Once a sleepy fishing village near Dickwella town, Hiriketiya Beach has blossomed into a hub for surf-loving travelers seeking out trendy cafes, co-working spaces and boutique hotels in Sri Lanka. Hiriketiya, or “Hiri” as it is affectionately known among the expats and Sri Lankans, has quickly become one of the most popular beaches in southern Sri Lanka.
It’s not difficult to see why Hiriketiya is one of the top tourist destinations in Sri Lanka. What is Hiriketiya famous for, you ask? The bay is lined with hundreds of coconut trees swaying with every wisp of gentle breeze that blows through, and Hiriketiya Beach features a glimmering beige shoreline and translucent water. In short, it offers a delightful beach escape experience that sometimes feels rare and unattainable these days.
Hiriketiya is an unreal place to surf. Everytime we’ve surfed here, it’s felt like magic because it is so picturesque. It is also really common to see turtles while you’re surfing in Hiriketiya – we’ve had surfs here where turtles have come right up to our boards multiple times while we’re waiting for waves. We’d honestly recommend getting out there just for that!
It is great for both beginner/intermediate, because it has two different breaks ideal for different abilities. If you have never surfed before, this is a great place to learn. Board hire is so reasonable, and there are lots of places to hire boards along the beach. All of the board hire places also offer surf lessons.
Hiriketiya is an unreal place to surf. Everytime we’ve surfed here, it’s felt like magic because it is so picturesque
Two breaks; one beach – that’s Hiriketiya Beach in a nutshell. Set in a stunning tropical cove on the far southern edge of Sri Lanka (just about as far south as it’s possible to go and still find a surfable wave), this laid-back little town is swiftly turning into a mecca for surfers.
It’s risen from obscurity to a popular pitstop on the Sri Lankan surf trail in the last couple of years. That’s brought bigger crowds to the line up (though it’s still not too bad), along with more shops, restaurants, and nice boutique hotels to boot.
One of the reasons for the popularity is the variety of surf that’s offered. As Hiriketiya Bay spreads along its 0.5-kilometre inlet, it goes from a heavy reef to a mellow beach break. The upshot? There’s something for a wide variety of surfers.
A sand-bottomed wave rolls into the surf rental shacks on the west side of the bay for novices. There are the peaks in the middle of the bay, which break over a deep rock reef and then allow for 50-meter rides towards the sand. And then there’s the fast, walling left-hander that whips in on the east end of Hiri – leave that to the intermediates and experts.
There are two surf spots in Hiriketiya Bay. It’s the fact that they’re so different – one challenging, the other easy-going – that makes the town such an attractive prospect. On small days, you can usually head out and ride the more powerful reef. When things are blown out elsewhere, there’s good shelter that helps keep things surfable closer to the beach.
The Hiriketiya beach break
Located on the western side of Hiriketiya Bay, the beach break is the most popular surf spot in town. It’s usually got a line up, but don’t be put off – there are plenty of waves to go around.
The sets that roll through here offer great variety for both longboarders and shortboarders. Some wall up for drop ins. Others are fat A-frames that glide neatly. Strictly speaking, the spot is a left-hander, but we’ve seen it go right, especially if you take off closer to the center of the bay.
The beach break starts roughly where the reef (see below) leaves off. However, names can be deceiving. If you choose a take-off point in the middle of Hiri, as most intermediates do, you will be surfing over rocks for 50 meter or so before you enter the sand-bottomed section of the bay.
Total beginners can stick to the second waves that plump up nicely right in front of the surf rental shacks on the western end of the beach. That’s usually where the surf schools go, and it can be a nice practice spot that’s got sand underfoot the whole way.
Bad points to the Hiriketiya Bay beach break include closeout sets that seem to roll through without warning, and crowds. Oh, and since a week-long flat spell on our last trip in 2022, some days when there are ZERO waves!
The Hiriketiya Bay reef point break
Roaring into the headland on the eastern point of Hiriketiya Bay is the town’s upper-intermediate/expert reef break. Known for its quick, peeling left-hander that starts on the rocks about 100 meters out from Peter’s Place bar, it’s got a fast take off section and ends up over some very shallow reefs that are infested with urchins (we saw about three people get spiked in just a week!).
If you can catch it, there’s a lovely ride that can take you from the headland all the way to the middle of the bay – some 150 meters at its best. The swells here can hold up to six foot. The wave begins quite sucky but soon mellows into a shoulder that’s medium-steep but rarely hollow.
|#||Location||Surf points||Suited for||Notes|
Hiriketiya beach break
|Beginner / Intermediate||Located on the western side of Hiriketiya Bay, the beach break is the most popular surf spot in town. It’s usually got a line up, but don’t be put off – there are plenty of waves to go around.|
Hiriketiya Bay reef point break
|Intermediate / Advanced||Roaring into the headland on the eastern point of Hiriketiya Bay is the town’s upper-intermediate/expert reef break. Known for its quick, peeling left-hander that starts on the rocks by Peter’s Place bar, it’s got a fast take off section and ends up over some very shallow reefs that are infested with urchins.
If you can catch it, there’s a lovely ride that can take you from the headland all the way to the middle of the bay – some 150 metre at its best. The swells here can hold up to six foot.
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