Arugam bay, a laid back town on the east coast of Sri Lanka where travelers love to go for surfing. Known for having one of the best beaches in Sri Lanka and being surrounded by Yala and Kumana National Park. Arugam Bay is the perfect destination for adventurous day trips. Take a look at the Muhudu Maha Viharaya in Pottuvil or climb to the viewpoint at the Kudumbigala Monastery. Curious about the other activities in Arugam Bay?
Continue reading this guide as it provides all the information you need if you’re thinking of visiting Arugam Bay.
What to do in Arugam Bay
Arugam Bay has one of the best beaches in Sri Lanka and is well known for its surf. Beside surfing you can also find good Yoga practices and the surrounding area is full of nature and wildlife. When you’re looking for adventure, Arugam Bay has some interesting activities in store for you.
Go surfing or take surf lessons
Arugam bay is arguably the best place to go surfing in Sri Lanka. When you walk through the main street you see surf schools everywhere. If you're a beginner you can start by taking a few surf lessons. If you’re more skilled or had some lessons before, you can easily rent a board at one of the many surfing shops in Arugam Bay.
Which surf school to choose
With so many surf schools it is difficult to find the right one. If you plan to visit Arugam Bay strictly for surfing Upali Beach Surf Resort is a great option. If you just want to try surfing for a couple of times I would recommend a guy named Kareem at Happy surf. You can find Kareem at restaurant Friends Indeed where he works as a bartender.
What does it cost to go surfing in Arugam Bay
A surf lesson in Arugam Bay will cost 2.000-3.000 LKR ($11-$16) for around 1.5 hours. If you’re following surf lessons you usually travel with a tuk tuk to your surf point. The price for a tuk tuk is around 500-1.000 LKR ($2.75-$5.50) depending on which surf point your going.
Renting a surfboard for a whole day will cost 400-600 LKR ($2.20-$3.30).
The best surf points in Arugam Bay
Whiskey Point: Beginners
Pottuvil Point: All levels
Baby Point: Beginners
Main Point: Intermediate to advanced
Elephant Rock: Beginners and advanced
Peanut Farm: All levels
Visit the Kudumbigala Monastery
At only 45 minutes from Arugam Bay you will find a sacred place named the Kudumbigala Monastery. Many locals visit this place to learn deep meditation techniques directly from the monks. Once you reach the beginning of the Monastery by scooter or tuk tuk you can walk two directions. If you’re taking the main path you’ll go straight to the meditation center. The path on the right brings you to one of the best viewpoints in Arugam Bay. The climb to the viewpoint can be quite intense and takes around 20 minutes.
How to get to the Kudumbigala Monastery
The easiest way to get to the Kudumbigala Monastery is by taking a tuk tuk. The adventurous way is to rent a scooter in Arugam Bay and follow the Pottuvil-Panama road which takes you through the Kumana National Park. Along the way you will see various wildlife such as elephants, buffalo's, monkeys and deer. Always be careful, wild animals can be unpredictable and driving a scooter is really fragile.
Once you reach the Panama-Kumbukkana road you see a sign on the right side. At this point it takes only 2 km on a sandy road to reach the Kudumbigala Monastery.
Climb the Elephant rock
Elephant Rock is one of the surf points in Arugam Bay and is positioned between Peanut farm Beach and Pasarichenai Beach. Around sunrise and sunset many people climb the rock to watch the surfers and the overview of the surrounded beaches. When you reach the beginning of the Elephant Rock you have to go around it on the left side. Next to the rock is a small river so be aware that there is a possibility you might encounter crocodiles.
How to get to the Elephant rock
From the main street in Arugam Bay it takes around 20 minutes to get to the Elephant Rock. To get there follow the main road and turn left once you reach the Military Camp. From here a 1 km long sandy road brings you to the rock. Approach the road carefully as it is popular among elephants during sunset. If you want to play it safe get a tuk tuk from the city center. A one-way drive cost around 800-1000 LKR ($4.5-$5.5).
Take a Yoga class
Yoga is really popular among travelers in Sri Lanka. Many places in Arugam Bay offer different levels of yoga practices. It doesn’t matter if you’re a beginner or a guru, it is really easy and inviting to join a class. The best yoga classes in Arugam Bay can be found at the Hideaway Resort, Stay Golden, Surf N Sun resort and Yoga Shack.
Cost // 1.000-1.800 LKR ($5.5-$10)
Sri Lanka is well known for its wildlife and a Lagoon Safari is a totally different and relaxing experience. The Lagoon Safari in Pottuvil is really popular, especially during sunrise and sunset. During the safari you’ll see animals such as crocodiles, elephants, monkeys and many different bird species. A Lagoon safari usually takes around 2 hours including pick up at your hotel.
Cost // 4.000 LKR ($22)
Visit the Muhudu Maha Viharaya Stupa in Pottuvil
Located on Pottuvil Beach is the Buddhist temple named Muhudu Maha Viharaya. The temple of the ocean is built over 2000 years ago by King Kavan Tissa of Ruhuna. The white stupa is located between the dunes of Pottuvil and can be seen from the main beach at Arugam Bay. Visiting this place is really cool and you will also get a glimpse of the local life.
Go on a safari in Yala or Kumana National Park
Sri Lanka counts 22 National Parks and Yala and Kumana are located close to Arugam Bay. Both parks have a good reputation when it comes to spotting wildlife in Sri Lanka. Think about beautiful animals as leopards, elephants, buffalos, monkeys, crocodiles, Sloth bears and other types of mammal. The national parks is also the best places to go birding in Sri Lanka, Yala for example is home to 215 bird species.
Walk/Relax on the beach
During your travels you get a lot of new impressions and sometimes a day of is exactly what you need. The beach at Arugam Bay is the perfect place to take a morning walk or to relax and hangout. Get yourself some drinks, good food and a sunbed at Friends Indeed while enjoying the sun and a dive in the sea.
Go partying in Arugam Bay
When you want to party during your trip in Sri Lanka, Arugam Bay is arguably the best place to do this. Every Friday there is a party in Sababa Surf Cafe at Whiskey Point. On Saturday you can enjoy the partyscene at Mambo’s. It is way cheaper to have some pre drinks before going to the beach parties. Prices at above named beach parties are quite expensive.
How to get around in Arugam Bay
Renting a scooter in Arugam Bay is by far the easiest way to get around. The cost of renting a scooter is around 1.200 to 1.500 LKR ($6.5-$8) an a full tank will cost you 600 LKR ($3.25). If you only plan to stay at the beach and main street, walking is perfectly fine as distances in Arugam Bay aren’t that big.
Where to stay in Arugam Bay
Upali Beach Surf Resort // For those who are interested in learning to surf look no further. Upali Beach Surf Resort is positioned directly on the beach and next to the main surfing point of Arugam Bay. The resort is eco friendly and they have good food available from 7:00 till 19:00.
Surf N Sun // The nice looking villas at Surf N Sun provide comfortable rooms while the price is still reasonable. The design of the rooms are one of the best in Arugam Bay. The villas are located at the main street and the hotel provides both surf and yoga lessons.
The Spice Trail // The villas at the Spice Trail offer you a luxurious stay while the price is still fair. Among the facilities there is a bar, swimming pool and sun terrace. The hotel is located close to the beach, restaurants and main street of Arugam Bay.
Arugambay Roccos // With an infinity pool directly at their private beach this hotel really stands out. The hotel offers good quality-price-ratio and the rooms are very spacious and comfortable. Another thing that makes Arugambay Roccos stand out is the design of their apartments.
ATM’s in Arugam Bay
We can keep this one short, there is one Hatton National Bank ATM at the main street next to the Hideaway Resort. When using an ATM in Sri Lanka expect a charge of 200-300 LKR ($1-$1.5) plus the transaction charges of your own bank.
Where to eat in Arugam Bay
Hello Burger // When you want a break from eating all those delicious curries, a burger is always a good option. And where better to have a good burger than at Hello burger. On top of the tasteful food the cozy cafe has a good atmosphere with funky music playing in the background.
Friends Indeed // A good place to enjoy good food and drinks while watching the waves crash at the beach. They serve a balanced menu with both local and western dishes. The vibe is good and the staff is really friendly. For those who work remotely. In my experience they have the best Wifi in Arugam Bay.
Flo! // This restaurant is located at the beginning of the main street and is the perfect place for traditional Sri Lankan breakfast. I recommend you to try their Roti with coconut sambal and Dal curry with some Lavaria on the side. They also serve high quality fruit juices and smoothies.
Mantra // Stands out with their local cuisine and a good quality-price-ratio. The home-like atmosphere makes Mantra a restaurant where you would like to return. A fun thing is that guests are allowed to write something on the wall.
Best time to visit Arugam Bay
Sri Lanka is a tropical country which means Arugam Bay has warm weather year round. Even though the temperature is good most of the time you should avoid visiting during the monsoon. The best time to visit Arugam Bay is from April to October with its peak between July and September. This is also the time when surfing conditions are at its best.
How to get to Arugam Bay
Depending on your itinerary it is most common to travel to Arugam Bay from Trincomalee or Ella. It is also an option to plan your visit after going on safari in the Yala National Park in Tissamaharama. To reach Arugam Bay you have to spend some extra time as it is a bit off-track for most itineraries. The extra travel time is definitely worth it so don’t let this discourage you from going to one of the best surf spot in Sri Lanka.
Trincomalee to Arugam Bay
TUK TUK OR PRIVATE TAXI // The fastest and most expensive way to travel from Trincomalee to Arugam Bay is with a tuk tuk or private taxi. In 4-5 hours time you’ll reach Arugam Bay and it will cost you around 10.000 - 18.000 LKR ($55-$100).
Total travel time // 4-5 hours.
Total cost // 10.000-18.000 LKR ($55-$100)
BUS // Trincomalee - Batticaloa - Pottuvil - Arugam Bay
From Trincomalee jump on a bus that brings you to Batticaloa. This journey takes between 3-4 hours if you’re lucky. At Batticaloa change to the bus with Pottuvil as destination. This takes another estimated 3 hours. Once you reached Pottuvil it is only 10 minutes which can easily be done with a tuk tuk or by taking a bus in the direction of Panama.
Total travel time // 6-7 hours.
Total cost // 400-700 LKR ( $2.5-$4)
Ella to Arugam Bay
TUK TUK // For 5000 LKR ($27-$30) a tuk tuk brings you directly from Ella to Arugam Bay in around 3 hours. The last part of this journey takes a little longer as it is really steep and a tuk tuk will have some troubles with the inclined road. Nonetheless this gives you a perfect opportunity to get your first glimpse of the beauty that the lush green mountains of Ella have to offer.
Total travel time // 2.5-3 hours.
Total cost // 5.000-5.500 LKR ($27-$30)
BUS // Ella - Wellawaya - Monaragala - Pottuvil
In some cases you will find a bus that goes straight to Monaragala from Ella. If not you have to get on the bus that brings you to Wellawaya where you have to change busses to reach Monaragala. From Monaragala you can go directly to Pottuvil by bus. Here you can jump in a tuk tuk or a bus that goes in the direction of Panama.
Total travel time // 3-3.5 hours.
Total cost // 300-600 LKR ($2-$3.5)
Yala (Tissamaharama) to Arugam Bay
TUK TUK // From Yala to Arugam Bay takes around 3-3.5 hours and is quite a good ride with some beautiful sceneries along the road. The price for this journey is estimated between 5.000-6.000 LKR ($27-$33). Chances of seeing elephants are highly relevant which is one of the fun parts about this journey.
Total travel time // 3-3.5 hours.
Total cost // 5.000-6.000 LKR ($27-$33)
BUS // Tissamaharama - Thanamalwila - Wellawaya - Monaragala - Pottuvil
From Tissamaharama it is important to reach the Wellawaya bus station. Sometimes the bus goes directly from Tissamaharama but there is a chance you have to switch busses at Thanamalwila. Once you reached Wellawaya after 2-3 hours, jump on the bus that stops in Monaragala. This journey takes roughly 1.5 hours. At this point it is really tempting to get a tuk tuk straight to Arugam Bay as switching busses and waiting consumes a lot of time. From Monaragala to Pottuvil is still around 2 hours traveling by bus. Taking a tuk tuk from Monaragala to Arugam Bay will cost around 2.500-3.000 LKR ($14-$16.5) and is a perfect option to win some time.
Total travel time // 6.5-8 hours.
Total cost // 350-600 LKR ($2.3-$3.5)
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