Arugam Bay, located on the Ouest coast of Sri Lanka, about 320 from Colombo, is considered to be one of the ten best locations in the world for surfing. The ideal season to get there is from May to September, but as it’s a dry region, it can be enjoyed all year long. During the off-season, the water is calmer and more suitable for swimming.Although surfing is not the only exclusive attraction in Arugam Bay, life there depends a lot on it. After the 2004 Tsunami, this sportive activity helped to stabilize the economy by drawing many tourists and many international events supporting the economy going. Although the city isn’t really a typical Sri Lankan little town, as the place was mostly designed and built for foreigners, it’s a great beach spot, with awesome night parties. A perfect three days get-away!
Best way to reach Arugam Bay
Trains don’t yet reach this part of the island, so the wise way would be to grab a bus or a shuttle. Buses operate daily from Colombo, Kandy, and from Ella, with a change of bus. Seek buses going to Pottuvil, the main city near Arugam Bay, and get a tuk-tuk there to your hotel. Another option, pricier yet faster, is to get a shuttle. Many companies operate from various cities and are quite flexible in the time of departures. Don’t hesitate to team up with other travelers to split the bill, and to negotiate, as prices do vary from a taxi driver to another. The ride is about 3hrs from Ella, and 6hrs to Colombo. Pick up and Drop off at Colombo Airport is also possible.
As a lot of the infrastructures got damaged after the Tsunami, the priority was to rebuild fast with nonauthentic construction. The majority of the hotels are located on either side of the main road, “Panama Road,” or are on the beach, or just the street away.
Where to sleep
Little Lagoon Hostel: Affordable rooms, excellent reviews, and just minutes from a quiet beach. Ideal for swimming and sunbathing.
Arne’s Place: Self-proclaimed as the “The Friendliest Hostel.” This basic budget accommodation is ideal for backpackers.
Arugam Bay Beach In. Elementary rooms, with basic equipment. Wifi incertain.
Panapa Village Resort: No direct access to the beach but clean and cheap rooms.
Mambo Hotel: Quite chic and by the beach, this is one of the priciest hotels of the bay. The perfect romantic getaway!
Where to eat/drink
Mambo – Mambo’s on the beach, at the very South of the bay serves all day long. Party every Saturday night from 10 pm, with live DJ and beach parties.
Raga’s beach hut – Menu for 400 Rs, an impressive value for money without the beach view through – 500 calsburg. The menu changes every day, buffet and BBQ night on Friday.
Emma – By the beach, international menu with a very little selection of local dishes. The staff is amicable, and the pot of coffee is just a must go to if you’re a coffee addict.
Main Point: Located in Arugam Bay, you can see every morning dozens of surfers out trying to catch The great wave. Recommended for intermediate to advanced surfers.
Whiskey Point: 15-minute drive from Arugam Bay this famous surf spot and stunning beach can provide some excellent waves for beginner surfers. You’ll also notice heaps of people on surfing lessons. Whiskey Point is definitely a must-go-to, for surf lovers and great sunsets. Every Friday, the Sababa Surf Café hosts parties, from 10 pm to early morning, with live DJ and beach parties.
Peanut Farm: About 25 minutes from Arugam Bay is this awesome tucked away beach/surf spot. Very popular, and highly recommend. Tuk-Tuk rides cost around 500 rupees one-way to Whiskey Point & Peanut Farm. You can also rent your Tuk-tuk, and split the cost with other people. It’ll be cheaper and funnier.
Lagoon boat trip The afternoon is the perfect time to go for a relaxing and scenic boat ride in Pottuvil lagoon just North of Arugam Bay. It’s not the most exciting activity in the world, but it’s an excellent way to support the locals. If you’re lucky, you’ll see some wildlife coming down to the water’s edge.
Kudumbigala Monastery is located on the outskirts of Kumana National Park, about 30km South of A-Bay. It was built all the way back in 246 BC as a refuge for Buddhist monks that wanted to get away from the hustle and bustle of the cities. The view from the top alone is worth the hike, just be aware of the wild animals. You could encounter elephants, monkeys, crocodiles and even bears. The best time to visit is early in the morning, as the heat in the middle of the jungle gets unbearable later in the day.
Diving and snorkeling are also a hugely popular activities in Arugam Bay, mainly due to the coral reef located just offshore, home to hundreds of varieties of colorful tropical fish and aquatic plants. Ask your hotel for recommendations!
Parties and always more parties
Thursdays: Hipsters is the go-to place
Fridays: head to Whiskey Point’s Sababa bar as they throw huge parties on Friday nights, until early morning. And let’s face it, the sun rising isn’t the worst way to end a great party?
Saturday: Mambo has its piece of the party game, where you will enjoy good music.