The ultimate beach idyll almost too good to be real, Arugam Bay is quite possibly the ‘coolest’ little seaside town in Sri Lanka.
Located on the South Eastern shoreline, it sports stretches of isolated beaches; and enough waves to attract some serious surfing enthusiasts too. In fact, Arugam Bay offers the best surfing on the island with several local and international events taking place during the season from mid-May to August when the swells are high and the breaks are more exciting. Apart from beautiful beaches, there is plenty to explore – ancient ruins, temples and shrines both old and new give you cultural insights into the area and its people. The fishing villages also offer glimpses of local lifestyles and the wilderness of Lahugala, Kumana and Yala national parks are close by, so you can catch up on some nature too.
Being an island, surfing has recently caught on as a popular past time among Sri Lankans and there is no better place to do it than at Arugam Bay. Situated towards the South East side of the island, Arugam Bay is ranked as the 4th best surfing destination in South East Asia and is listed among the top 10 surfing points in the world. Thus Arugam Bay is every surfer’s paradise.
Arugam Bay boasts the best point breaks in the island and a constant long right hand break making it an ideal surfing spot. Although it suffered much damage in 2004 due to the Boxing Day Tsunami that hit the area, it has since been rebuilt with the help of many charitable projects from various organisations. It has hosted several international surfing competitions since 2004 and still continues to do so attracting some of the best surfers from around the world each year. There are 3 points that are ideal for surfing; Arugam Point, Pottuvil Point and Crocodile Rock, the latter being the ideal point for beginners.
The best time for surfing is from April to October. It is a beautiful beach and is THE place for surfing in Sri Lanka.
Arugam Bay is known as a fishing village and has a large fishing community. Fishing is responsible for most of the income generated and is the main form of livelihood for most of the locals who dwell here. Over 600 fishermen engage in this activity and around 1500 families benefit from it.
Starting at dusk one can see numerous fishermen along with their boats going out to sea where they tirelessly cast their nets hoping for a good catch. This ritual sometimes goes on until night. These fishermen also have to encounter various challenges such as bad weather, the lack of proper facilities and drinking water and no proper boat yard. Fishing captures the struggle and hardships encountered by the poor in the area and give a raw glimpse into the rural life.
Arugam Bay being a fishing village there is no doubt that there would be plenty of seafood dishes available. Marlin, cuttlefish, tuna, crab, octopus, prawn to name but a few are available in most restaurants in that area. Fresh seafood combined with vegetables and Sri Lankan spices certainly make delicious dishes.
Arugam Bay is also one of the best places for fresh fish, prawns and crabs from the lagoon. Lagoon crabs and prawns especially have a distinct taste as opposed to sea crabs. As it is just by the water you are guaranteed that these delectable dishes will be fresh. Eating seafood from here is an experience your palate wouldn’t want to miss.
Sri Lanka is an island that enjoys a tropical climate all year round and as a result provides the ideal climate for migrating birds. Arugam Bay is no stranger to these migrating birds. These birds tend to visit from December to April otherwise known as the ‘off season.’ As there are many jungles, lagoons and forests in the vicinity of Arugam Bay it is a great place for the bird and also an ideal destination for bird lovers to observe some of nature’s most beautiful creatures.
There is a bird sanctuary by the name of Kumana Bird Sanctuary just a short distance from Arugam Bay which offers these visiting birds and our own native birds an ideal environment amidst its 200 hectare reserve. It has a reservoir with several mangroves attracting quite a few aquatic birds. Storks, herons, egrets, kingfishers to name but a few, can be seen here. The best time to visit this sanctuary is during the months of May and June which is the nesting season. It truly is a magnificent place for bird watching and there have even been sightings of Sri Lanka’s very rare black necked stork. The Malabar pied hornbill, green bee-eater and painted stork are amongst some of the more exotic birds you are likely to witness.
The Pottuvil Lagoon is famous for the wide variety of wildlife it has to offer. Canoe rides are the best way to explore the lagoon and numerous people can be seen enjoying these rides daily. It has a large number of waterways and mangroves which is home to pelicans, herons, grebes, darters and sea eagles to name but a few. The trees are also home to macaque monkeys.
In addition to this, one can also see large water monitors, crocodiles, peacocks and the occasional elephant. It also offers a serene and majestic view into the natural habitat of these animals and birds. This tour is done in support of the local fisheries and also to raise awareness regarding the need to conserve mangroves and wildlife which is a very important issue today. Before this Ecotour was started this lagoon had suffered much damage.
This lagoon draws foreign as well as local tourists and is a wonderful experience and a great way to raise awareness.