By: Mikael and Thrillism
7 minute read
Last updated June 5th, 2020
The Pearl of the Orient. The Teardrop of India. The Island of Dharma. These are just a few of the many nicknames given to Sri Lanka over the years. Formally known as Ceylon, Sri Lanka is loved by adventurous travelers for its authentic richness and stunning beauty.
But Sri Lanka is known for a lot more than just rich culture and beautiful landscape, especially among the surfing fanatics of the world. For surfers, it’s all about the waves here. There’s a little bit of something for everyone – it’s an ideal destination for all experience levels, all budgets, and all types of travelers (couples, families, solo backpackers, luxury seekers, you name it).
If you’re interested in experiencing all that the island has to offer in terms of point, beach, and reef breaks, there’s only one way to see the island. You’ll want to book a stay at Sri Lanka surf camp, and a good starting point is to focus on the coastlines of the southwest (best from October to March) and east (best from May to September).
You can rule out the entire northern portion of the island for surfing. Our favorite spots to surf in Sri Lanka are Hikkaduwa, Unawatuna, Weligama, Arugam Bay, and Ahangama. We’ve broken down all of the best Sri Lanka surf camps by area, so get ready for a serendipitous adventure to the Pearl of the Orient.
Over the past few decades, Hikkaduwa has undergone a major transformation from a small fishing village to one of the most developed surf tourist towns in Sri Lanka. It’s located on the southwestern corner of the island, which many surfers say is the best spot for powerful swells and consistent waves.
Focusing your efforts on a surf camp in Sri Lanka Hikkaduwa is a great starting point, especially if lively nightlife is on your agenda. But more importantly, there are several breaks in the area that’ll keep you busy, and the lineups are laid-back for the most part.
The best Hikkaduwa break for beginners is called Beach Break, which is a long sandy stretch that poses no major risks or challenges. More experienced surfers prefer a spot called Benny’s, a difficult left-hander that can get well over 6 feet when the conditions are right.
For even more wave variety, you’ll want to check out the Main Reef and North Jetty. No matter which waves you choose to conquer, the Hippie Surf School is the go-to Hikkaduwa spot for learning to surf or hiring a local surf guide.
Unawatuna is a small town that’s located slightly south of Hikkaduwa, so you’ll get to experience all the same consistent conditions and easy-going waves. There are plenty of surf hotspots to keep you busy throughout Unawatuna Bay, but the best is the main Beach Break, especially for beginners.
Another beginner-friendly spot is Bonavista Bay, where the waves are typically about 3 ft high and rarely go above 5 ft. For something even more gentle than that, you’ll want to check out the Kabalana Beach Break. The waves are small and frothy, perfect for first-time surfers.
Just over 100 meters from the main break is Dalawella Reef, which is a more challenging left-breaker that crashes over coral, rocks and sea urchins (beginners beware). Further south, you’ll find South Beach which is best for long-boarders.
As you can see, you’ve got plenty of breaks to choose from, but there is only one consideration for the best surf camp in Sri Lanka Unawatuna: Aloha Sun Surf School.
Weligama, Ahangama, and Midigama (we’ll call them “the Gamas”) are all technically separate towns, but they’re so close and offer all the same surf conditions and hotspots. It takes about 15 minutes to drive from Ahangama to Weligama, and Midigama is right smack dab between the two of them.
Whether you’re looking for a surf camp in Sri Lanka Midigama or one nearby in Weligama, there are a few breaks you should check out while you’re in the Gamas area. First, head to the Weligama main beach to take on the 2-kilometer stretch of gentle waves. This is a great spot to learn, which is why several surf schools/camps are lining the beach here.
For something a bit more challenging, make your way to Lazy Left and Rams Right in Midigama. When Rams Right is working, it offers fun barrels and tight breaks. Further southeast there’s another popular spot called Mirissa Bay where you’ll find some tricky left and right-handers for intermediate surfers who are working their way up to more advanced waves.
So far, we’ve been focusing all of our energy on the southwestern coast, but now it’s time to take things to the east coast. Arugam Bay is the ultimate eastern spot thanks to the powerful offshore winds that grace the area, but this is only the case between May and September (the dry season). During any other month, it’s better to focus on the southwest.
The main surf spot in the bay is called Main Point, which is a long righthand point break that can be anywhere between 3 and 8 feet tall. This is the only wave in all of Sri Lanka that hosts international surf competitions, so that shows you how gnarly it can be. It’s more geared towards intermediate and advanced level surfers, but beginners have plenty of choices nearby.
Baby Point regularly falls between 2 and 4 feet at its peak, and just as the name suggests, it’s perfect for brand new wave riders. The sandy bottoms and leisurely waves make for the perfect beginner-friendly setup for first-time surfers.
During peak season, Arugam Bay tends to get crowded. The key thing to remember is that the further you travel from the main bay area, the shorter the lineups will be. The good news is that there are plenty of nearby surf spots surrounding the area. To the north, you’ll find Pottuvil Point and Whisky Point and to the south, there’s Elephant Rock, Peanut Farm, and Okanda.
The Hippie Surf School is a well-respected name in this part of the island. The school itself doesn’t offer accommodation, but it has partnered with a guesthouse called Mia’s Villa, so you can easily book your room and surf lessons in an all-in-one package. When you sign up for a Hippie surf lesson, you’ll get your instructor – no overcrowded group lessons here!
“We offer many packages which include surf lessons, equipment, and accommodation and have partnered up with some of the best Guest Houses in Hikkaduwa.”
– Hippie Surf School & Surf Camp
Hippie Surf School also has a location on the east coast, but we suggest that beginners sign up for the Hikkaduwa location. It’s laid back, chilled out, and a great environment for learning. The Hippie location you choose ultimately depends on the time of year you’re visiting though. Hikkaduwa is best from October to March, but Arugam Bay is more popular from May to September.
Aloha hasn’t been around for that long, but this Unawatuna surf school is already making a splash. They offer a variety of surf lesson options from ISA-certified instructors who are dedicated to teaching the essential fundamentals of surfing. You’ll not only learn about water safety but also about surfing etiquette and ocean awareness.
“Surfing is such a great way to enjoy yourself in the ocean and we want to teach you to surf whilst at the same time making sure you have a safe and super fun time!”
– Aloha Sun Surf School
Aloha surf students have the option to purchase surf lessons only, but most of them choose to stay in the Aloha accommodations. They offer surf lesson options for 1, 3, or 5 days for both adults and kids, making this a great spot for the entire family to learn how to surf.
Soul & Surf is a Sri Lanka surf and yoga camp that’s all about giving its guests good vibes and light hearts. This is by far the best surf camp in Sri Lanka Ahangama, especially for travelers who are looking for a deeper, more meaningful experience. Not only will you feed your belly with delicious, wholesome food made from locally-sourced ingredients, but you’ll also feed your soul.
“We set up Soul & Surf with the intention to do something positive, however small and insignificant it may seem. So alongside our aim of giving our guests a dose of health, inspiration and good times we are committed to giving something back.”
– Soul & Surf Sri Lanka
Soul & Surf isn’t technically considered an all-inclusive experience, but it’s pretty close to it. You could easily get by without using your credit card or cash for anything other than the surf/yoga package you originally paid for, but there are plenty of opportunities to add on local excursions and cultural experiences.
Surf Level: Beginner, Intermediate, Advanced
Some travelers say that Layback is the best surf camp Sri Lanka has to offer, and this makes complete sense as soon as you set foot in this boutique surf camp. It’s trendy yet simply, cozy yet luxurious, and social yet relaxing. The goal of Layback was to create the ultimate hideaway for surfing travelers, and that’s exactly what they’ve accomplished.
“With the beach only a few minutes away from our doorstep, surfing is part of our daily routine. Yet, despite its buzzing location amid local life, Layback is a quiet getaway for surfers and travelers.”
– Layback Boutique Surf Camp
This surf camp has only been open since 2017, but it’s already established a sterling reputation. Guests can sign up for lessons as they go or go all-in with the weeklong surf retreat. To fully embrace your Sri Lanka adventure, the 7-night retreat is the only way to go. On top of daily lessons and surf theory, it includes daily yoga, unlimited gear rental, accommodation, and more.
If you’re looking for a Sri Lanka surf camp in Arugam Bay, you’ll love everything about Safa Surf Camp. The camp was started by a local man named Fawas who has had a passion for surfing since he was 12 years old. He has spent the majority of his life riding the waves of Arugam Bay, and he wants nothing more than to share this experience with visitors.
“Being in the water is my happy place, I lose myself in the waves and forget about anything else that is going on in my life. I set up SAFA to share this feeling with you and to help you to fall in love with surf, too.”
– Fawas, Founder of Safa Surf Camp
Safa stands for Surfing Access for All – even if you’ve never set foot in the ocean, you’re more than welcome here. There are several Safa guest packages to choose from, but the most popular is the Wellness Surf Package. Not only does it include airport transfers and accommodations, but also surf coaching, yoga, healthy breakfast, and surf photography.