SUP Surfing in Sri Lanka

Rachel and I are longboarders and yogis, and also up for any old salt water challenge it seems, as when asked to take part in a SUP surfing photoshoot for Soul and Surf - despite having never done it before - we jumped at the chance.

What could be so hard about paddling into waves on 12 foot boards?  Surely our core stability and balance would be able to keep us afloat.  Our location was to be the picturesque Weligama Bay, renowned for its gentle rolling waves and soft sand.  We laughed nervously as we tried to look graceful carrying our cumbersome boards and paddles at the same time.  Our delightful tuktuk driver tried his best to help, but was too bemused by our clumsiness to assist.

To the South of the Bay is Trapobane, the only private owned Island in Sri Lanka which features a luxury villa perched on it.  It is an emblem of the Colonialism that has pursued this teardrop shaped Indian Ocean gem throughout history - first the Portuguese, then Dutch and finally the British in 1815.  Overlooking the fishermen and their daily catch, it is a reminder of how expats and locals seamlessly merge together in current times. 

Tiny, ankle high waves prove difficult to catch but after a few goes we are getting the hang of it.   It certainly is a different sensation to traditional surfing, looking at the wave from above and timing the movement of the board much earlier… It’s difficult to judge and requires digging deep with the paddle to pick up speed quickly.  I can’t help but get excited when I’m in that section of the wave where it all comes together - it’s a couple of milliseconds but the flow, glide and feeling of flight is there non the less, and it’s addictive!

Feeling pumped from our success, we drive North so I can tackle an offshore reef known as Lazy Rights.  The paddle tires me out before I even get there, and the waves are hardly breaking due to the high tide.  Still, I manage to catch something and come away from the session slightly hooked.  I most definitely won’t be paddling out at busy surf spots on my SUP, but when there’s empty breaks or miniature waves that my longboard won’t pick up, I love the fact there’s another style of waveriding I can enjoy. 


Rach teaches yoga at Soul and Surf in the winters and heads to Watergate Bay, Cornwall to surf coach during the summers.  She runs her own yoga biz and writes about her travels here: 

I will be back to teach surfing and yoga at Soul and Surf this Spring and you can also join me and Jenn Moore for a SUP, surf and yoga retreat in Sri Lanka on 23rd April:  

Photographer Pat Straub spent 5 years on the picture desk at CNN, he now pursues his passions - surfing, travel and taking pictures as a roving, freelance photographer, see more of his work at:

Pat, Rach and I all met through Soul and Surf who do feel-good surf, yoga & massage trips to special places, their new gorgeous bespoke villa set amidst lush jungle in Sri Lanka has just been unveiled: