The Best Surf Spots in Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka is world-famous for its surfing
Sri Lanka is world-famous for its surfing | Courtesy of © Matteo Carta / Alamy
Photo of Claire Dodd
26 March 2018

Sri Lanka is world-famous for surfing and has breaks suitable for all levels, so you’ll be in seventh heaven whether you’re a hardcore surfer or you’ve not yet mastered standing on a board.

The country is a year-round destination because of the seasonal patterns that mean when one coast is choppy, the other is calm. The rains take turns hitting from different directions, too. There will always be waves somewhere. In the south you’ll find perfection between November and May; on the east coast aim for April to October, when the waves are longer. The most famous areas are Unawatuna and Hikkaduwa in the southwest, Weligama in the south and Arugam Bay in the east. For the best day-to-day intel on where the good waves are, contact the team at Surf South Sri Lanka.

Koggala Beach

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Indian ocean beach at Koggala Sri Lanka
© Andrii Brodiahin / Alamy
Intermediate and beginner surfers have plenty of space to practise their moves at this south Sri Lankan spot, famous for its fishermen on stilts. The best conditions are in the winter, but continuous breaks are not guaranteed at Koggala itself. The nearby Weligama Beach break is also best suited to those just starting out; sheltered from oncoming winds, the waves are manageable but can reach up to 1.5m (5ft). Midigama’s waves generate long rides. Ahangama, 20 minutes away, is where the advanced surfers head, especially in the peak season (January to February), when the waves can reach 2.5m (8ft).

Ahangama

Architectural Landmark
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Sri Lanka, Ahangama, Surf beach. Surfer.
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The surfing capital of the Southern Province attracts some serious surfers. With easy access to the waves of Weligama, Unawatuna, Mirissa and Midigama, you’ll find numerous surf camps in this small town, where the shallow reef also attracts keen snorkellers. Surf straight from the long stretch of beach here, and relax under the jungle palms afterwards. The dry season runs from December to March, bringing with it offshore winds and good waves. You’ll still find rideable waves during the wet season, from May to September.

Dewata

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Dewata, south of Galle, has turned into a surfing hotspot over the past five or so years. While not the most scenic of local beaches, with small but reliable waves it attracts those looking to perfect their technique on year-round easy surf. Right on the beach, the Shack, with its oil-drum beach bar and rooms, is the hangout of choice, offering lessons and board rentals. The sand reef and regular (if small- to medium-size) waves make it one of the best spots to learn in Sri Lanka, while also providing plenty of fun for the adept.

Balapitiya

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Balapitiya, Sri Lanka, Asia - The beautiful landscape at the beach of Balapitiya
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Come for the golden sands of this small fishing village, with its eye-catching kraal-fishing structures of reeds and rods driven into the riverbed to trap passing prey. Life is quiet and traditional on this southwest stretch, which is around 80km (50mi) south of Colombo and can be reached on the coastal road or by train. An exposed reef break means fairly reliable surfing, but just 30 minutes down the road is the surfing hotspot of Hikkaduwa, where things get busy between November and March when the best waves are breaking.

Beruwela

Architectural Landmark
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Beach lined with palm trees, Beruwela, Western Province, Indian Ocean, Ceylon, Sri Lanka
Courtesy of | © Martina Katz / Alamy
This southwest town is a shrewd stop if you want to do more than just dabble in surfing. With Hikkaduwa just a 25-minute drive away, and consistent, if small, surf five minutes down the road at Bentota Beach, there are plenty of alternatives if the waves aren’t breaking on your doorstep. In Beruwela itself, you’ll find a number of surf schools on Moragalla Beach catering to beginners and offering board rentals, alongside accommodation directly on the beach, meaning you don’t have to miss a second if the surf’s up.

Okanda

Architectural Landmark, Natural Feature
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Elephant Rock at Yala National Park, Sri Lanka, Yala National Park
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Take a tuk-tuk an hour south of the surfing hub of Arugam Bay, along a bumpy coast road, and you reach the small east coast hamlet of Okanda, close to Yala National Park. Decent consistency and power make this a worthwhile trip for those seeking their own spot. Surfers in the know head to the east coast during its dry season (between April and September) while the south gets the rains. The tourist end of Arugam can get busy, but that’s not so at Okanda. With waves of 0.5–1.5m (2–5ft), it’s best for intermediates, although breaks can reach 1.8m–2.4m (6–8ft). Strong rip currents, and the remote location, make this place the preserve of the advanced.

Hikkaduwa

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Surfers on Hikkaduwa beach, Sri Lanka
Courtesy of | © Martin Turzak / Alamy

On the southwest coast of the island, about 120km (75m) south of Colombo and just 20km (12mi) from Galle, is the famous party town of Hikkaduwa. Once just a surfing village, it’s now popular with surfers and partygoers alike – there is always something happening here. As for the best surf spots, try Bennys, a left-hander reef break preferred by experienced surfers. Or there’s Main Reef, with left- and right-handers over a deeper reef, which is good and relatively safe for all levels. We can also recommend North Jetty and, for beginners, Beach Break, with its safe shore and reef break.

Unawatuna

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Sri Lanka, Southern province, Unawatuna, Dalawella beach
Courtesy of | © GUIZIOU Franck / hemis.fr / Alamy

This is another hit among wave riders and is in many ways the perfect family surfing destination. The nightlife is not hectic, like it is in Hikkaduwa, but the waves are great. The swell on the beach is not always perfect, but just ask the locals for alternatives. If you’re a beginner, try Unawatuna Beach Break. Bonavista Bay is also a good learner’s wave. There’s also Kabalana Beach Break, with frothy small waves, although the main point has a rip current and there are no lifeguards. If you’re more advanced, there’s Dalawella Reef, and South Beach, just north of Kabalana, with a good longboard wave.

Weligama

Architectural Landmark
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Weligama Beach, Mirissa, Sri Lanka, Asia
Courtesy of @ Joana Kruse / Alamy
Weligama has good waves all year round and is another favourite for beginners and intermediate surfers. The main beach has a row of surfing schools with plenty of boards for rent, but it does sometimes suffer from pollution. The waves are usually easy to learn on and can get a bit bigger for intermediate level surfers. When you’re feeling steady, try Midigama, with three great points. The Lazy Left is better in the afternoons and a favourite with goofy riders. The Right has a shallow reef break, while Rams Right is for more advanced surfers, with some barrels and short and tight breaks. We also love Gurubebila. Plantation Point is great for early morning rides with both lefts and rights. It’s a rocky entry but is easier to ride than Coconut, which is a classic A-Frame formation better tackled by experienced surfers.

Arugam Bay

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Surfers. Hikkaduwa, Sri Lanka.
Courtesy of @ Marius Dobilas / Alamy

Arugam Bay is on the east coast, and the best season to be here is when it’s too rainy in the south. The weather gods grace Arugam Bay with dry skies while the rest of the island is battered by monsoon rains. It’s best to visit between April and September. Here Baby Point is better for beginners, while Main Point is for more advanced riders. Elephant Rock, a tuk-tuk ride from Arugam Bay, is great for beginners, but don’t wear flip-flops, as you have to climb rocks to get to it. It’s worth it because the beach is so beautiful. If you’re an experienced surfer, make your way to Pottuvil and Whisky Point, north of Arugam Bay. Whisky Point tends to get crowded, so don’t rock up too late in the day.

Orana Velarde contributed additional reporting to this article.

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