The south of Sri Lanka sees waves all year long, but the season where we, surfers, can surf glassy waves every mornings and evenings are between November and April with November and April seeing less people and bigger swells, i.e paradise for us.
With waves ranging from beginners to experts and more than 30 surf spots (and many other secret spots) between the city of Matara to Galle, Ahangama is right bang in the middle and leaves you with amazing choices of waves. Just around this town, you will find at least 7 spots with the most famous being the Rocks in Kabalana, an A-Frame wave that can reach up to 8ft on good days, and Marshmallow, a spot for longboarders when the waves are mellow, but becoming a barreling wave when the swell is pumping.
This is the area that Julien and Aoife, UNA founders, nature lovers and sustainability advocates, decided to settle down to build their bamboo eco-hotel. At only 10 minutes from most surf spots, their slightly inland location means you can enjoy the best of the coast and the lush green interior settings. A retreat from the waves and the bustling coastline to tranquil green surroundings, offering luxury bamboo living, organic fruits and vegetables direct from a permaculture garden, and of course a well-deserved sunset beer/cocktail .
Any surfer who has visited the south coast of Sri Lanka will be familiar with the renovated colonial-villa-style accommodations that are aplenty in that part of the world. They might also know that Sri Lanka has the perfect climate to grow bamboo. So where are all of the bamboo villas? Unlike some other famous Asian surf destinations, like Bali for example where bamboo buildings appear to be falling from the sky, bamboo has been largely under-cultivated and under-utilized as a construction material in the Pearl of the Indian Ocean.
The project will be the first bamboo construction project of this scale in Sri Lanka to use locally grown bamboo, as well as a selection of traditional materials such as clay and iluk (a grass used for roofing).
“Creating natural, biophilic living spaces (spaces that are embedded and seamlessly interact with nature) has been our core focus from the start and seems all the more prescient for a post-COVID travel world. UNA will offer open, healthy living environments and meaningful connections to nature - contributing to better guest health and wellbeing overall. This concept is at the heart of the design of our hotel. By choosing to build with materials found in nature in Sri Lanka we have the power to generate positive changes in our built environment, taking measures to reduce our carbon footprint from the ground up.”
Julien and Aoife are currently raising funds through Indiegogo to begin construction on their biophilic living hotel concept, designed by multi award winning design firm Nomadic Resorts (Wild Coast Tented Lodge, Soneva Kiri).
Today 11% of global CO2 emissions are a result of the manufacturing of building materials cement, steel, glass, and the transportation of these. For this reason, bamboo, with all of its material qualities, has become increasingly appealing as an alternative; it is a lightweight, rapid-growing, flexible and renewable grass that when treated correctly can be used like any timber.
Julien and Aoife found that many traditional materials in Sri Lanka including, clay, iluk (grass thatch) and bamboo, are still quite common, but are generally seen as building materials of the poor, used only for temporary structures. UNA seeks to shine a new light on these materials through its design, handling, treatment and finishing of the materials. Besides being aesthetically pleasing in their natural irregularity, these materials are also far more suited climatically to the tropical environment of Sri Lanka than, for example, cement and glass which also contribute massively to global CO2 emissions. Not only does the use of local materials highlight the very nature of the Sri Lankan environment, and mitigate the need to import materials, but it also creates jobs locally and encourages the passing on of knowledge about these traditional materials.
For empty lineup, glassy waves, the best time to visit the south coast of Sri Lanka is November. UNA, a sustainable, bamboo eco-hotel will also open their doors for the first time next November 2021. So don’t miss these waves and grab yourself a great deal for accommodation.
Check out their campaign page here for the full low down on their bamboo design and sustainability concept. You can also follow their story on Instagram @unabambu, Facebook & subscribe to their news by email on their website