A Practical Guide to Kitesurfing in Sri Lanka
Even for the most die-hard kiteboarders, taking a trip to Sri Lanka is as much about appreciating the beautiful surroundings and vibrant culture as it is about making the most of the incredible kitesurfing conditions.
Sri Lanka’s tangled green jungles, rolling hills, and colourful (although quite chaotic) city life give the country a charm that’s hard to resist; and although the nation has been out of civil war for less than a decade, you’ll find the people are kind and welcoming to visitors, and the day-to-day lifestyle one of peace and happiness.
Northwest Sri Lanka, in particular, holds a special place in the hearts of the traveling kitesurf tribe thanks to its strong wind and legendary flat water lagoons. Indeed, Kalpitiya is the main hub of kiteboarding in Sri Lanka, but in reality there’s many more places to fly your kite in this beautiful, intriguing island nation.
Let’s take a look at some of the essential info you should know about kitesurfing in Sri Lanka, then we’ll go into more detail about the best spots to ride.
Best time to kitesurf in Sri Lanka: There are two windy seasons, though the main kitesurfing season in Sri Lanka runs from mid-May until the end of September. The winter season runs from December until mid-February/early March, although wind is somewhat less consistent during this period.
Average water temperature: During the high season, water temperatures average at 29 degrees Celsius.
Wetsuit recommendation: During the high season, you won’t need a wetsuit. Board shorts, bikinis, or a light rash vest and shorts will be enough.
Tips for beginners: Kalpitiya is the main teaching hub in Sri Lanka, but the lagoon here is often crowded and the water can be dangerously shallow in parts. If you’re going to be kiting here, note that the wind builds in strength throughout the day, meaning most riders will head out in the afternoon. Beginners may find it more manageable to work on their riding skills earlier on in the day when it’s slightly lighter and less crowded. Alternatively, head down to Kappalady where there’s usually less people and the water is waist deep throughout.
bstoked kitesurfing experiences in Sri Lanka
Top spots for kitesurfing in Sri Lanka
This is widely considered to be the “main” kitesurfing spot in Sri Lanka. Kalpitiya, as well as being the name of the town, is the name of the famous kitesurfing lagoon. With quite shallow, flat water and strong wind, it’s a favourite spot for free riders, wake style kiters, as well as beginners (just watch out for the very shallow areas!). The wind during the high season blows strong- 25 knots average- and can become quite gusty. With close to a dozen schools set up on the edges of the lagoon, this is the easiest place to find lessons and kitesurfing camps in Sri Lanka.
Kappalady Lagoon is located just 16 kilometers south of Kalpitiya. The water inside the lagoon is perfectly flat and waist deep, which makes it a comfortable spot for beginners to learn. Wind-wise, it’s similar to Kalpitiya- although arguably somewhat less gusty since its direction of exposure isn’t obstructed by anything big. Kiteboarding at Kappalady is fun as part of a downwinder from Kalpitiya or as a day trip on its own.
This is Sri Lanka’s new dream spot to ride. It’s an island off the northwest coast, one that’s part of a larger archipelago that sits in between Sri Lanka and mainland India. The real magic of this place is Adam’s Bridge, an underwater limestone shoal that trails between the two mainlands. Since the water is crystal clear (and the wind is strong and perfectly stable all around the area) you can kite along the shoal and see it glimmering below you. There’s close to 20 square kilometers of kiteable area here, so you can be sure there’s plenty to see and explore.
A half hour’s drive and a one hour boat trip up the coast from Kalpitiya, Vella Island is a crowd favourite when it comes to downwinders and day trips. Although it’s fairly out of the way, the journey is definitely worth the effort. Winds are stable and the water is beautifully flat. There’s an easy-to-access launch point on the island (which is the start of a great downwind route); just be aware that it’s an active fishing beach so there are often sharp pieces of bones and such on the beach. Be careful with your kite, and wear booties to protect your feet.
On the complete opposite side of Sri Lanka, Arugam Bay is a spot best known best for its surf conditions. However, when the wind is right, it’s also a fantastic place to enjoy some wave riding on your kite. There are a handful of kiteable beaches along the bay, the problem is that the wind blows slightly offshore at a lot of them. The best place to head for is The Point, where the wind blows crosshore. There’s a reef a couple hundred meters outside which creates beautiful clean waves that break for 200-300 meters. It’s not the friendliest spot for beginners, but for intermediate riders and wave lovers, this is the place to be.