When is the best surf in Sri Lanka?

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We always get asked, “When is the best surf in Sri Lanka?” A common misconception is that there is no surf on the south coast during the April to October months. Here at Talalla Surf Camp, we know the truth! We have perfect waves for beginners and intermediate surfers – + without the crowds ALL YEAR ROUND. How lucky are we!

This week a big swell ran through the Indian Ocean and the Surf Coaches here at Talalla managed to score one of our secret peaks absolutely firing. The beginners and intermediates on the Surf Camp scored some great waves at Lobsters which you can see here www.tallaretreat.com/lastweek but the true surprise was this magic setup you can see below (sorry not telling where!).

Talalla Surf Team xo

Click on the photo below to see the full Album ;)




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Pomp and ceremony live on large in Sri Lanka, and never moreso than in Perahera across the nation.

A celebration of Buddhist faith, the annual Kelaniya Duruthu Maha Perahera is held every pre-full moon day of January or ‘Duruthu Poya’ in commemoration of Lord Buddha’s visit to Sri Lanka.

The service begins in the temple, but the crowd of hundreds of thousands is here to see the parade. It starts with the whipcrackers – boys as young as 5 cracking man-sized whips, the crowd looking on in a mixture of anticipation and amazement.

Then, the dancers. Kandyan traditional dancers, dressed to the nines, crowd the streets and woo the crowd with their moves that signify power and authority.

Finally, the moment. The first elephant appears. Regaled in velvet finery, his robes are interwoven with globes, lighting up the night like a thousand stars.

The royal tusker is bound in gold, and the sacred casket carried atop. He’s trained for this all his life – it is his moment.

A hundred other elephants may follow, but he doesn’t see them. The crowd goes wild until the very last moment, until the final blessed beast returns to the temple.

Image courtesy of D.Jones Photography and may not be reproduced without permission.




You must be coco-nuts!

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Climbing a 50 metre palm with only a little coconut fibre strapped around your ankles might not be everyone’s cup of (Ceylon) tea. But here at Talalla Retreat, it’s a weekly occurrence to keep our grounds in tip top condition.

Nishantha is a lifetime coconut plucker  – or “poll kadanawa” in the local Sinhala – who’s been doing this for over 20 years. He scales the grand heights fearlessly and with the elegance of a cat, to keep our guests safe from falling young coconut and dead palm fronds.

You might be lucky enough to watch him when you’re here! But never fear, it’s just another day at the *ahem* office for Nishantha.

Image copyright D.Jones Photography and may not be reproduced without permission from the owner and subject.


Monkey Magic

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Dangling from the trees, or watching as you shower, toque macaques live only in Sri Lanka and wander wild through the jungle surrounding Talalla Retreat.

Every year in the spring, babies emerge and cling to the belly of their monkey mama – the best type of shuttle, and with instant food!

Naturally flexible, they are Sri Lanka’s tiny yogi’s – bending and jumping through the canopy. Seemingly flying, they’ve spent their whole lives searching the trees for the most delicious nuts and fruits. Lithe and nimble they test the branches for strength before grooming each other in a show of love and companionship.

These friendly critters have been known to take visitors bananas and cameras – so lock up well!

Image courtesy of D.Jones Photography and may not be reproduced without permission.

Royal Kandy

Royal Kandy

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Resplendent in red and white costume that is centuries old, Kandyan dance is an important part of the culture of the ancient kingdom. Originally aligned to the Temple of the Tooth, the dance’s origins lie in an exorcism ritual originally performed by Indian Shamans.

According to legend, the Indian shamans came to the island upon the request of a king who was suffering from a mysterious illness. The king was said to be suffering from a recurring dream in which a leopard was directing its tongue towards the king, believed to be as a black magic of “Kuweni” the first wife of the king “Vijaya”. After the performance of the Kohomba Kankariya the illness vanished, and many natives adopted the dance.

This costume is known as the “Ves”. Only males are allowed to wear the headdress that gives the illusion of height.

Royal Kandyan dancers are often at Talalla Retreat during times of celebration such as New Year and weddings. The sounds of their pounding drums and their electric energy can be heard throughout the grounds.

Image courtesy of D. Jones Photography and cannot be reproduced without permission.

Portuguese Architecture

Portuguese Passion

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Like gems hidden in the mines of Ratnapura, Portuguese architecture is around every corner in Sri Lanka. It lays secret behind lush jungles, or shows off on a main street façade.

Akin to traditional handmade lace, the ironwork drops and curls down from the roofs, the stalactites gripping on – barely fighting the humid climate.

When Lorenzo De Almeida arrived to Sri Lanka in 1505 – sent off course after a storm at sea – the Portuguese influence immediately hit this island nation. Forts and townships were created, architectural gems and decoration showing themselves off as a sign of newfound wealth.

Today, you’ll find these historic remnants right here in the village of Talalla – crumbling reminders of a once-mighty empire. They sit strong and proud against the bright Nippolac paint colours, baking in the heat of the day.

Some buildings have been heritage listed, and therefore saved. This house nearby sits resplendent, dignified in it’s legacy. It’s secrets, and history will remain within.

Image courtesy of D. Jones Photography and may not be reproduced without permission.

Rev. K. Upali of the Ancient of Gandara.


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The Rev. K. Upali watches with pleasure as his giant Buddha is built. In the background, the legs of the monument can be seen – each placed by hand, a labour of love.

A lifetime achievement for the Rev, he has watched over this historic vihara (Buddhist temple) for decades and painstakingly planned the monument.

Inside the smaller temple, frescoes date back hundreds of years – perhaps even to the Kandyan period. Narrowly missed by the tsunami, the colours are still bright, the statues still stand as strong as the faith of the monks who practice here.

The Rev. K. Upali welcomes visitors to his vihara and will take you lovingly through the ancient grounds. He speaks flawless English, an awe-inspiring source of information about this gentle faith. Whether his saffron robes, or his loving aura, he truly glows.

The Ancient Temple of Gandara is the neighbor of Talalla Retreat.

Image courtesy of D. Jones Photography and may not be reproduced without permission.


An unusual visitor

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Our local Lassetter pops in for a visit to Talalla Retreat to attend a wedding ceremony.

Although technically this Elephas maximus maximus can weight up to 5500kg, she walks with grace through our grounds, stopping now and again for a nibble. Lassetter lives at the Dondra temple, the celebrity of the local Perahera parade.

An important cultural symbiosis has continued to exist between the elephant and humans for over two thousand years – no religious procession is complete without its retinue of elephants, and many large Buddhist temples in Sri Lanka still have their own elephants.

Lassetter has walked here and arrives parched. She guzzles gallons of water from the hose, and sprays it over herself ahhh…..

Image courtesy of D. Jones photography and may not be reproduced without permission.

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Dried fish

Fishy business

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Dried fish

Walking or driving through the coastal regions of southern Sri Lanka – from Weligama to Talalla and Dickwella – a sudden pungent scent fills your unsuspecting nostrils. The culprit? Dried fish!

A key ingredient in traditional Sri Lankan cuisine, dried fish are widely used to add flavor and salt to curry and sambol. These little guys pack a punch, and only a pinch is required to really turn up the flavor.

The fish are air-dried under the scorching Sri Lankan sun, until they take the appearance of wood or leather. Being kept in this manner, the fish can be kept for an indefinite period without refrigeration – a handy side effect for traditional owners of the land who had no way to preserve and store the goods.

Dried Maldive fish is a key ingredient in one of the most traditional sambals – Pol Sambol – and combines with red chilli, coconut, red onion and lime to add a delicious zing to your breakfast of hoppers.

The fish is also used as a thickening agent and to really ramp up the protein in your curry. But beware, its often used in “vegetarian” dishes!

At Talalla Retreat, the chefs use the dried fish widely in their traditional cuisine – so be sure to ask if you’d like a look as you certainly won’t detect its position in the mix of up to 15 different spices.

Image courtesy of D. Jones photography and may not be reproduced without permission.

Holy Cow

Holy Cow

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Who’s that in the middle of your roundabout? A lovingly cared-for cow, feasting on any remnant of grass she can find!

Although a predominantly Buddhist country, cows are still given a certain reverence in Sri Lanka. They wander freely on median strips, through tea plantations or anywhere where a lawn mower is required.

You might find one lazing on the freeway, strolling the town, or wandering through the village of Talalla. Either way, these gentle beasts provide the daily milk for your famous Ceylon tea.

Image courtesy of D. Jones photography and may not be reproduced without permission.