Sri Lanka, the tear-shaped island, has a tropical climate. The south coast has its main and low season due to climate, tourism, and surfing conditions. What you will find in the main season (European winter) is flocks of tourists, endless sunshine, crystal clear waters, and consistent and clean swell.
The low season, on the other hand, has a few misconceptions attached to it. Thus, affecting the tourism industry during this period. It does not mean bad weather with rain, onshore winds and un-surfable waves. As a matter of fact, one can surf and travel all year round in the South with a significant amount of advantages during the low season!
1. Low season in the south coast doesn’t mean rain
Monsoon season does not happen 6 months of the year. Instead, there are two monsoon seasons in Sri Lanka.
- The Yala monsoon, May until July. Short sharp showers and windy in the south west province.
- The Maha monsoon, October until January. Unpredictable weather patterns all over the island.
- Inter-monsoon, August until September. Odd rain shower but sunny/warm all over the island.
Based on my experience from living here in the south for the past year, one can expect sunshine every day. You will experience heavy rain showers for one or two weeks in the monsoon seasons. Otherwise, there will be roughly 10 minutes of random rain showers during the day helping you cool down in the hot tropical climate.
2. Where are all the tourists in the low season?
Imagine Sri Lanka 30 years ago. Culturally rich and no tourists! This is what you will find along the southern coast during its low season. You will find most surfers and tourists hustling for waves in the small town, Arugam Bay, on the east coast. If you are not looking for that classical over-crowded touristic holiday, then go on down south. There, the coastal towns are spread out from Galle down to Tangalle.
3. Cheap and easy to travel South
If you fly into Colombo Bandaranaike International Airport, it takes only 2-3 hours to reach Weligama by car (Arugam Bay takes a long 8 hours). The recent highway running from Colombo down to Matara allows ease of access along the south coast. There is also the option of the train along the south coast that takes you to all coastal towns.
Taking public transport to the south will cost you 200 LKR and 600 LKR to Arugam Bay. A transfer will roughly cost you 12 900 LKR to the south coast and 21 500 LKR to Arugam Bay. You also have the option of taking a direct bus from the airport to Matara for around 500 LKR going twice a day.
4. Abundance of beaches and surf breaks around the South Coast
If you are a beginner to intermediate surfer wanting to improve your surfing. Then, the south coast is the perfect time to visit in the low season. You will find empty lineups and mellow, soft breaking waves. For beginners, there is a variety of beach breaks to surf. For more experienced surfers, one has a selection of a few reef breaks with off-shore winds to explore.
Meaning sandy village, Weligama is a small diverse town. Locally, known as a fishing town but tourists flock to Weligama for the mellow beach break and sheltered bay. The main road is a bit chaotic and run-down but once on the coast, you will find yourself on sandy beaches under tropical palm trees with fishing boats. Weligama is a perfect time to visit during low season as there are no crowded line-ups and consistent waves in the bay. You will find the laid-back Hangtime Hostel just in front of the main break with a scenic view of Weligama.
The Island is where you will find off-shore winds blowing during the southwest monsoon season on the west end of the bay. It received its name due to the picturesque hotel nestled in between palm trees on an island in Weligama. The spot only works with bigger westerly and easterly swells. Can be a fun beach break not bigger than shoulder high.
Outer Reef of Weligama
The outer reef is further west in the bay. This also has off-shore west winds and is very consistent in the low season. A mellow reef break only working with a medium swell or smaller. The reef cannot hold anything bigger. It needs a good SW swell to wrap around the reef.
Hiriketiya is a secluded beach bay south of Dickwella. It is a hidden spot of paradise with crystal clear waters, a mellow beach break, and point break. The beach break is sheltered from the wind and is surfable at any tide and swell. There you will find the surf shop and cafe named Dots. It is tucked away in the bay offering yummy eats, accommodation and surfing lessons too.
Hiriketiya Point Break
The point break has a difficult takeoff zone. This is more for advanced surfers and can hold up to 6 ft swell. The break is also sheltered from the monsoon wind in the bay. The best time to surf it, is during high tide, making the takeoff zone easier.
Further east of Matara there are other “secret spots” that work with bigger swells (+5 ft) with off-shore winds. If you are up for an adventure, hop on in a tuk tuk and go exploring!
6. Choice in Surf Camps
There are a few surf camps open all year round including Drivethru Surfcamps, La Point Surf Camp, Camp Poe, Elsewhere, Sunshine Stories and Talalla Retreat. They are all here to give you qualified lessons and guide you to the right surf spots. Offering cheaper deals during the low season.
Head on down South where you will find sunshine with intermittent rain, variety in beaches and surf breaks and empty line ups! Low season is definitely worth a travel and surf trip down to the south coast of Sri Lanka.