12 Amazing Things To Do In Ahangama, An Insider’s Guide

Are you thinking of exploring Ahangama? Dreaming of those perfect waves, salty hair, and sandy toes – but not sure what else the town has to offer? Welcome to our guide to the top things to do in Ahangama, with all the insider tips from someone who calls this place his second home.

It’s funny really. Before 2019, every time we travelled it had to be a new country. Something was alluring about the unknown, exploring different corners of the world, and finding something new. Then, one winter, as we were escaping the gloom of London, we stumbled across Ahangama, and our whole world changed.

Ahangama beach at sunset, one of the top things to do in ahangama

That first year we came across Ahangama by chance. After spending an amazing 3 weeks in Hiriketyia, finding another town that lived up to the same vibe was hard. We meandered around from place to place until one day we were driving through a town and decided to stop at a beach for a drink. 

We found ourselves mesmerized by this stunning wave as we sipped on a watermelon juice. This perfect A-frame with a beautiful lefthand wall and only 5 or 6 people scoring 200-meter rides. 

At that moment, we knew we had to stay nearby.

A surfer at the rock kabalana, one of the top things to do in ahangama

2 months later we still hadn’t left. We’d extended many hotels and pushed back multiple flights – we’d fallen in love. 

For sure, the surf was a big part of it. But it was also the town and the vibe – there was just so much to do and it’s like nowhere else in Sri Lanka. Every day we would find new hipster restaurants, secret beaches, cool underground parties, wildlife everywhere, and we’d hang out with the best traveller community. 

Since then we’ve been back every winter to enjoy this perfect place, to repeat the things we love, and to explore a little more. Each year the town has evolved slightly, grown up a little, and there’s more on offer – but the underlying vibe remains the same. I imagine we’ll keep coming back until we’re too old to paddle out.

It’s quite a strange feeling writing this actually, like I’m revealing one of our little secrets. But it’s unfair not to share – so welcome to our guide to the top things to do in Ahangama, we hope you enjoy it.

A number of beach shacks and boats near Kabalana beach in Ahangama

Best Things to Do In Ahangama

Although many of Ahangama’s attractions come from the surf, there’s more to the town than just waves. From its hipster bars to quiet sun-kissed beaches, beautiful wildlife, and out there adventures, Ahangama is a great base to explore the South Coast of Sri Lanka. Here’s what you can’t miss.

Hit the surf

The Rock, Marshmallows, Sticks, and Animals. Ahangama has some of the most well-known surf spots in Sri Lanka. To be honest, I’m not sure who put the town on the map first – Google Maps or Magicseaweed! So if you visit Ahanagma, you have to hit the surf.

A surfer making a right hand turn at sticks surf spot in Ahangama

Ahangama is mostly reef breaks so it’s perfect for intermediate and advanced surfers who have endless spots to choose from. Whether you prefer a shortboard or longboard, mellow takeoffs, or steeper rides, there’s something for everyone. 

If you’re looking for world-class waves, Ahangama is one of the only spots on the South Coast where you’ll find them. The Rock is a stunning big aframe that’s all over Instagram and the beach break nearby is regularly used for competitions. If you’re like me though, you’ll probably go searching for a nice quiet spot, this is also one of the only towns where you can find a peak all to yourself if you look hard enough.

A surfer hitting an overhead wave at Animals

If you’re a beginner, Kabalana Beach is a great place to learn with cheaper lessons and fewer crowds than some of the surrounding towns. Board rental is typically $2-3 a day and you can organise private lessons for under $10-15 a session. If you fancy a surf camp there are more in Ahangama than anywhere else in Sri Lanka – LaPoint, Dreamsea, and Ticket to Ride are some of the best.

Read more: Ahangama Surf Guide, Find The Secret Spots

A beginner on a wave at sunset with a red sky and the sun in the background

Chill on Kabalana Beach

After you’ve finished your session, or if surfing isn’t your thing, Kabalana Beach is the perfect place to relax and unwind. This wide golden sand beach is one of the focal points of the town where you can grab a makeshift wooden sunbed, sip on a cool king coconut, and just let the day go by.

It’s great to come to Kabalana for the early afternoon when there is a good social vibe and a buzz around the beach. It’s the kind of place where it’s easy to chat with other travellers or join a volleyball game. 

And you should stay as the afternoon gets late and the sky turns orange. Kabalana is the best place in Ahangama to watch the sunset, the perfect place to sit in a beach bar and watch the surfer silhouettes as the sun drops below the horizon. If you come to Ahangama, you have to visit Kabalana at least once.

Read more: Kabalana Beach, Everything You Need to Know

A number of people playing on Kabalana beach at dusk

Party at Lamana Skatepark

There’s a party going on nearly every night in Ahangama, but if you’re looking for something a little different, Lamana Skatepark is where it’s at.

This isn’t your average skatepark – yes, there’s a bowl that local skaters use daily, but every Thursday, as the sun sets, Lamana transforms into one of the coolest party spots in town.

A skateboarder in a headscarf skating in Lamana bowl whilst people watch and party

Outdoor DJ sets, live bands under the stars, and a crowd that’s a mix of local skaters, travellers, and surfers all coming together for a good time. It’s a unique vibe you won’t find anywhere else.

Out the back of the bar, on one side, you’ve got the skaters dropping into the bowl and pulling some airs in between a quick beer break. And on the other, you’ve got travellers grabbing some cocktails, chatting, and dancing away to the DJ.

People partying at Lamana skatepark on a thursday night

And the best part? The party winds down at midnight, so if you’re old like us you can get to bed for an early surf the next day. For those of you who prefer to keep the vibe going, Hakuna Matata, a locally run beach bar across the road keeps going all the way to the early morning. Who needs sleep anyway?

Browse the Markets at Café Ceylon

If you’re lucky to be in Ahangama on a Saturday, you should head to the markets at Café Ceylon. Twice a month these guys transform their restaurant and garden into a lively pop-up market with chilled music, street food, and local stalls.

A man walks through the market stalls with palm trees at Cafe Ceylon

The local vendors sell everything from handmade jewelry, swimwear, hats, backpacks, zinc, and much much more. So if you’re looking to buy something unique on your travels this is the place to get it.

There’s more to the vibe than just market stalls. Café Ceylon nails it with a mix of laid-back tunes, live music, and the smell of great coffee, local food, and the odd margarita in the air. If there’s a market when you’re visiting, it’s definitely worth checking out.

Top tip: follow Café Ceylon on Instagram for market dates

An I love ceylon sign on display at the cafe ceylon markets

Bar Crawl along Ahangama Beach 

Having spent most of our youth enjoying the buzz of a big city, we’re well-versed in weekend bar crawls. Though these have become less frequent as we’ve grown older, Ahangama always has a way of occasionally drawing us back in.

A group of people have drinks on the Crust balcony in Ahangama

A few years ago, Ahangama Beach was a modest stretch of local shops selling essentials. Recently it’s transformed into a hub of hipster bars lining the beachfront, each one offering a unique vibe. It’s the perfect place to meander, enjoy a drink or two, and connect with fellow travelers.

Here’s our go-to route: 

  • Hakuna Matata – Start with some freshly made Piña Coladas, enjoying the beach view and watching surfers from their makeshift seating platform.
  • Dreamsea – Head here for their signature Espresso Martinis, perfect for lounging around the pool.
  • Cactus – Try a fresh Aperol Spritz while enjoying their cool hipster garden.
  • Pickled Pelican – Great for a few beers and some friendly games of pool.
  • Carries – Order a few Sex in the City-themed cocktails and sink into their Moroccan style pillows.
  • Crust – Get a couple of cheap beers and enjoy the social vibes
  • House of Uncle – There is no better place to end the night, grab a few swanky cocktails and dance the night away to some disco tunes.
One of the disco parties at House of Uncle on Ahangama Beach

If you’re in one of those let-loose moods, this is a must-do in Ahangama, you won’t find another bar crawl quite like it anywhere else in the world.

If you’re not in the party mood or you don’t drink Ahangama Beach is still an awesome place to come hang out, there’s so much on offer from great surf, the best restaurants in town, and nice places to chill – we highly recommend exploring this beach when you visit.

Read more: Ahangama Beach, Everything You Need to Know

A man standing next to a rope swing at sunset on Ahangama Beach

Swim with Giant Turtles

You’ll come across loads of wildlife in Ahangama – monkeys in the trees, peacocks on the roofs, cows in the streets, and maybe giant monitor lizards in the bushes. But, if there’s one animal you have to go looking for, it’s Giant Turtles.

A giant green turtle with a snorkeler behind it at Dalawella Beach

The Giant Green Turtles near Ahangama are over 50 years old, weigh 200kg, and have 1m wingspans. We’ve seen turtles many times before but these are by far the biggest, you don’t want to miss the opportunity to swim with them.

You can find them just a short 10-minute Tuk Tuk ride down the road at Dalawella Beach in a natural pool where the turtles come to feed on the seagrass. They turn up every day without fail so you’re guaranteed to see them. You can rent a mask and snorkel on the beach for $1.

Snorkles and masks for rent at Dalawella Beach where you can swim with Giant Turtles

Whilst you’re there, you’ll see lots of tourists feeding the turtles seagrass, but please remember they are wild so be respectful and just swim – human bacteria isn’t good for them.

Dalawella is a small and popular tourist beach so we recommend visiting in the early morning before it gets busy. Whilst you’re there, you can also go see Frog Rock, a popular Instagram spot, and if you want to extend this little adventure, it’s worth heading to Unawatua to explore the shops and get some street food.

Frog rock at dusk, a famous instagram spot on Dalawella Beach

Eat in the Hipster Restaurants

Ahangama has a great food scene full of trendy restaurants, cool hipster cafes, and local all-you-can-eat curries. Expect a laid-back vibe ideal for those midday breaks when the sun’s rays are a bit too intense for the beach.

A smoothie bowl with bananas and nuts in one of the hipster restaurants in Ahangama

Here are a few of our favourites you have to try:

  • Carries – An amazing beachfront restaurant combining a Morrocan and Sri Lanka fusion and a Sex In The City inspired cocktail menu.
  • Trax – Set in some old jungle ruins these guys have an amazing Asian fusion menu – bibimbap, udon, and gyozas in Sri Lanka, who would have thought it?
  • Hakuna Matata – Beach shack vibes offering the best jackfruit burgers, wraps, and local spins on western plates.
  • East Falafel – Falafel pitas, shakshuka, and shawarmas from a native Israeli, what more could you want? Don’t forget to ask for their spicy sauce.
  • Baboo Cafe – the best all-you-can-eat local curry spot with over 7+ different options for under $2 
  • Nuga House – an amazing Israeli-inspired brunch spot with the best toasts.

Read more: 15 Best Restaurants in Ahangama + 1 Hidden Gem

Two girls sitting in the old ruins of Trax restaurant

Safari at Udawalawe National Park

If you’re looking to mix up the surf, sand, and party routine with a bit of adventure, then you have to go on a safari at Udawalawe National Park. The park is just a couple of hours’ drive from Ahangama and it’s our favourite in Sri Lanka.

An Elephant walks past a jeep at Udawalawe national park

Udawalawe is all about Elephants! There are 600-700 that call this park their home so you’re guaranteed to see them –  we saw herds everywhere, big solo bulls, and so many baby Elephants trundling around and falling over in the mud. It was an unbelievable experience.

You’ll also get to see many crocodiles, buffalo, monkeys, peacocks, and loads of exotic birds. The biodiversity isn’t as high as some of the more popular parks like Yala, but it’s also cheaper and there are fewer tourists, so we think it’s the perfect place to find some wildlife without the stress that can sometimes come with busy Safaris.

The safari costs about $70 per person for a half-day/3hr safari and a full day costs $100. We suggest just doing a half day and starting in the early morning when the animals are more active before the sun gets hot. And if you get a group together you can get a discount on the Jeep.

Best place to book: Jeep with entrance tickets for 4 hours – $70 per person

Three Elephants next to Udawalawe reservior with the mountains in the background

Climb Devil’s Rock

If you’re looking for something a little different and to have an adventure with some great views and unbelievable photo opportunities, then you have to climb Devil’s Rock. 

Towards the east of Ahangama town and just before Midigama is a giant group of rocks out to sea covered in trees and bushes. Every time we drove past it we’d say to each other imagine what the views like from the top. Then one day we decided to swim out and see for ourselves.

A girl looks at Sion surf spot and Devils Rock in Ahangama

The climb involves waiting for low tide, swimming through some medium strong currents, and a bit of scrambling around the rocks. It’s relatively accessible, but if you’re not a strong swimmer or hiker then it’s probably not for you. It’s best to climb just before sunset if the tides permit, just make sure to bring a wetbag for your phone and camera, you’re almost certain to get wet.

The rock itself is like something from Jurrasic park – overgrown green jungle walkways, jagged scary rocks, and this spooky blowhole that seemingly drops all the way to hell – I can now see why it’s called Devils Rock. From the top, you’ll get uninterrupted views all down the coast and a unique perspective that hardly anyone else has seen. This was such a unique adventure and I highly recommend it to anyone visiting Ahangama.

A man standing on top of Devils Rock in Ahangama

Espresso Martinis at The Lighthouse

If you want a chilled evening spot for a casual drink, there’s no better place than The Lighthouse. This cool little rooftop bar has the best panoramic views over the Indian Ocean and a good cocktail menu.

It’s great to visit The Lighthouse in the late afternoon where you can grab the best Espresso Martinis in Ahangama and watch the surfers on Sion Break with a stunning view of Devil’s Rock in the background.

Every Saturday The Lighthouse throws a sunset DJ and drinks session. Great music, great cocktails, and great vibes, it’s not to be missed if you visit Ahangama.

Groups of people drinking at The Lighthouse rooftop bar with the sunset in the background

Scuba Dive in Unawatuna

If you want to explore Sri Lanka’s wildlife a little differently then it’s worth swapping the surfboard for a scuba tank and exploring beneath the waves. Unawatuna, just a 15-minute drive from Ahangama, is one of the best Scuba Diving spots in Sri Lanka – famous for its coral reefs, exotic fish, and some seriously cool shipwrecks.

Two divers swiming above the coral at Unawatuna

If you’re an experienced diver, or you’ve been to some of the world’s top spots, don’t expect the level of quality of the Maldives, Bali, Raja Ampat, Egypt, or the Philippines, we won’t lie – Sri Lanka just isn’t up there. But with 26°C/79°F at 20 meters deep, big coral blocks, cheap rates, and fun dive guides it’s a nice change of pace and worth it if you like diving.

Every time we visit Ahangama we end up spending a couple of mornings going for a dive. It’s just so nice getting to see all the tropical fish and the tiny exotic sea critters. If there’s one spot you have to try though it’s Lord Nelson Shipwreck, a small iron boat that’s easy to swim around with many eels, morish idols, and snappers. It was our first shipwreck and something we’ll remember forever.

Dives are relatively cheap – you can get a single dive with all equipment for $60 or a double for $100. We recommend either Pearl Divers or DivinGuru, two great dive shops we’ve used a number of times.

A diver descending from the surface with the sun in the sky at Unawatuna Lord Nelson Shipwreck diving spot

If you’ve never dived before, Sri Lanka is a great place to learn. There conditions are easy, the instructors are great, the wildlife is much better than a lot of locations, and it’s cheap. You can do an open water certification in 5 days for $250 or if you’re just interested in giving it a go a try dive costs $80. 

River Cruise to Ying Yang Shack

A trip to Ahangama isn’t just about the surf and the sand; it’s also about discovering hidden gems like the river cruise at Ying Yang Shack. Mowgli, an incredibly fun local, runs daily trips in the morning and evening along the river on his handcrafted boat he made with his three brothers.

Ideal for small groups, this adventure is perfect with a few beers in hand. As you meander along the river, Mowgli points out wildlife – from majestic eagles to stealthy monitor lizards – and shares fascinating insights about the local plants and their uses. He’ll even reveal the intriguing story behind his nickname… we won’t ruin the surprise for you.

Mowgli plays the drums on the river cruise to Ying Yang shack in Ahangama

The magic really happens when the sun sets, the sky fills with a million bats, and Mowgli often starts singing with his drums. It’s a unique experience made ever special by Mowgli’s amazing personality.

When you get back to the shack, the experience can extend into the evening with drinks and a local BBQ prepared by Mowgli’s family. And if you’re lucky enough to coincide your visit with one of their legendary jungle parties, you’re in for an unforgettable night.

A sign with distances to world cities at Hakuna Matata in Ahangama

Enjoy the guide?

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