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    Journal — travel guide

    The Best Surf Shops in Sri Lanka

    The Best Surf Shops in Sri Lanka

    HABU's guide to getting kitted out while on the island

    Up until very recently if you were taking a surf trip to SL you would have had to have brought everything you needed with you.  Replacing a lost fin was enough of a mission, let alone finding a board.  These days it’s a different story with each village having their version of a Surf Shop.  Here, in no particular order, we list our favourites.

    .1 - Onda

    Surf shop in Colombo

    Onda were conceivably the first to import hardware and they are still ahead of the game as far as volume is concerned.  Tucked away down central Colombo back lanes, this unassuming outlet is crammed to the rafters with anything you’d need.

    The real draw is the choice of boards on offer.  If you want the most advanced tech grab a Firewire, or never been wet before, grab an oversized foamy.  There will definitely be a board here you’ll want to give a go.  You can get sidetracked quite quickly but the owner, Jacob, is usually on hand with good advice.

    Before turning up you can peruse their stock on Facebook and sometimes it’s even possible, if you ask nicely, to put in a custom order for the next shipment.

    Address: 8 Ascot Avenue, Colombo 5
    Website: http://www.onda.lk/
    Phone: +94 (0)773 583 123
    Email: info@onda.lk

    Ondu Surf Shop

    No.2 and 3 - Salty Swamis

    Surf shops & cafe in Hikkaduwa & Arugam Bay

    With the coolest outlets on both the East and West coasts these guys just ooze good vibes and effortless style. And this translates to their carefully curated selection of boards.  Currently stocking a good range from; Garry McNeil, Ross Williams Concepts, Pyzal, Chilli and Torq, they have a great mix of performance and soul.

    You can find a basic selection of anything else you’d need, most of the other hardware is Creatures of Leisure.  And they have a nice section with art and clothing for those looking for a Sri Lankan memento to take back home with them.  They really are at the forefront on giving SL surf culture a voice of its own.

    A definite bonus to shopping in either of these outlets is that they are both attached to awesome cafes. My usual visit involves ordering food and coffee (best coffee on the island) then wandering around the display area stroking some of the more beautifully handcrafted boards.

    Address 1: 542 Galle Rd., Hikkaduwa
    Address 2: Main St Ulle, Arugam Bay
    Website: https://www.saltyswamis.com/
    Phone: +94 (0)778 326 302
    Email: info@saltyswamis.com

    Salty Swami's Aragum Bay

    No.4 - Baba’s Surf Shop

    Surf shop in Midigama

    Well located in the middle of a wave rich stretch of coast, Baba’s is a lot of people’s first stop.  Lose your fin at Rams? Get out, cross the road, purchase the replacement, get back in the water.

    Our favourite thing about Baba’s - the great selection of second-hand boards. That and the fact he stocks rolling tobacco and Rizla next to the wax, and that there's a condom dispenser mounted on the external wall

    Address: Midigama East, Galle Rd.
    Phone: +94 (0)719 248 686

    Dots Surf Shop

    No.5 - Ceylon Sliders

    Surf shop, Cafe & Boutique Hotel in Weligama

    The smallest shop on the list, Ceylon Sliders are better known for their café, yoga, surf packages and hotel.  In fact they may even be best known for their beautiful social media presence.

    While their little outlet has some artfully hand-picked merchandise, what sets them apart, and the reason they get a mention here, is that you can trial a board before you purchase.

    For their own branded craft, Ceylon Sliders have a stock of demo boards!

    In the shop you can find some Bing boards. But for us the main attraction is their own sticks.  Like Bing their own craft definitely lean to the soul side of the pastime.  There is a reasonable selection of well-priced fish, mid-lengths and Malibus.  We also really like the pricing on their signature fins.

    Address: No.9 New Galle Road, Weligama
    Website: https://ceylonsliders.com/
    Phone: +94 (0)763 594 734
    Email: hello@ceylonsliders.com


    No.6 - Dots Surf Shop

    Surf shop in Hiriketiya

    The Left to be found in the horse-shoe bay in deep South Sri Lanka used to be a place we’d surf alone.  With no hostels or shops a weekend hanging on this beach would mean loading up the car.  A hammock to hang between the Suriaya trees, an ice box and BBQ, a couple of boards and a spare leash.  The rapid development of this area has changed this approach completely.  But you can’t be too bummed when the guys coming in are trying to match their product to the unique laid back vibes this bay gives off.

    So we have to give Navo at Dots credit and compliment him on his restaurant and shop.  The shop is well laid out and stocks everything you’d need.  It’s the kind of place you go and suddenly have a compulsion to buy something you just weren’t expecting to find.  Last time I was there I was dragged out of the place crying about the lost opportunity to add a Campbell Brothers bonzer 5 to the quiver.

    Address: Hiriketiya Rd., Hiriketiya
    Phone: +94 (0)777 935 593

    No.7 - High Life Surfboards 

    Surfboards in Midigama

    Not a shop but a shaping shed hiding away in the Midigama jungle.  If you want a custom shred sledge then Garath’s the man to talk to.


    No.8 - The Shack Beach Cafe

    Surf clothing & cafe in Galle

    This is another shop pared with an excellent café.  The beach here mainly caters to learners and the shop does not have a wide selection of hardware – probably has more motorbikes than boards. While you can get a new leash, stock up on sunscreen, etc., the best thing about this outlet, in our humble opinion, is that they stock the very excellent HABU. Finding quality rashies and board shorts is the one thing which is still not common place in Sri Lanka, making a visit to The Shack Beach Cafe well worth it.

    Address: No.472 Matara Road, Katugoda, Galle
    Website: https://theshackbeachcafe.com/
    Email: shop@theshackbeachcafe.com

    The Shack Surf Shop

    HABU Travel Guides: Surfing Maldives Off Season

    Surfing Maldives Off Season

    I don’t want to moan but sometimes I just can’t take another glassy morning in board shorts. I understand how sick this sounds but I’m sure we have all experienced something similar. - It’s not that we don’t like warm water and clean conditions.  It’s not that we don’t appreciate a regular salary and a reliable transport network.  It’s not that a comfortable sofa and Netflix doesn’t float our boat.  It’s just when variety is missing from your life in general, or just from the waves you are riding, those usual pleasures can lose some of their shine.  It’s a huge cliche but without a doubt, variety is the spice of life.

    Surfing Maldives Off Season

    Fortunately enough for us Sri Lankan based, already wave soaked gluttons, there is an easy prescription to this first world problem. The Maldives is just an hour away.

    The Maldives

    Easily one of the richest countries in the world, if waves fitted in a bank. Variety is not something you have to worry about. And the real joy about having the Maldives on our doorstep is that we can make a quick call if the conditions look good. This comes into its own during their "off" season.

    Avoid the Usual Suspects

    A lot of the more popular breaks around Male can be wind affected during off season.  While wind is a factor determining the Maldives seasons, we’ve found the most relevant factor for good surf to be swell size. If you are one of those people lucky enough to have a flexible schedule we suggest you keep an eye on the forecasts October through April.  As long as there is some size, the south of the Mid Atolls and the Southern Atolls will still offer more spots than you can shake a stick at.

    Surfing Maldives Off Season

    Surfing The Maldives doesn’t have to break the bank

    There are relatively economical options.  Check out the islands with airports and see if there are any hostels/ homestays/ B&Bs- correlate this info with nearby waves- there’ll likely be a few waves in striking distance.  Dhoni access is usually still pretty expensive so unless you can share the cost between a group of friends it’s best to look for breaks with access from the land.  Land access reduces the options further but unbelievably you’d still find uncrowded waves.

    You don’t have to take an internal flight either.  If you are OK with a 5 hour speed boat trip I know of at least one place that could sort all your needs.

    Surfing Maldives Off Season

    Feasible much?

    True, if you've got a way to travel it seems like a bit of a gamble, and boat stay or not, costs soon add up. But it is not nearly as bonkers as it sounds.  With some careful research you’ll have a high success rate.  And when you’ve scored once, you’ll be scheming your return trip before your HABU boardies have dried out.

    I was fortunate enough to experience off season Maldives last December. Not your every day, and with off season coming round again soon, something I hope to make the most of in the not too distant future.

    Surfing Maldives Off Season