In the dry zone of Sri Lanka’s Southeast coast, 320 km east of Colombo, laid-back Arugam Bay beckons tourists to the Indian Ocean.
It has a local population of only a few hundred people, one main road, and one of the best point breaks in the region.
Many find the crescent of multicolored sand and turquoise water along Arugam Bay beach to be the ideal surf spot in the country.
Tourists can glimpse expert surfers vying for prizes, and beginners attending their first lesson at one of the abundant surf schools in the area.
Arugam Bay surfing is not the only activity attracting wanderers from around the globe.
There are abundant options for swimmers, windsurfers, kitesurfers, beach partiers, yoga buffs, and seekers of ayurveda and traditional medicine.
It is an ideal spot to begin an adventure into the surrounding rural parks or to do nothing on a beach while enjoying Arugam Bay’s low-key vibe.
When to Go
The hamlet is energetic from May to October, and quiet November to April.
Things to do in Arugam Bay
For the local populace, Arugam Bay is a fishing village.
An afternoon walk along the beach will reveal myriad fishermen preparing their wooden boats for the following day’s catch.
Some are happy to take tourists with them for the day, for those who wish to experience local life. Lagoon boat tours are also plentiful.
Cooking classes and homestay visits are available, but strolling along miles of unspoiled beach should not be missed. For those who prefer not to stroll, scooters are available for rental to get around locally.
Restaurants and reggae bars light Arugam Bay and become busy as the sun sets.
Things to do around Arugam Bay
Arugam Bay is a perfect base of operations for visiting Yala National Park, the most popular and second largest national park in Sri Lanka.
Yala National Park, which includes Ruhuna National Park and Kumana National Park, is a wildlife sanctuary important to the preservation of Sri Lankan Elephants, leopards and birds.
The site of ancient civilizations, Yala National Park also contains two pilgrimage sites.
On the way to Yala National Park, Kudumbigala monastery beckons from high atop a hill in the middle of the jungle. The 360-degree views are astounding, especially at sunrise.
The crocodiles, elephants, sloth bears, and birds seen en route is as spectacular as the monastery itself. Though you must remove your shoes at the entrance, keeping them with you to climb is a smart practice.
Four kilometers north of Arugam Bay is the town of Pottuvil, site of Muhudu Maha Viharaya, a Buddhist temple nearly 2,500 years old.
Visitors can walk among the ruins and contemplate the history of King Kavan Tissa. The site takes about an hour to explore and is a must-do for tourists interested in Sri Lanka’s rich cultural past.
Nearby Sangamankandy Pilliyar Kovil, an ancient Shiva Temple, can be seen in the same day.
Whether your interests are sun and surf, history and culture, fishing, religion or nature safari, Arugam Bay beach and its surrounds are a fun and fascinating place to relax and explore, and a welcome respite from Colombo or your hectic Southern Asia travel itinerary.