Where to surf in Sri Lanka

Where to surf in Sri Lanka

Category : Sri Lanka , Surfing

Sri Lanka is the destination on everyone’s radar, with its jaw-dropping landscapes, stunning architecture and exotic wildlife – everything from jaguars to elephants. But there’s another reason to visit this unassuming island off the south coast of India, when the expansive beaches and blue waves can be appreciated at their fullest: surfing. Whether you’re trying the sport for the first time, eager to brush up your skills or you’re a dedicated surfer constantly searching for the best waves around the world, Sri Lanka has the beach for you (and a beautiful ones at that) all throughout the year. So, get that surfboard waxed as we show you where to surf in Sri Lanka.

Hikkaduwa, Galle District

When asking where to surf in Sri Lanka, Hikkaduwa may well be the answer on your fellow traveller’s lips. Located in the southwest of the island it’s one of the best known surf spots in the country, but still keeps its charm. With a palm-fringed shore lined with drink shacks and restaurants, you’ll find little reason to tear yourself away from the sand. As for the waves themselves, they’re consistent, peeling slowly towards the shore, and particularly ideal for beginners. The best time to surf here is October to April, when the weather is a cosy 30ºC.

The best of the rest in Hikkaduwa

If you want a break from the waves to rest those paddling arms of fury or if the weather has taken a turn, head for some snorkelling in Hikkaduwa National Park. This coral sanctuary is home to plenty of marine life, from turtles to tropical fish. Inland, there are Buddhist temples such as Gangarama Maha Vihara, decorated with hand-painted murals, and Thotagamuwa Rajamaha Viharaya, 2km north of the town.

Hikkaduwa-where-to-surf-Sri-Lanka

Hikkaduwa Beach

Mirissa, Matara District

Often regarded as one of the best kept surf secrets in Sri Lanka (sorry for blowing your cover, Mirissa!), this town has great waves and a low-key vibe. A mixture of locals, committed surfers and some travellers, Mirissa Beach is where you can forget about the busy world around you and simply swing in a hammock. And, of course, hit the surf. Like Hikkaduwa, the best time to catch a wave here is October to April, and its mellow reef breaks over deep water provide a perfect introduction to beginner surfers who want to up their game after mastering the basics. The beach is also a delight to be on if you’re looking for a bit more quiet, and the water is some of the clearest you’ll find in the country.

The best of the rest in Mirissa

Mirissa is a great location for whale watching – you can spot migrating blue, sperm, fin and bryde whales as well as dolphins. They are most visible from November to April, coinciding perfectly with the best waves.

Marissa-where-to-surf-in-Sri-Lanka

Surfers walking on Marissa’s main beach

Arugam Bay, Batticaloa Territory

The main beach at Arugam Bay is very pleasant, but the highlight here is Elephant Rock, an immensely beautiful beach that’s perfect for novice surfers. It’s harder to get to than the main beach – you’ll need to get a tuk tuk (about a 15 minute ride) and clamber over some rocks (wear appropriate shoes!), but it’s well worth it for the solitude and amazing surf break there. Its namesake is no lie either – you may well see wild elephants roaming around here.

If you can’t make the trek to Elephant Rock, the beach in Arugam Bay itself isn’t to be looked down on. People often describe this area as what Bali’s Kuta was 30 years ago, and this moon-shaped bay is a surfer- and traveller-friendly destination with all the amenities you would need for a day at the beach. That means beachside cafes and food stalls aplenty. For surfing, beginners should point their boards towards Baby Point while more advanced surfers should head for Main Point and Whisky Point. Once again, the best time to go is April to October.

Best of the rest in Arugam Bay

The area is on the edge of Yala National Park, so a trip here would be perfectly paired with a safari trek where you could spot elephants, buffalo and more.

Arugam-Bay-where-to-surf-Sri-Lanka

Elephant Rock is the perfect surfing spot for novices

Weligama, Matara District

Literally translating to ‘Sandy Village’, Weligama was destined to be on our list of where to surf in Sri Lanka. It’s arguably the best place for beginner surfers in the country. This energetic town is a lot of fun to spend some time in while you surf to your heart’s content. The main beach has its own surf break, while other little beaches along the bay provide their own waves, which you can pick according to your skill level. Conditions are best here between October and April (spotting a theme?) and this part of Sri Lanka gets some 330 days of sunshine a year. All you’ll need is  board shorts, a rash guard and lots of sunscreen.

Best of the rest in Weligama

Watch the stilt fisherman at work here while you taste the culinary delights Sri Lanka has to offer at the beachside shacks that abound here.

surfboards-Weligama-where-to-surf-Sri-Lanka

Surfboards for hire on Weligama Beach


10 Best Places to Visit in Sri Lanka

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Category : Asia , Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka may be a small island in the Indian Ocean but that’s the only thing small about it. The country, formerly known as Ceylon, boasts an ancient civilization, golden sandy beaches with their swaying coconut palms, mountains, and rubber and tea plantations. While visiting the island, you’ll see colonial architecture from the days when the Portuguese, Dutch and English ruled. You’ll see lots of elephants, some of which participate in local festivals and, if you’re lucky, perhaps a leopard or two at a wildlife sanctuary. An overview of the best places to visit in Sri Lanka:

10. Bentota

Bentota

 

With coconut palms swaying in the breeze, Bentota is a multi-tasking tourist town on the southern coast of Sri Lanka. One of Sri Lanka’s most popular beaches, Bentota is first an Indian Ocean beach resort where water activities, such as surfing, sailing and snorkeling, abound. When it’s time for a change of pace, you can visit a sea turtle hatchery and conservation center, which monitors five of the seven species of sea turtles in the world. You can also take in a 17th century fortress, lush gardens and an old Buddhist temple that dates from medieval times.

9. Nuwara Eliya

Nuwara Eliya

 

Sri Lanka is famous for its tea. What better place to learn more about tea than the source itself: Nuwara Eliya. With a temperate climate and elevation of 1,900 meters (6,100 feet), Nuwara Eliya is the country’s tea production capital. You can tour a tea plantation and see how tea is made. Founded in the 19th century, this hill country town soon became a retreat for British colonists, earning the nickname Little England. April is a good time to visit, when visitors flock here to see the blossoms and celebrate Sri Lanka New Year. Other sights include Lake Gregory and Laxapana, Sri Lanka’s most famous waterfalls.

8. Anuradhapura

Anuradhapura

 

Anuradhapura is an ancient sacred city that was established around a cutting from Buddha’s fig tree. Dating back to the third century BC, Anuradhapura was established by the founder of an order of Buddhist nuns. This magnificent city of palaces, temples and monuments flourished for 1,300 years but was abandoned after it was invaded in the late 10th century. Much like Peru’s Machu Picchu, locals were aware of it but not many others until it was “discovered” by Europeans many centuries later. These fantastic ruins have since been excavated and are accessible for the public to enjoy.

7. Colombo

Colombo

 

Colombo has been the commercial capital of Sri Lanka for more than 2,000 years when its large natural harbor made it popular with ancient trades from Italy to China. It’s often referred to as the country’s capital, though the legislative capital is located in a nearby city. Ruled over by first Portuguese and then British colonists, Colombo is a popular tourist destination. One of the most popular attractions is Galle Face Green, a strip park along the Indian Ocean. Also not to be missed is Gangaramaya Temple, which is known for its mix of ethnic architectural styles.

6. Yala National Park

Yala National Park

 

Animals rule the roost, the ground and the sky at Yala National Park, a wildlife sanctuary about 240 km (150 miles) from Colombo. Yala offers a plethora of things to do. Your visit begins with a safari to see animals, including elephants, water buffalo and leopards, found here in higher density than any other place in the world. Note: the park closes for September’s leopard breeding season. The park also is home to 215 bird species, of which seven are native to the park. Top sights, besides wild animals, are Sithulpauwwa, an ancient rock temple that once housed 12,000 monks, and Magul Maha Viharaya, once the setting for a royal marriage.

5. Mirissa

Mirissa

 

If you’re looking to holiday in a tropical paradise, Mirissa just might be the answer to your dreams: swaying coconut palms, beautiful golden sand beaches, days spent rocking away in a hammock. It doesn’t get much better than this. This crescent-shaped piece of paradise is famous for having the most stunning sunsets and sunrises in Sri Lanka. There are no luxury resorts to mar the landscape, so it’s just you, the beach, and quiet during the day. The pace picks up at night. Mirissa is the largest fishing port on the south coast and is a good place to go dolphin and whale watching.

4. Polonnaruwa

Polonnaruwa

 

The terms “beauty” and “beast” usually go together well, except at Polonnaruwa where beauty goes better with “ruins.” The second oldest kingdom in Sri Lanka, Polonnaruwa is known for the ruins of this ancient garden city. The 12th century ruins are some of the best preserved in the country. Polonnaruwa was a place where traders of exotic goods mingled with worshippers in the many temples. Start your tour of Polonnaruwa at the Archaeological Museum, then proceed to the massive (50 buildings) Royal Palace with its well-preserved audience hall. The stunningly decorated Sacred Quadrangle is another must-see here.

3. Kandy

Kandy

 

Kandy, the second largest city in Sri Lanka, is the gateway to the Central Highlands and its tropical plantations that grow both tea and rubber. If you’re driving from Colombo, you’ll pass by rubber plantations on a road that is considered one of the country’s most scenic. The last capital of the ancient kingdoms, Kandy is home to the Temple of the Tooth Relic, one of the most sacred Buddhist temples in the world. A major, colorful festival involves taking the tooth relic around the city. Movie buffs may be interested to know Kandy was a chief location in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom.

2. Galle

Galle

 

Galle’s most famous attraction is its 17th century fort built by Dutch colonists. Sitting on a promontory overlooking the Indian ocean, the fort is known for its architectural style. Galle is considered a prime example of a fortified city. The fortress is not just another pretty place, however; today the fort houses courts and businesses. Galle is becoming known as an arts colony and its expat community – about a third of the city’s homes are owned by foreigners. Other top sights include a natural harbor, Sri Lanka’s oldest lighthouse, a maritime museum, a key Shiva temple and the Jesuit built St. Mary’s Cathedral.

1. Sigiriya

#1 of Best Places To Visit In Sri Lanka

 

Wannabe archaeologists need to put Sigiriya on their list of must-see places to visit in Sri Lanka. This ancient city is built on a steep slope, topped by a plateau almost 180 meters (600 feet) high. This plateau is known as Lion’s Rock as it oversees the jungles below. Access to the site is through staircases and rooms emanating from the lion’s mouth. You’ll also see ponds, gardens and fountains. Pretty cool! Locals consider the site the eighth wonder of the world. This ancient rock fortress dates back to the third century BC when it was a monastery. It was later turned into a royal residence.


Discover the Sigiriya Rock Fortress in Sri Lanka

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Category : Asia , Sri Lanka

In the center of Sri Lanka, an immense column of rock rises out of the forest surrounding it. The rock is nearly 200 meters (660 feet) tall and is home to the ruins of a fortress as well as an ancient palace complex. It was constructed during the reign of King Kasyapa, which lasted from 477 A.D. to 495 A.D. This site is called Sigiriya, which means Lion Rock. After the king’s death, the palace was abandoned, but was later used as a Buddhist monastery until the 14th century. After this period, no records are found on Sigiriya until 300 years later when it was used briefly as an outpost of the Kingdom of Kandy.

Sigiriya Rock Fortress, seen from Pidurangala Rock, Sri Lanka

The Sigiriya rock itself is a hardened magma plug from an extinct and long-eroded volcano, similar to the Devils Tower in Wyoming. Archaeologists believe that this region has been inhabited since the third century B.C. King Kasyapa chose this site for his capital because, with the 360-degree view from the summit, it would give him an advantage if attacked. After several years, plans to create a palace complex on the top of the rock finally came to fruition, and the complex became a major palace as well as a fortress. The plans called for an upper palace on top of the rock and lower palaces at ground level.

Sigiriya Rock Fortress, Sri Lanka

The king had lavish gardens built throughout the complex. The gardens, one of the most beautiful aspects of Sigiriya, consist of three sections: the water gardens, the terraced gardens, and the cave and boulder gardens. Of the three gardens, the terraced gardens seem to grab the most attention from visitors. These landscaped gardens are among the oldest in the world, and tourists are able to follow the paths through the gardens to the palace at the top of the rock.

Climbing

Climbing

 

Nearly all the visitors strive to reach to the top of Sigiriya where the king’s palace complex is located. There is a stairway made of stone that leads from the bottom of the rock to the top.

Lion Paws

About halfway up, there are two lion paws that were part of a massive lion with an open mouth. The open mouth is the entrance to the palace. Today only the lion paws remain.

Sigiriya maiden

The Cobra Hood Cave contains paintings more than 1,500 years old. These frescoes, protected from the elements by the cave, depict Sinhalese maidens performing various tasks. Archaeologists do not know if the images show religious rituals or if they depict the numerous wives of the king.

Mirror Wall

One fascinating feature of the site is the Mirror Wall. Situated on the western side of the rock, the Mirror Wall was a brick wall covered with white plaster so highly polished that it could produce reflections. As time passed, this wall became a graffiti board, covered with messages from the various visitors to Sigiriya. Some of the Sigiri Graffiti has been dated as far back as the eighth century A.D. With so many visitors wanting to leave a message, the tradition was discontinued and the wall is now undergoing protective restoration.

The ancient palace

Today, the palace complex is one of the best-preserved examples of urban planning. The fact that Sigiriya still exists for visitors to explore is a testament to the innovative engineering and design used in the building of the palace/fortress.

View from Sigiriya Mounatain

The Sigiriya Museum has exhibits of tools and other artifacts found during the excavation of the site. It also contains photos and reproductions of the exquisite frescoes found in the Cobra Hood Cave. Additionally, translations of the graffiti from the Mirror Wall are available for viewing at this museum.

Aerial

Sunset over the Lion Rock in Sigiriya, Sri Lanka

It is amazing to see how an untouched rock can be transformed into a living complex as well as an impressive work of art. A visit to Sigiriya should definitely be a part of any itinerary when traveling to Sri Lanka.

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