hardly be the ultimate guide, eh!?

We might use affiliate links in this post. Basically, you click em’ and we get a little something from your booking or purchase. They help us keep offering more and more in-depth surf guides to awesome places all around the globe. So, thanks for that!

This is just one country guide in our complete guide to the surf in Asia