Exploring Ahangama: The surfing sweet spot on Sri Lanka’s southern coast

exploring ahangama the surfing sweet spot on sri lanka’s southern coast
Exploring Ahangama: The surfing sweet spot John Crux Photography - Getty Images

If you’re in search of paradise, we’ve got you. With its sun drenched tropical beaches, cultural richness and laid back atmosphere, it’s easy to see why Ahangama has become a mecca for travellers seeking an authentic Sri Lankan experience away from the crowds. This chilled out beach town still has hustle and bustle, but on a small scale. And its position nestled along the picturesque southern coast - an area known for its consistent waves - has drawn in a vibey surf set and a whole scene along with them.

Over the past five years, this once sleepy village has emerged as one of Sri Lanka’s up-and-coming spots bringing with it an influx of hip restaurants and hotels, yet still staying true to its laid back charm. A combo of cafe and surf culture, wonderful locals and friendly travellers make it one of the most sociable places on the planet (according to me, but I’m sure Lonely Planet would back me up) and if you’re planning a solo trip, it’s a great option as you’re guaranteed to make mates within minutes.

Location wise it is a brilliant base to explore lots of other great places including the stunning UNESCO World Heritage site that is Galle Fort and Old Town and the tea plantations.

Whether you’re a surfer chasing the perfect wave, a beach bum looking for the perfect slice of sand or a yogi in search of serenity and a good stretch, Ahangama has it all and a bit extra thrown in for good luck.

Where to stay in Ahangama, Sri Lanka

If you are looking for relaxation, great people, daily yoga and surf, there is nowhere better than Soul & Surf. This boutique beachside hotel offers week long retreats that include most meals (with gaps to let you explore local restaurants), vinyasa and yin classes and expertly guided surf sessions. Set in a small cove with a peaceful beach, the gorgeous white washed building with pastel pink painted doors and shutters is Instagram worthy and looks straight out onto a perfectly turquoise sea. This is also one of the best surfing spots in the area so if you are intermediate level and beyond you can literally open your front door, hop on a board and off you go. Happy days.

The rest of the property is pretty special too with a cool, design feel throughout the restaurant, bar and terrace which makes the perfect lookout post for watching the water acrobats taking place in the waves. The sunset here is incredible too, as is the cocktail list.

And while the aesthetics are undeniably on point, the real draw is the welcoming feel that owners Ed and Sophie have put at the heart of this place. You are guaranteed to meet a great group of likeminded people to enjoy sunny days and spicy meals with.

Oh, and did I mention the food? Everything on the menu is delicious - all inclusive here hits different (or as they call it ‘all inclusive-ish’) with incredible food prepared by great local chefs using the freshest of produce. Do not leave here without having the fruity pancake stack at breakfast - literally life changing.

Rates at Soul & Surf start from £750 during green season and £945 during main season, including a week's accommodation and plenty of food, surf and yoga. For more information and to book, head here.

What to do in Ahangama, Sri Lanka


With its consistent swells and uncrowded beach breaks, this coastal haven has earned a reputation as one of Sri Lanka’s premier surfing destinations. Whether you’re a seasoned pro or a novice eager to catch your first wave, there’s a spot for everyone. Soul & Surf’s tuition is exceptional with a focus on in water experience which is backed up with video analysis sessions (watching my wipeouts back with my classmates provided many lols as well as vital feedback to get me gliding more seamlessly). On arrival you’re divided into different groups according to your experience which means coaching is really tailored to your ability and the teacher to student ratio means you genuinely get plenty of guidance. Nothing beats loading up the tuk tuks with the surfboards in the morning and speeding through the streets in convoy, taking in local life as you cruise to find the best waves. Warning: You do have to get up at 6am for morning surfs but trust me, it’s worth it and the Sri Lankan coffee is great.


Immerse yourself in local life by taking a stroll through the bustling streets, where you’ll find colourful stalls selling everything from handcrafted souvenirs to exotic spices and my favourite stop, the fruit shop with tropical treats that look like they’re from another planet. At the markets you can watch the fisherman bring in their haul and sell it straight from sea to street. Taking a tuk tuk anywhere is a fun way to travel and see the area whilst on the move. I loved bobbing and weaving through the traffic in these colourful go karts come taxis which are also great at providing some natural air conditioning in the sticky heat.

The journey to Galle is about 30 minutes by tuk tuk and the fort and old town there are a UNESCO world heritage site thanks to its history and colonial architecture. The most impressive thing about this area though is the bustling community that has sprung up within the city's walls with everything from local artisan shops, galleries, museums, ice cream shops, jewellers and cocktail bars.

Pay a visit to the local temples and shrines where you can observe age-old rituals and ceremonies that offer a glimpse into Sri Lanka’s spiritual heritage. On the way back from Galle to Ahangama you can stop at the small Buddhist temple in Unawatuna and if you’re really lucky your holiday might coincide with a festival or holy celebration.

Back in Ahangama you can hire a bike or scooter and take a ride through the lush paddy fields and rolling hills that provide the backdrop to this town, or join a paddleboard group to cruise the peaceful backwaters.


Unexpectedly, this was my favourite thing I did on the trip. Held on the rooftop yoga shala at Soul & Surf overlooking the ocean, yoga mats are laid out in front of candles, bound white sage and an array of instruments used during the practice. I’d never done breathwork before (other than five minutes of pranayama in a yoga class) so I didn’t know what to expect, but Gi and Deb who lead the sessions explained everything in detail beforehand and were so soothing and knowledgeable I felt completely at ease straight away. They use a combination of breathwork, bodywork and sound healing during the sessions which last for about an hour and half. The emotional release and euphoric state created through simply inhaling and exhaling exactly as instructed was nothing short of miraculous. A natural high I will definitely be going back for more of and the most peaceful way to end (or begin) your holiday.

exploring ahangama the surfing sweet spot on sri lanka’s southern coast
John Crux Photography - Getty Images


Ahangama boasts some of the most stunning beaches in Sri Lanka, each with its own unique charm. From the pristine sands of Kabalana, perfect for soaking up sun (I’m still learning, so this is also my favourite spot to surf thanks to a soft beach break) to the secluded shores of Midigama, where you can watch local fishermen nab their catch from unusual stilted platforms rising up from the water - this way of fishing is unique to this part of the world and fascinating to watch. On Weligama you can watch locals playing cricket (and join in if you’re up to their standards) against a backdrop of swaying palms. There is no shortage of dreamy spots to unwind and relax.

Where to eat in Ahangama, Sri Lanka

This place really is foodie heaven. In terms of traditional dishes, you really can’t go wrong. From freshly caught seafood at the beachside cafes to fiery curries and hoppers (a thin bowl shaped pancake loaded with tasty fillings), the Sri Lankans know how to make great food.

You’ll also find a new wave of culinary creativity emerging with both local and foreign chefs conjuring up clever ways to make the most of the incredible ingredients on offer here.

The Kip

This hipster haven is the place for breakfast in Ahangama. You can order a trio of anything on the breakfast menu (a bit like brekkie tapas) and these small dishes are served on a wooden tray with every one looking like a mini work of art. We would head to The Kip and compete to see who could order the most Instagrammable combo. The colours and flavours of everything are divine. Hot tip: The raw banana breakfast cake and the charcoal bun with sesame crusted grilled tofu, cashew wasabi mayo, caramelised onion and coleslaw are to die for.

The Fort Printers

If you go to Galle, it’s worth a splurge at The Fort Printers. This 18th Century colonial mansion has had a very modern makeover with a cool, clean aesthetic and the food combines both Mediterranean and Sri Lankan dishes. I ordered the Mahi Mahi fish curry and sambal (a local side dish made from freshly scraped coconut and red chillies) washed down with a Ceylon Sour - the cocktails here are stellar.

Mr Sunil's Roti and Juice Shop

Truly traditional Sri Lankan fodder. This place, situated right on the beach just a short walk from Soul & Surf, is legendary. A simple set up of plastic chairs and wooden tables on the sand, the small kitchen here produces some big flavours. Order a simple rice and curry and watch as plate after plate of unexpected extras arrive like sambol, spicy veggies, poppadoms and tropical fruit. A true feast! The smoothies are great too.

Where to dance in Ahangama, Sri Lanka

The Sunday Sessions at Soul & Surf get the serotonin flowing with soul, funk and house tunes at dusk. Although we didn’t make it there this time, I hear Lara Swan’s DJ sets at Abode By The Beach are pretty special too (and a great excuse to go back). Think jazz, reggae and disco with amazing views. We saw incredible live music from local bands and singers at The Kip and Surfing Wombats. And if something more ravey is your thing, Lazies in Midigama on a Tuesday night is where the action is at with a mix of house and trance.

There is so much magic about this island getaway. Whether it’s opening your eyes after savasana to see the night sky lit up by fireflies, the moment you step into the ocean and realise how warm it is or catching your first green wave, Ahangama is full of sweet surprises.

Getting there

Weather wise, the best time to visit Ahangama is November to April. You can fly direct from the UK to Bandaranaike Airport in eleven hours. Ahangama is a two hour taxi drive from there.

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