TOP SURFING DESTINATIONS
Sri Lanka does not have an offseason. Like most places, you just need to know where to go. If you have researched surfing in Sri Lanka you would have come across Arugam Bay on the East Coast which pumps May – September. Maybe even Hikkaduwa (South Coast), that comes alive November – April.
If you like long rides then Arugam Bay is the ideal destination for you. It has also become a bit of a cult destination in South-eastern Sri Lanka among more adventurous surfers who revel in its mostly right hander point breaks. One of these waves, The Point, sweeps out over the whole bay and is on the bucket list of any self-respecting surfer due to the seemingly endless rides it offers on a perfect day.
You might want to take a longboard out on some of the regions’ peaks but there is still plenty of room for performative surf. This is where Australian Julian Wilson won his first major competition, when Arugam Bay hosted a leg of the World Qualifying Series (WQS) in 2010.
This is also Sri Lanka’s most untouched surfing landscape, rich in wildlife and beautiful views. You can often see wild elephants wandering past Pottuvil beach and the Kumana National Park. Kudumbigala wildlife sanctuary, to the South, and the city of Pottuvil further north are some of the region’s main attractions.
May to October is the dry season on the East Coast (Arugam Bay), while the East and West coast suffer the effects of the monsoon. During the rest of the year there are regular showers. Air and water temperatures average 27/28 degrees year round.
From April on the swell shifts east towards Arugam Bay. The best season for surfing is May to September.
Sri Lanka kitesurfing season
There are two main seasons for kitesurfing in Sri Lanka; one in the summer and one in the “winter” (yeah, 28 degrees doesn’t exactly sound ‘wintery’ to me! But I’m from Ireland- we don’t have seasons. Just pain. I mean…rain).
The main Sri Lanka kitesurfing season runs from the middle of May until the end of September (or start of October, if it’s a good season). During this time, the wind is at its strongest and most reliable, typically blowing 18-28 knots on a near daily basis.
The ‘winter’ Sri Lanka kiteboarding season starts around mid-December and continues to the end of February or start of March. During this time, the wind usually blows 15-20 knots on average, though it’s somewhat less reliable than that of the main season.
Best kitesurfing spots in Sri Lanka
9 times out of 10, if someone’s on about kitesurfing in Sri Lanka, they’re usually talking about Kalpitiya. After all, the Kalpitiya kitesurfing scene is by far the biggest and most established in all of Sri Lanka.
The famous Kalpitiya Lagoon is where all the action happens in this neck of the woods:
Separated from the Indian Ocean by a single sandbar, the lagoon is filled with flat water ideally suited to freestyle riders and beginners (if you’re looking to learn kitesurfing in Sri Lanka, you’ll definitely want to get onboard with a complete beginner’s kitesurfing course in Kalpitiya with SriLankaKite school, where you’ll also find some sweet accommodation right on the lagoon).
The water is shallow near the shoreline, getting progressively deeper as you move towards the middle of the lagoon. In the middle, you’ll often find it’s a little bit choppy from the strong wind.
You can choose to kitesurf on the flat lagoon or out on the ocean side, where there’s some wind chop and plenty of little kickers to play around in. Further south you can even find a beautiful wave spot hidden away near some cliffside caves, where an offshore reef creates clean peelers that measure in 1.5-3 meters.
In high season, the wind blows round the clock- so you can expect the palm trees to be swaying from the moment you wake up til well after you eventually fall into bed to sleep. No wonder pro riders like Ruben Lenten and Mikaili Sol choose to come kitesurfing in Kalpitiya!
If you fancy progressing your skills like those guys, you should definitely sign yourself up for an exclusive pro coaching camp.
The wind in Kalpitiya is strong, it’s reliable; but it can also get gusty. This is because the southwest wind crosses over the land before it reaches the lagoon (as opposed to the wind that comes in from the sea which is usually cleaner). In the winter, the wind direction changes to northeast, and since it blows in from the sea, it’s usually much steadier.
If you truly want to make the most of your time here, you can choose to stay right next to the spot in an eco-friendly resort or an authentic lagoon-front cabana.
The Kalpitiya kitesurfing season peaks between June and September, during which time the lagoon can get pretty busy. If you prefer to kite away from the crowds, keep reading; I’ll let you in on 4 other awesome alternatives.
Keen to know more about Kalpitiya accommodation, internet, lifestyle, where to rent your gear, and other adventure activities? Head on over to our extensive guide to kitesurfing in Kalpitiya.
If you’re looking for a smaller, quieter version of the main Kalpitiya kite beach, Kappalady lagoon should definitely be on your hitlist.
Sitting about 16 kilometers south of Kalpitiya, Kappalady lagoon is small but scenic (there’s hardly room for 20 kiters, FYI, it’s really tiny!).
On the land side, the lagoon is lined with palm trees; the Indian Ocean is just 20 meters away, separated only by a sandbar. The lagoon is waist deep throughout, and the water is flat as a pancake.
Extra brownie points for this one:
Surfboard riders will be happy to know there’s a reef less than 100 meters offshore where clean little waves break off to the left and right.
Thanks to the orientation of the lagoon, the wind that blows across Kappalady during the high season comes in off the sea, making it smoother and less gusty than the wind at Kalpitiya. During the winter season, the wind direction changes and so the wind at Kappalady Lagoon blows over the land and becomes gustier.
Puttalam is a sheltered lagoon that absolutely dwarfs the likes of Kappalady and Kalpitiya. In a word: it’s huge.
The lagoon begins just south of Dutch Bay (parallel to Kalpitiya) and continues down the coastline for close to 40 kilometers. Within that area, there’s dozens of sandbars, tiny islands, and pockets of flat water to ride around in.
Puttalam can be a pretty epic place to explore by kite- especially because so few other kiteboarders make it down that far.
A word of caution though:
Kitesurfing in Puttalam Lagoon isn’t all that suitable for solo exploration. The lagoon is an active fishing zone, so there tends to be a lot of lines and sticks in the water in certain areas, as well as very dense seaweed that will bury your lines for good if you happen to crash at the wrong place. On top of that, road access to the kiteable areas is fairly limited. It’s best to ask advice from some of the local kite centers (or better yet, join a tour with them!) before you head down there on your own.
Vella Island is one of the most beautiful spots for kitesurfing in Sri Lanka- hands down.
The teeny tiny island sits bang in the middle of the waters north of Kalpitiya- and man oh man, is it ever stunning.
Take a bumpy boat ride from Kalpitiya to Vella Island where you’ll be able to set up and launch your kites. The surrounding waters are flat and the wind is stable, making it a sweet-AF alternative to the more popular kite spots to the south.
While most people who choose to go kitesurfing at Vella Island tend to base themselves in Kalpitiya, it is possible to stay on the island overnight with some of the remote kite camps (think hammocks and tents style).
Vella Island was once only used as a base for the local fishermen, but a few years ago the local kitesurf clubs from Kalpitiya chose to expand their reach and set up satellite bases on Vella. Kitesurfing Lanka is the most established, having had their Vella base for 6 years now.
In short: Mannar is manna from kiteboarding heaven.
We’re talking butter flat lagoons, crystal clear water, squeaky sand beaches, and nobody around for miles and miles.
Sounds too good to be true, right? But it is true.
“I loved kiting Vella island in Sri Lanka but my back didn’t thank me for it with the boat ride back” said Craig Chandler, owner of the boutique kiteboard brand Upeksha, “Mannar is at least 10 times longer flat water, stronger steady wind, uncrowded, and no back ache from boat ride! I got my highest ever Woo score and my fastest GPS board speed of 38 MPH. Definitely a dream location for me, will be returning next year!”
Mannar sits in the far northeast of Sri Lanka, stretching out towards mainland India. Fun fact: the story goes that Mannar was once connected to India by a sliver of land that we now know as Adam’s Bridge; a delicate underwater limestone shoal.
And want to hear the best bit? (Duhhh, of course you do!)
You can actually kitesurf right around the shoal- and since the water is so clear, you can see all the way down to the rock formation below.
Rent your gear and take your lessons from Vayu Kiteschool; they’ve partnered with Vayu Resort to offer great accommodation for their kitesurfing customers.
Pssst: if you’re thinking about checking out Sri Lanka’s kitesurfing scene soon, make sure you read our helpful review of the best kiteboard bags for travel!