Spread from headland to headland along one of the largest bays on Sri Lanka’s southerly coastline, Weligama is famous around the globe for one thing: Surfing.
This is the wave-riding mecca of the island, where beginners come to cut their teeth on the warm-water swells of the Indian Ocean.
Just hit the sand and you’ll see countless surf schools and board rentals huddling under clusters of palm trees, along with regular and reliable waves that range from one-foot whitewash to overhead walls.
In more recent times, Weligama has diversified to become a sun, sea, sand spot for classic tropical R&R to boot. A couple of high-rise resorts shoulder above the main beach, gazing out to the Mirissa peninsula, offering swimming pools just metres from where the waves crash in.
It’s also a great place for exploring the Midigama coastline and its lesser-known surf beaches a little to the west.
Where exactly is Weligama
Looking at the map of Sri Lanka, it’s hard to miss Weligama. It’s wedged into the depths of the largest bay on the whole south-west side of the island. The A2 highway that links up the main surf towns of Hikkaduwa and Unawatuna runs straight via Midigama on the one side.
To the east, you’ve got the palm tree-covered hills of Mirissa. To the north of town are some lush hills and rice paddies peppered with long-legged storks and kingfishers. They roll out before the foothills of the Central Highlands and Sri Lanka’s tea country.
Top Things To Do In Weligama.
Weligama is a typical example of a south-coast Sri Lankan surf town. With its open bay facing the Indian Ocean, there are reliable waves to ride for much of the year. However, the fun doesn’t stop after you leave the water.
You’ve also got interesting bars, lively nightlife spots, and some seriously stunning surrounding beachfront to throw onto the itinerary.
Surf in Weligama.
It’s no secret that most people flock to big Weligama Bay for the surfing. With over a mile of swell-facing beachfront right on the doorstep, there are plenty of peaks and waves to get stuck into in these parts.
They are, on the whole, suited to total beginners. That means all sorts of surf schools, private instructors, and surfboard rentals pepper the sands.
But there are also some big days in Weligama when the swell punches a little overhead, and the beach is well protected, which makes it a good choice when the rest of the southern coast is blown out.
For the best surf area, be sure to check out the sector in front of the huge Weligama Bay Marriott Resort & Spa around mid-tide.
Surf in Midigama.
Just 300 LKR and a 15-minute tuk-tuk from Weligama is all it takes to whisk you a little down the coast to less-busy Midigama. That whole area is a surfing mecca.
A few cracking breaks like Ram’s and Lazy Left take the headlines. They are often well subscribed with upper-intermediate to expert riders. However, you can also catch more friendly reefs like the one at lovely Coconuts Beach, which rolls right across a deep series of rock pools by a white-sand strand.
Lunch in Ceylon Sliders.
Ask anyone who’s ever been to Weligama, and they’ll surely know of Ceylon Sliders. A cool and collected bar come eatery, it’s a must-stop for lunch, dinner or a cocktail as the sunsets.
It’s usually at its busiest during the evening happy hour, with crowds coming to enjoy the cheap beer and sweeping views from the rooftop bar. The food menu is a medley of fresh and organic poke bowls, and famous burgers served with gorgeous roast potatoes. And there’s an on-site shop with locally designed tees and surfwear.
Get a massage at Good Spa.
Is the surfing taking its toll? Soothe the back muscles with a deep-tissue treatment over at the highly-rated Good Spa. This isn’t your usual low-cost parlour. It’s a premium spa with chic and stylish interiors comprising of polished concrete and open-air bathrooms.
Set on the riverside on the leafy outskirts of Weligama, it welcomes guests with smoking incense and blooms of frangipani. There are all sorts of massages on the menu, along with a few packages designed specifically for those feeling fatigued after long sessions on the waves.
Hit the beach in Mirissa.
If you’re hunting for picture-perfect tropical beaches, then Weligama surely isn’t the best place in Sri Lanka. However, it’s never too far from the surf hub to a gorgeous cove of white-tinted sand.
The party town of Mirissa is just around the headland. In fact, some people consider it to be an extension of Weligama, which means a tuk-tuk between the two costs something meagre like 250-300 LKR each way.
The 10-minute ride can take you to long Mirissa Beach itself, where rows of laid-back beer bars face a shallow swimming bay. Or, you can walk over the headland to find Secret Beach, where macaques and coconut husks dot the shores, and the waters are see-through blue.
How to get to Weligama.
Getting to Weligama is now easier than ever before. In the last ten years, the town has boomed in popularity, largely thanks to its accessible surf break that’s perfect for beginners.
The upshot? Oodles of taxi firms run regular shuttles and private transfers directly to the town from Colombo airport and the big city itself. The trip takes around three hours without stops. The fare is around 11,000 LKR one way.
Perhaps a tad more fun is the train link. The mainline that knits together the coast towns of south-west Lanka comes in straight from Colombo Fort. You can expect to pay around 250 LKR ($1.30) for the whole ride in a comfy second-class cabin. You’ll arrive at Weligama’s main station, where clusters of tuk-tuk drivers wait to take you straight to the door of your chosen hotel.
Arrivals from the east and the mountains are also possible. Tuk-tuk connections to nearby Mirissa will cost in the region of 300-400 LKR. Meanwhile, long-distance buses link up to the mountains, Tangalle, the beaches of Dickwella and even further afield.
Where to stay in Mirissa.
Built-in the mould of a boutique hostel, Layback has classy rooms in a breezy and bright building. It’s still possible to score some great bargains here because the accommodation is backpacker at heart.
However, your bucks go a long way – think doubles with air conditioning, arty dorm rooms with all-new bunks, and some seriously nice common areas where you should find it easy to meet and mingle with like-minded surfers. Talking of surf…lessons and surf rentals are available on site.
Tinara River Inn ($$)
A top midrange option for anyone who hates being in the thick of things, Tinara River Inn sits out on the lazy riverway that rings around the north side of Weligama town.
It makes the most of the location with a leafy garden that fronts the water – a great spot to sit with your book post-surf. The rooms are simple but comfy; some with air-con, some without. Breakfast is a real highlight. You’ll get hoppers, dal, eggs, Sri Lankan omelettes and fresh juice every day!
Up there with the most stylish and cutting-edge accommodation choices in all of Weligama, tersely named W15 occupies a prime location on the edge of the main beach.
In fact, its best rooms open directly onto the sand and the most reliable surf section of Weligama, so it’s perfect if you don’t want a single obstacle between you and the waves.
You’ll also get access to a stunning infinity pool and lush grass garden.
Have you recently been to Weligama? Can you think of anything to add to this list? We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.
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