Indoek, an LA-based surf culture website, spotlights wave riders living in style the world over—in classic beach bungalows, in aeries made of shipping containers, in the back of tricked-out vintage vans. (Take a look at Surf Shacks, the site’s new companion book.) Our favorite Indoek stop to date is Sunshine Stories, a surf camp and yoga retreat in Sri Lanka founded by two adventurous young Swedes.
Linn Lundgren and Petter Toremalm met in high school at 18. “It was love at first sight,” says Linn. “We both grew up in the countryside in the south of Sweden and we shared the same dream of exploring the world.” They both also happened to belong to an intrepid little-known subculture, the diehard Nordic surfer. Together they deferred university by three years and hit the road, testing the waters all along the way—”we traveled in South Africa, India, Indonesia, Mexico, Guatemala, Laos, Thailand, to name a few countries.” They also began blogging—Sunshine Stories was initially where they chronicled their travels and interviewed inspiring people they met along the way, asking each, “What makes a good life?”
Nine years later (including a stint back in Sweden as college students), they have found the answer in Ahangama, a Buddhist beach village on the south coast of Sri Lanka about 25 km from Galle. Join us for a tour of their Swedish-inflected, tropical compound of two colonial villas, one for themselves, the other for guests, within walking distance of some of the island’s best surf.
Linn and Petter’s Own Home
The house is situated across the street from the Sunshine Stories villa, which is just 500 yards from the Indian Ocean. Linn and Petter first visited Sri Lanka (previously known as Ceylon) in 2009, just after the island nation’s long civil war had ended. “We remember being in places like Bali and Thailand and saying, ‘I wish we were here 30 years ago, it must have been amazing,’ and then we got to Sri Lanka and it was like traveling back in time.” They describe Ahangama as “buzzing with local life, such as fruit and fish markets and a small train station—it’s not just another tourist town.”
“In classic Sri Lankan style, all the rooms had different bright colors: the living room was deep purple, one room was orange, and another baby blue,” says Linn. “It took a lot of paint to make it white.”
Admiring the canvas and wood camp chairs? See 5 Favorites: Canvas and Wood Folding Chairs, High to Low.
Linn purchased her antique cupboard from a woman in a neighboring village. She uses it to store her stock of kimonos, which she makes in collaboration with women in the community and sells locally.
They use their Marshall speaker here and elsewhere to listen to music on Spotify: This is their current favorite playlist.
The red-painted concrete floor is a traditional detail that remains: “We tried painting the concrete black in our entry, but it peels off. The only way to get rid of it is to remove it and fill in with a new one.” Photograph by Linn Lundgren.
Sunshine Stories Surf Camp & Yoga Retreat
Linn and Petter bought the house when their university in Malmö granted them permission to write their final theses off campus. With so much extra room, they soon found themselves running a B&B. And noticing that their visitors liked joining them in their daily surfing and yoga habits, their schoolwork got put on hold as Sunshine Stories morphed into a combination surf camp and yoga retreat.
Initially, Linn and Petter lived at the retreat and did all of the cooking and cleaning and much of the guiding themselves. They’ve since hired a staff of pros, and now oversee operations not only at Sunshine Stories, but at a year-old second retreat, Ceylon Sliders, located 15 minutes away on the beach in Weligama and geared to guests who want a more à la carte experience.
The sea breeze, well-positioned fans, and thick clay brick and limestone walls keep the house cool without air conditioning. For more ways to avoid AC, see Expert Advice: Hacks for Staying Cool without AC.
Join us as we explore three more idyllic island-living setups: