Surfing is a cool sport. All the adrenaline rush and the danger which comes with it, makes it a thrilling sport. Sri Lanka is a surfing destination in Asia. Arugam Bay takes the top spot for surfers who come down to this tiny island in the Indian Ocean.
The Arugambay Beach situated just 5km away from the town of Pottuvil which belongs to the Ampara District. It’s approximately 314kms away from Colombo. Ampara District belongs to the south-east coast of the island. Popular for its wide sandy beach, which attracts surfers and swimmers right throughout the year.
It would be fair to call it the surfing hub of Sri Lanka, and the first-ever International Surfing Competition was held in 2004 by the International Surfing Association(ISA). They came back in 2005, even after the devastating tsunami that destroyed many parts of the land so that it would give the local economy a big boost.
Arugambay Beach is also famous for its coral reef. Let us help you get to know more and the ways of which you can get to Arugam Bay in Sri Lanka.
How to get here
314km from Colombo sounds far but, transport can be fairly easy to find. The most convenient way is to book yourself an Uber or find a taxi from the airport itself. The drive will take 6-7 hours, and it will cost you approximately LKR 22,000. The best time to travel is in the night, given the long and bumpy road.
For budget travelers, it’s not going to be a fun ride. There are no trains to Arugam bay, so the only option is the bus. There are luxury busses that operate overnight from Colombo. The bus ride would take approximately 10-12 hours, but along the way, the bus will have two 20 minute stops for refreshments. This would cost you only LKR 1500. If the Colombo to Arugam Bay bus stops in Pottuvil, then a tuk-tuk to Arugam Bay will be between 200 and 300LKR depending on which end of the town you need to go.
You have to go to Monaragala via route number 98 bus and then from Monaragala you need to take a bus to Pottuvil or Panama via 303 bus route. This ride will take a lot more time than the night bus due to traffic during the day time. You can also take any 98 bus to get to Monaragala since all 98 route busses go through Monaragala. From there, there are busses that run through until evening, approximately till 1730H, to Pottuvil or Panama.
Arugam bay through Ella and Batticaloa
Many tourists make the journey to Arugam bay through Ella and Batticaloa. If you want to enjoy the picturesque views of the hill country, you should touch Ella on your way to Arugam Bay. On how to get Ella, you can click here and read the info.
From Ella, There are frequent busses to Monaragala, but you can also take two buses via Wellawaya if that bus is leaving first. From Monaragala, you can take a direct bus to Pottuvil or, even better, one to Panama, which stops in Arugam Bay. But remember, this will take a lot of time, so if you’re in a tight schedule, this is no recommended.
Arugam Bay via Batticaloa
There is also another option of reaching Arugam Bay via Batticaloa. The train leaves Colombo at 6.05 am and arrives in Batticaloa at 2.45 pm. The express bus to Pottuvil from Batticaloa, which takes another 3 or 4 hours, comes directly to the railway station and waits for the train to arrive before leaving. This is less time consuming, but it could be quite hot during the ride. Since there are no Air-conditioned Train compartments, it would be tiresome. The views won’t be interesting either, so you might as well take a direct bus to Arugam bay or go Via Ella.
You can also go to Via Akkaraipattuwa, which is 50 km away from Arugam Bay. There are super luxury busses which travel overnight from Colombo. From Akkaraipattuwa, you can take a local bus or a tuk-tuk to Arugam bay.
From Down South
From Down South catch the bus to Kalmunnai which leaves at eleven fifty in the morning. But, this bus starts from Matara so you have to make sure to get to the Matara main bus station before 11 in the morning to catch a seat. The bus goes through Tangalle, but seats not guaranteed. Since the ride will take approximately 6-7 hours, if you don’t get a seat, it’s going to be an unpleasant ride for you.
Things to do in Arugam Bay in Sri Lanka
Surfing in Arugam Bay – Sri Lanka
Arugam Bay is the surfing hub of Sri Lanka. It is one of the finest and famous surfing spots in Sri Lankan and in the whole of Asia. The right-hand point-break in the southern part of Arugambay is the major attraction for tourist who comes here for surfing. The best time of the year to surf is during the months of April, May, June, July, August, September and October. During those months and the average height of the waves are between 1.5 and 2.5 meters. The most attractive surf spots are Pottuvil point, Main Break, Arugam Point, and Crocodile Rock.
At Arugam Point, the waves rise high up to about 2m. It lasts for about 400-500m and it is a long right-hand break. Pottuvil point is also a good spot. It placed 9kms north of the Arugambay beach and also comparatively smaller to Arugam Point, which is the highest place in Pottuvil. It’s very popular with Surfers as this is a long and deserted beach. You might bump into some wild elephants around this area, so do keep an eye out.
The crocodile rock is also a very popular spot for surfing. Most amateurs and intermediate surfers choose this spot when there is a good swell. This placed within a and half an hour tuk-tuk ride and a 15-minute stroll from the main beach.
Another good break is Baby Point, which is once again ideal for beginners, with smaller waves and a sandy bottom while the beach break is also good for beginners and body surfing. Peanut Farm has two surf points: a perfect tube for expert surfers and a smaller ride ideal for beginners. Other nearby breaks include Whiskey Point and Lighthouse Point.
Lahugala National Park Sri Lanka
About 15km from Arugam Bay is the Lahugala National Park. The main attraction is the Lahugala Reservoir, while the Lahugala Park is blessed with a population of about 150 elephants during July and August. When the surrounding water dries up, big herds of wild elephants and birds head to this area in search of water and vegetation.
If you are a fan of Wildlife, especially birds, this is a must-see during your stay in Arugam Bay in Sri Lanka. Lahugala isn’t officially open to the public, and no vehicles are allowed in. However, you’re free to walk into the park from the main road between Arugam Bay and Monaragala, which runs right through it. Make sure you keep an eye out for the Elephants.
Muhudu Maha Viharaya
It is placed where Vihara Maha Devi left everything behind. Muhudu Maha Viharaya is situated in between Arugambay and Pottuvil.
Photo Credit – inspirock.com
Magul Maha Viharaya
It is located 8 kilometres west of Pottuvil along the A4 main road. This is the home for a moonstone that is considered as the most well-preserved moonstone in the whole of Asia. It’s unique because of the Mahout which is carved on the back of the Elephant.
History says it was built by King Dhathusana who held his son King Kavantissa and Princess Vihara Maha Devi’s wedding in this place.
With a few ruins of old Dagaba and the Moonstones, it is named as a place of religious worship.
Panama is situated a little over 10km away from Arugambay. It has a very rich density of birdlife thanks to the lagoon and the beach. Panama is bordering the Yala East National park so there is a chance of spotting some more wildlife which includes elephants and deer. Its rich Wildlife, scenic beach and the lagoon makes this tiny village a must-look spot along your way to Arugambay.
There are two peaks in the Rocky Mountains which is called the Crocodile Rock and the Elephant Rock. Both these outcrops are in the shape of the two animals and crocodile rock is a perfect spot for surfing as well. Elephant Rock is an ideal place to spot wildlife with birds and elephants around.
Okanda is also a very popular surfing spot in the south-east coast of Sri Lanka. It situated 20km away from Panama. It holds a special place in terms of history as well.
It believed that God Skanda landed in this area in the country. There is a shrine and it is the starting point of Pada Yathra which is a pilgrimage that goes up to Kataragama Devalaya.
Okanda serves as the entry to the Yala East National park. This village enriched with wildlife and birds.
A few kilometres inland from Okanda lies the Kudumbigala Forest Hermitage. Hundreds of caves there had given shelter to the Buddhist monks as far back as the first century BC. Rock-cut steps lead to the top, a 10-15 minute climb will take you the top, which will reward you with one of the finest views anywhere on the east coast of Sri Lanka.
The greenery of the jungle, including huge rock outcrops running down to the sea, and a little to no sign of human habitation in sight.
Diving in Arugam Bay Sri Lanka
You can enjoy diving and snorkeling around Arugam Bay. If you are a serious scuba diver, you can book a boat and head for the Basses Reefs, which is a popular dive site in Sri Lanka.
Kumana National Park
This had recently reopened after extended closure during the war years when it was an LTTE hideout. The Kumana Wewa tank takes centre stage in the park, which surrounded by mangroves, home to a huge variety of water birds.
The park is also home to the Sri Lankan Leopard, but it is tough to spot due to the very dense vegetation. Kubukkan Oya runs alongside the park, which separates Kumana from Yala West national park. These birds have captured nesting in cameras by many Wildlife enthusiasts during the months of May through June. The sanctuary is home to the black-necked stalk who is one toughest bird to spot in the island. The common sightings are egrets, Indian darters, painted stalks, herons etc.
Yala East National Park Sri Lanka
Yala East National Park separated from its twin Yala West through Kubukkan Oya that flows separating the sanctuaries. Similar to popular Yala West in terrain, Yala East, too, is home to leopards, sloth bears,s, and many more. The sanctuary has a fairly dense elephant population, but the herds are smaller than Yala West.
Pottuvil Lagoon in Sri Lanka
2 km inland from Arugam Bay is the beautiful Pottuvil Lagoon. The Lagoon tour is quite popular among tourists who enjoy paddling out into the lagoon through the scenic mangrove swamps that are rich with bird life, crocodiles, and elephants.
Dolphin viewing at Arugam Bay Beach
From May to September, you can do off-shore Dolphin viewing at the Arugam Bay Beach April to October. A two-hour boat trip into the sea will cost you approximately LKR 2000-3000. This is also a busy season in Arugam Bay, so that the prices may vary.
Arugam Bay is the place to go if you are a surfer. During the season, this coastal village in the south-east could get very crowded, and the prices will skyrocket. For some locals who live off tourism, count on the season to cover their expenses, so they try to earn as much as possible during those few months.
Saying that the prices of places and food aren’t so bad, you can find decent food and decent places to hang out and stay the night by the beach.
During the offseason, the prices come down, and the beach less crowded, even though it is not ideal for surfing, you could enjoy the beautiful landscape of Arugam Bay which makes this village a must-go during your visit the pearl of the Indian ocean.