So, what makes Sri Lanka so perfect for surfing? In a word “weather”, or more accurately, the two monsoon winds that blow across the island. These winds come predominantly from the northeast in the winter, and from the southwest in the summer and are, surprisingly, not that strong. Ideally, calm seas with a gentle offshore wind are needed for great surf, which sounds strange, as you’d expect a big bit of angry wind to get the waves stirring, but it doesn’t work like that.
You need the power of the swell waves, created long distances away and travelling over oceans to build up momentum and size. However, you don’t want these perfect “clean” waves to be broken up or confused by multiple, smaller local-wind waves. This means that, similar to wakeboarding, you need sheltered shores, so early morning and sunset tend to deliver ideal conditions, due to the local winds created by the setting sun.
So, why Sri Lanka? Well, the shape of the island and the two seasonal winds create the perfect surfer’s paradise. In the winter, from November to March, the wind blows from the northeast, which gives sheltered shores on the south and the southwest of the island. The gentle shelving beaches make for a great preparation area and the coral reefs that sit 20 to 50-metres offshore create the perfect obstacle to break the waves and dump the power on the shore. It is this power that the surfer utilises to ride the wave.
Each surfer has their own perfect profile of wave; generally this is a big wave that has not got broken up and lost its power. So the technique is to spot a wave, paddle fast in the same direction and hitch a ride near the crest as it heads for the shore. As you are now traveling the same speed as the wave, you can perform jumps and aerial tricks to impress the spectators on the shore and fulfill your own enjoyment.
As the end of the winter approaches, all is not gloom, as the winds change direction as the monsoon changes. April is normally the month of change, when some days are still good for surfing “Down South” before the southwest winds dominate. Now is the time to redeploy to the East Coast of Sri Lanka.
Summer winds come from the southwest, which makes for sheltered offshore winds on the East Coast, typically from May through to September. This is a mirror of the conditions found “Down South” in the winter. Summer on the East Coast creates the same perfect surfing conditions, with long golden sand beaches, calmer seas close to the land and big ocean swells piling up on the reefs, giving the surfers a play zone.
What happens in the changeover months of April and October? Well, that’s the time to head up to the mountains and trek in lush green jungle. Here you can discover awesome waterfalls which are warm enough to bathe in. Nothing beats swimming in a lower pool, with thundering water pounding down from a height above you.
For tea lovers, wander through the tea plantations on foot (or horseback) to see for yourself how the tea is cultivated and of course enjoy a good cuppa straight from the source.
There are sheltered anchorages for superyachts and private yachts can navigate the rivers and fishing harbours. Bentota River on the South West coast has a plethora of water sports activities, from high powered watercraft, to peaceful river safaris that explore the mangroves which are home to crocodiles and tree snakes.
Food is definitely worthy of a mention, as Sri Lanka is famous for spicy seafood dishes and endless healthy fruits, all grown locally. Native octopus and lobster, delight many a table celebrating that special occasion.
Flights to Sri Lanka are plentiful from Dubai and Abu Dhabi, with accommodation and speciality tours being arranged by www.srilankaislandtours.com