11 Unmissable Things To Do In Madiha, Your Ultimate Guide

Are you thinking of visiting Madiha, Matara? Are you wondering what adventures you might have, what there is to do, or what hidden gems you can find? Don’t worry we’ve got the answers, welcome to our guide to all the top things to do in Madiha, we hope it helps make your trip special.

Oh Madiha, what can I say, this might be our new favourite escape in Sri Lanka. You see, every year we spend winter on this stunning island hitting those perfect waves, enjoying the beautiful weather, the nature, the food, the people, the parties – normally basing ourselves in the busy towns of Ahangama, Hikkaduwa, or Midigama. 

But, every so often, it’s nice to get away, to find a quiet piece of jungle, some empty surf breaks, some deserted beaches, and just take a moment to pause and relax. That town used to be Hiriketyia, but over the years it’s become a busy tourist hotspot and now it’s not the escape we look for. 

Then, one year, we decided to try Madiha near Matara, and now we have our special place again.

Two local cycling their bike down the main road in Madiha
We took this photo in 2021, it’s not the best but it has a special place in our hearts… oh Madiha!

Known by most as the beach town you head to for one wild party evening at the Doctors House, this destination is actually a hidden gem off of the normal traveller routes and definitely worth a stay if you’re exploring the South Coast. 

Forgetting the parties for a moment, Madiha is a sleepy quiet town defined by its small sandy coves, its deserted beaches, its natural pools, its overgrown jungle, and a reef that is still thriving. It really is a natural beauty and a throwback to the coastlines that made Sri Lanka such a famous beach destination. 

Two girls sit on an untouched deserted beach in Madiha

And although it’s a quiet town, luckily it’s not completely deserted – there are just enough hotels, restaurants, people, and infrastructure to create an amazing chilled vibe and a comfortable stay.

If you’re looking for an off-the-beaten-track beach destination in Sri Lanka to switch up your travel plans, Madiha is a great option.

A local man cutting a coconut at sunrise in Madiha

Best Things to Do In Madiha

With all of the sleepy coastal towns in Sri Lanka, it’s easy to get sucked into the same daily beach routine. But once you scratch past the shoreline, Madiha is a hidden gem and has lots of things to do. Here are our top 11, we hope you enjoy them. 

Party at Doctors House

I know we mentioned forgetting about the parties, but forgetting about The Doctors House is really hard. This bar, restaurant, and occasional nightclub was set up in 2016 by two Australians in a 200-year-old former Dutch hospital and it’s almost a Sri Lankan institution. 

The Doctors House painting and sign at sunset in Madiha

These guys have been throwing awesome events on the islands for years, a different kind of beach party vibe under the rustic rooftops of the ancient hospital with the best live music you’ll find in Sri Lanka.

Their events attract a great mix of surfers, tourists, expats, and locals – expect fun vibes and a few too many flowery shirts. If you visit Madiha, you have to party here at least once.

a local band having a party at The Doctors House with many travellers partying

The Doctors House throws two parties every week. On Wednesday they have live DJs playing a mix of house, techno, and underground music, and all the surf schools turn up so it’s always a fun atmosphere. On Saturday’s they host local live bands playing Jazz, Indie, or Rock. Both are fun events so you can pick whatever suits your taste.

We think it’s best to turn up at sunset when you can get in for free and have a few chilled drinks before the party begins – these guys have amazing an Espresso Martini and a great cocktail menu, or a whole Lion stand if you just fancy beers. Entry after 7pm typically costs $3 unless a special band is playing when it can cost more. 

The music at The Doctors House finishes around midnight, but if you want to carry on you can party until sunrise at the two beach clubs down the road – Bar 360 and Guni Beach Club. If partying isn’t your thing, we still suggest visiting and hanging out at The Doctors House another evening, it’s some of the coolest vibes on the island and they have some great food.

A girl smiles behind the giant nacho plate severed at The Doctors House for lunch

Hit the surf

Madiha might not be as renowned as some of Sri Lanka’s bigger surf towns but that is what makes it the perfect place to avoid the crowds and hit some of the best waves on the island. All the spots in Madiha are reef breaks, tend to pick up a lot of swell, and are perfect for advanced and intermediate surfers.

A local surfer carvers on a big wave at the Madiha Right surf point

There are two main breaks in town – the Madiha Left and Right, which are located in the small bay between the Swell Shacks and the Surf Lodge. Both of these waves are beautiful and some of my favourite in Sri Lanka. The Madiha Right is a deep reef A-frame that has a fun walled right-hand wave that throws up to 300-meter rides. And the Madiha Left is a shallow reef break with one of the island’s best left-hand barrels. 

A surfer walking across the reef in Madiha, Matara

What makes this spot so special is the surroundings. The reef is still alive and thriving when you paddle out, the beach is full of undisturbed giant shells and coral blocks, and the coastline has avoided the development of hotels and buildings so it’s got some real deserted jungle vibes – there’s nothing more beautiful than catching a morning peeler here and looking up to see the pink sky rising above the salt misted palm trees. If you can surf, you have to try the waves in Madiha.

A surfer performs a big cutback on the Madiha Right surf spot

If you’re just starting out or still getting the hang of things, Madiha’s reefs might be a bit much. You’re better off heading to more beginner-friendly spots like SK Town or Mirissa. But even if you’re not up for surfing these breaks yet, it’s worth swinging by just to watch. The level of surfing is high and you’ll get to see the local pros show us how it’s done.

Who knows, you might get to see some impressive barrel action – it happens more than you’d think!

A man getting barrelled at the Madiha Right Surf Point

Chill on Madiha Beach

Almost every spot in this sleepy town is perfect for relaxing and one of our favourites places to spend the day is Madiha Beach. This small, compact, golden stretch of sand is right in the center of town surrounded by calm waters, the odd beach club, and jungle shrubs. It’s a laidback vibe that’s hard to beat.

Madiha beach, one of the best places to chill and one of the top things to do in Madiha

The reef here protects the shore from the big ocean waves creating a nice calm sandy bottom bay that is great for a dip or lounging in the shallows – it’s definitely the best place to swim in the town and if you’re lucky you might even come across a turtle that can sometimes be found in the area.

The Bar 360 beach club in Madiha

The beach is quiet and there are a few makeshift sunloungers you can rent for $2 a day directly on the sand. Or, Guni Beach Club and Bar 360 are also based upon the rock sea wall where you can take a bed for free and get a cool coconut, watermelon juice, or a few beers. 

Grab a bed, enjoy the shade of the jungle shrubs, or just laze around on the warm sand, whatever you fancy Madiha Beach is one of the best places to chill in the area.

A man sitting on a sun lounger at Guni Beach Club in Madiha

Pool day at Spindrift

If you’re looking to find a nice relaxing spot away from the salt and the sand then you have to try The Spindrift. This part hostel, part rooftop bar, yoga studio, and hangout spot is one of the newest additions to Madiha and we think it’s probably the coolest spot in town.

The pool seen from the rooftop at The Spindrift in Madiha

The owners, Charlotte & Josh, have done an unbelievable job of the aesthetics. Every detail seems like it’s been deeply thought about. From the pale pastel tones of the walls to the funky tiles on the floors, the use of carefully placed shadows, crisp parasols, and comfy black pillows. The design is effortlessly chic and perfectly relaxing. 

The centerpiece, of course, is the pool. In the garden, The Spindrift has a 40ft pool surrounded by beanbags and seating areas with the odd bit of shade from the giant palm trees above.

The mornings tend to be quiet and you can often have the pool all to yourself, there’s nothing more relaxing than grabbing an iced coffee and just floating for a few hours. As the day progresses, more and more people turn up and The Spindrift becomes a great social hangout spot where it’s easy to meet people.

A girl sits next to the pool at The Spindrift smiling, why wouldn't she?

The pool is free to use if you come and eat some food. We suggest trying their eggs benedict brunch which is unbelievable and then head down for a few hours of chill to let the food settle. If you want a more upbeat vibe you should visit on a Wednesday afternoon when The Spindrift throws a casual pool party with cocktails and a DJ.

Fun fact: Beth can’t remember names, so according to her this place is called Spirit Mind. Who else thinks they should rebrand? 😉

A group of travellers sit around the pool at The Spindrift for a party evening

Ping pong at Sand Bank

Sand Bank is a locally-owned little hipster bar on the road near the main surf spots and it has the best vibes in town. With cheap drinks, cheap food, great music, and a lively atmosphere we don’t think there is a better place to go for a casual drink. I think the town knows it too, this bar is full every night.

A man plays ping pong at Sand Bank in Madiha

Thursdays are the best evening to visit Sand Bank when they throw a small ping pong tournament. We suck at ping pong, but it’s a fun event and a good way to meet and chat with other travellers and have a laugh. The winner gets to lift the coveted mini trophy – if you’re looking for the highlight of your trip this might be your moment.

Even if you’re not into ping pong, the Sand Bank is a great vibe and we’d highly recommend visiting one evening for a few drinks or to try their rice and curry for dinner.

A girl lifts up the Sand Bank ping pong trophy

Sunset at Little Monkeys Beach Shack

As the days draw to a close there is no better place in Madiha to watch the sunset than Little Monkeys Beach Shack. This locally run beach bar is located on a small stretch of sand looking out over the Madiha Left surf spot and it has the perfect view down the coastline to catch some stunning sunset scenes.

Two people sit on Madiha Beach at sunset with a misty background down the coast

The shoreline here is almost untouched with beautiful stretches of exposed reef shelves and rows of tall palm trees that hold the salt mist from the nearby waves. As the sun descends the mist creates stunning deep orange colours and atmospheric silhouettes as far as the eyes can see.

If the sunset is a good one, many travellers will turn up sitting on the sunloungers or the sand, it’s super nice chilled vibes. You can get cold beers or coconuts from Little Monkeys Beach Shack and enjoy a nice relaxed evening. If you’re lucky sometimes they light a beach bonfire and you can keep the chilled vibes going long into the evening.

Two silhouettes of local fishermen in Madiha at sunset

Snorkel with Turtles

The reef in Madiha is alive and one of the most thriving we’ve seen in Sri Lanka. And it’s not just the surfers who love it here, under the surface in all of the natural pools there are tonnes of small topical fish, lots of soft coral and seagrass, and a good few turtles bobbing around.

A group of travellers snorkelling in Madiha

Much of the coastline and beaches here are protected by a small barrier reef creating nice natural pools with calm waters that are perfect for snorkelling. The most popular spots are the small pool outside the Sunset Roti Shop and at Polhena Beach.

Some hotels have masks you can use for free or you can rent them at Madiha Beach for $2 a session. If you fancy a chilled afternoon watching the underwater wildlife you can’t get much better than Madiha on the South Coast.

A turtle with snorkelers in Madiha

Safari at Udawalawe National Park

If you’re looking to mix up the surf, sand, and chill routine with a bit of adventure then you have to go on a safari at Udawalawe National Park. The park is only a one-and-a-half-hour drive from Madiha and it’s our favourite in Sri Lanka.

A giant elephant next to a jeep in 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 hassle that can sometimes come with the busier Safaris.

The safari costs about $70 per person for a half-day/4hr 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 a Jeep.

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

Three elephants by the lake in Udawalawe national park

Find secret beaches

If you want a bit of quiet time and to find some isolation we highly recommend walking down the coastline and finding a secret beach. In both directions, there are many stretches of untouched coastline to explore. 

A man sits in a rock pool on a deserted beach in Madiha

You can find small natural pools you can sit and bathe in, sections of giant waves crashing on rocks, long stretches of deserted white golden sand, and rope swings hanging from solo palm trees. If you head for a stroll you’ll likely come across a nice surprise. 

Here are a few spots we stumbled across and absolutely loved:

  • Kamburugamuwa Beach – a huge long stretch of golden sand
  • Coco Valley Beach – lots of natural pools and sections of stunning rock formations
  • Love Beach – a very nice quiet stretch of sand with calm waters and solo palm trees
Giant waves crash on some rocks on an isolated beach in Madiha

Yoga at Surf Lodge 

If you feel like stretching out those post-surf muscles or just want to start your day with some zen vibes. Surf Lodge is your spot. They’ve got this beautiful garden and a pretty laid-back setup for yoga sessions that’s perfect whether you’re a beginner or you’ve been doing downward dogs for years.

The guys at Surf Lodge run Yoga classes every day at 7.30am apart from Sundays. When you’re finished you can stay and chill for coffee, their cafe has a very nice hipster vibe and we think they have some of the best food in Madiha. 

The garden with hammocks and seating areas at the Surf Lodge in Madiha

Cocktails at Swell Shack

If you’re looking to find a beachfront spot to have some fancy cocktails then you have to try the Swell Shack. This collection of 6 swanky beach huts has a beautiful garden looking out to the ocean and the Madiha Right surf spot. The bar here has “2 for 1” cocktails all day every day… just watch out because 2 for 1 in Sri Lanka actually means buy two and get one free instead.

A girl drinks a cocktail at the Swell Shacks in Madiha

We think the cocktails here were some of the best we tried in Madiha. Fresh frozen mango daiquiris, punchy tamarind arracks, and of course the classic espresso margaritas, what more could you want whilst you watch the sunset and the local surfer kids rip into the evening?

A local boy performs a cutback at the Madiha Right surf point

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