The Localist

Learning to Surf in Weligama

I admit there are times when a foreigner can help you get better acquainted with the hot spots in your own country.

This is how a day trip of mine with a few colleagues came to life, when the ex-CTO of my place of employment (a very cool British “dude”) introduced us to Weligama a town on the south coast of Sri Lanka, located in Matara District, Southern Province. We had no idea, but it’s apparently a great place to go surfing. I’m one of those people with masses of useless energy, as my skills in sports are pretty disappointing. I can’t play anything, I just specialise in running around. But 2015 is my year of trying things I haven’t done before. So Weligama here we come!

From Colombo, we took the Southern Express highway all the way to Weligama. We immediately noticed that a brand new expensive resort is being built there. Which seems pretty counterproductive since mostly backpackers go to Weligama looking for budget stays. Anyway, around this stretch are a gazillion surfing “schools”: huts with surf boards, merchandise and overly suntanned beach boys. We checked into “surfing’ lanka”, which happened to be a place that my boss had recommended. So we got a good deal, 2k per person ($15) for the ENTIRE day. WHAT, you say?! That’s mad cheap!

We were asked to wear appropriate clothing, spandex type gear. Which is totally fine by me (masking masking!). Man did we look like a bunch of dapper dans straight from Bondi Beach!

There was some mandatory training, more like a briefing, that we had to sit through. Our European instructor really wanted to explain everything in Sinhalese, but failed and resorted to explaining in English. His English was in pretty bad shape, but I suppose he was used to explaining to the usual foreign tourists that visited. And of course, we Sri Lankans are fond of Europeans and their thick accents and errors but laugh at the errors of our own….because we’re elitist like that. And we invented English.

Jokes aside, we became familiar with the head and tail of a surfboard, and learned how to keep our navel central to the board so we wouldn’t drown. We then took our surfboards a few metres out into the sea, trying to remember the cues we all just learned, and off we went. It was the best feeling ever! I, the outdoorsy-but-suck-at-all-fun-stuff member of the group actually stood on the surfboard! Yes yes, with the waves and everything. After falling a few times, of course. But it was amazing. Riding waves, just floating on water, the works. I now understand why surfers from all around the world come to Arugambay, Sri Lanka for the season, because it’s totally worth it. But if you’re a surfing virgin like me, start at Weligama. You won’t regret it.





Image. Photo by Michael Coghlan, Creative Commons Attribution Licence. No changes made.

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