Once our season at Surf South West has come to an end on the beaches of North Devon, the conclusion to our coaching year always happens on a beach in the tropics. We have been conducting group-coaching surf holidays for over a decade and our current location for our winter trip is the South West of Sri Lanka.
This year was our second year of taking groups to Sri Lanka and due to the success of our first trip in 2012, we were able to spend 4 weeks coaching in paradise. We have run trips to lots of different locations over the years, but nowhere has ticked all the boxes like our destination in Sri Lanka. Our accommodation is right on the beach at a mellow beach break, which is ideal for beginners and intermediates alike. For the more experienced, there are a wide selection of reefs all within a short tuk tuk ride. With such a variety of waves all within a short area, we were able to achieve some great results with our guests' surfing performance.
The climate in Sri Lanka is exactly what you would expect in the tropics. Warm and sunny throughout the day, with warm water and consistent surf. During the month that we were there coaching, the waves didn’t drop below 2 feet. The temperatures were amazing and anyone who has been surfing anywhere in their board shorts will know that riding waves without the restriction of a wetsuit is an incredible feeling. It somehow seems to enhance the feeling of being in the water riding waves. As it is the tropics, occasionally you can expect a few storms to pass through of an evening. During our time in Sri Lanka this year, we were treated to some truly spectacular electrical storms. Whenever we had one, it would always seem like they would arrive on cue after our evening meal to provide fantastic post meal entertainment.
It doesn’t take long to get into a rhythm when on a surf trip, and our days in Sri Lanka all seemed to roll into one. Wake up at sunrise, put the boards on a Tuk Tuk and head for a dawn surf with the intermediate and advanced members of the group at one of the local reefs. Rights, lefts or A – Frames, everything is on offer. Once everyone is stoked, it was back to camp for a breakfast of coffee, fruit, toast and eggs while sharing stories and experiences from the day's first surf.
After breakfast our morning lessons would take place on the golden sand in front of our hotel. Each day we used video analysis, photography and demonstrations to assist with everyone's surfing performance. Having such wonderful conditions, where you can have your performance analysed by a professional coach meant that everyone was able to catch the wave of their life on the trip. By the end of everyone’s time with us, there was nobody getting on the plane home disappointed with how their surfing had progressed.
After the second surf of the day, relaxing on the beach with a good book was the usual order of the day. For the more energetic in the group, there were trips to local temples, tea plantations, colonial forts, areas of outstanding beauty or even wildlife safari tours. If you are not completely surfed out by lunchtime, Sri Lanka has a huge amount of amazing things for you to experience.
Our hotel is one of the longest running in the area, and has a prime beachfront location in the center of the golden sandy bay. Run by a local Sri Lankan family, returning for our second year felt like going back to visit old friends. Each day all the local staff would go out of their way to ensure that our stay was amazing. After a final group surf at sunset, our hosts would always put on an incredible spread of local cuisine. There is no better way than ending a perfect day of surf than eating local food and sinking a few cold beers. Feeling completely surfed out and stoked in equal measures is one of the best feelings that there is, and this happened on a daily basis.
Before we had even left Sri Lanka, everyone who had spent time with us was already talking about returning the following year. As winter in the UK continues to throw storm after storm at us and the news is filled with freak weather reports and floods, we would be lying if we said that we hadn’t already started to dream about our 2014 trip back to Sri Lanka.