the end of the civil war in 2002, Sri Lanka has seen tourism begin
to pick up - although surfers had been braving the gun-toting (easy)
Tigers, landmined roads etc. all through the conflict. However,
SL has been a big surf destination since at least the early 70s
- even Vince went there when he was a hippy!
main surf Mecca is Hikkaduwa - about 2.5 hours south of Colombo.
Its got about 4 breaks, ranging from well overhead top to bottom
A frame peaks over coral reefs to a gentle beachbreak. It's also
the most crowded spot, with up to 40 surfers on one break in the
morning rush-hour. However, with one exception, when some locals
beat a visiting surfer over the head with:
a) a lump of wood, then
b) the hapless gringo's board,
I never saw any vexation or heavy dread. This may be because the
majority of the surfers there are extremely polite Japanese who,
while taking off 5 at a time, always pull out to let s/he with priority.
There are plenty of boards to rent (£1/hour) including longboards,
minimals and shortboards. And boogieboards for the kids.
there are plenty pukka spots further south and north of Hikkaduwa
(see Stormrider Guide for details) I couldn't be arsed to go to
them. After all, the waves were about a minute from the hotel, food
and drink was unbelievably cheap (£10/day tops) and the place
was horizontally laid-back. Even better, there was plenty evidence
of a Brighton influence with Small Planet and Filf stickers adorning
the place and even a couple of Filf boards in the line up. Home
info: Flights from about £500 in high (dry) season (Oct-May).
Sri Lankan Airlines fly via Maldives (which are stupidly expensive
for a surf trip). Cheaper flights are available in the rainy season
when the mysto big wave spot on the east coast starts working. Expect
to share the plane with serried ranks of beige, elasticated-waisted
leisurewear-clad pensioners on Kuoni package trips. Take ear plugs
to mask the snoring. Surfboards go free on SLA - one of the few
airlines in the world to adopt this surfer friendly approach.
a van (10 seater taxi) to Hikkaduwa - should cost about £20
but a lot quicker and comfortable than ordinary buses. Try to get
one with a/c.
the wave and beach pictures make it look like an unspoilt wave Mecca,
just behind the beach is one of the busiest roads in the country
(and the drivers are maniacs) so take ear plugs and your wits when
dicing in the traffic. And its a great place to get boardshorts
tailor made to fit your lithe or otherwise torso - for about £5.
The place most surfers go to is Dunstan's.