Sri Lanka, Arugam Bay: Travel/Tourist Information Guide

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Arugam Bay is located on the Indian Ocean in the dry zone of Sri Lanka’s southeast coast. The bay is located 320 km away from Colombo and 4 km away from the market town of Pottuvil. The population contains Muslim, Tamil, Sinhala and a number of international migrants, largely from Europe and Australia. Arugam Bay is a very popular tourist destination and the tourism is mainly dominated by surf tourism. On the other hand, it is still a very popular tourist destination with its beaches, lagoons, historic temples and Kumana National Park. Many of the buildings were destroyed in the 2004 tsunami. Compared to the other parts of the country, Arugam Bay experiences the least amount of rain. Generally, Arugam Bay has a warm and tropical weather.

Getting There

The only way to get to Sri Lanka is by air. Sri Lanka Airlines which is the national airline operates daily flights from London and regular flights from a number of other European, Middle and Far Eastern cities. Other airlines offer direct flights such as Emirates and Gulf Air. Sri Lankan Airlines operates Air Taxi services on demand landing directly on the Arugam Bay lagoon. It is also possible to get to Arugam Bay by bus. There are two direct buses a day from Colombo to Pottuvil. Buses can be taken from the Pettah Bus Stand in Colombo at 04.45 and arrival would be at 14.30 pm. The bus number is 98 – Pottuvil Route. It is the cheapest way to get from Colombo to Arugam Bay. It is also possible to take private air conditioned taxi from Colombo to Arugam Bay but it is quite expensive and it costs around Rs 18,000. For the ones who want to travel by train, the nearest train stations are Ella or Badulla on the Mountain line and Batticaloa. These three stations are located 135 km away from Arugam Bay.

Top Sights and Activities

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Pottuvil Lagoon

It is located 2 km away from Arugam Bay and there is an inland called Pottuvil Lagoon. It attracts tourists for a picturesque lagoon tour. It is possible to witness the mangrove swamps and the swamps are lively with birds, lizards, elephants, and crocodiles.

Panama

Panama is the last inhabited village in Arugam Bay. It is located 12 km south. Panama is home to endless beaches, wonderful lagoons, rock stones and sand dunes. It is combined with two gigantic rocky projections known as Crocodile Rock and Elephant Rock. The Crocodile Rock is a famous spot for surfing and the Elephant Rock is popular for wild elephants.

Okanda Sri Lanka

The village of Okanda is located 20 km south from Arugam Bay and it is a very popular surfing spot. It is home to the admired shrine that is located at Okanda. According to a legend, God Slanda had landed on the island. The shrine is an opening point of ‘Paada Yaathra’ (Pilgrimage on Foot). Okanda is also the entry point of the Kumala National Park.

Kumala National Park

It is formerly known as Yala East National Park. The park is renowned for its avifauna with its large flocks of migratory waterfowl and wading birds. The park is located 12 km south of Arugam Bay. One of the most important features of this park is the ‘Kumana Villu’ which is a 200 hectare natural swamp lake, fed by the ‘Kumbukkan Oya’ through a half mile long narrow channel. It is at this mangrove swamp that many birds nest in May and June. Kumana is also home to some of the mammals such as elephants and leopards.

Lahugla National Park

It is a perfect spot to see elephants. It is located 15 km away from Arugam Bay. This huge reservoir is a main draw and during the months of July and August, over 150 elephants come to rehydrate and they bring a spectacle of aquatic birds with them.

Surfing

Arugam Bay is widely popular for surfing spots and Arugam Bay is ranked among the top then surfing hubs in the world. The place is known with some extraordinary waves and it draws thousands of surfers from across the world. The best season for surfing in Arugam Bay is in between May and November. The famous surfing spots are The Point, Pottuvil Point and Crocodile Rock.

Swimming

Seas are rough but they are suitable for swimming. It is recommended to ask locals for suitable beaches to swim where the waves are not that strong. The safest swimming point is at the southern end of Arugam Bay because the beach bends around towards the point. It is primarily a fishing village.

Bars and Restaurants

GeckoGeckoHideawaySiam View HotelSurf N SunSurf N Sun

Siam View Hotel

The place used to have a beachside bar but it was demolished by the government in 2011. Nowadays, it shifted the bar to inland and it hosts some party nights with everything from tech-house DJs to local reggae bands. There is a selection of beers at the bar.

Hideaway

This restaurant features a menu that changes daily. Staffs are professional and welcoming. Many dishes feature Mediterranean and East Asian influences. There are also vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free choices. There is also a garden Hide & Chill Bar for cocktails and also Hideaway Blue Café for coffee.

Tsunami Beach Hotel

This hotel restaurant is famous for its Sri Lankan and Western Good. Ordering an hour in advance is recommended. Main dishes change between Rs 400 – 850. Opening hours: Noon – 4 pm & 6 pm – Midnight.

Gecko

This restaurant served International cuisines. Most of the dishes are homemade and the menu includes salads, pasta, burgers, fish and chips, full English breakfasts, muesli and apple pie. Some ingredients come from Gecko’s garden which is located a few kilometres away. Main dishes change between Rs 480 – 900.

Stardust Restaurant

This beachfront hotel restaurant serves European and Asian dishes, wine by the bottle and glass. There is a terrace and a garden as an open sided dining area. Main dishes change between Rs 800 – 1800.

Samanthi’s Restaurant

This restaurant is run by a family. It serves Sri Lankan and Western cuisine. Main dishes change between Rs 250 – 675. Address: Freedom Beach Cabanas, Arugam Bay, Sri Lanka.

Meena

Meena is offers authentic local meals such as string hoppers, rice and curry, kotthu and fried rice. Meals change between Rs 200 – 500.

Surf N Sun

This outdoor deck lounge with low slung cushions, throw pillows, candles and lanterns serves mainly seafood, pizza and occasionally barbecue. Main dishes change between Rs 600 – 1200.

Siripala Place Surf Café

This café is next to the spot where the fish are first hauled out of the sea which means that the café serves fresh seafood. Main dishes change between Rs 400 – 850.

Lucky Leprechaun Surfer

It is located high above the beach. This restaurant has views of waves and it serves a wide range of seafood. It is also a popular place for a sun downer. Main dishes change between Rs 200 – 300. Opening hours: 7.30 am – 10.30 pm.

Hakeem Beach Spot

This eatery is popular among locals. Snacks change between Rs 10 – 30 and main dishes change between Rs 50 -100. Opening hours: 5 am – 8 pm from Saturday to Thursday.

Where to Stay

Arugam Bay Surfing ResortCoco BayPJs Beach HotelStay GoldenThe Danish VillaThe Surf Access Guest HouseUpali Beach Surf ResortWater Edge Resort

PJs Beach Hotel

This hotel features free Wi-Fi and a restaurant. Free private parking is available on site. Some rooms have views of the sea or garden. Rooms come with a flat screen TV. There is a 24 hour front desk at the property. Address: 100 Surfpoint Road, Arugam Bay, Sri Lanka.

Stardust Beach Hotel

This hotel features a barbecue and a private beach area. The hotel has a sun terrace and views of the sea. Guests can enjoy a drink at the bar. Free private parking is available on site. Certain rooms come with a seating area or a terrace or balcony. All rooms have a private bathroom. Free Wi-Fi is available throughout the property. Free use of bicycles and car hire are available at this hotel and the area is popular for cycling. Address: Stardust Road, Arugam Bay, Sri Lanka.

The Danish Villa

This guest house features free Wi-Fi throughout the property. Free private parking is available on site. Rooms come with a private bathroom fitted with a shower. There is a shared lounge at the property. Guests can enjoy various activities such as snorkelling and hiking. Address: Main Street, Arugam Bay, Sri Lanka.

The Surf Access Guest House

This guest house offers simple and comfortable accommodation with free Wi-Fi access throughout the property. There is a 24 hour front desk and a restaurant at the property. Rooms are fan cooled and they come with a clothes rack, a seating area, a fan and mosquito net. They include a private bathroom with towels and shower. Air conditioned rooms are available on request. Guest can enjoy plenty of activities such as diving, snorkelling, canoeing and windsurfing. Address: No 60, Sinna Ullai, Arugam Bay, Sri Lanka.

Coco Bay

This bed and breakfast houses an in house restaurant and it offers free Wi-Fi access at all areas. Airport shuttles services are available at a surcharge. Rooms come with air conditioning, a seating are and private terrace. Free drivers’ accommodation is available. There is a 24 hour front desk at the property which can assist guests with travel arrangements and private parking facilities. Address: Sinhapura Road, Arugam Bay, Sri Lanka.

Water Edge Resort

This resort offers a barbecue, terrace and a restaurant. Rooms come with air conditioning and a private bathroom fitted with a shower. There is a 24 hour front desk at the property. Bike hire is available at this resort. Address: Main Street, Arugam Bay, Sri Lanka.

Stay Golden

This guest house offers a restaurant. Free Wi-Fi access is available. The property provides a terrace and a seating area. Private bathroom comes with a shower. Guests can enjoy sea view and garden view from all rooms. Free private parking is available on site. Address: 59 Panama Road, Arugam Bay, Sri Lanka.

Arugam Bay Surfing Resort

This resort offers private rooms with a bathroom. The rooms come with air conditioning, a fan, a mosquito net and cable TV. Private bathroom includes a shower. Rooms on the upper floor have a balcony. Guests can enjoy free Wi-Fi in its public areas. Free private parking is available on site. The resort also provides a travel desk and organises surf tours. Address: No 18, Arugam Bay, Sri Lanka.

Upali Beach Surf Resort

This resort is an eco-friendly resort. Guests can enjoy the on site restaurant. Certain rooms have a seating area. There is a 24 hour front desk at the property. Address: Main Point, Arugam Bay, Sri Lanka.