Category Archives: Sri Lanka


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 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 ;)



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.

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.


Stuff Your Galle Face (Green)

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Wandering down Galle Face Green at sundown is a typical Sri Lankan experience. As the sun sets, street vendors uncover their creations, painstakingly handmade in private homes by the lady of the house each morning.

Rolling out gazebos, frypans, tables and chairs, the instant food court appears miraculously and the smell of frying spices fills the air.

Hollering about these delicious tapas, crowds are drawn to stall after stall of deep fried baby crabs smooshed into red coconut roti. Large shops sell fresh seafood – seasoned prawns and tiny squid stare blankly, while large crabs eyeball your choice – perhaps rolled into a fresh roti or served piled high with pungent sambol. For desert, devilled cashews await, or fresh pineapple dotted with chilli. A delicious contrast of the sweet and salty.

Nearby, a man sells blow up animals, while the navy watches on in amusement. Techno monks with i-phones take pictures of the sunset, and lovers hide under cover of colourful umbrellas.

It’s Colombo in all its glory, often overlooked on a trip to the south coast. But before you head to Talalla Retreat, spend a day on the Green taking in the colonial sights, and watch as this incredible city makes up for 30 years of stagnant growth before your very eyes…..

Image courtesy of D.Jones Photography and is not to be reproduced.



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Five tips for the Ultimate Sri Lanka Surf Holiday

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Sri Lanka Surf

5 Tips from Sri Lankas Best & Longest Running Surf Camp –
Talalla Surf Camp

1. Avoid the Crowds and still get Great Surf

It is said that the best time for surfers to go to Sri Lanka is from April through to October. This is true in many ways. Ocean swells are consistent 4-7 feet and wind conditions are ideal. However, during this time, surfers from many nations flock to Arugam Bay on the East Coast of the island and also called the surf Mecca of Sri Lanka.


If you do not count to those who love the hassle of surfing with 70 plus people in the water, then you might want to consider the south and south western coastline of Sri Lanka which has plenty of secret and undiscovered surf spots on offer that work during its peak and off season alike.


2. Come to Sri Lanka in the Off Season

Apparently the Off-Season for surfing in Sri Lanka is somewhat between November and April, which I think is a myth or even a lie. During this period swells hit the island from the south west and of course are not as consistent as the swells coming from the south east during the peak season, but if you want to catch cool and fun 3-5 feet waves with off shore winds almost every day and some bigger swells every now and then – this is the time to go. A big wave spot was also discovered by some Australians on southern tip of the island which has world class potential. If it’s flat there is plenty of other cool and beautiful things to do.


Make sure you go further south than Mirissa and Hikkaduwa, as these places can get crowded during the off season as well. Mirissa and Hikkaduwa are great places to have a fun night out.


3. Cheap Ways to Get Around in Sri Lanka

Many of you might be on a budget just not wanting to spend much money on transport. Thus hiring a car for a few weeks or even months might be out of question. Another option would be to stay in one of the more crowded surf spots like Mirissa or Hikkaduwa where there is plenty of accommodation close to the surfing beaches. Further south of Matara you can find good accommodation also right on the beach.( pleaase check out: )Hardly anyone knows about it and you might get some epic waves to yourself. Some of the slightly more expensive places have surf guides who know the area very well .They conduct surf checks every morning which are included in the price.



4. What to Bring to Sri Lanka

In terms of the quiver I would say your standard board will do. Perhaps take aslightly bigger board in case you travel south-east-east during the big swell season. Waves breaking on sand are powerful but still easy to get into. I have surfed some reef spots which can get challenging but the drop is definitely makeable with your standard board.


Also prepare a first aid kit containing disinfectants, band aids and perhaps antibiotics. I can also strongly recommend bringing some decent mosquito repellent. Although you can buy some good stuff here, you might get something more effective in your country. Also make sure you bring plenty of Vitamin C against infections. I have seen some nasty infected mossy bites and Vitamin C is definitely a great remedy. You might also take some general vitamin supplements plus calcium and magnesium. Sri Lankan food is actually quite versatile in fruit and vegetables but for some, this still seems to cause some deficiencies, especially when surfing a lot.


5. Do not Get Ripped Off in Sri Lanka

It can feel strange sometimes travelling in a foreign country where you have no clue about general travel, food and accommodation prices. And as Sri Lanka is still considered a third world country along with the majority of people living on the minimum of existence, you might face yourself paying tourist prices rather than local prices. My suggestion is to make some Sri Lankan friends who you can trust. They can help you get the local deals for food or transport.


Taxis from the airport to Colombo train station should not cost you more than Rs. 2000- 3000. The train is an experience not to miss out on and is only ridiculous 230 Rs. to most destinations. Buses or Taxis are usually quite pricey, I would say about 80-100$ for a 3-4 hour ride but you might be a good negotiator! Foods in supermarkets are fairly expensive, especially imported stuff, so buy your fruit and veg at the weekly markets or the little shops on the street sides. Perhaps also ask some locals about local grocery prices.



Religion in Sri Lanka

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There are many and varied, but all spectacularly colourful, religious and cultural festivals all year round.

Be immersed in Buddhist culture at one of the Perahera’s around the country, visit sacred Kataragama or ascend Adam’s Peak with the Pilgrims at dawn.

Right next door to Talalla Retreat, the Rev K Upali is a wonderful source of information about the beauty and peace of the Buddhist faith. You can learn more about him here.

For a full roll call of religious festivals and events, we suggest you visit

Sri Lanka supports a diverse cultural and religious population. Different faiths live harmoniously toghether in a supportive environment.

Sri Lanka’s main religions can be roughly divided into:
Buddhism- 70 per cent
Hinduism – 16 per cent
Christianity – 7 per cent
Islam – 7 per cent

Each month on the full moon, those that practice the Buddhist faith celebrate poya. Be aware that if you’re in Sri Lanka on a poya day, most shops will be closed. In the evening, keep an ear out for chanting and drumming at your local temple.

On Fridays, please note that most of the shops in Galle Fort will be closed due to a midday service at the Mosque, in respect to the local Muslim community.

The closest Christian Church to Talalla is located approximately 15 minute tuk tuk drive away in Matara. The Our Lady of Matara Church has a website with full service.

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