As I started my time in Sri Lanka over the Christmas break, I decided that I’d indulge in a holiday treat with bit of beach time – and have another attempt at learning to surf. I visited a couple of beach towns along the coast, Bentota and Hikkaduwa, but ended up basing myself in the small town of Weligama.
Weligama is not the most beautiful beach in Sri Lanka, but was recommended as the perfect surf beach for beginners. The beach break is reliable, surfable throughout the day, and, with waves 1.5 to 5 feet high, is perfect for those of us still getting our feet wet on the foam boards.
I had tried surfing before, in Canggu in Bali, but think that Sri Lanka was a much easier place to learn. Why? Well, in Weligama, you simply could wade out with your board to chest deep water, get ready, and catch the whitewater, meaning that you didn’t have to spend 90% of your time paddling out. Not only does this mean that you get to surf far more waves, but it means you can surf for longer without succumbing to exhaustion.
There are numerous organised surf camps in Weligama, but I just went down to the beach and booked lessons with one of the beachside surf schools. I had lessons each day with Sihan, who was a great teacher. Surf lessons – like most things in Sri Lanka actually – aren’t particularly cheap: expect to pay around RS 2000-3000 (roughly £10-£15) for a one hour lesson. If you want to get a bit more practice time in, you can rent a surfboard for around 300-400Rs per hour. I found that this was useful; I could get Sihan to critique my technique during the lesson, and then could go out on my own for a bit to try and consolidate the correct technique.
After after five days of surfing I can now stand up fairly consistently on the fibre longboard (bye bye foam board!) and am pretty confident in paddling and catching the whitewater waves. Whilst I’m definitely still a beginner, I’m proud of the progress that I’ve made. Next time I’ll be up for getting into the line up and having a shot at the green waves! Alas, one of the disadvantages of solo travel is that I don’t have cringeworthy video of my surfing attempts to share, but I did stand up a lot – honest!
We Escape – A Boutique Hostel With Pool
I stayed at the fabulous We Escape ‘Poshtel,’ which combined dorm accommodation with luxury touches and, fantastically, a swimming pool. I also availed myself of the wonderful daily yoga classes with Tara, meaning that my first days of 2017 were a healthy combination of surfing, swimming and yoga asanas.
The ‘poshtel’ concept was great, especially for a beach holiday – it combined the sociability of a hostel with the relaxation of being able to chill out by the pool.
I’m reluctant to leave Weligama; it’s a place you could certainly linger, surfing the beach, hanging out with the surfer crowd at Good Story and Hang Time, and getting a final (expensive) glass of wine at W15 whilst watching the sun set over the waves. It was a great start to the new year!