With consistent swells between two and four feet, tropical waters, a friendly, bustling culture and a great exchange rate, the west coast of Sri Lanka has long been a winter escape for the surfers of Europe. There are waves right around the west coast with traditional surf centres of Hikkadua, Ahangama, Midigama and Weligama all well set up with quality accommodation providers, surf schools, cafes and restaurants. It is a perfect spot for everyone from beginners to advanced surfers, and is particularly well suited to intermediates and families with frothing groms. Expect to get up at dawn to catch the glassy waves which never seem to go flat, then shelter from the midday sun before an evening glass off sesh. Choose to stay in one location or move up or down the coast. You probably won’t get empty lines, unless you go exploring, but you will have fun. Most accommodation providers will book you transport from the airport via taxis or minibuses. Alternatively you can book them in the airport arrivals area, or go outside and haggle. Hikkadua is two hours from Colombo airport. Weligama and Midigama two and half hours ($100 one way). If you are feeling adventurous take the train which goes down the coast. Must dos while you are away include the snake farms, and you can rent your own tuk-tuk and go on an adventure. Roads are very busy so we wouldn’t recommend mopeds. A lot of the surf camps provide surfari days out.
WHEN TO GO: October – March
ACCOMMODATION: See our recommended guide.
LANGUAGE: Sinhalese and Tamil are the two official languages of Sri Lanka. Pretty much everyone speaks English too.
CURRENCY: Sri Lankan rupee
RUBBER: None – boardies, bikinis and rashies.
WATCH OUT FOR: The roads are insane, buses race each other to be the first to passenger stops. Be careful anywhere near them. Always haggle for best prices, it’s expected.
AFTER DARK: Some great restaurants and cafes in all areas with all sorts of food. Seafood is great here. Lots of street food is really good quality. Try the rotis – filled flatbreads. Great and cheap.
The Maldives is, in two words, perfect fun.
Warm water, predominantly offshore winds, remarkably consistent swells and reefs that work from two feet upwards. As a destination is it easy to get to – a long haul flight with one short stop in the Middle East being the norm, then a 30-45 minute speed boat out to the camps or your boat will meet you in the harbour. The airport is harbour side so you walk out of departures and into your trip whch is pretty handy. The reefs are generally flat with not as many sharp bits, shallow or unpredictable sections from hell awaiting to take your skin off like in Indo or the Pacific. There is nothing that really wants to eat you in the sea, or on land, no terrible tropical diseases, and the camps are safe with great relationships with locals.
Wave wise it is the most user friendly place you can think of and is ideal for first trips, intermediates, experts and groms. Expect more power than the UK, but not as much as Indo unless there is a big swell and you are at one of the hollower breaks like Cokes or Beacons. Most of the waves offer long walls wrapping around the islands with deep channels. All the camps will also offer speed boats to the breaks nearby for variety. Boats will cruise around looking for the best wave. Despite being more popular than ever you can still score uncrowded ‘golden hours’ here even at the height of the season.
Outside of the surf you have seen the shots – impossibly turquoise water, serene backdrops, turtles, fish, dolphins, mantas, lion fish, massive fruit bats … it is all there. The best diving or snorkelling in the world is right there in the channels that surround your camp.
WHEN TO GO: Main swell season is March to October but you can score all year.
AIRPORT: Male (MLE)
ACCOMMODATION: See our recommended guide overleaf.
LANGUAGE: Dhivehi, but everyone speaks English too.
CURRENCY: Maldivian Rufiyaa
RUBBER: None. It’s boardies, bikinis and rashies.
WATCH OUT FOR: Having too good a time. Some local camps are on islands with a Muslim heritage so expect to dress modestly while in villages. Some camps may not serve alcohol but they will tell you on their websites.
AFTER DARK: Everything happens during the day here so get up at dawn if you can and make the shot of every day. Camps will entertain you, and there is noting like an apres-surf beer on a boat at sunset, but it is not the place to go if you expect to go clubbing.