May 24 2019 – Kristin Shearer
Arriving to the capital city of Colombo, you find yourself on Sri Lanka’s West Coast. Depending on the time of year, head south along the coast, stopping at any of the numerous surf towns, or cut east, across the country to Arugam Bay.
Headed south, first stop is Hikkaduwa, a busy surf town with beginner and advanced waves. Not surfing? The coral reefs here host colorful fish and countless sea turtles, great for snorkeling. Continue onwards and you reach the ‘gamas’ - Ahangama, Midigama and Weligama. Each with a different personality and more than a dozen surf breaks combined, there’s something for all levels.
Ahangama offers a number of all-inclusive surf camps and retreats that provide the full Sri Lankan experience.
Just next door you have Midigama, a quiet, simple surf town for those at an intermediate or advanced level looking to surf, eat and sleep. Lazy Left and Lazy Right, true to their names, are two of the intermediate waves, while Ram’s is for the advanced, fearless surfers, as it’s shallow reef is almost guaranteed to rough you up. Make sure to say hello to the sea turtles, who you’ll be sharing the waves with!
Weligama is home to the best beginner beach break in the country, perfect for anyone new to surfing or hoping to improve the basics. Here, you’ll also find Fisherman's Reef; if you can make it past the long paddle over shallow reef, you’ll be rewarded with fun peelers, perfect for longboarders. The busiest of the three towns, check out the local fish market and bustling town center, where the sound of kottu and smell of simmering curries will lure you in for lunch.
Another half an hour south, you’ll come to Madiha. Here, you’ll find two advanced waves, a left and a right, both on shallow reef. Watch out for sea urchins! On a big swell, the best surfers flock here, hoping to score a barrel.
Head further to S.K. Town, Dikwella, Hiriketiya and onwards, and you can find another dozen waves; busier, well-known breaks or secret spots that are only known to locals. Time to explore!
As summer approaches, the great migration occurs, and the South Coast heads east. Surfers, businesses and tuks tuks make their way to Arugam Bay, where a new season awaits. Wild elephants, pristine nature and remote surf breaks, the east is stunning. The waves are world class and the curry's on point. With a dozen spots to explore, beginners, intermediates and advanced surfers can find happiness here, among the waves.
Originally from Boston, USA, Amanda is a surf photographer and women’s surf advocate living in Sri Lanka. You can follow her photography on Instagram at @photosbyprifti and learn more about her non-profit at @sea_sisters_lk.