There’s more than just surfing on offer in the South Coast of Sri Lanka, with endless adventure, cultural experiences and an abundance of wildlife ensuring your surf holiday will be the trip of a lifetime. Here are a few highlights of things to do when you’re surfed out.
The Portuguese actually started the build of the beautiful Galle Fort in the 16th century, but it was made pretty much out of palm trees and served as a prison camp and a chapel. Then the Dutch really tidied it up during their years of colonisation adding the bulk of the fortification and the unique architectural style which can still be seen today making it a World Heritage Site. Essentially it’s a peaceful enclosed coastal town right in the centre of hectic Galle. There are local markets, stylish shops, serene spas, hand-made clothes and jewellery everywhere you look, as well as an abundance of amazing restaurants to suit all tastes and budgets. To get to the fort you can get a tuk tuk from the hostel for around £5, take the train for 50p or the bus (which is an experience in itself) for 20p.
Tea Plantation Tour
Ever wondered how your morning cup of tea is actually made? Sri Lanka is world famous for its teas and it is the countries #1 export. Tea plantations are mainly found in the hill country, but we have plantation and factory just 10 minutes away where you can taste 40 different varieties of teas whilst experiencing the entire process of how it goes from leaf to delicious cup with a local guide. The tour is free, but we encourage guests to buy some souvenirs which are perfect for friends and family back home and a tuk tuk there and back will cost around £6.
Dogs are a big deal in Sri Lanka. They are seen by a lot of locals as pests and are treated in the same way. Also being a buddhist country, sterilisation isn’t heard of, which means our furry little friends keep on multiplying. Combine this overwhelming amount of pooches with a busy coastal road and crazy Sri Lankan driving and you’ve got a problem. Over 1400 injured, disabled or un-homeable dogs are being cared for at this incredible rescue centre which is only 10 minutes from the camp and they welcome visitors willing to drop by and give the dogs some love and attention. They also hold hydro-therapy sessions at a nearby beach which we take our guests to. If you’re an animal lover you will find the experience emotional, but they also welcome live-in volunteers so maybe you won’t leave…
This whole stretch of coast is home to sea creatures of all varieties. You can snorkel out the front of the surf camp and get up close and personal with the fish out of Finding Nemo, there are beaches full of turtles and there is a current running along the south coast which is known as the Blue Whale Superhighway by marine mammal enthusiasts and you can see the worlds largest living creature in its natural habitat!
Udawalawe National Park
Udawalawe National park should be called Elephant Playground as it is absolutely full of Jumbo’s just cruising around in the jungle. It’s actually one of the best places in the world to see Elephants in their natural habitat and is the closest national park inhabited by Elephants to us. It’s still a solid 2.5 hour drive, but totally worth it. We usually arrange for tours to pick guests up extremely early (or late!) on their rest day to get to the park opening time of 6am where the tour lasts a few hours, then everyone gets back in time for lunch. The whole experience including transport, entry, jeep and breakfast costs around £50-£60 depending on how many people go.
Matara is a mere 20km from here and whilst being a bustling sea-front city worth a visit itself, it’s also home to Weherahena Buddhist Temple. This visually stimulating temple has a massive 40m statue of the Buddha that you can stand at the top of and enjoy incredible views, as well as underground caves that are lined with beautiful paintings telling the whole Buddhism story and peaceful gardens to stroll around and perhaps find some zen. T’s quite easy to get to from the camp, involving a cheap bus or train then a tuk tuk (whole journey under £1 one way, or a tuk tuk for around £6.
Traditional Cookery Class
The food in Sri Lanka is totally unique and mouthwateringly moorish and is one of the reasons why millions of tourists flock to the island each year. Learning how to cook a traditional Sri Lankan curry is a priceless skill and our Head Chef will teach you how every Wednesday. The class lasts 2 hours, yes you do eat the food after and it costs £13.
Ayurveda is translated as “the science of life” and is one of the world’s oldest holistic healing systems based on the belief that health and wellness depend on a balance between the mind, body and soul. This way of life has been practiced all throughout Sri Lanka since the inception of Buddhism nearly 2000 years ago and the main goal is to simply promote good health. Massage treatments are a small part of this lifestyle and the massage itself focuses on relaxation, stress relief and releasing emotional blockages. You can experience an ayurvedic massage at numerous spas in the local area, or on-site by our trained therapist Lily, for £20.
As a part of our coast to coast tours in April and November we join hundreds of pilgrims as they walk the 5,500 steps up to the top of this sacred mountain to watch the sun rise. It’s is known as Adam’s Peak as it is a holy place for Christians and Muslims, as they believe it is the home to the footprint of Adam when he was sent on earth. In Sri Lanka it is actually know as Sri Pada, which means “holy footprint” and is known as the footprint of Lord Buddha (and for Hindus the mountain is called “Shivas Peak”). Whoever laid their foot their first, it’s a very spiritual place and incredible experience. It’s a bit of a mission from the surf camp but very doable. A van will take our guests after dinner at around 8pm, we arrive at the summit for 3am and hike up in time for sunrise. We usually have breakfast after a slow walk down and snooze in the van until we reach the surf camp for a sunset surf / beer / nap…
Sunset SUP Island River Tour
This flat water paddle, which totally suitable for completely balance-less beginners is the most amazing way to explore the flora and fauna of the Sri Lankan Jungle. You do a loop around Thalduwa island through the mangroves from 4pm – Sunset at a relaxing pace, stopping for a coconut or beer at a local river house en-route. No crocs in this river thankfully, but plenty of less scary wild-life and the atmosphere as the sun goes down is incredible. Olympic Snowboarder Aimee Fuller absolutely loved it when she stayed with us!
Of course you can do all of the above plus more if you join one of our 4 week tours!