The Perfect Wave interviews Talalla Surf Retreat’s surf instructor, Garrett
The Perfect Wave: Hi Garrett, tell us how did you get into surfing?
Garrett: I grew up in an area of Australia pretty prominent for surfing, South West Australia. We are pretty lucky as kids there, it is quite a raw environment and we have the opportunity to surf both before and after school, so you can progress quite quickly. There is also a bit of a ‘culture’ that revolves around surfing and it is less about the ‘big brands’ of surfing and more about connecting with nature and experiencing nature through a very beautiful and pure sport. Something we are definitely exposed to in the untouched south of Sri Lanka.
The Perfect Wave: It is a great place, is that why would you recommend Sri Lanka as a surf destination?
Garrett: It is such a pure an untouched environment. All of our coaches have travelled the world extensively and each time we arrive at one of the empty beach breaks or point breaks surrounded by palm trees we always have to pinch ourselves, it is pretty surreal that a place like this still exists. Some of our more ‘well-travelled’ guests describe it as ‘What Bali was like in the 70’s’, before mass tourism took over.
The Perfect Wave: That sounds perfect, so is there a ‘best time’ to surf in Sri Lanka?
Garrett: There are waves in Sri Lanka ‘YEAR ROUND!’ So everyone is well aware that Sri Lanka has two main surf seasons – the North East Monsoon and the South West Monsoon. For the past 30 years or so the surfing hubs have revolved around Hikkaduwa in the West from November to April and the Arugam Bay in the east from May to October. Now as the years have passed these places have obviously become pretty crowded and over-run with surf hungry travellers searching for the ‘perfect wave’ – this has led to people starting to venture out of these ‘tourist hot spots’ and venture into the more raw and beautiful parts of Sri Lanka, like the South and South East. The beauty of where we are in Sri Lanka is that we have complete exposure to perfect waves in both of these seasons. From November to April we surf the waves to the west of us, which are offshore and beautifully swell exposed for the smaller summer swells. And from May to October we have a whole range of East facing beaches and bays, which are offshore on the prevailing Westerly winds. So really it depends what you are looking for. November to April the waves tend to be 2-4ft beach breaks and point breaks with a few more people and more of a ‘social scene’. Whereas May to October can be anything from 2 – 10ft with a whole range of beach-breaks, point breaks and also our secret ‘big-wave’ – this time of year we surf a few more ‘secret spots’ and so most of the time we will have the waves to ourselves. Great for learning, progressing and pushing your limits.
The Perfect Wave: Secret spots eh? Can you let us in on what’s your secret spot for the perfect break?
Garrett: Ha, I’d love to tell you. How about I tell you, it’s next to that fishing village, in Southern Sri Lanka, down that dirt road, just through the palm trees. Does that help?
The Perfect Wave: Haha…thanks! So what do you love about being a surf camp instructor?
Garrett: Just being able to introduce people to a beautiful activity in a pristine environment. For many people ‘Learning to Surf’ or even ‘Progressing their Surfing’ can seem like a daunting endeavor, it sometimes come across that the surf community is a closed community, and here at Talalla I believe we truly break apart that stereotype. I love making surfing accessible for people, so they can not only experience the joy of wave riding themselves, but they can then have the confidence to go on themselves or even to end up teaching their partners or kids. It’s a great thing to share.
The Perfect Wave: Do you have a dream wave/dream surf destination?
Garrett: There’s so many to choose from it is hard to decide. I think anywhere where you can surf waves that are not too crowded, in a place where you can experience local culture/food and ideally have to just you and a few friends. When you’re in that type of space, life feels pretty perfect.
If you want to join Garrett and his fellow instructors and enjoy everything that Sri Lanka has to offer, check out the Talalla Surf Retreat.