Sri Lanka: the east vs. west

Located on the Indian Ocean, Sri Lanka was once a destination for the most intrepid traveler, but has become a popular spot for year-round surfing (the season runs on opposite times of the on the east and west coast) and yoga retreats. Here, how to get the most out of a visit to both sides of the island.

The East

[Peak Season: April to October]

Surf and Yoga: The most popular surf spot in the east is Arugam Bay, home to the famous Main Point surf break. Book a room at The Bay Vista Hotel, which offers panoramic views, surf lessons with pro Milan Hennadige, and rooftop yoga for all levels. For a more rustic vibe, opt for Ranga’s Beach Hut where you can stay in wooden tree house villas located near Baby Point (with calm waves perfect for beginners), scenic Whiskey Point (for both beginner and intermediate surfers), and Pottuvil Point (for experts and thrill seekers).

Where to Eat: Find the best coffee and breakfast at Salty Swami’s Café in Hideaway Blue and for lunch, Bay Vista serves healthy turmeric smoothies and açaí bowls. For lunch, post up on the balcony to catch the sea breeze while enjoying a fresh papaya salad or grilled tuna at The Green Room.Opposite Ranga’s Beach Hut is Mama’s Buffet and while you won’t find it online, their vegetarian fare is a hidden gem.

Bonus Activities: Take a day trip and explore either Yala National Park or Lahugala National Park or tour the 2000-year-old Buddhist temple, Mudu Maha Viharaya, all within an hour's drive of Arugam Bay.

The West

[Peak Season: November to March]

Surf and Yoga: The most accessible surf location from the capital, Colombo, is the tropical south west, where you’ll find retreats for beginners and pros alike. Sunshine Stories features Dutch colonial villa accommodations and guests can meditate with local monks. Soul & Surf offers spacious rooms, some of which have outdoor baths with tubs that are perfect for regenerating under the stars after a hard workout. At Camp Poe, stay in one of the garden-view bungalows or jungle huts and relax in their cozy library.All of the aforementioned spots greet and end the day with yoga, teach surf theory, take athletes to waves suited for their level, and provide nutritious fuel using the island’s local produce.

Where to Eat: For breakfast, head to the AVM Cream House in Ahangama, which serves smoothies made with aloe vera and lettuce juice. Try a traditional curry or classic tandoori chicken for lunch at Ceylonta. End the night with a trip to Wijaya Beach restaurant in Unuwatuna (a 40-minute drive away) for a sunset swim and dinner on their rooftop bar.

Bonus Activities: Camp Poe offers guided trips through the jungle as well as a half-day whale watching excursion. Or, for a little slice of Europe, take a day or overnight trip to Galle Forte and stay in one of its colonial hotels. Visit Barefoot shop where you'll find a wide range of books, local artisan-made crafts, and hand-loomed textiles. For a safari adventure, book a tour of Udawalawe National Park to see wild elephants, exotic birds, and leopards. A six-hour drive there and back, the driver will stop at mango stands and local stalls on the way.