You would like to make your surftrip to Sri Lanka more sustainable? Well, then we can give you some nice examples of how that could look like and which options there are around.
When to go?
First of all the question is, which time of the year are you travelling? If you go to Sri Lanka between May and October, you would go to the East Coast, as this is the time of the year where the swell comes to the famous surf spots around Arugam Bay! If you want to catch some waves between November and April, you would probably go to the South-West coast and check out some of the many spots between Hikkaduwa and Dickwella.
So as Sri Lanka has two (surf-)seasons you can surf in Sri Lanka all year round! Nevermind where you go or which time of the year, you can find waves for all levels! Shallow reef breaks, like Rams (Midigama) or easy beach-breaks for beginners like Welligama will provide waves for all kind of surfers.
Tipps for your sustainable surf trip
Sri Lanka is a beautiful and interesting island, with a lot to offer! After your surf sessions you can fill your hungry belly with delicious rice & curry and mango-lassie, on your rest day you can treat yourself with some ayurvedic massage and yoga sessions. With your friends who don´t surf, or if the swell is really low, you can drive inland up to the mountain area and hike in the tea plantations. If you cut yourself on the reef and can´t surf because of the wound, you can still go to the temples and learn from the monks about buddhism. Okay, we actually didn´t want to write a blog article why you should go to Sri Lanka but how this trip could be more sustainable than normal surftrips. By the way – have you read our article about sustainable travel? Setting off your carbon footprint via donating to environmental programmes and choosing the shortest flight combination, would already be the best start. But besides the transport, what else is there to do?
Sustainable Surf Accommodation
As everywhere around the world, we still find it hard to find sustainable surf accommodations.
There are some luxury accommodation options which at least claim that they are doing something for sustainability (e.g. Jetwing Hotels in Arugam Bay, Resplendent Ceylon Hotel in Welligama). However, there are many small (budget) homestays and guesthouses around, which are probably more sustainable without declaring so, because they simply provide less luxury which use a lot of energy (air-condition, television, etc.).
A Surf Camp which does have quite a lot of sustainability actions is the Green Rooms in Welligama. They not only refill water bottles and are planning to install solar panels. But they also do Beach Clean Ups, support the local community with recycling trucks and work with schools to do environmental education! Besides they also support the community with donations for school or hospital fees and -as a surf camp- they are also teaching the local kids how to surf and be safe in the water! Have a look at the Green Rooms if you are interested.
If you know about any other sustainable accommodation options, please let us know about them!
Volunteering and Internships
If you want to volunteer or do an internship in a social or environmental project in Sri Lanka, this is easier, as there are many options around, especially inland. If you want to combine it with surfing, it gets a bit trickier.
You can always try to look on Workaway selecting the fields NGO, community, sustainable project, etc. in the detailed search, however we weren´t really lucky with the hosts we wrote to.
Supporting ill & homeless dogs
If you are into dogs and surfing around Ahangama/Midigama (/Welligama), you should definitely visit the foundation Animal SOS Sri Lanka, which is the biggest dog shelter in Sri Lanka. Hard to believe but they care for more than 1500 dogs over there! We were really impressed, not only by the amount of dogs living there, but also by the great organization around it – approx. 50 local people are working there (giving the locals a job is already a great contribution), all dogs are vaccinated, well nourished and the ill & injured nursed back to health. They even use Hydro-Therapie, so you might see them in the ocean as well! The staff & foundation in general always needs some help, so just talk to them, how you could get involved, in case you are interested.
Sri Lanka is a very traditional country, where gender equality is hard to achieve as there are still a lot of unofficial rules and behaviours men and women follow. You will hardly see any Sri Lankan women surfing or doing sports in public (not even riding a bicycle). Fortunately, there are some brave women, who challenge those traditions and do what they want – the Arugam Bay Girls Surf Club (Instagram: Abay Girls Surf Club) was the first one empowering Sri Lankan women to surf! Read more in those articles
- Surfer.com – This All-Female Surf Club is Shifting the Paradigm in Sri Lankan Surf Culture
- Silverkris.com – Sri Lankas Female Surfers
And now there are more such Surf Clubs arising, like the Watura Womens surf club, read more about it here: Santoshasociety.com – Sri Lanka Surfer Girls
They all need support, so maybe you would like to contribute in some way!
Do you know any other organizations in Sri Lanka close to surf spots which you can recommend us and our readers? If so, we would be really happy if you can tell us about them!
As always we want to give a last info about what else you should be mindful of when trying to making your surftrip more sustainable. This time we want to highlight the use of plastic bottles. Unfortunately still many guesthouses in Sri Lanka only provide 1-2 liter water bottles and it is hard to find refilling stations. What can we do about it? Buy at least 4 liter containers from the shops around and keep asking all your accommodation owners and restaurants why they don´t have a refilling station – if all tourists/travellers do so, they would probably soon provide it!
Respecting the Ocean and maybe renting the equipment would be a responsable way of doing a surf trip. Good article though!