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A charming surfer’s destination Pottuvil, in the Eastern Province, Arugam Bay has gained popularity as a tourist hotspot in the last five years. As such, the beach here remains unspoilt and is considered one of the best places to surf in the world, in the months between May and August.
Arugam Bay is still fairly remote but the last few years has seen many small hotels, guesthouses, backpackers’ hostels, cafes, restaurants and bars opening up along the beach strip. During the season, the area comes alive day and night, with surfers of all ages from various parts of the world, who flock to this village to enjoy surfing and swimming in the Indian Ocean.
What makes Arugam Bay excellent for surfing during the season is because the predominant wind is offshore throughout most of the day, and because its southerly swell direction is dominated by right hand point breaks. There are several point breaks here that are frequented by surfers, depending on their level of skill. Main Point is the most popular of these point breaks, because of its long right hand break, which breaks between two and six feet. It’s recommended for intermediate to advanced surfers, but those on holiday can also enjoy the beach and cafes here. Baby Point is more suitable for beginners and those who want to learn surfing. It’s a continuation of the wave at Main Point and breaks at two to four feet.
There are several popular point breaks that a few minutes away from the main beach strip of Arugam Bay. In August and September, Pottuvil Point becomes a great spot for surfers of all levels. Elephant Rock is another popular point break for learners and beginners, as is Whiskey Point, with the latter also known for its crowds that come to enjoy food and music here. Other destinations include Peanut Farm and Okanda, which are both suitable for surfers of all levels.
But there’s a lot more to do than surfing in Arugam Bay. The growing number of trendy restaurants and bars here serve up delectable food and cocktails throughout the season, and there are often activities like yoga classes offered by guesthouses and hostels. The Panama Tank offers incredible views and the perfect photo opportunities. The Kumana National Park is also nearby, which is best known for its rich birdlife, counting over 430 endemic, resident and migrant species. It’s a birdwatcher’s destination, especially in the months between April and July, when it’s fun to spot the thousands of migrant birds who flock to the park. There’s also many species of crocodiles and reptiles to see as well.
A less popular attraction but a must-visit on a trip to Arugam Bay is the ancient Kudumbigala monastery, which dates back to 246 BC. It was built during the time of King Devanampiyatissa and is said to be the only existing cylindrical dagoba in Sri Lanka. There are around 200 rock caves that have been excavated here, including the Maha Sudharshana Lena, which is said to have been a gift to the Arahats seeking refuge here by Nandimitra, one of the Ten Great Warriors who served King Dutugemunu.
By road, Arugam Bay is around nine hours away from Colombo. Make sure to pack your swimwear, surfboards and lots of sunscreen to enjoy Arugam Bay, whether you’re a surfer or just someone chasing the sun.