- Visit Sri Lanka's historic forts and pagodas
- Learn to surf in the best spots in the country
- Catch waves at Arugam Bay and Weligama
|Arrive in Colombo, Transfer to Galle & Peace Pagoda
|Transfer to Arugam Bay, Optional Activities
|Surfing Arugam Bay
|Surfing Whisky Point
|Surfing Main Point
|Surfing Pottuvil Point
|Transfer to Weligama & Stilt Fishermen
|Weligama Surf Day 1
|Weligama Surf Day 2
|Weligama Surf Day 3
|Weligama Surf Day 4
|Transfer to Colombo & Depart
Day 1: Arrive in Colombo, Transfer to Galle & Japanese Peace Pagoda
Welcome to Sri Lanka! This island nation off the southern tip of India boasts history and culture in equal measure. It was founded first as the Sinhala Kingdom in 543 BCE. By the 1500s, the Sinhala monarchs had given way to colonial occupiers, the first of which were the Portuguese, followed by the Dutch and British. Though the country won its independence in 1972, many architectural landmarks remain that date back not only to colonial times but thousands of years before.
Upon arrival in the capital of Colombo, a driver will pick you up at the airport and transfer you a couple of hours south to Galle. This city enjoys a privileged location on a lovely bay—so lovely that it attracted Dutch colonizers at the turn of the 17th century. They found it a strategic locale to protect their trading interests in the Indian Ocean. To this end, they took over a former Portuguese fort in 1662, and today it's a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Besides the fort, there are many other Dutch heritage buildings you can see on a walking tour.
Day 2: Transfer to Arugam Bay, Optional Activities
Today is about the surf, as you'll be chasing big waves on the other side of Sri Lanka. Your driver will pick you up for the five-hour ride from Galle to the laid-back surf town of Arugam Bay on the east coast. It's a long ride but a scenic one, as during the trip, you'll pass savanna grasslands, inland rainforests, waterfalls, cane fields, tea plantations, rice paddies, and stunning coastline. There will be opportunities along the way to stop for food and to snap photos.
Upon arrival in Arugam Bay, you'll check in at your hotel. Then, you can head to the beach and get your feet wet. This is the most famous surf spot in the country, and many argue it's also the best. Arugam is home to both right-hand reefs as well as point breaks. And though the conditions are rideable year-round, the surf is supercharged during the monsoon season (May-Sep). Other optional activities nearby include elephant spotting in Lahugala National Park and visiting the ancient forest monastery of Kudimbigala, which dates to the third century BCE.
Day 3: Surfing Arugam Bay
Spend the day riding waves in what is considered one of the best surfing destinations in Asia. Life in Arugam Bay is centered around this exhilarating sport, and it offers perfect conditions for both experienced wave riders and first-timers. If you are a gremmie, start the day with a lesson at a surf camp. For those more comfortable on a board, head out to one of the many breaks in the area. From the gentle swells of Pottuvil Point to the rushing white horses of Peanut Farm, you're sure to find your perfect wave here.
When the sun sets, and you've squeezed the salt out of your hair, you can indulge in Arugam Bay's renowned nightlife. This town is famously less stuffy than other resort areas on Sri Lanka's east coast, so you can kick back and let your hair down. Perhaps start the night with a scrumptious, freshly caught seafood dinner, then end the evening on a tranquil beach as you listen to the sounds of the wind in the coconut palms.
Day 4: Surfing Whisky Point
Wake early and head just north of Arugam Bay to Whisky Point. "Mellow" does not do this break justice because the waves here are about as chill as it gets. It's heaven for beginners, featuring soft, easy-going rights that break off a boulder point. It's true that during heavier storms, the swells here can rise over 13 feet (4 m), but that's almost unheard of during the regular season. Usually, you'll be practicing pop-ups on chest or shoulder-high breakers. So enjoy a day on the water, and when the sun gets low in the sky, return to Arugam Bay for more great dining and nightlife.
Chat with a local specialist who can help organize your trip.
Day 5: Surfing Main Point
After an early breakfast, you'll head out to conquer the waves at Main Point. This is the most famous surf spot around Arugam, as it's a classic regional point break that offers a 165-500-foot (50-150 m) ride coming off a series of boulders. The bottom is mixed sand and reef, so most beginners stick to the mini point just behind the main attraction. On big days it can barrel, but it also blows out at the sniff of a breeze.
Day 6: Surfing Pottuvil Point
Today you'll head to Pottuvil Point, on the outskirts of the town of the same name. The beach here is every surfer's dream, as its right-hand break and sandy bottom are ideal for beginners—yet its consistency makes it attractive to experienced riders. It doesn't hurt that Pottuvil Point occupies a romantic spot on a peninsula sandwiched between the Indian Ocean and a tranquil lagoon.
Despite the scenic locale, Pottuvil remains uncrowded due to its relative inaccessibility (it requires an hour tuk-tuk ride to get here). Those intrepid enough to make the journey are rewarded with 2,624-foot (800 m) rides from the outside section through to the beach on the inside. The wave tends to double up as it hits a shallow sand bottom at the last section, which will have you hanging on with pure joy. If you can ride this last bit to completion, you'll close out in the bay's shallows—then you can do it all over again. At the end of the afternoon, you'll return to Arugam Bay.
Day 7: Transfer to Weligama & Stilt Fishermen
Your driver will meet you this morning, and you'll retrace your steps on a 4.5-hour ride from Arugam Bay back toward Galle. You're going to Weligama, one of the most popular coastal destinations in the country, filled with luxury resorts, spas, and boutique hotels. Not only are there excellent swimming beaches here, but there's also great surf. These factors have made this corner of Sri Lanka an elegant tropical paradise with a beach-bum vibe.
Driving along the coast into town, you'll see something interesting: men perched on sticks rising out of the ocean. These are the region's famous stilt fishermen, and their method is unique to Sri Lanka. They sit on a cross bar called a petta, tied to a vertical pole and driven into the sand a few meters offshore. From this high vantage point, the fishermen cast their lines and wait for a bite. It's a simple yet effective method the residents of southern Sri Lanka have practiced since antiquity. You'll stop to see them ply their trade, then continue to your hotel in Weligama.
Day 8: Weligama Surf Day 1
The name Weligama translates to "sandy village," which is exactly what you'll get here—that and great surf. Winter (December-February) is the perfect time to visit, as this is when the waves at the best spots are up and delivering great surf for all experience levels. For beginners, Weligama is a good place to learn to surf, as it features a 1-mile (2 km) stretch of shallow sandy beach. Be sure to arrive at dawn, as this beach is usually uncrowded until 8 am, making it the best time to practice. Still, you can expect other learners to drop in on the left and right-breaking waves here, so you can make new friends.
Day 9: Weligama Surf Day 2
Today is yours to hit some of the best surf spots in and around Weligama. Some you'll want to visit include Weligama's main beach (great for beginners), Midigama, Kabalana, Mirissa, and Hiriketiya. All these are located on the south coast, and you can expect waves between 2-8 feet (1-2.5 m). Winds are normally nonexistent in the morning, which results in perfect glassy conditions. These sites also feature long point breaks, hollow reef breaks, and fun beach breaks perfect for all skill levels.
Day 10: Weligama Surf Day 3
If you're a seasoned wave rider, you can spend the day enjoying Weligama's surf on your own. However, if you are a beginner, this is a good opportunity to hone your skills. In the morning, you'll head to a secluded part of Weligama Bay, home to a welcoming surf school. Away from the hustle and bustle of the town, you'll begin your one-hour private surf lesson, which starts with a tutorial and safety demonstration on the beach. When you're ready, your instructor will lead you into the waves, and you'll start riding for real.
As you progress, your guide will be right there with you in the water, imparting their knowledge on improving your skills with each wave you catch. After the lesson, leave your board on the beach and relax with your toes in the sand as you enjoy a refreshing post-surf beach in a traditional thatched-roof hut. This is also a great activity for kids.
Day 11: Weligama Surf Day 4Spend your penultimate day in Sri Lanka out on the waves. If you arrived in Sri Lanka as a beginner, then by now, you should be proficient enough to catch more than a few waves. And if you're a seasoned veteran, spend this time carving waves while enjoying the gorgeous scenery, which includes white-sand beaches, fishing boats, coconut palms, and azure blue water running out to the horizon.
Day 12: Transfer to Colombo, Depart
The time has come to say a bittersweet goodbye to Sri Lanka. At the appropriate hour, your driver will pick you up from your hotel for the two-hour drive to the airport in Colombo, where you'll catch your flight home. Until next time!