What to Do in Arugam Bay
Often referred to as “surfer’s paradise,” Arugam Bay is one of the very best beaches in Sri Lanka, and one of the most popular surfing spots in the entirety of the East. It is most well known for its crashing waves and relaxed ambiance, which attracts thousands of surfers (including some of the world’s most elite) to the coast.
The world-famous Yala National Park is also one of the most famous national landscapes in Asia and creates a stunning wildlife surrounding of monkeys, crocodiles, and other wild animals.
Other well-known features of Arugam Bay are the incredible parties and vibrant atmosphere. There are genuinely endless things to do on this beautiful beach. To help you have the very best time, here is a list of the very best things to do in the area, as well as some practical information which you should know before you go.
Where is Arugam Bay?
Situated in Sri Lanka, Arugam Bay can be found by the Indian Ocean in the southeast of Sri Lanka. The bay itself sits 120km south of Batticaloa, 320km east of Colombo, and approximately 4 kilometers south of Pottuvil. It is well known that the main settlement area is a Muslim region. However, there is a significant Sri Lankan Tamil & Sinhala population, along with an increasing range of international migrants, from Europe and Australia.
When is the best time of Year to visit Arugam Bay?
This southeastern coast of Sri Lanka appears to have somewhat of an “on” and “off” season, like a “dry” and “wet” season. The dry season runs between May and September. For surfers, the best waves can be found in July, August, and September.
During these months, the winds are typically offshore in the morning, then inland in the afternoon, finally dying down a bit for the evening surf. The entire area is relatively quiet outside of these months, as bars, restaurants, and hotels will close. There may be some swell in the shoulder months, however.
There is no doubt that Arugam Bay is hot. For most of your stay there, you can expect air temperatures of above 85F, and ocean temperatures will hover around the high 70’s. If you do plan on traveling during the best surfing months, you will be there at peak dry season, and will this experience the hottest temperatures.
The village of Arugam Bay is quite sheltered, which means that the temperatures will seem even hotter. For this reason, you should make sure that the accommodation you have selected has air conditioning facilities.
TOP 10 Best Things to do in Arugam Bay
Surfing is perhaps what Arugam Bay is most well known for. Pro surfers will flock from all across the world, but particularly Bali and Australia, to enjoy the world waves on Sri Lanka’s South Coast. Regardless of whether you’re a beginner or a pro-veteran, there will be others on your same skill level here at Arugam Bay.
There are plenty of surf schools around, and while you will find the majority of the people actually in the water rather than on the beach, the beach is long enough to ensure you won’t have any problems finding some space.
Generally, Main Point is the best place to learn to surf, however, if you do find that it gets too crowded during the dry season, Peanut Farm Can be located 15 minutes in the South-Western direction, and has high waves for both beginners and more advanced surfers. If you consider yourself a more seasoned surfer, then you could check out Pottuvil Point, Light House, and Whisky Point, all of which are north of the bay. If you haven’t booked a surf school yet, don’t worry, you could just wander down Main Street and ask for prices.
- Go Beach Hopping
Like already mentioned, Main Beach is very, very long. Unfortunately, however, due to the extreme waves, not much of the beach itself is swimmable. The only part that is is nearby Main Point, which makes it extremely crowded.
While, of course, you can go in the water anywhere and at any time you want, you may wish to time your exit to avoid ending up with a face full of sand. Many of the best surf spots have their beaches, like Peanut Farm, for example, where the lovely bard and restaurants prove very popular amongst tourists in the region.
- Go on a Safari
Just 50 minutes away from Arugam Bay is Kumana National Park, which is the most popular spot for safaris amongst the tourists in the region. Most travel companies can set up either a short trip or a whole day excursion.
You can quickly get car transport to take you right from your accommodation. An entire trip there would cost around 12.500R, including travel, entry to the park, and the guide. In this fabulous setting, you can see crocodiles, elephants, birds, and many other furry creatures. Just remember to eat a large meal before you go, and drink plenty of water.
- Become a foodie
Arugam has the perfect blend of trendy, modern cafes with more local vibes. The regional cuisines are both delicious and cheap. Even fancied restaurants are incredibly cheap compare to the prices in the US. For example, a meal for two in a posh restaurant is unlikely to exceed $10. At Arugam Bay, you will never struggle to find a place to eat that matches your budget.
As far as our recommendations are concerned, Roti Shop, on Main Street, seems to be a popular option. They can offer a cheap, filling, and pleasant meal for a very reasonable price.
- Do Some Yoga
There aren’t many better ways to start your day than with a quick yoga session. Nothing will help you feel more energized and ready for the day. Just take a quick drive down Main Street, and you will find several posters advertising yoga, meaning you can find something at every level.
The most well-known class in the region is Wave Flow Yoga at the Stardust Beach Hotel, they offer many courses and therapies, even special surfer classes, to help both balance and breathing.
Arugam Bay is full of young travelers; hence, there is always some form of a party going on somewhere. Hideaway resorts are best known as a party venue that goes on until the early hours of the morning. You can always just follow the posters around the town, or just follow the music at night time, Arugam isn’t that big of a place.
- Rent a Scooter
Arugam is undoubtedly a safe place to drive. The roads themselves are excellent, and the traffic isn’t too crazy either. When you do decide to take a car of a scooter, you will notice that you can make in your surroundings much more, and if you choose that you want to explore any particular place spontaneously, you can do so with a car. You also don’t have to try and explain where you want to go to a driver who will struggle to understand you, which is a huge bonus.
You should be aware that you are not allowed to have surfboard racks in Arugam Bay. If you decide to go back and forth to the beach, it may be best for you to rent your own Tuk-Tuk. Going back and forth, every day can get expensive. If you decide to split the cost with someone else, it won’t burn through your wallet.
- Lagoon Boat Trip
Nearby the Pottuvil Lagoon, there is a gentle and scenic boat ride for a fantastic opportunity to enjoy all of the local wildlife. The best time to organize this is generally in the afternoon time. If you’re looking for a tourist company to set this up for you, you can find one either on the street or you can book online at their website. It truly is a spectacular way to enjoy nature and wildlife in the region.
- Watch a sunset on Elephant Rock
Elephant rock is widely regarded as the very best place to watch the sunset in the whole of Arugam Bay. Elephant Rock is located on the east of the bay and offers stunning views of the rest of the bay and water. If you’re driving, you should take a left turn at the sign for the navy camp. You can there ask someone for directions. A Tuk-Tuk is a viable option too, and it will take you as far as it can.
Things to do near Arugam Bay
Lahugala National Park
The central road west passes through a beautiful Lahugala Park, a beautiful scenic backdrop with a diverse range of forest greens and trees. Lahuagala Park itself is most well known for its elephants. It is home to over 150 different species of elephant, most of whom are visible during July and August. A range of aquatic birds can also be spotted in the region, particularly the snowy egrets, which can be located hitching their ride on the back of elephants.
Lahuagala Park isn’t officially open to the public. While no vehicles are allowed into the park, you can still walk along the main road to Monargala, which runs right through the middle of the park. Should you decide to walk along this path, you may wish to decide to stick near to the recognized viewpoints near the road, as walking through a park of populated elephants carries its distinct risks.
Guesthouses can arrange Jeep trips to Lahugala, but given that no vehicles are allowed in the park, you may be better off saving your money and catching a Turk-tuk.
Just a 45-minute drive from Arugam Bay leads visitors to the stunning forest site of Kudumbiagala. This forest is home to hundreds of caves, which were occupied by Buddhist monks from the first century.
When you leave the car park, follow the path into the surrounding woodland as the road twists through the trees and enormous rocks. After approximately 10 minutes, you will come across the Sudasharna Cave, a small white cave which is home to the ancient Brahmi Script.
The path to the left of this cave will lead to the Madhya Mandaya. A rocky hilltop covered in monastic remains. Or if you happen to be seeking the Belumgala, you can follow the rock-cut steps to the top, which would take between 10-15 minutes. At the end of the climb however, you will be rewarded with perhaps one of the fines views in the East. An incredibly landscape of jungle, without a single human habitation in sight.