Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka

Indian Ocean
Surfing guide
LAST UPDATED 01/12/2007
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Level of surfing


Quality of surf

Very Good

Call code


Net code





1,340 km


Tropial Monsoon


Cyclones, Severe Storms, Coup / Civil Unrest

Best Months

June - August




Sri Lankan Rupee (LKR) Sri Lankan rupees per US dollar - 103.99 (2006)

Time Zone


Special Requirements

Private Beaches, Special Pass / Permits, Strict Religious Observance


The Flag of Sri Lanka

The Democratic Socialist Repubic of Sri Lanka was formerly known as Ceylon until 1972. It is an island nation in South East Asia about 20 miles off the south eastern coast of India and has a population of around 20 million, it's capital city is Colombo which if located on it's western coast. It's location makes it a strategic naval link between west and east Asia. Despite the fact that it has been a centre of Buddist religion and culture since ancient times the country is more multi-religious in now in the modern day. More than a quarter of the population now follow different faiths such as Hinduism, and Christianity though Islam is the largest of the ethnic minorities.

Sri Lanka is famous for it's large production of tea as well as coconuts and rubber.


PHGCOM; Sri Lankan coin 1st Century AD; 2007

The Sinhalese were the first to inhabit Sri Lanka and arrived in the late 6th century BC from Northern India. Buddism was introduced around the third century BC and the civilizations bulit the cities of Anuradhapura and Polonnaruwa.

It was discovered  and occupied by the Portuguese in the 16th century and then by the Dutch in the 17th century. Theisland was then ceded to the British Empire in 1796 when it became a crown colony in 1802. Independence was granted in 1948 as Ceylon and the name changed to Sri Lanka in 1972.

Tensions have arisen between the Sinhalese majority and Tamil separatists erupted in violence in the mid-1980s. Tens of thousands have died in that violence. Check the current situation before travelling here.


Luca Gorlero: Negombo Beach; 2006

Sitting boldy apart from the sub continent into the Indian Ocean lies the island that is Sri Lanka. The south western corner of the island sees both excellent exposure to all swell that blesses the coast throughout the year. There are plenty of beach resorts throughout the area that will cater for all classes of traveller. Unfortunately, Sri Lanka hss experienced ongoing internal conflict between the ruling Sinhalese government and the Tamil Tigers.

Just stay out of the way on this one, violence is restricted mainly to the north but has erupted in violent acts in the capital Columbo and even in naval engagements. The country was hit hard by the 2004 boxing day tsunami and some areas are still recovering. There are still a few hippie style hangouts on the south west coast, some of these have unfortunately become cheap excuses to peddle funny tablets. Just remember that like most countries in the region, a very dim view is taken on any drug related offences - feel the love man.


Matt Smith/; Tuk-Tuk and driver; Nov 2004

Sri Lankan Airlines is the countries own international airline, and a very good one at that. Flights are available to and from Colombo-Bandaranayake throughout Europe, US, Southeast Asia, China, Japan, Middle East, India and Pakistan. You can also fly between here and the Maldives.

You can take Indian Shipping lines cargo and passenger ship from Trivandrum cheaper than the planes. WWW.SLPA.LK Sri Lanka port authority has information.

Getting around Sri Lanka couldn't be easier, there are numerous tuk-tuks (three wheeled bike taxis) available on every streey corner for your shorter trips - and longer ones if you desire - though it is recommended you get a car taxi for longer trips, the roads aren't all that great!!

where to stay

Matt Smith/; Hikkaduwa B&B; Nov 2004

Accommodation in Sri Lanka is very cheap and on the whole, very clean. You can get a great bed and breakfast in Hikkaduwa for next to nothing compared to western prices or you can splash out on top end hotels. Remember to haggle if you walk in off the street as you'll often get a cheaper price - though not always. Whatever you decide to go for you will generally get great service by friendly staff and a pleasant stay.

what to pack

Rich Niewiroski Jr.: 62 mm ultra-violet, fluorescent, and polarizing lens filters. Camera used was a Canon 400D; April 9, 2007

Take a very good sunscreen with high level of protection. It is absolutely essential, as well as sunnies, hats, long sleeved shirts and long skirts for ladies to cover legs.
Don’t underestimate the strength of the sun; your skin won’t forgive you. Just in case you still ignore our advice, take a lot of Aloe Vera. Repellent might be useful as well. Medicines – as usual.
You may also need a pair of waterproof boots and a good backpack if you plan to explore the islands. Depending on the season tropical rains can be quite often, so it’s a good idea to take something waterproof if you plan to go outside. Another option would be just to stay at you place and have a nap – the whole atmosphere is very laidback.

dangers and warnings

Alvesgaspar; Female mosquito; Nov 2007

Warning:- Tensions are rising in Sri Lanka between the government and Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) rebels. Check news reports and travel advisories before departing. The area around Koddiyar Bay and the Trincomalee District in the northeast is especially dangerous, with the southern part of the bay effectively a war zone. Travel insurance is strongly recommended. 

Despite the above warnings, Sri Lanka is a fairly safe place for the tourist, especially in the southern regions, though as stated do check before you depart that the situation hasn't worsened. Most crimes reported are petty theft and pick pockets, so exercise caution and common sense.

Vaccinations are recommended for Hepatitis A+B, Polio, and Tetanus. Also, the Typhus vaccination outside of tourist areas especially in the wet season. Some areas are also malaria infected so check with your doctor before leaving.

restaurants, shopping and nightlife

Matt Smith/; Beach Restaurant, Sri Lanka Nov 2004

The currency of Sri Lanka is the Sri Lankan Rupee.

In Sri Lanka you will find many souvenir gifts  to bring home ranging in quality and price, wood carvings in the form of ceremonial masks and the unmistakeable stilt fisherman are common and some very appealing. dobe careful what you buy though as some countries are very strict on the importation of organic products. Jewelryis another popular gift fron Sri Lanka, usually gold with Moon Stone gemstones set in it

If you like curries you'll love Sri Lanka, I myself am a curry fan and have to find anything better than the delights found in Sri Lanka. the mixture a spices, textures and tastes is awesome, i'm getting hungry thinking about it!!  There are many roadside vendors selling fresh made roti's. These are a doughy bread pancake wrapped around a filling of you choice, usually curried chicken, veg or fish and they are delicious and very cheap, you might want to get a drink ready before tucking in, Lion Beer recommended.

what to do when it's flat

Matt Smith/; Elephant, Bundala, Sri Lanka Nov 2004

Sri Lanka has a very rich history are there are plenty of ancient ruins and temples to visit. It also has some fantastic national parks where you can go on safari to spot the animals native to Sri Lanka such as the indian elephant, leopards, crocodiles, peacocks, primates and all manner of birdlife, a trip to Bundala national park is well recommended. You can't enter on foot due to the dangerous nature of the creatures living there but you can hire a tracker and driver complete with open back landrover to go exploring.

useful phrase guide

Matt Smith/; Sri Lankan Music band, Sri Lanka Nov 2004

Most Sri Lankans speak Sinhalese with Tamil as a second language. Many in the tourist regions, though not all, will be able to speak English.

A common Sinhalese greeting is 'aa-yu-BO-wa' which directly translated means 'may you live longer'

Thankyou is "sthu-thee"

The Tamil greeting is  "Vanakkam" and thank you is "Nanri"

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