Sean Spellman Spills His Sri Lanka Surfing Story

There’s nothing like a tropical travel story to warm us up at home
January 17, 2019Words by Sean SpellmanPhotos by Mitch Fong

With the wintery magic of the holidays behind us, the frigid temperatures and dark days of the season might not feel so charming anymore. But there’s nothing like dreaming of a tropical vacation to hold us over ’til spring. So we caught up with our buddy, Huckberry Ambassador Sean Spellman, to find out more about his surfing trip to Sri Lanka. You can almost feel the sunshine. 

Sri Lanka

I decided to go to Sri Lanka at the last minute, on a typical whim, with hopes of experiencing an unfamiliar culture and duck-diving into the Indian Ocean for the first time in my life. A friend tipped me off to a specific place in southern Sri Lanka, a surf and yoga retreat in Ahangama called Sunshine Stories. Admittedly, I did little research before I arrived. I scoped their Instagram, I saw their website, I checked the surf report and the water temperature. A few emails later and with an introduction from my friends at Tiny Atlas Quarterly, I found myself arranging travel to Weligama, where owners and Swedish expats Linn Lundgren and Petter Toremalm had a room for me at their brand new property, a six-room hotel/cafe/surf shop called Ceylon Sliders, an homage to wave-riding on the subtropical island that they now call home. 

Bedroom at Ceylon Sliders in Sri Lanka

Ceylon Sliders in Sri Lanka

Impressing me was easy; I have a great love of the ocean, fresh local food, and most things Swedish. Ceylon Sliders is a well thought out mix of Scandinavian design and Sri Lankan ease, run by a mix of European surfers and locals, all equally stoked to be hanging around.

Surfing in the Indian Ocean

Swimming in the Indian Ocean

The cafe is open daily for breakfast and lunch and is led by Diana Basto Ferreira, a glowing Portuguese transplant whose creativity with local food selections is interesting yet familiar. A 6 am trip to the farmers market with Ms. Ferreira yielded jackfruit for vegan “bbq sandwiches,” palm trickle (for sweetening house-made granola and baked goods), young coconut for vegan ceviche, fresh curry leaves, cinnamon, and bananas (all local, of course). 

Market in Sri Lanka

Dinner in Sri Lanka

The shop at Ceylon Sliders is small and carries the essentials, most notably, new Bing Surfboard shapes from California and high-quality, sustainably produced yoga mats that you can’t get anywhere else in the country. I bought some good sunscreen for my pale New England winter skin and a great pair of Rythmn surf trunks from Australia that I lost a week later in Mumbai. Out front of Ceylon Sliders, you’ve got a few surf spots, each working differently depending on the time of the year. If you want to strap your board to a tuk-tuk you can be at a number of other breaks within 10 to 20 minutes, or take the train farther, which is highly recommended. I also did yoga most mornings at 6:30, a few times being the sole student with the instructor on the roof overlooking Weligama Bay.

Surfing in Sri Lanka

Surfing in Sri Lanka

Linn and Petter’s hospitality is ace. They have beginner boards you can borrow and plenty of local knowledge to share. While out surfing, it’s there will usually be a staff member out there with you, cheering you on. I had such a good time in this part of Sri Lanka that I barely explored beyond the Weligama/Midigama/Ahangama region, which means a return visit will surely be in my future.

Sri Lanka

>>Next: 12 Ultimate Winter Travel Destinations for Every Kind of Adventure


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