Arugam Bay is a small town located on the East Coast of Sri Lanka, roughly 200 miles due East of Colombo.
Like many coastal towns in Sri Lanka, it was historically a fishing village back in the day. But now, tourism has become the dominant industry here.
With long, sandy beaches; excellent breaks for surfing; epic beach parties and a vibrant beach culture; great food and lots of bars and restaurants, yet with plenty of natural beauty and wildlife around, it’s easy to see why.
Arugam Bay still retains its small-town charm, but there’s plenty to do here!
But a word of caution: the presence of wild animals such as crocodiles and elephants means that you must exercise care and caution when enjoying your time in this area. Always heed warning signs and seek advice from locals if unsure.
When to Visit
The weather is good from February to October and so, anytime in between is fine for visiting. But the season runs from May to September, which is when the Ocean conjures up the perfect swells for surfing.
Things start to wind down early in September, with the closing down parties ending around mid-September. Then the rains start and by October, the whole place more or less shuts down.
Things can get a bit expensive during high season, but it’s also when the place is most alive. But if you’re not too fussed about surfing and partying, then you’ll find things a lot cheaper (and the place less crowded) during the pre-season months.
Top Things to Do in Arugam Bay
So here are our recommendations for the top things to do in Arugam Bay:
Arugam Bay has long been hailed as a surfer’s paradise and with good reason. So this has to be the first item on our list.
It is rated as one of the top ten surf destinations in the world by many experienced surfers and is home to several international surfing competitions. So you could say that the place comes highly recommended.
But you don’t have to be a pro to have fun riding the waves here.
There are many surfing schools in the area and several spots that are ideal for learning to surf.
The top surf locations in and around Arugam Bay are:
- Main Point – On the main beach, this is probably the busiest of them all and suited to the intermediate and advanced surfers.
- Whiskey Point – This is about 15 minutes away from the town and is another of the busier places. This location too is better for intermediate and advanced surfers.
- Peanut Farm – About 25 minutes away from town, this location is better suited to beginners and has several surfing schools around.
- Baby Point – Also good for beginners.
- Pottuvil Point and Lighthouse point are better suited to advanced surfers.
Visit Pottuvil Lagoon by Boat
Fancy a change from the surf and party scene? The peace and calm of a relaxing boat ride on Pottuvil Lagoon might be just the thing, especially if you go around sunset.
You’re likely to see plenty of birds and monkeys during a boat tour, but many visitors have been lucky enough to see elephants and crocodiles too.
Even if you don’t happen to see any animals (which is rather unlikely), you’re still guaranteed to come away relaxed and happy because the calming waters and beautiful surroundings make for a very pleasant experience.
Go on Safari to Kumana National Park
Kumana National Park is located just 22 miles (around 40 minutes’ drive) south of Arugam Bay.
Formerly known as Yala East, this park is connected to Yala National Park and incorporates the Kumana Bird Sanctuary.
The Park is home to over 250 species of birds and counts deer, crocodiles, elephants, leopards and fishing cats among its many inhabitants.
There are many tour operators in the Arugam Bay area who offer safari tours of this park. A round trip takes several hours, so make sure you set off early and take plenty of food and water with you.
If you like to party, then this is definitely the place for you! Rated by many as the place to party in Sri Lanka, Arugam Bay will not disappoint.
Among the top spots to party during the season are Mambo’s (on Saturday nights) and Whiskey Point (on Friday nights).
There are also lots and lots of bars that serve all manner of drinks and cocktails, with many of them offering deals and happy-hour discounts.
Notwithstanding its reputation as a party spot, Arugam Bay is also great for yoga enthusiasts.
There are lots of yoga studios and with many of the local hotels also offering yoga classes, you’ll be spoilt for choice. And of course, if you fancy some early morning yoga outdoors, there’s always the beach!
You may be in the middle of a hive of activity, but that doesn’t mean you have to do anything.
Read a book, take a nap, or watch the world go by. The choice is yours. And there’s no shortage of great places in which to do all of these, at Arugam Bay!
Visit Muhudu Maha Viharaya
Ever visited a Buddhist temple that was built over 2000 years ago? Well now’s your chance! Situated just 3 miles away from town, this ancient temple is believed to have been constructed by King Kavan Tissa of the Ruhuna Kingdom.
This viharaya or temple is said to mark the landing place of Princess Viharamahadevi, daughter of King Kelani Tissa. An ancient legend states that she was offered up as a sacrifice at the time when her father’s kingdom was submerged by the sea. But she landed safely at the site of the temple and went on to become the queen of King Kavan Tissa.
Apart from the remains of the temple, there are also remains Buddha statues and other figures at this site.
Visit Kudumbigala Monastery
This is the site of the hermitage and monastery built by King Devanampiya Tissa during the Second Century B.C.
It was intended to serve as a quiet refuge for Buddhist monks, to insulate them from the hustle and bustle of their former surroundings. The complex includes a cylindrical dagoba (a rarity, as most dagobas tend to be bell or dome-shaped) and over 200 rock caves. The insides of these caves are plastered and some, decorated with writings and murals.
The site is located 15 miles (about 40 minutes drive) away from Arugam Bay Town.
Hangover Hostel Arugam Bay
If you’re looking for an affordable and comfortable place to stay in Arugam Bay, then you’ll love our hostel.
Located 400 metres from the main strip and just 200 metres from the main surf point, you’ll be right at the heart of the action.
Please get in touch if you have any questions at all.
Safe travels, and we look forward to seeing you soon!