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Stormrider Guide to surfing Southwest Sri Lanka


Southwest Sri Lanka surf at Hikkaduwa, Stuart Butler


+ Quality mellow waves - Conflicting wind and swell patterns
+ Offshore NE monsoon - Small waves
+ Beautiful scenery - No world-class spots
+ Friendly locals - Hikkaduwa localism

The centre of the south coast of Sri Lanka surf scene stretches from Hikkaduwa to Welligama with lots of options for all surf abilities.

The south coast of this extraordinarily beautiful country is open to plenty of long distance SW swells, but onshore monsoonal winds limit the surf season to the much quieter swell period of Dec-March. At this time of year, waist to headhigh waves are common and the glassy conditions are perfect.

When to Go

The consistent SW swell season (April-Oct) will be accompanied by frequent SW to WNW onshores. It’s still possible to surf in the morning but expect rain, dirty water and strong winds. Shoulder season is best when NE winds are most likely to coincide with the bigger SW groundswells. During the dry season, waves are typically 2-6ft and clean, but the afternoons tend to go onshore. Tidal ranges are less than 1m, but affect the shallow reefs significantly.

Surf Spots

On a big swell, North Jetty will catch some long lefts over a rugged reef bang in front of the harbour wall. The outside reef of Benny’s offers a pretty radical and fairly long left that can hold big swells. The most consistent and crowded spot is Main Reef, which has fun, occasionally tubing, but generally slow lefts and rights on a flat coral reef facing the A-Frame Guest House. Inside Reef is another, left-leaning peak that deals out some power, without as many takers. The long stretch simply called Beachbreak varies from a fat beginners wave, to an occasionally fun, wedgy shorebreak, good for bodyboarders. If it ever gets big, the closed-up Rivermouth will have a rideable wave, although the water can be very dirty at this fishing beach. A rare right breaks in the old town of Gallé, but the often ignored Dewata Beach can have fun longboard waves and is one of the few spots that works off-season. Water quality is very suspect after heavy rains. The magnificent curl of beach at Unawatuna is largely sheltered from surf by fringing reefs, but a playful little right used to break off the western point. Sadly an new harbour wall has ruined it and only on the biggest days will it give a rolling, soft, inside right good for mals and surf schools. Koggala has a left reef with a bit more push or improvers can try the deep rolling reef peak at South Beach. The Rock is a super-consistent, focused peak, with fast-running lefts and shorter softer rights in all tides and NE winds. Always crowded from dawn but size certainly thins the crowd. Kabalana Beach can be a fun learner’s wave with the occasional day of peeling waves. Just south of the Ahangama fishing poles, Rajith is the next reef with more longish walls both ways and it is a competition site so it’s obviously consistent. The peak next to Devil Island holds user-friendly rights and lefts over sand and coral. SW swell is best and on bigger days you can get a 150m ride from the rock to the beach on the longer walling lefts up to headhigh. Midigama Right is a suckier little wave on the peak over the coral reef just a short easy paddle from shore. Fattens out into the channel that separates it from Lazy Lefts, where a short steep section then turns into a slow fat left that trundles along for 100m. Can get a bit of backwash at high so low tide is best. Rams Right is a short, powerful peak that breaks over a shallow reef and offers frequent tubes on the right and tapered left walls. A string of reef peaks to the east include Plantation, Coconuts, Ketature and Jungle Beach that can all have some quality on the odd day. Popular but polluted, Weligama beachbreak can be surfed even when small and is ideal for beginners. Beautiful Mirissa beach holds a very fickle right point at the western end of the bay plus a left. Madiha and Sabine Reef at Polhena have both fast lefts and righthanders that hold up to 6ft in a good SW swell. The eastern end of Matara Beach gathers in plenty of swell to a wide, open strand that is perfect for beginners and cruisers at low to mid tide.


dominant swell S -SW S -SW S -SW S -SW S -SW S -SW
swell size (ft) 3 3-4 5 6 4-5 3
consistency (%) 50 50 30 30 40 50
dominant wind N -E NE -SW SW -W SW -W SW -NW N -E
average force F3-F4 F3 F4 F4 F4 F3
consistency (%) 85 59 89 89 80 60
water temp (C) 27 28 28 28 27 27
wetsuit boardshorts boardshorts boardshorts boardshorts boardshorts boardshorts

Travel Information

Maha means NE monsoon (Nov-Mar) and is the driest and sunniest period. The transition periods have very hot temperatures (March-April), then the SW monsoon (Yala) lasts from April to Oct, bringing lots of strong onshores and rain. Water temperature averages 27°C (80ûF) all year-round.

Lodging and Food
Sri Lanka has a myriad of accommodation from basic to luxury and dozens of surf camps/schools. Sion Surf Camp fr $555/wk inc yoga. The food in Sri Lanka is phenomenal - curries, plenty of seafood and fresh fruit from $5 for a meal.  

Nature and Culture
Visit colonial Gallé, climb Adam’s peak for the spectacular sunrise and see the Buddhist temples in Kandy. Wildlife (elephants and leopards) is plentiful in the national parks. Hikkaduwa has surprisingly good nightlife.

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