I’m not the most agile of humans. It’s all I can do not to trip on solid ground, so put me a top a wave on a foam board and I’m not exactly filled with confidence that I will be at one with the sea. But as they say…when in Rome, or this case Sri Lanka, do as the Sri Lankans do.
So with that in mind and having watched practically everyone and his dog on the beach try their hand at riding the waves of Hikkaduwa, we signed up for six hours of surf lessons with Reef End Surf School.
To say I was bricking it would be an understatement. Sure, I like a dip in the ocean as much as the next person, but the idea of being thrashed around like a ragdoll isn’t my idea of a good time. Yet despite my trepidation I pulled myself together and got out there for two reasons: one I didn’t want to look like a total wimp and two because we had paid up front. As I’m sure you could have guessed the first hour wasn’t exactly a success and I left thinking it would be my last. As expected Cam took to the waves like a duck to water, while I on the other hand resembled a flaundering, drowning seal. During my first hour I managed to sort of half stand up once and to be honest, I’m pretty sure that had more to do with blind luck than any actual skill.
Let’s just say I wasn’t happy – my hair was a mattered salty mess, my bikini bottoms had ridden up God only knows where and top it off my surf teacher and I didnt exactly gel. Couple all this with the fact that I had drunk half the ocean I was well and and truly ready to throw in the towel. But having slept on it and rationalised that falling was only natural. I decided that for probably the first time in my life I wasn’t going to quit that easily.
Days that followed were better. I was better. Managing to stand up more times than I fell felt good. I even brought myself a pair of jazzy surf shorts to celebrate. The jury’s still out as to whether or not I’ll actually ever wear them again, but regardless, I gave it ago and I’ve got to be happy with that.
The guys a reef end are not only experts at their sport but are amongst some of the nicest people you will meet. After a surf sit and enjoy a cold beer with them as the share out homemade Sri Lankan food and tell tales of the island while the sun melts slowy into the shore.
But if surfing isn’t your bag then fear not that’s not all there is to Reef End. Reef End not only offer excellent surf coaching they also offer great knowledge of their island and are able to assist with a number of activities. One being snorkeling. Ottawah, or surfer fish as he is more affectionatly known, took us by tuk tuk to the cove were we spent time swimming with all manner of sea life; from angle fish to puffer fish and even a giant sea turtle.
Quiet and unspoilt the reef was simply breathtaking. We even saw remnants from the tsunami of 2008 that devastated Hikkaduwa. Swimming amongst the wreck with the fish bountiful all around was a profound recognition of how life will continue to flourish in the face of devastation and a gentle reminder of how much respect must be given to that world below the waves that we call the ocean.
Words By Sophie Maguire