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 top spot for surfers who come down to this tiny island in the Indian Ocean.
The Arugam Bay beach is located 314 km from Colombo and 3kms south of the small town of Pottuvil in the Ampara District which is in the south east coast in Sri Lanka. Popular for its wide sandy beach which attracts for 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.
Arugam Bay beach also consists of coral reef which has a rich variety of aquatic life. 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. Best time to travel is in the night given the long and bumpy road.
For budget travelers it’s not gonna be a fun ride. There are no trains to Arugam bay so the only option is the bus. There are luxury busses which 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 go.
if you want to travel by day you need to take the number 98 bus to Monaragala, and then take the number 303 bus to Pottuvil or Panama. 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 definitely 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 6.05am and arrives in Batticaloa at 2.45pm. 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 direct bus to Arugam bay or go Via Ella.
You can also go Via Akkaraipattuwa, which is 50 Kms 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
If you happen to be in down south, you can take the bus to Kalmunai which stops in Pottuvil leaving daily at 11:50am. This should give you time to take an early bus from any south coast origin such as Hikkaduwa, Galle, Unawatuna, Mirissa or Weligama and arrive at Matara before it leaves. The bus goes through Tangalle but seats are no 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’s right hand point break at the southern end of the Arugam Bay beach makes it one of the finest surf spots not only in Sri Lanka but, as well as Asia. Arugam Bay is renowned for its waves, which attract surfers from all corners of the world. Although you can surf here throughout the year, the best time is during April to October with the average height of waves being 1.5 to 2.5 meters. The main surf spots are Pottuvil point, Main Break, Arugam Point and Crocodile Rock.
Arugam Point, a long right hand break close to Arugam Bay, which has waves upto 2m in height and lasts a good 400m ride. 9km North of Arugam Bay, is Pottuvil Point, which is a bit smaller than Arugam Point, 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.
South of Arugam Bay is another surfing point. You can reach by 30 minutes in a tuk-tuk and a twenty minutes walk, the Crocodile Rock is a fine spot for amateurs and intermediate surfers whenever there’s a good enough swell.
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 dry 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, although 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
Located between Arugam Bay and Pottuvil, this temple was built where Princess Vihara Maha Devi disembarked. It gives a glimpse of ancient culture of Sri Lanka.
Photo Credit – inspirock.com
Magul Maha Viharaya
It is located 8 kilometres west of Pottuvil along the A4 main road. This comprises of the best – preserved moonstone in all of Asia, which has a special feature of the Mahout carved on the back of an elephant. It is believed to be constructed during the reign of King Dhatusena, is also believed to be where the royal wedding of King Kavantissa and Princess Vihara Maha Devi had taken place. With the ruins of dagoba, vatadage, image house and well-persevered doormats called moonstones the location within the jungle has become a site of religious worship.
12km south of Arugam Bay is Panama, the last inhabited village that before the Yala East National Park. Panama is popular for its rich bird life. The wide and endless beach, the lagoon and its surrounding area, sand dunes and rock boulders gives a picturesque and enchanting landscape. An odd elephant too could be seen around here.
There is a pair of two huge rocky outcrops named Crocodile Rock and Elephant Rock at Panama, true to their names, both rocks has the resemblance to these creatures. Crocodile Rock, is also a favorite location for wildlife enthusiasts Eagles can be spotted sweeping overhead Elephant Rock. Hike up the Elephant rock will only take 20 minutes and it will give a great view of the whole area.
Situated 20km south of Panama is home to a famous shrine located at the point where God Skanda is believed to have landed on the island. The shrine is the starting point of ’Paada Yaathra’ which means ‘Pilgrimage on Foot’. This is a long walk to Kataragama for a 15-day festival during July at Kataragama Dewalaya. Okanda is also the entrance point of the Yala East National Park and the Kumana Reservoir which gives the area a high population of aquatic 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 snorkelling 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 has recently reopened after extended closure during the war years, when it was an LTTE hideout. The Kumana Wewa tank take center stage in the park which is surrounded by mangroves, home to a huge variety of aquatic 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 aquatic birds are seen nesting in May and June. Among the birds, the most spotted are painted storks, herons, egrets, Indian darters and cormorants. Black-necked stork, one of the rarest birds of Sri Lanka could also been seen at the sanctuary.
Yala East National Park Sri Lanka
Yala East National Park is 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 bear 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
During the months of 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 the prices may vary.
Arugam Bay is definitely 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 off season, the prices come down and the beach is less crowded, even though it is not ideal for surfing, you could enjoy the beautiful landscape of Arugam Bay which make this village a must go during your visit the pearl of the Indian ocean.