The off-season: not perfect but happy
We keep receiving queries from interested guests regarding the off-season (May to September) at the south coast of Sri Lanka: How is the weather? Does it really rain all day? Are there even any waves to surf during the off-season? Are the conditions in the off-season ideal for me as a beginner? And so on.
Rumors about the constant rain in the southwest of the island between May and September and the ocean not showing any surfable waves are persistent and widely spread in online forums. Even we had our doubts in our first off-season in Sri Lanka and had planned to close our camp in Madiha during the European summer months.
But as summer arrived, nobody from our team wanted to leave the southwest. As May came around, which then turned into June and the rest of the following months, we suddenly realized that we stayed open throughout the entire off-season. A couple of guests even ‘got lost’ and ended up in our camp and ventured to the southwest coast of Sri Lanka against all online reports – and none of us ended up disappointed!
By now the image of Sri Lanka’s southwest coast off-season has shifted positively. Today you can find numerous blogs and forums that address the off-season myth and encourage a more realistic impression of this season for interested vacationers. Since we notice a steadily growing interest in off-season visitors in our camp, we want to share our own impression and experience of the last few years and, in plain English, want to add our two cents to the off-season topic.
Naturally, as passionate surfers and coaches, the surf topic comes first, which is why in our opinion, it makes sense to give an overview about the reality of the conditions for the different surf levels:
From surf level 1 to 3 or from the first paddle to the green wave surf
If you are a level 1 to level 3 surfer, the off-season is the perfect time for a visit at the south coast: The line-ups are way more empty than in high season (the word about the quality of the off-season has not spread everywhere yet) and you can expect gentle waves at various beach breaks of the coast. The ample bay of Weligama for instance is a popular surf spot, which is only a few tuk-tuk minutes away from the camp and is always well visited, even in the summer months. The bay offers many possibilities to find suitable conditions for the first take-off in whitewater, the start in the green wave or practicing surfing parallel (down the line), depending on wind and wave sizes. The waves are generally bigger in the off-season compared to the high-season. The sheltered cove makes for ideal knee- to chest-high waves for you and the rest of the drivethru-crew to surf.
Based on most of the feedback from our guests and our personal argument for a visit during the off-season, the message is clear: Surfing in almost no line-ups! Even if you already have some surfing experience and can surf the waves parallel (down the line), but maybe don’t get to go into the water during the year as much as you would hope, it especially helps in the beginning to surf as many waves as possible. When the line-ups are full, which are usually shared with better surfers, it often happens that you need to draw back. Therefore, you won’t be able to surf as many waves and won’t be able to make progress as quickly.
Nevertheless, the off-season isn’t called that way for no reason. Even though there are many good reasons for surfers from level 1 to level 3 to visit in the off-season, it needs to be said that due to the monsoons, there are significantly fewer reefs open. Therefore, the selection of surf spots during this time is overall more limited than during the high-season, or during the summer months at the east coast of Sri Lanka.
Despite this, the returnee quote of our off-season guests in the summer is very high and the opinions alike: More empty line-ups, small surfing groups, relaxed and fun times in the camp!
Here’s a small tip from us: If you are a level 1 to level 3 surfer, take a moment to think about what you would like to experience on your surfing vacation and what conditions you would prefer.
From surf level 4 to 5 or from the first maneuver to the spray
If you are a level 4 or level 5 surfer and you want to improve your maneuvers in the wave and want to explore as many spots and reefs in the area as possible, then the same applies to you: You will find more empty line-ups than during the high season, however, hardly any reefs in the off-season. The selection of surfable reefs is very limited due to the monsoons and not to be compared by the wide range you can expect during the winter months at the south coast. Even so, we wouldn’t say that level 4 or level 5 surfers don’t get their money’s worth if they go about the situation with a healthy and realistic attitude. In Madiha there are some reefs right outside our door, where you can surf every now and again during the off-season, allowing one to two maneuvers per wave.
This said, for surfers on those levels, the conditions and waves are significantly more steady during the high-season with a much wider selection of popular spots on the reefs. The argument here, as it is for the other surf levels: The beaches and line-ups are more empty and more relaxed and the pace of the whole island region in general is more laid-back.
Here’s a small tip from us: For those who are experienced enough to assert themselves at the peak of the wave and don’t have a problem with a lot of people in a line-up, will get their money’s worth in this season on the east coast of Sri Lanka. Those who still want to visit us at the southwest coast and appreciate the empty line-ups, are welcome do so any time! We surfcoaches in the south are always having fun and – believe it or not – are improving our own surfing skills during the off-season as well.
P.S. The water is warm all year round. The risk of sunburn prevails all the same during the off-season. It usually rains in the evenings or very early in the morning, short but intense. So, no matter what season you visit us in Sri Lanka: Don’t forget your sunscreen (LSF 50) and Surf- Lycra!
So, what else is there to say about Sri Lanka?
Apparently, there are people out there that have other interests like culture, landscape and people besides surfing (we have heard of them…).
Also in this regard, we can give the all-clear signal! More and more restaurants, museums and sights are open during the off-season, due to the tourism increase in recent years during the summer. Although it is still not as busy as during the winter months, it is equally worth it for the tourists and businesses to be active in the region.
The infrastructure is not influenced by the off-season either. There are numerous buses and trains running, that can take you to any destination – given you follow the bus plan correctly.
The chance to see the more timid animals on an excursion to the national parks in the area or on a tour to the inland are better during the off-season when there aren’t as many visitors around.
Why are we still talking? Just drop by and experience it all for yourself!