Jessica de Smidt
Longboarding in South Sri Lanka
Updated: Mar 29
Longboard Surf Trip to the South of Sri Lanka
I went on a family surf trip to the south of Sri Lanka over December 2022 and January 2023. The surf season in the south is from November to April. It is an incredible destination that has a wide variety of waves for all different levels. It's a beginner and intermediate's dream, which means very mellow waves for longboarding. There are quite a few waves that are perfect for shorter boards too and for more advanced surfers. Overall, the waves are quite gentle. They are not those perfect waves that you'd naturally associate with Indonesia for example, but they have their own kind of magic. Also, because it's not known for having crazy perfect waves, most of the surf tourists are very chiller and still learning, which makes for a relaxed line up. It’s offshore every day at this time of the year and there’s always a wave somewhere, especially for longboarding. I didn’t find too much information on longboarding in the south of Sri Lanka, so this blog post will be talking about just that.
Water photography by Titusz Magyar
Surf Supplies, what you need to bring with you to Sri Lanka:
Most surf supplies are hard to come by. When you do see them, they are pretty expensive in relation to what you’d get in South Africa. I would recommend taking these things along:
Your own board, if you can. The boards available for rent are quite average, thruster type longboards and there aren’t many/if any good logs for sale. We flew with Qatar Airways, which has a great baggage allowance. If you want to, you can fly with two surfboards (an extra board? One to surf, one to sell?). We travelled with two 9’4” surfboards each and we didn’t even reach our maximum weight. We shoved all of our clothes, costumes and towels into our boards for padding. Each board came to about 18kg, which is still within the limit of 23kg per baggage item. We’ve flown with our longboards with Qatar to the Philippines, Morocco and Sri Lanka. So far, we’ve never had so much as a ding, let alone a broken board (touch wood). Your bank probably offers an affordable travel insurance. We’re with Absa and our travel insurance was about R1000. I’d recommend getting this if you are going to travel with your own boards, because then at least you know that you’re covered if something does happen to your board.
Warm water wax. We took our own, but when we did see wax in the shops, it was about double the price of back home. It was about R120 (6,5 EUR) per block.
Sunblock, as well as some extra. Environmentally-friendly sunblocks aren’t common and even the bad quality ones aren’t that affordable in Sri Lanka.
An extra leash.
An extra single fin, as well as an extra fin screw and plate. Most of the surf spots down south are reef breaks, so your chances of hitting the reef are quite high. If your trip is coming to an end and your fin is still intact, you could easily get what you paid for your extra fin on Facebook Marketplace.
Duct tape. If you do get a serious ding, there are quite a few ding repair places that apparently do a good job at an affordable price.
Screwdriver, or Allan key to screw your fin in place. Remember to put this in your checked luggage and not in your carry-on.
Bactroban or tea tree cream or whatever it is that you normally use on open wounds, because you’re bound to get a reef cut or two. As well as fabric plasters or plaster tape, that’ll stay on when you surf.
Surf hat for midday surfs. The wind picks up a little during the middle of the day and most people are out the water for lunch, or hiding away from the heat of the day, which means mostly an empty line up at this time. Coming from South Africa, the sun feels so mild in Sri Lanka, so we absolutely surfed in the middle of the day and embraced the choppier surf for uncrowded waves.
Wetsuit jacket. This isn’t essential, but the air was actually surprisingly a little chilly for the sunrise surfs.
Crusty towel. Either buy a cheap towel there or take an old towel along as extra board padding. This is to put on the roof of the tuk-tuk before your board goes down. This is for extra padding, but mostly because the roofs of the tuk-tuks are black and super hot, so putting the towel between the roof and your board, helps the wax from not melting off before your surf.
Best Surf Spots for Longboarding in South Sri Lanka:
I used this super useful surf guide by Soul and Surf to do my research about the different waves in the south of Sri Lanka. These were our favourites:
We loved the Hiriketiya point and the long lefts that it offers. It works on both low and high tides. It still holds its’ form pretty well when the wind picks up. This wave offered the longest ride of the waves that we surfed down south. It’s quite special, because it’s a little bay, where you don’t see many buildings or cars from the water. Another plus is that if you're travelling with a beginner friend/s, they can surf the beach break while you surf the point. When they begin to feel more comfortable, they can paddle across and level up to the point. If you stay in Hiriketiya it’s pretty much the only wave of its quality that you’ll surf in the area. So, if you are staying in Hiriketiya, you’ll really become acquainted with this wave and get to know how it works. The water is super clear here and you’re guaranteed to see at least one turtle per surf, which is just way too cool! There are other less crowded, less substantial waves nearby. There is Unakuruwa, which I would recommend for snorkelling rather than surfing, but you can get a couple fun, short rides here. There’s also Kuduwella beach break, where you can catch some foamies and green waves that close out pretty quickly.
Here's a video that gives you a good idea of the ride that Hiriketiya offers.
Fisherman's (Weligama Reef):
Water photography by Titusz Magyar
This was our favourite longboarding wave in the Weligama/Midigama area. It’s about a 300m paddle out from the shore, but it’s so worth it. If you put “Weligama Fishermans Village Beach” into Google Maps, you’ll paddle out from that beach. Make sure to paddle around the left of the reef, because it gets super shallow really quickly. We loved this wave, because it’s sheltered from the wind, when the other spots around that area are looking quite windy. In our entire three week stay, there was one day when it was onshore, but still surfable. It’s mostly a right, that breaks on to a reef. When there’s bigger swell, there’s a shorter left too. It’s quite a pockety wave, which doesn’t have the same kind of wall that Hiriketiya offers. You do need to constantly turn back into the power of the wave. Nonetheless, you can definitely still get some fun nose rides in. You can also surf this wave, even when there is next to no swell around. There always seems to be a little something, especially for us longboarders. The only downside is that surf schools bring their intermediate surfers here, so at times, there are a handful of coaches, sitting at the takeoff spot, pushing their students into waves. Luckily, most of the students won’t make the takeoff or get around the whitewater, so if you’re ready, you can quite easily pick up a few of these set waves. If it’s a bit bigger, you can also sit on the inside and not have to interact with the surf schools at all, because they’re all sitting at the top and not interested in catching the double ups and inbetweeners in the front. The water is super clear at the actual break, I even took my snorkel and mask out the one day (highly recommend a snorkel here), but from where you paddle out at the beach, the water feels less clean, because it’s where all of the fishing boats park.
Water photography by Titusz Magyar
Here's a video to give you a better idea of this wave :)
Weligama Beach Break:
The Weligama beach is extensive and you can access it through various restaurants and open patches. We enjoyed the peak at W15 Weligama and they didn’t seem to mind us using it as a thoroughfare. You can store your valuables behind the bar while you surf. They also have outdoor showers, toilets and a beachfront pool that you can use. This wave is a faster-breaking, more crowded Muizenberg. However, it’s still a beginners dream and a super soft, slow wave in relation to the other waves around. The longest rides are during low tide, so this is a fun time to longboard. If you happen to get this wave when it’s not overly crowded and when just a few surf schools are out, then this can be a super fun long boarding wave. It’s super chaotic and people are generally unaware of other surfers around them, so drop ins are happening all over the show. It can be quite frustrating if you’re hoping to have uninterrupted waves, but if you go out there with the mentality that you’re going to be dropped in on and it’s an opportunity to work on your turns, then you can have a fun time. If you do happen to get a wave to yourself, it’s a real bonus. We only surfed here once or twice, because it hardly felt worth it with the crowds and the water doesn’t feel as clean as the other spots.
Marshmallow Point, Kabalana Point, Madiha and Hikkaduwa (Ahangama and just outside Weligama area):
We ended up being a bit trapped at Fishermans, so we didn’t end up surfing these spots, but we heard that these are also fun longboarding spots. If you go, let us know how you find them!
Lazy Left and Lazy Right:
We don’t understand the big hype about these waves. Online, people rave about how these are both such great longboarding waves. We booked our accommodation in Midigama, because of how high-rated these waves are for longboarding. Lazy Left is definitely more of a shorter board spot. It has quite a steep take off and then quite a wobbly wall until it flattens out. It’s also unbelievably crowded, so it’s complete chaos. It’s not a very critical wave, but a good levelling-up wave, so there’s a lot of people paddling for every wave that they can muster the strength for. Lazy Right is really inconsistent. A set comes through about every thirty minutes and the wave that does come through, hardly seems worth the wait. We saw this wave every day for three weeks and I think that there was only one day that we saw, where it looked worth a surf on the longboard.
Getting around with a longboard:
Airport: If you have an accommodation pre-arranged, they will probably ask you beforehand if you need an airport transfer. The going-rate is between R1500 and R2000 per shuttle from the airport to the south. It’s about a 3 hour drive, depending on where you’re staying. Make sure to tell your host that you’re traveling with a longboard and maybe even suggest that you need a quantum to pick you up, or a car with roof racks. Perhaps even send a picture of your board, so that your host knows that you have a big board with you. If you don’t have accommodation pre-arranged, then message any established accommodation online and ask them if they do airport transfers. All of them do.
Getting around the airport with longboards: It’s a big mission carting your super-padded and heavy longboard through all the various security checks. If there are at least two of you, you can stack your boards lengthways across the top of two trolleys, making a bridge with your boards. As demonstrated in the picture below:
Getting to the surf: Almost all of the tuk tuks have tie-downs and you can fit up to three longboards on a roof. You can easily catch a tuk tuk from any of the surf spots and if you find one that doesn’t have a tie-down, you can simply try another tuk tuk. You can’t take a surfboard into the bus and I never tried taking one on to the train, but you wouldn’t use the train to get from spot-to-spot. The tuk tuks are generally about R15/km. From Midigama to Fishermans, it cost us 1000 LKR one way, so it cost us about R100 roundtrip per day. You can fit up to three people in a tuk tuk. You can also rent a motorbike/scooter with a side rail for your board. We had friends who even took their motorbikes, with longboards on the side, for hourlong rides. Motorbikes are around 100 USD (R1 800) to rent for the month. We were in a group of five, so it made sense for us to use tuk-tuks.
Selling a board:
Good logs are scarce in Sri Lanka, so if you’re not so attached to your board, you could easily sell it at the end of your trip. You can also get a really good price for it. Our friend sold his log, for 650 EUR (R12 300), including the fin and leash. This is pretty nuts as a South African, because it means that you can sell your old board and order a brand new custom-made board back home. Alternatively, you can also take an extra log and sell it at the start if your trip to get cash for your holiday. You can upload it to Facebook marketplace a week or two before your trip if you like and gauge the level of interest, but if you have a decent second-hand log, it’ll sell for sure.
We spent 10 days in Unakuruwa and then 18 days in Midigma. Would I do it differently if I went back? I think so. I would divide my time equally between Hiriketiya and Weligama. Hirekitiya is the best wave that we surfed and it’s a properly relaxed spot. Weligama is close to Fisherman’s surf spot, really good restaurants and it’s super central, so you can get to Mirissa, Midigama and Ahangama all quite easily for day missions/meals.
Overall, we loved Sri Lanka and will absolutely be back! The waves are fun, the food is great, the ocean is clean and alive and the people are super welcoming. We came back feeling so well-rested, nourished and a couple years younger haha. We’re planning a trip to the east in August and we’ll be letting you know how that goes!
Written by Jessica de Smidt