Pssst! Do you want to know why surfers love Sri Lanka so much? Besides its breathtaking beauty, it’s one of the most, if not the most reliable surf destination in the Indian Ocean.
As it’s made up of two surfing regions: the Southern Province and the Eastern Province, each with its own wind and swell conditions, you can surf big in Sri Lanka year-round.
As long as you’re willing to hit the road and travel between these provinces once or twice a year, you won’t have to deal with a down-season of any kind. Sounds pretty great, right?
Well, before you buy your one-way plane ticket and politely text your boss to stuff it, you’ll need a little more information about how the seasons work in these two surfing hotspots.
The Important Stuff
Sri Lanka has a hot, tropical climate composed of two distinct halves: wet season and dry season. To get the most of a year of surfing, you’ll orchestrate your time in the water around the coming and going of these integral weather patterns.
Sri Lanka Surf Seasons – The Southern Province
The main surf hubs in the Southern Province of Sri Lanka are situated around Galle, Ahangama, Weligama, and Matara.
Traditionally speaking, peak surfing season in the Southern Province starts in December and runs all the way through to March. This is because it’s the middle of the dry season on the southern coast, meaning the winds are primed for some large, clean waves between 2 and 6 feet tall.
Having the water to yourself is a rare occurrence in peak season, so it’s best to schedule a very early or late paddle. Just make sure you have enough daylight to get a decent session in.
You may be thinking…Hey, that’s only 3 months of surf. If we only get 3 months of surfing from each province, that’s half a year’s surfing at best.
Well, don’t worry, because, in many ways, “peak” season doesn’t actually produce the best surf. Dry season on the southern coast officially starts in November and ends towards the backend of April.
If you’re a skilled surfer, and you want to hit some real waves and avoid beaches choked up with holidaymakers, it’s these “shoulder months” directly before and after monsoon season that provide the ultimate south coast experience.
This is because the swells coming in from the Southern Ocean are at their best throughout these months. They’re basically superpowered due to the onset or aftermath of storms. It’s the perfect combination of safe weather and huge surf.
Even during the May through to October rainy low season, there’s still some decent surf to be enjoyed, but whether you should give it a go depends on your skill level.
Beginners can play it safe in the white water, refining their skills for the next dry season, and as long as their duck dives are on point, and they’re a strong paddler, experts can head on out and enjoy the empty open water.
Unfortunately, though, intermediate shredders don’t really have a place in this season. The moderate waves they’ll be accustomed to riding simply disappear until dry season comes back around.
If you consider yourself an intermediate surfer, and you still want to try surfing during the off-season, look for the most sheltered surf break you can. The wind protection they offer might be sufficient for you to catch a few easy green waves.
During the May through October wet season, some breaks will likely close up shop, so if you’ve got a specific beach in mind, it’s a good idea to do some research before planning your monsoon season surf.
Key Southern Surf Break
Weligama is one of the more popular beaches to visit during the southern dry season. It’s typically known as the perfect place for beginner surfers, but the varying waves and 3.2km length mean there’s plenty of surf and space to be enjoyed by all surfers regardless of ability.
Sri Lanka Surf Seasons – The Eastern Province
The dry season in the Eastern Province runs from May through to September, so if it’s sun and surf you’re after, those are the best months to mosey on over.
It does get incredibly hot after midday, so paddling out earlier before the sun has reached its zenith is often considered the safest call. You’ll also need to invest in some Tropical Water Surfboard Wax. It’s much harder than standard wax, ensuring it stays on your board when you’re carving up those bath-warm waters.
Some claim that you can get some pretty awesome surf in the Eastern shoulder months too, so late April and early October are a possibility depending on the forecasts.
Unlike Sri Lanka’s southern coast where there’s still some potential for surfing in the low-season, the north-eastern monsoon season renders most breaks pretty lifeless and flat. Not to worry, though, water walker. Now you can head on back to the Southern Province and keep the party going.
Key Eastern Surf Break
The jewel of the Eastern coast is widely considered to be Arugam Bay, a beautiful sand-bottom break with waves rolling in between 3 and 8 feet high. It can get a little crowded due to its reliability, barrels, and big turn sections, but if you head out early, you’ll have more of it to yourself.
There you have it. Sri Lanka didn’t become a veritable surfing Mecca for no reason. If you’re handy with a calendar, you can map out an entire year of amazing surfing adventures. Depending on how you go about it, traveling from one coast of Sri Lanka to the other can be time-consuming, but it should never take longer than 7 hours.
There aren’t all that many surf shops in Sri Lanka, which is pretty weird considering how prominent the sport is over there, so make sure you stock up on essentials before heading out.
It’s definitely hot enough to forgo the wetsuit. Just bring a few board shorts with you, and you’ll be set. However, I would definitely recommend investing in some sort of rash guard.
Sure, it’s nice to pop your top and catch some rays, but it’s so hot in the dry season that hitting the waves without a guard isn’t a good idea.
Once you’ve got your gear sorted, all that’s left to do is book your plane ticket, then enjoy some amazing surf. See you in the water!