Adventure Travel

Digital Nomading & Surfing in Sri Lanka for a Month

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If you need more reasons to visit Sri Lanka to surf and work, you’ve found them. 

Traveling in Sri Lanka

Let’s cut to the chase: The Sri Lanka surf spots are epic. 

We stayed in Midigama, the next town over from Weligama, which is the main area, and also the name of the train stop.

Heading to Weligama

Sri Lanka surf breaks are as follows: Coconut Beach (advanced intermediate), Plantations (intermediate/beginner), Rams (intermediate), Lazy Lefts (beginner), Fishermans (beginner), and I’m sure there are some hidden ones that we weren’t lucky enough to find, but you have to save some things for the next time. These all have reef to watch for as a head’s up.

Sri Lanka Surf

Lazy Lefts

Then there’s the main surf beach for beginners — Weligama, a five-minute scooter ride from Midigama. At Weligama, the bottom is clear (no reef), and the waves are the most consistent, but they can crash out if you don’t go at a good time. You can also surf at Mirissa, but watch for sea urchins.

Tip: Buy special zinc surf sunscreen. You may look like a kook, but that’s part of the fun. Nothing else works here. We tried special waterproof stuff from the pharmacy, and even that didn’t work. AMAZINC works really well, it’s about $35, but it prevent your nose from the risks of developing skin cancer.

The digital nomad aspect. 

Being a digital nomad is tough in this country. There was one main coffee shop that we went to called Barista Lavazza in Mirissa. It’s a 25-minute scooter ride, so that can get old quickly. Plus, you feel inclined to buy breakfast, lunch, and dinner since you might have to post up here all day. You can also go to the internet cafe, where you can expect super old Windows 97 computers and many pirated DVDs for sale.

Barista Lavazza Kaitlyn Schlicht

We eventually lucked out with the internet issue. The owners of our hostel were nice enough to set up a second private wi-fi connection. We happily paid for it, but without that I don’t know what we’d have done besides make camp at the coffee shop. With how much internet we used, we blew through 15 GBs in a week or two.

Want to become a digital nomad? Watch the video below to learn how.

Give me food. Kaitlyn hungry. Nom nom nom. 

In Sri Lanka, every meal feels like Thanksgiving! With traditional Sri Lankan meals, you get rice and curry, and then five or six different vegetables that are mixed in with amazing spices. Interestingly enough, we were there on Thanksgiving Day, and luckily found some other traveling friends to enjoy a meal and share stories with.

Sri Lanka - VIRTVE

As part of the culture, Sri Lankans don’t prepare much meat here, besides fish. You can find deli meat, but it doesn’t look quite right, and  I wouldn’t suggest it.

Food that will make your eyes widen with excitement:

  • Jackfruit!
  • Barbecue mangos! Man I wish I had some right now…
  • Breadfruit!
  • Ladyfingers! Sounds like something that should be part of Halloween, but it’s not, it’s a delicious veggie.
  • Coconut pancakes! I’m a sucker for anything that resembles a crepe. 

Sri Lanka

Driving here is scarier than the wildest roller coaster you’ve ever been on. 

Helmets required. Also know, that the median line is fair game for anyone. At first, you might feel like you’re going to die every minute you’re on the road, but after a few days, you warm up to the chaos It is this reason alone that you might want to consider purchasing travel insurance.

Oh, and everybody honks. To turn, to stop, to go, to pass, to not pass. It’s kind of like “hello”, but can get a little annoying at times. Speaking of driving, if you plan on renting a scooter (which we did for 800 Sri Lanka rupees, about $5.50 a day), bring some clear goggles. There’s so much dust and crap that flies into your eyes when driving around, you’ll want to stay protected.

The cost of living in Sri Lanka is cheaper than a burger at Vail. 

We spent about $33 a day for a basic hostel, eating out for almost every meal, daily surf rental, scooter rental, and beer. Drinking isn’t a huge part of Sri Lankan culture, and they only have one kind of beer called Lion. They also drink arrack, which we heard makes you kind of hallucinate, but never had the opportunity to try. There are no bars in Weligama or Midigama, but you can go to Mirissa if you’re after nightlife options.

You get what you pay for when it comes to accomodations. We didn’t have hot water or A/C in our room, but we were paying $10 a night and had our own private beach. Coconut Surf Inn was the name of it if you’re looking for cheap accomodations and just a place to rest your head.

Surf board rental was 250 Sri Lanka rupees ($1.75) per hour per board. Better bargainers could probably get it down more, but we just wanted to get in the water!

Sri Lanka Surf

People here are chatty.

Everybody wants to know who you are, where you’re going, what you’re eating, how long you’re staying, what your mom’s name is … In western culture, it could come off as nosy, but you should embrace the outgoing culture while you’re there.

You can have bonfires on the beach, but the locals don’t understand why. 

I tried explaining to our friendly hostel owner that we were looking to build a fire just for fun, but he couldn’t understand why we’d build a fire without something to cook.

Bonfires in Sri Lanka

At night, we had the whole beach to ourselves.

Mosquitos suck here (literally).

To keep the pesky creatures away, use coconut oil.

The humidity is also something to prepare for. The climate is similar to that of a tropical jungle. There’s so much moisture in the air that your clothes grow mold on them, and your pillows and sheets might feel damp when going to sleep at night. Your skin might break out too. But traveling isn’t for whiners, so back to the fun stuff.

Hindu celebrations are magical. 

We were invited to a Hindu celebration. It was hard to get the full scoop on the details, but everyone in the town invited us — from our tuk tuk drivers to our hostel owners.

Hindu celebration in Sri Lanka

There was a guy belly dancer, and some monks prayed to seven different god statues. One god had an elephant head, another had a bunch of hands and faces.

Everyone there was very welcoming. We got fed this hot cinnamon dessert dish and were told to come back to the celebration at 3 a.m. to watch the fire walkers. Unfortunately, when we woke back up in the middle of the night and drove our scooter back to attend, the fire walkers went on early, so we missed it. I asked our tuk tuk driver how they didn’t burn their feet, and he explained that the gods kept him safe.

Beach observations. 

During the day, it’s rare to see the local women on the beach at all. I only recall seeing a couple of them, and they were all fully clothed when they took a dip.

Coconut Surf Inn in Sri Lanka

At night, young boys will play cricket against a falling sun.

Trash here is an issue. 

I think Sri Lankans are still figuring this one out. We got used to the trash smell mixed with dead fish smell after a few days, and we only really noticed it when we were driving.

Weligama, Sri Lanka

Whale watching here is epic. 

Especially when one whale did a back summersault in the water. You could see his white belly illuminate against the turquoise sea.

Weligama is still being developed.

Weligama doesn’t have many tourists. There’s only one skyscraper, and it’s still being built. The rest of it is just homes, small restaurants, and shops. One of our drivers said people started coming there to surf only a few years ago.

Coconut Beach in Sri Lanka

It’s pretty cool because there’s not just one central tourist spot. Most all of the hostels blend in with actual local neighborhoods. Try to visit now before it gets over-populated.

Bakery trucks are fantastic in Sri Lanka. 

There are these trucks that go from neighborhood to neighborhood selling bakery items, loudly playing the tune of “Santa Claus is Coming to Town” over a loudspeaker. They are like ice cream trucks for bread lovers.

Expect to see Crush the sea turtle! 

You can go on sea turtle egg-laying expeditions during your visit, but we didn’t need to. We saw this HUGE sea turtle riding waves one day while surfing. It was so funny watching “Crush” get taken up through the waves and back down again. He was totally stoked. Toooooooootally. 

Sri Lanka VIRTVE

 

If I write any more, I’m just going to fly back, and I can’t do that because I have housesitting obligations in India. Luckily, we have another surf trip to Philippines planned in a month. Anybody have any surf or travel tips for the islands?

PHOTOS: @THECOLT

Always in search of worldly knowledge and broader understandings, Kaitlyn has been freelancing while traveling since 2015. She's passionate about digital content, being environmentally friendly, and surfing. 16+ countries and counting.

  • Chicken of Tomorrow

    Great post! I’m looking for a place on the coast to beach bum + digital nomad for a week or so and this was really helpful. My current thinking is a guest house in Mirissa and using the Barista Lavazza coffee shop you mentioned for work. Cheers!

    • Awesome, I’m glad you found the info helpful! You will have an awesome time in Mirissa. Safe travels!