Stay a couple of days in the chilled beach hotels of SK Town to discover one of southern Sri Lanka’s hidden breaks. Fronting a wide beach, there are peaks here for almost every level of surfer.
An introduction to SK Town surf
Hidden along an exposed stretch of the Sri Lankan coast to the south-east of Matara City, SK Town is a little conglomeration of surf shacks and beach hotels that faces the open ocean. Lanky coconut palms sway overhead and a few dirt tracks lead to the shoreline. Welcome to one of the region’s most hidden surf spots.
Officially known as Lakshawaththa Beach, SK Town is actually the name for the group of shacks and hotel rentals at the eastern end of the sands. More recently, it’s become the moniker for the place as a whole. And what a place that is…
With a wave for pretty much every level of surfer, there’s loads to be said for the versatility of SK Town. You can grab a board for as little as 1000 LKR (as little as £5) for the whole day and ride the whitewash. Or, you can paddle to second-level waves that offer a little punch. Or, you can paddle right out to several peaks that go left and right, with rides as long as 70-100 meters.
The real beauty of SK Town’s surf is just how off the beaten path it is. As Sri Lanka’s surf scene goes from strength to strength, it’s becoming harder and harder to find secluded places like this. If you skip the dawn patrols and dodge the morning surf schools, there’s a good chance you could find yourself waiting for the sets to roll in all by yourself here!
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This is a part of our greater guide to Sri Lanka surf.
SK Town surf at a glance
What will I find in this guide to SK Town
Where is SK Town?
One of the last beaches before the rocky outcrops of the Cabo Dondra, SK Town runs westwards from the town of Matara. It opens up into wide Dondra Bay, where you can watch huge tankers drifting between tiny fishing boats out in the open ocean on the horizon.
Near to the surf meccas of Weligama and Mirissa, SK Town is located on the extreme southern edge of the island. It’s linked to nearby cities like Galle and Colombo by the E01 highway and the A2 coast road.
SK Town surf spot guide
SK Town is really a single spot. The beach runs for just over a kilometre from the headlands in the east to the city of Matara in the west. Along the way, it’s got countless peaks. Some are hard and heavy. Some are low but punchy A-frames.
There’s also a nice load of whitewash where you’ll catch the occasional beginner surf school working their thing. Every inch of this one’s a beach break, and there’s hardly an underfoot rock to be felt – or, at least – we didn’t feel one in five whole days of surfing there!
There’s really no hard and fast rule to what you’ll find. The movement of the sandbanks, the weather, and the swell direction will all play their part. You can rest assured that SK is relatively reliable, so there’s usually something surfable. It’s also exposed, so you might want to tuk-tuk it elsewhere in high winds and rain.
For the sake of this guide, we’ve divided the beach into two sections. There’s SK Town that’s closest to Dondra. And then there’s Lakshawaththa Beach, which runs into the headland that separates the surf spot from the beach in Matara.
The eastern end of the beach is generally considered better for intermediate and expert surfers. This is the portion of the town that’s known officially as SK. It’s got a few surf lodges on its high cliffs and runs into a rocky outcrop.
The waves are big A-frame peaks that roll left and right. You’ve got to position yourself correctly if you want anything close to a long ride. Get it right, though, and you’ll be peeling off with a good 70-120 metre roller. On high swells, SK Town can closeout fast. Also expect fast take-offs and some steep drop-ins, depending on the peaks you’re willing to wait for.
The western end of SK Town is also known as Lakshawaththa Beach (unpronounceable, we know!). The sleek surf lodge come boutique hotel of Seascape faces this end of the sand. That makes it the perfect place to stay for beginners and improving intermediates. Why? The waves here tend to be just a little tamer, there’s a headland that helps with a bit of shelter, and the whitewash comes in neat sets for total learners. It’s also the cleaner and wider part of the beach.
What we’d take on a surf trip to Sri Lanka…
WEAR (men): XCEL 2/1mm Axis Long Sleeve Wetsuit Jacket | You don’t have to use neoprene in Sri Lanka, but longer session surfers will really benefit from something like this 2/1 top. It offers sun coverage and some protection – perfect for surfing the local reefs
WEAR (women): Billabong Salty Daze Wetsuit Vest | 1mm thin neoprene with ultra flexibility can keep you in the water longer. Also looks pretty cracking, eh?
BOARD: Lib Tech x Lost KA Swordfish Exacta Surfboard | You can get away with all sorts of board shapes on the Sri Lanka breaks but we LOVE the versatility of this fish. Keep it to 5″9 so it will fit on the airplane. The quick rocker and the pointed nose offer great control, but there’s also volume for more mellow days.
CARRY: Dakine John John Florence Mission Surfboard Bag | Last time we checked, Qatar Airways were the best for flying into Lanka. They offered us free board carriage. You will need to pack your quiver right, though, which is why this padded John John Florence bag could be the perfect thing.
Recommended gear to take to Sri Lanka
- Rash vest – It’s warm enough here to surf in a rashie all year round but we’d say get one with good SPF protection.
- Board shorts – This completes the normal Sri Lanka surf set for men.
- Bikinis – Ladies can go with a bikini all year here, so bag one that’s suited to surfing (AKA – not too many loose straps)
- Sun cream – NEVER surf in Sri Lanka without a very good sunblock.
- A surfboard bag – Qatar Airways currently run the only route into Sri Lanka offering free board carrying. Thing is, it’s GOTTA’ be packed right and must be <6 foot.
A guide to the SK Town surfing season
April – October
The down season on the south-west coast of Sri Lanka. Rain, strong winds, and the prevailing monsoon make the conditions less than ideal for those with the board in tow. That said, you can sometimes find some sloshy wind swells to ride down along SK. Meanwhile, nearby Hiriketiya Bay gets some good sets because it’s way less exposed (a tuk-tuk there takes around 45 minutes and costs 1000 LKR).
Wear: A rash vest/swimwear
November – March
As the rains stop, the surf picks up. SK Town – along with all the other beaches and reefs on Sri Lanka’s south-western edge starts to pump with the groundswells of the Indian Ocean around mid-November, but peeling peaks have been seen both before and after that. December time brings a little rain but also some of the more challenging waves. After Christmas and New Year, things die down a little bit more and SK becomes a real haven for beginners or progressing intermediates.
Wear: A rash vest/swimwear
The best SK Town hotels for surfers
If you’re not already planning to, we really recommend you take a few days and stay in SK Town. Granted, for the non-surfer, there’s not a whole load to do. But there are some top beach hotels, both locally owned and foreign-owned. They’ve got grassy gardens shaded by palm trees where you can kick back with a book between sessions on the waves. The most stylish also throw in pools and chic seafood cafes to boot. Check them out:
Vanina Villas ($$$)
French-owned Vanina Villas is a luxury treat facing the main surf break. With a stunning garden and a refreshing pool, the stylish huts and suites are located just a stone’s throw from the beach. All the rooms are built with high quality, environmentally-friendly materials.
Top Secret Beach Hotel ($$)
One of a few Sri Lankan-owned accommodations in the area is a Top Secret Beach Hotel. With its perfect beachfront location and sea views in most rooms, this hotel is a mid-range option for surfers on a decent budget. The friendly owner makes a yummy Sri Lankan breakfast every morning – roti, fresh fruit, eggs in a spicy omelette – cheers man!
Step-by-step guide to planning your SK Town trip right now
Step one: Book flights to the SK Town…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 Booking.com. 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.
Surf shops in SK Town
SK Town surf is relatively new on the Sri Lankan scene. Most of the hotels here started out as holiday resorts before realising there was a pretty nice beach break just next door.
The upshot is that there’s really no dedicated infrastructure for surfers. Aside from the few rental shacks on the sand, there’s nothing like an organised surf shop.
Where to eat in SK Town
Aside from being an upcoming surf destination, SK Town also has a smattering of enticing eateries and hotels. They’re often locally owned affairs with plenty of fish options, but also loads for vegetarians.
Uprising Restaurant ($)
We really can’t sing the praises of this one enough! It was arguably the single best rice and curry we ate on our whole surf trip through Sri Lanka (2019/2020). Everything – literally, everything – is cooked fresh right in front of you. We ordered the veggie plate and we watched as the lady cracked open a coconut and started mixing up the sambal. Dal was masterful, okra still makes the mouth water, the smiles were welcome. Oh, and it’s cheap. Beer isn’t on the menu but sometimes was in stock – just ask.
Things to do when you’re not surfing in SK Town
We’re not gonna’ lie – non-surfers will find themselves twiddling their thumbs pretty fast here. Surf aside, there’s not a whole load to do. That’s largely because the beach isn’t the cleanest or nicest, so there’s no option to lay the towel and laze. Trips out of town are the best option if you do want a break from the waves.
Head to Mirissa to find some chilled out cafes and bars and to laze on a stunning beach. Only a short tuk-tuk ride away from SK Town, Mirissa is a R&R gem. At night, the beach turns into a bit of a party town to boot – hello, happy hour. Oh, and there’s a surf break in town if you love hardcore right-handers coming over shallow reef!
Yala National Park
It might not be too close to SK Town, but, if you have some time to spare, the Yala National Park should not be missed. It’s home to wildlife such as elephants, leopards and myriad bird species. It’s recommended to go there with an organised tour operator who will know where to take you to spot the amazing creatures.
How to get to SK Town
A private taxi or tuk-tuk is probably the best way to get to the SK Town surf breaks. There are local buses but it’s tricky to suss out the timetable and find the ones that stop along the main Matara Road. Anyhow, you’ll still need to walk from there to the beachfront once you do get off.
Make sure you show your tuk-tuk or taxi driver the hotel you’re staying at before you arrive at SK Town. There are a number of different roads in and out, not all of which are connected close to the beach, so you’ll need to take the right turn off to get to your accommodation.
How to get around SK Town
SK Town surf spots are usually no more than a minute from the door of any of the town’s hotel or hostel. This is a chilled, compact little spot. You can walk everywhere. And when you can’t be bothered, a couple of rupees to the nearest tuk-tuk man and you’re away.
Have you got anything to add to this ultimate guide to SK Town surf? We’re always trying to update and change the information – otherwise, it would hardly be the ultimate guide, right?!