With a golden sandy beach and amazingly huge waves, Arugam Bay is undoubtedly a paradise for all surfing lovers and those who like to embrace the coziness of the warm, bright sun. So, let us unveil everything you need to know about this beautiful location in Sri Lanka!
Arugam Bay is located in the dry zone of the eastern coast of Sri Lanka. This place is about 200 miles away from the capital city of Colombo and owns one of the best beaches on the island. Arugam Bay has some of the best surfing waves in the world, visited by thousands of surfers each year. And this is the only beach in Sri Lanka to have International surfing competitions.
Here’s more to read through!
Where Is Arugam Bay?
The sea in Arugam Bay belongs to the Indian Ocean. The beach is located about 200 miles away from Colombo towards the southeastern coast in the Ampara District of Sri Lanka.
It lies just 3 miles south of the regional epicenter of Pottuvil, which is the gateway to the east coast renowned for its pearl-sand beaches.
The central west-east highway crossing the southern part of Sri Lanka connects here from Colombo. And so do the short motorways and coast roads that wind around Galle and Matara.
Why Is Arugam Bay Worth Visiting?
Famed for pearly and golden beaches, pleasingly huge surfing waves, warm climate, rich wildlife, and vibrant beach parties, Arugam Bay is one of the most visited places in Sri Lanka by thousands of travelers every year. The vibe in this location is truly magical, making it the ultimate paradise for beginner and professional surfers who need to engage in National and International surfing competitions.
The pristine beaches are often filled with locals and foreigners during the season, while you can witness the excitement of a typical small fishing village in Sri Lanka. The beach is kid and family-friendly, with plenty of other things to enjoy besides surfing. The sandy beaches are perfect for relaxing, and there’s enchanting wildlife to indulge in.
A Brief Flashback At The History Of Arugam Bay.
Arugam Bay was just a small ordinary fishing village back in the 1970s without a special vibe and any luxury restaurants or hotels. And there was nothing built above the treeline; the only things to be found were some rudimentary local tea shops and bakeries.
Around this time, some local surfers from the East coast began learning the practices of the water by borrowing surfboards from travelers. Boards were treasured items at the time. Thus, only a fortunate few could get one left behind by travelers when they returned to their homes.
These local surfers would escort their foreign companions by boat to Okanda, ride to Pottuvil point, or walk to Elephant Rock for all-night surf campouts. The surfing culture started to grow on the beaches of the island eventually, but it was badly affected by the civil war since terror threats engulfed Arugam Bay.
Post-Civil War Surfing In Arugam Bay.
However, after the civil war in Sri Lanka ended in 2009, The Sri Lankan Surf Federation was launched in 2017. And the inaugural edition of the National Surf Championship was carried out in 2018. A significant turning point for the local surf setting reached in 2011 when the first main World Surf League Qualifying Series event was held in Arugam Bay.
Sri Lanka was on the world stage, exposed for the first time to the prospect of surfing as an international sport. In late 2018, the Arugam Bay Surf Club officially became the all-female surf club in Sri Lanka when it registered through the Surfing Federation of Sri Lanka.
The first-ever women-only category surfing competition was held in Arugam Bay in 2020. In the meantime, the government of Sri Lanka embarked on a program to convert Arugam Bay into a worldwide destination for windsurfing in 2021.
What Kind Of Experience Can You Get In Arugam Bay?
Although the warm beach, waves, and surfing are the main things that pop into our heads (the only things you might have heard about Arugam Bay), there’s literally much more life in this place! In fact, this portion of the island is a spot that gives a significant vibe and boasts the touristy nature of Sri Lanka.
The first thing you get to experience in Arugam Bay is surfing for sure. You get six main surfing points, namely:
- Main Point
- Whiskey Point
- Pottuvil Point
- Elephant Rock
- Peanut Farm
While some of these are ideal for those who know nothing about surfing and for beginners, other points offer heavenly big and terrific surfing waves for professionals.
You can learn guided surfing lessons from experienced trainers on the beach. The surroundings are worth visiting! You’ll be able to witness the beauty of rich wildlife and experience lagoons straight next to the beach.
Taking a lagoon boat trip while indulging in the birdlife in the thick forests nearby will make lifetime memories in your travel journey. If surfing is not your thing, meet some friendly doggos while relaxing on the beach, allowing your kids to play on the ivory sands. You can also enjoy the unique, tasty seafood with a refreshing drink from a cafe.
How Can You Get To Arugam Bay?
If you need to get to Arugam Bay from any point in Sri Lanka, you have three possible ways to choose from: by bus, train, or private transport. The closest train stations are in Batticaloa (about 72 miles away) and Ella (about 80 miles away).
This means you will have to take a tuk-tuk, bus, or taxi for another 3-4 hours from the railway station. You’ll get plenty of buses for Pottuvil from both Batticaloa and Ella railway stations. From Pottuvil, Arugam Bay is only 10 minutes away if you take a tuk-tuk. And there are direct buses available from Colombo to Arugam Bay, mostly running overnight.
However, the most convenient way is to travel by taxi or private vehicle, but this is not the ideal choice if you are running on a budget since the fee can be pretty expensive than you spend on public transport.
Moving Around Arugam Bay…
You can find plenty of tuk-tuks and taxis here since this destination is filled with local and foreign travelers almost every time of the year. If not, you can also hire a scooter to move around Arugam Bay if you need to explore and experience the rustic life here. This option is quintessential if you are a solo traveler or traveling with your partner (you’ll be thanking us later!).
Attractions Near Arugam Bay That Might Interest You!
After seeing the beaches and surf points in Arugam Bay, you have plenty of other places to visit and things to do around. You should not miss checking out the luxury cafes, restaurants, hotels, and Ayurvedic spas around and enjoy the super delicious, unique, spicy Sri Lankan foods. Moreover, just take a few miles ahead and visit places like:
- Crocodile rock
- Kumana National park
- Lahugala Kitulana National Park
- Panama Tank
- Kudumbigala Monastery
You can also take all the way up to Trincomalee to discover more pristine beaches like Nilaveli, Uppuveli, etc., and get an epic whale-watching experience. And if you need a totally different switch of experience, you can take your way from Pottuvil to Ella and indulge in some of the best scenic views and adventure sports in Sri Lanka.
What Do You Need To Know About Safety And Security When Visiting Arugam Bay.
Arugam Bay, in general, is an entirely safe zone to travel with your family. This place was somewhat restricted during the time of the civil war, but now it is as safe as any other beautiful place on this island. As aforementioned, you will be guided by experienced trainers if you aim to surf on this beach.
The place is otherwise patrolled by the Sri Lankan forces, where you will find a Life-Saving Unit at the main surfing point. This unit is operated under the guidance of the Special Task Force (STF) of Sri Lanka, and they are always on duty.
While they are responsible for saving lives, they also monitor any thefts taking place on the beach. Hence, you can lodge a complaint if you lose anything here so that they are bound to help you with immediate effect.
More Tips To Consider…
We have to mention that this part of Sri lanka is a very hot location with abundant sunshine. Therefore, do not forget to bring all your stuff to protect yourselves from harmful sun rays. And, if you are a beginner at surfing, we suggest you avoid the surfing points designated as ideal for professional surfers.
Also, it is crucial to get the help of the trainers to avoid any harmful life threats. Furthermore, if you plan to go camping at Arugam Bay, make sure to pick the ideal safe place under the guidance of an experienced tour guide since some places around this area have potential crocodile and reptile threats. You can also get information on this from the police or army security units functioning in this location.
Go With The Waves, Get Salt In Your Hair, And Enjoy The Sea Breeze In Arugam Bay!
Popular as one of the best surf spots in Southeast Asia, Arugam Bay in Sri Lanka is a destination that is embraced by thousands of travelers each year. You have plenty of things to do around this area apart from surfing and enjoying the waves. So, we hope you’ll make this a must-visit location in your Sri Lankan itinerary!