The Best Destinations for Surf Trips – Sri Lanka (Beginner – Advanced)

For most, it’s been a long couple of years, with the ability to travel all but removed and our choice of surf destinations subsequently drastically limited. For those of us fortunate to live near enough to a quality surf break or two that might not have been such an issue, but nonetheless being able to take to the air in search of an overseas surf trip will be something that is welcomed back with open arms. In this series, we’ll take a look at some of the best surf trip destinations around the planet for surfers of all abilities, heading now to Sri Lanka. 

Sri Lanka is a 65,000 square kilometre island nation off the south coast of India, and its geographic position and substantial coastline makes it an ideal location for a surf trip. Boasting a diverse landscape which belies its small size, this is a country filled to the brim with everything from lagoons and wetlands to forests and rivers, and of course, plenty of ocean. A unique feature of Sri Lanka is that different sides of the islands have entirely different seasons, and as a result the waves on the east and west coast are at their best at different times, meaning there are waves to find on the island every month of the year. From May to October, while the west coast is being pummelled by the monsoon, the surf on the east coast is at its best; come November, the south-west coast is the place to be for surfers, and remains the so until April.

Getting there

Getting to Sri Lanka itself is relatively straightforward, with the Colombo-Bandaranayake International Airport (CMB) in its bustling capital of Colombo the first destination. A city of 650,000 people, there are generally plenty of flights to the Sri Lankan capital, and from Australia you’ll be looking at a flight of somewhere between 9 and 13 hours. But while Colombo is situated right on the west coast, it’s not exactly somewhere that you’ll be doing a whole lot of surfing. 

If you’re heading to the south-west of the country on arrival, it’s a reasonably short trip of a little over 100 kilometres to Hikkaduwa – one of the main surf spots – which you can make via either train, bus or taxi. A taxi is obviously the easiest and won’t cost you too much, but if you’re really trying to save money then public transport may be the go. If you are taking the train or bus, however, you’ll first need to get into Colombo itself from the airport, which you can do by bus or tuk tuk.

If you’re going to the east coast from Colombo, it’s a bit more of a trek. The mountainous inland regions of Sri Lanka make that part of the country difficult to traverse, so rather than heading straight east from Colombo to somewhere like Aragum – which sits on virtually the exact same latitude as the capital – you instead have to take a bit less of a direct route, which unsurprisingly takes a reasonably long time. It’s probably easiest to do the trip in parts, stopping off at another place or two along the way, though if you need to get all the way to the east coast in one day it is doable. There are a handful of buses which take a number of different routes and can take anywhere from 6 to 16 hours, or alternatively you can source out a taxi, though this will be substantially more expensive. 

The waves

Now to the most important part – the waves. As mentioned the surf seasons on each side of the island run on opposing schedules, so we’ll take a look first at the best of them on the south-west coast, and then the best on the east coast.


Hikkaduwa is probably the most popular area for surfing in the south-west part of the country, with the relatively developed town overlooking a range of breaks suitable for all levels of surfers. The main reef and A-Frame break have consistent surf from November through to April and are generally pretty friendly for beginners through to intermediate surfers – though there are plenty of crowds to deal with. This area also handles bigger swells, so when they come through there’s plenty on offer for more advanced surfers too.


A little further south from Hikkaduwa is the small town of Midigama, which sits just west of the more well-known Weligama. Midigama’s two primary spots are aptly called Lazy Left and Lazy Right, making them ideal for beginners, intermediates and longboarders. If you’re after something a little more challenging, a right-hand reef break known as Rams offers a much more critical take-off and a long ride, but breaking over a sharp coral reef it’s best left to those with a bit of experience.


In between the two aforementioned breaks is Unawatuna, one of the most popular beaches in the country. The main reef break is fairly high-performance, albeit not typically huge, so intermediate to advanced surfers would be best suited here. Nearby is a much more mellow beach break which breaks over sand rather than reef, so there’s a little something for everyone here.

Arugam Bay

To the east coast now, beginning with what is probably the most well-known surf spot in the entire country. The main wave here offers a bit of something for everyone – a long right-hand peeler breaking over reef, it can be suitable for longboarding and beginners one day before offering up hollow barrel sections and walls ideal for high-performance surfing the next, and it’s rare during the May-October window to not find something surfable in this part of the country.


Located about an hour south of Arugam Bay is Okanda, a reasonably high-performance right-hand point break. The wave can at times provide a cover-up on the critical take-off, before a fast, steep wall through the middle section can at times lead to another hollow end section close to the beach. The main part of the wave is best suited for intermediate to advanced surfers, although there is some protection on the north side of the bay in which beginners can learn their craft.

Pottuvil Point

Pottuvil differs a bit from the other waves on this list in that a) it doesn’t offer much for beginners, and b) there’s only a fairly small window of the year in which it actually works. Generally in full flight in August and September, the right-hand point break doesn’t usually get too big, but what it lacks in size it more than makes up for in punch. The hollow wave has a few different take-off sections, though the main one is just in front of a group of boulders which you’d be best off avoiding, before it settles into a more playful section called Spectators at the end of what can be a very long ride. 

Sri Lanka is one of the best locations for a surf trip in the world for a number of reasons. For starters, whatever time of the year it is when you head there will be surfing season on one side of the island, while another great feature is the range of abilities which the waves here suit. Whether you’ve been surfing all your life, are just starting out or fit in somewhere in between, there’ll be plenty of options for you in Sri Lanka, making it an ideal location for a surf trip.