Arugam Bay being one of the best places for surfing in Sri Lanka has two appearances: the peak season, from May to August… and the rest of the year, were Arugam Bay is not much more that a fishing village!
Between November and April can be considered the best time to visit Sri Lanka, with the months of December and January to reach the peak of tourist. But the east coast and the northern part of the island, that are the least visited areas, difficult to reach and that for many years place of war, have a different climate, with rainfall during this period. The months from May to October are those with a more favorable climate in the north and on the east coast, where lies the beach of Arugam Bay.
But for those who do not chase the “waves” visit Arugam Bay or any other place, during the low season provides some advantages: more peace, more space, more affordable rooms, less crowded transport… on the other hand many restaurants and guest houses are closed, less social life and sometimes rain that may show persistent and annoying. Although the temperature is never chill, and the sea never cold.
As the southwest coast rather dry and arid, the visit during the rainy season, which still does not bring rain every day, provides a landscape full of green and enough water to make Arugam Laguna attractive to many birds that gathering here looking for food.
the stay at Arugam Bay provided calm and long walks along the almost desert beach, accompanied by the heavy rhythm of the waves, feeling the moist air that comes from the sea and the warm water temperature that plays around our feets. Walkings that can be extended to the lagoon, located north of the bay, which separates Arugam Bay Beach from Pottuvil.
With light filtered through the soft layer of clouds, the sea shows up with heavy dark colors as well as the sand, which tones along with the abundant garbage brought by the tides is far from forming a paradise image of this place. Nevertheless, this picture changes in the months where dozens of surfers compete for waves that form at the entrance of the bay.
Arugam Bay lives from the surf and surf related business, like surf schools, rentals, rooms, etc… As off-season there’s no activity in terms of surf, with a rough and disorganized sea, at an upper level than usual making the beach narrow, the local population is targeted for fishing, which remains the main occupation and source of income this small town that was seriously affected by the 2004 tsunami, which severely hit the south and east coast of Sri Lanka.
Arugam Bay is not only a place where you go… you have to get there… it’s on the opposite coast of Columbus and the only international airport, between are the mountains and to escape the mountains you must go around to the south or to the north, passing extensive tropical plains… whatever option are trips that do not are not made in one day, forcing always to one or a more stops along the way.
Where to stay in Arugam Bay:
In low season, most places are closed or whether they were open probably are deserted. Along the main road, on both sides, line up successive accommodation of different styles and for different budgets.
The Beach Hut is one of the oldest places and, therefore, very popular even in low season attracting most of the foreigners, some passing by but others that remain here for long periods, enjoying the tranquility of the place and the proximity of the sea, which is around twenty meters far. There are several types of accommodation, rooms and huts with different levels of amenities and comfort. The Beach Hut has a restaurant provides a nice common area surrounded by forest.
double bedroom with en-suite: 1000 LKR (low-season)
Where to eat in Arugam Bay:
Many of the guesthouses have a restaurant, but during the low season many are closed. Those who are open, such as the Beach Hut, offer the usual menu with many international options.
On the main road that crosses Arugam Bay (road Pottuvil-Panama) there are some local food restaurants, serving only tea, rotis and fried-rice, but most of them just open during the high season.
But proved to be indifferent to variations of tourists and surfers, because essentially live from the local population, there’s a restaurant in the south of Arugam Bay, along the national road, very close to the curve that in some way marks the border of the village. Working also as a kind of small grocery, sells delicious King coconuts, serves rotis, kotus and a variety of snacks, including some Sri Lanka traditional sweets, popular as breakfast, like coconut rotis and coconut hoopers, that runs out quickly in the morning. At lunch the usual rice and curry, for which foreigners are overcharged with 250 LKR; yet delicious, rich and entitled to refill.
Bus from Arugam Bay to Batticaloa:
In the morning there is only one direct bus from Arugam Bay to Batticaloa, passing on the main road by 5 am or 5.30 am, and reaches Batticaloa around 10:30 am.
Alternative is a tuk-tuk to Pottuvil (100 LKR) and at the bus terminal catch one of the many buses bound for Batticaloa, but most of them aren’t direct buses; although at 10 am there’s one that avoids stopover.
The Pottuvil Bus Terminal, which is no more than a set of buses parked perpendicular to the road, with tuk-tuks waiting on the other side, there are buses with high frequency to Kalmunai, from where you can find another to Batticaloa.
Bus Pottuvil – Kalmunai: 93 LKR (2.15h)
Bus Kalmunai – Batticaloa: 59 LKR (1.5h)
The trip between Pottuvil and Kalmunai is particularly beautiful with the road crossing vast plains of rice fields and many natural vegetation zones with a scarce human presence, and form the Lahugala National Park.
Ecowave Sri Lanka
Is a organisation based in Arugam Bay, focuses in developing projects to support local community in a sustainable way.
There are many things going on in Ecowave, that suites a travellers, like stay with a local family, and cooking classes, in a way to show the local cuisine and also local products that come from their own organic farm. There are also more tourist activities, in a more responsible and sustainable way.
Check their page so se what’s going on or just pass bay their shop in Arugam Bay Road (not far from the entrance to “Beach Huts” where you can find organic products as food and cosmetics as also handicrafts made local community.