In 2016 we decided to stay open in Sri Lanka all year round. All the way through the traditional ‘off-season’ from May to October. Of course we didn’t just open and hope, we’d spent some time here to check it out and asked our local friends what the general weather and wind patterns were in the long term and concluded that we should still open.
But, having never done it before, we were still nervous. What if it rained non-stop for 6 months, what if all the beaches were washed away and there was nowhere to surf, what if it was cold and miserable, what if everything in Sri Lanka was shut, and many more of those crippling ‘what if?’ questions that our minds design to stop us. You never really know about something until you do it, so following the Soul & Surf way we took a leap, we opened our bookings, reduced our prices, reduced the size of our team, were very careful to be overly cautious about what to promise for our customers and we went for it. Here’s what we found out.
What’s the off-season like in Sri Lanka?
‘It’s a not so bad’ as the wise sage Joe Dolce once said.
In fact it’s quite a different experience for our guests and our staff and one that the feedback and reviews from our guests, combined with the experience of our team, proved to be a really positive difference.
Yes it rains more, but in our tropical climate here we get crazy tropical rain all year round anyway. May to October does have more rainy days, but mixed with lovely sunny days, and cooler, more pleasant evenings. And we have lots of umbrellas.
Yes, the waves are wilder and the wind stronger and the ocean less clear but most mornings and evenings are still windless, there are protected bays for beginners to surf safely and there are a few of spots for advanced surfers that work well year round. To be frank, though, we do struggle some weeks to find enough variety for the intermediate surfer so be warned… But a huge plus is that in general there are about 80% less crowds in the water!
The real positives we drew from were twofold. The difference in the tourist population;
Sri Lanka has been booming these last few years and everywhere from the beaches, the waves, the sights, to the roads are getting more and more crowded. It’s kind of nice because it’s buzzing, but from May to October you get a different taste of Sri Lanka with quieter beaches, less lobster-red package tourists bumbling about, far less surfers in the water and a clearer view of the real Sri Lanka. And it’s beautiful. Quiet, tranquil, beautiful.
And the interaction and benefits of smaller, more intimate groups at Soul & Surf; We tend to run at full capacity from October until the end of April yet from May to October we averaged around 12 guests a week which makes it a bit easier to get to know the whole group and for our team to give a little bit more attention in the surf, in the yoga classes and there was more chance for therapies. Kind of like the early days at Soul & Surf and the smaller Pop-Ups we run.
So, are we going to close in Sri Lanka for the off-season? I’ll let the wisdom of Joe Dolce answer that one. ‘Shaddap You Face’