The Ultimate Guide to Adventure & Surfing in Arugam Bay

Arugam Bay – aka ABay – is a small coastal town in Sri Lanka’s Eastern Province. Renowned for its world class barrelling waves (not always barrelling, sometimes peeling nicely), ABay has become a Mecca for surfers wanting to enter the Green Room*, and a pilgrimage to be undertaken by anyone who is remotely interested in surfing or learning to surf in balmy, turquoise and sometimes glassy waters. If you want to go surfing in Arugam Bay and enjoy adventures in and around, this post is for you.

In this detailed guide focused around surf, I’ve included all the surf spots and times of year they are due to be working, rough prices you should expect to pay to get around and the best hangout spots in town to help you plan your trip to Arugam Bay. PLUS! A few photos to stoke your aventurelust. And at the end of this post, you’ll find 6 other awesome things to do in and around Arugam Bay to really get the adventure hype going.

The Surf spots

If you’re hoping to go surfing in Arugam Bay, you’ll want the lowdown on all the spots and roughly what time of year they are working. Be sure to check swell charts or with locals before you head there. Since Sri Lanka have banned Surfboard racks on scooters, you will need to get a tuktuk to your required location. The rough price is included below.

  • Lighthouse (aka the Green Room)

Distance from Arugam Bay: 26.5km

TukTuk Cost from Arugam Bay: 3,500 Rs return

Type: Point Break 

Working: July to October

The lowdown: Don’t count on this break. I’ve heard reports from locals who say they have only ever seen this break working once or twice. If you’re lucky it may work for you. Either go and check it out yourself or speak to local surfers to find out if it is working when you are there.

  • Whisky Point

Distance from Arugam Bay: 14.3km

TukTuk Cost from Arugam Bay: 1,400 Rs return

Type: Point Break 

Working: June to October

The lowdown: Really lovely right hand break just north of Arugam Bay. The beauty of this break is the few options of accommodation and eateries on the beach, making it a place you can easily spend the day or even days at a time.

  • Pottuvil Point

Distance from Arugam Bay: 7.2km

TukTuk Cost from Arugam Bay: 1,200 Rs return

Type: Point Break 

Working: July to November

The lowdown: Some say this break works from June or July but it is at its best in August and has been reported to pump all the way through to early December. If you come late in the season or after September this may be the best break for you.

  • Main Point (& Baby Point)

Distance from Arugam Bay: 0km

TukTuk Cost from Arugam Bay: WALK

Type: Point Break 

Working: June to October

The lowdown: It’s rocky to get into the water so tread carfefully. If you’re more experienced and want to head out back, be aware that there is a shallow reef. When the waves are pumping it’s great fun but when the swell isn’t delivering it’s just a really crowded and dangerous surf break.

  • Elephant Rock (aka Crocodile Rock)

Distance from Arugam Bay: 6.9km

TukTuk Cost from Arugam Bay: 1,200 Rs return

Type: Point Break 

Working: July to October

The lowdown: Beware the crocs! Don’t go bathing in the lagoon as crocodiles are active inside it. I’ve been reassured that they do not enter the ocean, just should you enter the lagoon, it’s all to play for. Deaths by croc bites are frequent. Avoid entering the lagoon or wading through it. You can easily catch the small boat across the lagoon to the beach.

  • Peanut Farm

Distance from Arugam Bay: 7.5km

TukTuk Cost from Arugam Bay: 1,200 Rs return

Type: Point Break 

Working: June to October

The lowdown: After a small walk through a jungle clearing, you’ll hit the beach which actually consists of not one, but TWO breaks. The break immediately on the beach is great for beginners and intermediates. If you want more of a challenge, walk to the right from this break to the next point over. You’ll need to be more experienced to surf at the second break – waves are generally larger and there are a lot more rocks to navigate. Great spot in general though with a good local vibe!

  • Panama

Distance from Arugam Bay: 15km

TukTuk Cost from Arugam Bay: 3,000 Rs return

Type: Point Break 

Working: June to October

Comments: This break was very small when we visited – you may need to wait until July for this break to be properly working. As with Elephant Rock, don’t enter the lagoon where crocodiles are active otherwise you will put yourself in danger.

  • Okanda 

Distance from Arugam Bay: 30km

TukTuk Cost from Arugam Bay: 3,500 rupees return

Type: Point Break 

Working: June to October

Comments: Strong currents and bigger swell can make this a tougher surf spot so recommended for experienced surfers only. It’s well worth a visit if you are more experienced for the sheer lack of crowds and connection with nature. Expect to see peacocks and monkey and if you’re lucky you might see elephants or elephant footprints in the sand. Needless to say, don’t set foot in the lagoon here either…

Cafes & Hangouts

Needless to say, with ABay’s ever-growing popularity, there are loads of eateries and hangouts to choose from. However, these are a few MUST visits for seriously chill atmosphere or delicious selection of healthy foods. I’ve included a note to say what kind of straws each place uses as well if you are hoping to reduce your plastic consumption while travelling.

All of the calm evening vibes and the most comfortable pillows you’ll ever melt into at Cozy Bay’s beachfront restaurant, The Secret Garden.

The smoothie bowls at Bay Vista’s rooftop cafe are all of the awesome. Pictured is the Matchan, but there are a really good selection to choose from, all of which include your favourite superfoods.

  • Cozy Bay’s Maatahara The Secret Garden

For evening chills with bae or a friends, complete with fairy lights, old oil drums, an open fire pit and all the friendly service you can handle. Try the Tequila with chilli salt mojito and Pana Cotta with coconut milk and pineapple. BYO metal straws as they are still using plastic.

  • Salty Swarmis

Great for chill afternoon hangouts post surf in swings and even a table IN a tree. Try the super smoothies (highlight is the Panama which included acai, beetroot and coconut shavings on the top). They don’t use plastic straws, they use paper. BYO metal straws if you don’t like your sips to go soggy.

  • Bay Vista

Have a smoothie bowl for breakfast at the rooftop cafe with either a Golden Milk (coconut milk with turmeric latte) or super delicious iced coffee. No need to BYO metal straws because these guys got the memo and they are already using them. WiFi is also good here.

  • Geckos

Market & Deli and beachfront restaurant with colourful fishing boats out the front. Go for food and hangouts any time of day. Try the gotukola and pineapple juice for all of the health kicks. They even sell fresh gotukola if you are interested in incorporating this bang-on-trend super food into your diet.

  • Travellers Cafe

Located at the southern end of the stretch on Panama Road running through ABay, pop into this tiny little cafe for some real espresso coffee and good vibes.

  • Hipsters Hideout

Head slightly further south from Traveller’s Cafe and you’ll hit the hidden gem which is the Hipsters Hideout. Hangout, chill in swings and hammocks, and try the spiced ice coffee. Not only do they have steel straws (no need to BYO!) but there are also attempting to eradicate plastic in any way. Enjoy all of the the feel-good vibes here.

Beach Boutiques

If you find yourself in ABay and you’re looking for some new threads, or even if you’re just air con hopping in the day, these 3 of my favourite beachy boutiques you’re sure to love.

Breezy evening feels at sundown in ABay.

  • Salty Swarmis

Beauts clothes and tailoring at the ultra cool Salty Swarmis. Great for little gifts for girl baes or just to treat yourself with little accessories which are sure to have you forever-dreaming away to those days in ABay.

  • Stolen Paradise

A lovely little boutique featuring gorgeously simple tailoring in a selection of muted pastel colours, and cute cropped logo tees for women and beautiful linen shirts for men, with a few surfboards to check out too.

  • Rice & Curry

These guys make things out of garbage – but still manage to ooze all of the cool. We love the colourful wax combs which are made out of plastic bags!

Eat like a local

If smoothie bowls and chill salted mojitos are all a bit much and you’re looking for some good, traditional Sri Lankan food, you must try the below. All are delicious and super local which will get you well and truly connected with the locality.

The rice & curry at Muhammad’s in Whisky Point is so tasty and cheap. Curry not pictured.

  • Mantra Cafe

Ok, they do western food too, but try the curry. It is out of this world flavoursome here at Mantra.

  • Muhammad’s

Hidden away, with all the local feels… located at Whisky Point (close to Pottuvil Point) the rice and curry is cheap and delicious. Ask anyone at Whisky Point and they will gladly point you in the direction of this little local foodie paradise.

  • Appa and egg hoppers shops

You’ll find these dotted along the roads and in backstreets. If in doubt, ask your tuktuk driver. Cheap and cheerful and GREAT for a post-surf snack. 

Where to stay

All of the chilled vibes at The Coconut at Whisky Point. Complete with a swing, a fish pond, hammocks, and homecooked evening meals up for grabs; you’ll find all the feels of home, with the pleasures of being in paradise.

  • Rawans

If you want cheap and fun.

  • Cozy Bay

If you want the BEST PILLOWS IN TOWN.

  • Mambos

If you want to be at the heart of the action near Main Point.

  • Hideaway

If you’ve got some cash to splash and enjoy being the trendiest person in town.

  • The Coconut

If you want to stay at Whisky Point and want ALL of the chill vibes… complete with hammocks and a swing over a fish pool!

Getting Around

  • TukTuk

Since the police banned surfboard racks for scooters, you don’t really have many other options than to take a tuktuk to the surf breaks. Expect to pay anything from 1,200 rupees to 3,500 rupees depending on the distance to the break from Arugam Bay and the quality of road.

  • Scooter

Exploring further afield in and around Arugam Bay is best done by scooter. Expect to pay around 1000 rupees per day for 125cc scooter.

  • Bicycle

It’s possible to rent bicyles in and around Arugam Bay. If you’re hoping to go exploring, a push bike is going to be challenging as most roads are coated in sand. For getting around A Bay though, it’s perfect. Expect to pay around 500 rupees per day for bicycle rental.

6 other awesome things to do in Arugam Bay

Flat days? No worries! Here’s 6 other awesome things to do in and around Arugam Bay.

  • Yoga

Try the Bay Vista rooftop or Hideaway classes.

  • Kumana National Park

Try a safari or try a safari with camping trip which you can book through local tour agents in Arugam Bay.

  • Sunset at Elephant Rock

Grab a scooter or take a tuktuk – whatever you’re mode of transport it’s a great little spot to watch the colours of the sky dance as the sun gives way to the moon.

  • Cooking Classes

But did you actually go to Sri Lanka if you didn’t do a cookin g class?! No. You didn’t. Get hands on with the local culture and try a cooking class. There’s heaps available but try the one at Ecowave for top class local feels.

  • Be a beach bum

Adventure, surfing, exploring – SLOW DOWN (says the chick that never stops lol!) but grab a book, some high factor sunscreen, lie on the beach, and soak up the vitamin D before soaking up the vitamin Sea.

  • Muhudu Maha Viharaya Stupa

Cultural doesn’t stop at surfing with the locals and doing a cooking class. Head to this temple which sits on the hill to the northern end of Arugam Bay beach. Be sure to cover shoulders and legs while visiting this religious monument.

A note to all my girls

You’ll see signs like this dotted around the main road behind the beach. No bikinis on the street girls. Be respectful and aware that you are now in a predominantly muslim part of Sri Lanka and try to show respect by covering at least your belly. Although liberal on the beaches, covering up to respect your tuktuk drivers and the no bikini code of the street in ABay is a must. This goes for men too, wandering around the streets shirtless might be okay in your home country but it’s a big no no here… so put a shirt on.

Did you find this guide useful?

I’d love to know how your trip to ABay was.

Drop a comment below and let’s talk surfs, smoothies and BYO metal straws!

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