Last weekend we took the boards and headed South to the beaches of Mirissa, Weligama, and Hikkaduwa. Sri Lanka has two “tourist seasons” that provide perfect holiday conditions – balmy warm weather with offshore winds for those perfect glassy surfable waves. If you want to be technical it’s two monsoon seasons – the Yala which wets the southwest from May to August and the Maha which wets the northeast from October to January. This time of year the East Coast is where all the holiday makers are spending their hard earned and all the surfers are carving it up, while on the South Coast its low season – i.e. too hot, with a chance of rain and a wave slopfest. Given the South Coast is 2 hours drive and the East Coast is 7 hours drive, the choice for a day trip was easy.
To get to the South Coast you get to travel along the crown jewell of Sri Lankan infrastructure – the new Southern Lanka Express Highway. The Expressway stretches 116km from Colombo to Galle – a four lane conveyor belt for tourists across picturesque lowland rainforests. As we payed the toll and turned onto the Lankabahn something was not quite right. It was quiet, very quiet. No tuk-tuks, no motor bikes, no colourful rusty old buses, no double car overtaking, no swerving, no honking, no headlight flashing, no dogs and no cows (although we did see a mongoose). This concrete seam that carves across the southwest corner does not permit this sort of riff raff, and the hefty toll of 400Rs – $3.25 AUD, is enough to deter the average citizen (they take Galle road – a 4 hour journey battling the above mentioned dark forces of traffic congestion). The empty roads were just a prelude to the vast vacant beaches that lay before us – deserted cabana bars and empty sandy stretches – a desolate tropical landscape all to ourselves. Low season really means low in this part of the world. So we surfed the chop, got weird looks from the locals, drank coconut arrack and then hit the ghost road back to Colombo, sure to return when the waves improve.