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Best Beach. Arugam Bay ?

Best Beach is …. Arugam Bay ?

I had a lot of non-beach activities planned for my two weeks in Sri Lanka – the cultural wonders of Anuradhapura, the Ceylon tea country and hectic Colombo, to name a few – which left me with enough time to visit just one of the island’s countless beaches, realistically. I had to make the right choice!

My friend Helene, whom I met last year in Australia, where she attempted to teach me how to surf, recommended a small spot on Sri Lanka’s east coast called Arugam Bay. Helene assured me that although “A Bay” has mostly gained fame among surfers – this is why she has visited it so often over the past decade – it’s also awesome for swimming, sunbathing and generally lazing around.

I knew Helene was correct in her recommendation immediately upon my arrival in Arugam Bay – the sexy, shirtless man who greeted me when I arrived was just the beginning. Let’s take a look at why I’m so certain Arugam Bay is the best beach in Sri Lanka, even though it’s the only Sri Lanka beach I’ve sunned my white ass on.

Arugam Bay Beaches

After checking into Arne’s Place, a simple, comfortable strip of bungalows near the northern end of Arugam Bay beach, I grabbed my camera and headed out for a stroll.

Arugam Bay’s main beach immediately won points with me because of its exotic, multicolored sand, sparking, turquoise waters and its half-moon shape, which reminded me of Palolem Beach in Goa, India. Its waves are also really something to behold, even if you don’t surf – they’re huge!

I assumed my walk, which allowed me to traipse among the dozens of wooden fishing vessels being prepped for the morning catch, would end once I reached the surf point at the far end of the beach. But I continued walking to see what appeared to be literally miles of unspoiled, virgin beaches extending into the distance.

Having explored many of these beaches during the subsequent days I spent in Arugam Bay, I can promise you that no matter what you’re looking for – swimming, sunbathing, surfing or eye candy, be it sexy surfers to perv at or pristine, natural scenery – Arugam Bay has you covered, from a beach perspective.

Activities Near Arugam Bay

Sri Lanka is a small island, and while Arugam Bay is considered a relatively remote destination (more on why in a second), it is in close proximity to a number of non-beach activities. The most popular of these is Yala National Park, home to a diverse range of wildlife that includes elephants and cheetahs, among other highlights. Continue reading ‘Best Beach. Arugam Bay ?’


Crocodile Rock Legend “Ram” Cremated

Arugam’s History and more photos on the above link

1951 – 2014

Sooriya's Main Entrance

The Unique Sooriya's Hotel

(This article was first published with a different headline 9th Febr. 2007)

The entire Bay is in shock
We have been informed of the loss of our Greatest legend:
Guru RAM of Sooriya’s.

We  have just been notified that the cremation will take place today
In or near PottuVille Town.
Monday, 17th February, 2014 at around 15:00 hrs.
Our local correspondent will attend and report.

Everyone is VERY, VERY sad.
What a great loss – what a great, humble man he was.

Sooriya’s Story

The above photo, taken in Arugam Bay today tells a long story in one single shot.
Shown is Ramana Sooriya with a copy of the Travel novel by Claudia Ackermann.
“Der Krokodilfelsen” is based on true events in the early 1980′s, focused on Ulla village which Arugam Bay was known as then. will provide more details, one is working on an English translation of this relevant and interesting novel. We also have added a direct link to Amazon for you to be able to order any book directly through our site.

Gold Medalist’s welcome

Gold Medalist’s jubilant welcome

On 1st of February 2014, everyone in Pottuvil gathered to greet the champion sprinter A.L.M. Ashraf, who bagged a gold medal as a team member at Lusofonia Games held in Goa, India in 4×100 relay. The Happy procession also traveled through Arugam Bay.

Sprinter A.L.M. Ashraf. On the white D.S. Pickup truck


Arugam Bay: An exotic, eclectic experience

By David Stephens
Why travellers from around the world flock to this surfers’ paradise

The unusually large waves, bellowing like blue behemoths performing a roaring symphony to an enraptured audience of the sun’s finest rays, draped in gold and crimson garments.

Sun RISE at Arugam Bay

The droves of surfers, carrying their sea-scarred boards along the deep dunes while gazing toward the water in anticipation of the battles ahead. The uncomplicated cabanas and roadside shops, filled with people wearing bright smiles and colourful beachwear. Nothing at Arugam Bay seems normal to an outsider. It is as though someone switched channels on life and brought the volume down by several decibels.

Yet ironically, it is the outsider who has essentially built and come to define this quaint little beachside community, a few kilometres from the town of Pottuvil. Following the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, much of Arugam Bay, known locally as Ullai, was left in ruins. With its infrastructure in shambles, Arugam Bay banked on its reputation as a surfing hotspot with foreign visitors to rebuild.

As it turned out, this strategy did not just resuscitate local life, but imbued it with a fresh dimension as travellers from all parts of the world, who flocked to Arugam Bay’s pristine beaches, transformed it into one of the world’s top surfing destinations.
In a way, according to a cook at one of the many compact restaurants that line the main road (who, in line with the skewed reality of the area, is an economics graduate), these events also isolated Arugam Bay from the rest of the country.
This is felt keenly in every aspect of life here. A careful glance in any direction will quickly reveal to you a large and diverse international population. For the majority of them Arugam Bay is now a regular exotic retreat, a place with which they have integrated seamlessly. Along the beach it is not at all unusual to see Sri Lankans and tourists from everywhere between Australia and America engaged in the animated conversation which only blossoms between close friends.

Getting ready to ride the waves

Along the beach this deep familiarity and friendship is even more conspicuous as local and visiting surfers exchange opinions on the waves and surf techniques as well as personal anecdotes. Their echoes of laughter crescendo with the slap of a back, thigh or arm, a familial gesture in an atmosphere of acceptance. There is an electrifying bolt of camaraderie, which surges as high as the tide, whenever someone, who pulls off a masterful sequence of manoeuvres in the water, is applauded.
After an exhausting spell amidst the waves, most surfers gather at the small restaurant housed at the main Surf Point, the principal battleground where the water is at its most violent.

The sparsely furnished yet charming eating house opens out on to the Surf Point in a way where it has become an essential part of it, a recuperation zone where surfers take stock of their day’s performance while refuelling for another run of the waves.

Away from this central hubbub, in a quieter corner of the main surfing area, 15-year-old Dixon cradles a board almost thrice his size as he trots enthusiastically through the water’s white wake. Although particularly pint-sized for his age, Dixon sheds his diminutive stature once he weaves his way among the sea’s mighty ridges and caverns. With his body tilted, arms aloft and face twisted in concentration, Dixon transforms himself into Prospero, conjuring up a magical repertoire through his board to tame the encroaching tempest.

Although most of life at Arugam Bay is shrouded in a mist of friendship, understanding and respect, it does possess an exploitative underbelly. The main manifestation of this is the exorbitant pricing of food, lodging and transport. Do not be surprised if a plate of rice and curry sets you back over Rs. 1,000 or a ride of a few kilometres from the beach in a tuk-tuk lightens your purse by more than that amount.

But looking away from the huge rippling waves with their hordes of surfers and the crass capitalism of some establishments and individuals, there is one more mask on Arugam Bay’s eclectic visage: a unique nightlife.

By 11.30 p.m. on a Saturday night, beachside clubs are packed like a can of sardines. With strobe lights flashing, beautiful and exotic women gyrating and bare-chested, long-haired Lotharios bordering the dance floor, Arugam Bay’s nocturnal haunts are oftentimes more alive than any of Colombo’s.

Yet there is no sense of superficiality, no intoxicating clouds of perfume and cologne, no judgmental glances or legions dressed in their Sunday best. There is just music, dancing, conversation and uninhibited fun. You are free to be yourself and are toasted for it.

In a way that pretty much is the underlying philosophy of the entire Arugam Bay experience. It is a soothing brew which calms your senses and speaks to your soul. And much like the cascading waves and procession of picturesque sunsets, it is easily accessible to anyone who wishes to find it.


Fishing boats, Arugam Bay

Image by james_gordon_losangeles
Arugam Bay is on the list of the top ten surf points in the world. Situated on the SE coast of Sri Lanka, Arugam Bay receives the same Antarctic winter swells that hit Indonesia. The best surfing conditions are between May and November when the predominant wind is offshore for at least the first half of the day.

Boats on Arugam's Beach

Due to its location and southerly swell direction the area is dominated by right hand point breaks. Three of the point breaks Arugam Bay Point is a ten min. walk from town, Pottuvil Point and Crocodile Rock are within a half hour tuk tuk ride from Arugam Bay. There are several other surfing points that are within an hour tuk tuk ride, Panama and Okanda are south of Arugam Bay.

Nilanthas’ Tuk tuk Service provides reliable transportation to and from any of the surfing destinations at a very reasonable rate. Nilantha also has ….. Continue reading ‘Fishing boats, Arugam Bay’

This weekend @ AbaY

A busy and very important weekend ahead.

H.E. The President. Expected at Arugam Bay.

Preparations, repairs, construction, cleaning up and painting operations are in progress all around Arugam Bay and nearby PottuVille Town.
It seems that a New Beach Approach Road is going to be opened.
This picturesque road leads to one of the island’s perhaps most important Temple site:
“Muhudu Maha Vihara”

Muhudu Maha Vihara (ancient Temple) Road

PottuVille has a huge potential.
To become yet another Tourist and Pilgrim destination
Next to famous Arugam Bay

A New Bus & car park

New Temple near the ancient, historical site

The perhaps oldest Temple on the island?

Arugam Information -SUMMARY-

Arugam Bay, the surfer’s paradise

(March to October)
a useful summary & description.

Surf, Beach, Lagoon, Village, Beautiful Inland Landscape, Jungle, Elephant Rock & Crocodile Rock

Arugam Bay is one of the TOP 10 surf points in the world. It is also a pristine sandy beach of stunning natural beauty. Arugam Bay’s proximity to Lahugala National Park & Yala East National Park makes it a unique surfing beach.

Ladies & Lady Surfers are happy in remote AbaY


Arguam Bay is located 320 km from Colombo. Some 60km due east from Monaragala, Arugam Bay is a tiny fishing village 3km south of the small fishing village of Pottuvil (12000 inhabitants) at the remote southern end of the Eastern coast & on the edge of Yala East National Park.

To the beach

The journey to the beach here takes you across some attractive meadows teeming with wildlife.


The bay lies between two headlands & is excellent for surfing.


The wide, sweeping sandy beach in front of the village is an attraction for swimming all year-round. The beach is usually deserted, except at the southwest corner, where some fishing boats & thatch huts reveal the tiny fishing village of Ulla, just to the south of the guest house area. This is also the safest area for swimming.


‘The Point’ in Arugam Bay is regarded as a top world surf destination. It is a well lined up right hand point break, generating a clean peeling glassy wave that barrels a surfer a 400m ride right through to the inside. Additionally there are four or five high quality breaks within a radius of 30 minutes. Continue reading ‘Arugam Information -SUMMARY-’

Rough Guide to AbaY


There’s not much to ARUGAM BAY village itself: just a single main road running parallel to the beach dotted with guesthouses, cafés and shops, including some of Arugam Bay’s trademark quirky homespun architectural creations – rustic palm-thatch cabanas, teetering treehouses and other quaint structures (not to mention the distinctive wooden pavilion restaurant and red British telephone box of the landmark Siam View Hotel ).
The beach is now looking better than ever following recent clearances during which the authorities ordered the removal of all buildings within 20m of the waterline (albeit at considerable cost to local hoteliers and other residents, who were forced to watch as the government bulldozers rolled in and summarily razed significant slices of prized real estate).

A-Bay also marks the rough border between the Sinhalese-majority areas to the south and the mainly Tamil and Muslim areas further up the coast, and boasts an unusually eclectic but harmonious mix of all three ethnic groups – as well as a growing number of Western expats. Fears that the village’s uniquely (for Sri Lanka) alternative and slightly off-the-wall character will be erased by larger and more mainstream tourism developments remain, however, especially given the forthcoming opening of the new Hambantota airport, which will make the village significantly easier to reach for international visitors. For the time being, however, Arugam Bay preserves its own enjoyably eccentric charm.


Easygoing Arugam Bay is by far the most engaging of the east coast’s resorts. A-Bay, as it’s often known, has long been popular with the surfing fraternity, who come here to ride what are generally acknowledged to be the best waves in Sri Lanka. It’s also a good launching-pad from which to explore the gorgeous surrounding countryside and its varied attractions, from the elephant-rich Lahugala National Park and the little-visited Yala East National Park to the atmospheric forest hermitage at Kudimbigala.


With waves fresh from Antarctica crashing up onto the beach, Arugam Bay is sometimes claimed to be one of the top ten surf points in the world, and periodically plays host to international tournaments. The best time for surfing is between April and Oct/Nov.


There are several breaks close to Arugam Bay, plus others further afield. The biggest waves in A-Bay itself are at The Point Continue reading ‘Rough Guide to AbaY’

Riding (Arugam’s) new wave

Travel Magazine

There are not many places on Earth where travellers can surf world-class waves in the morning, have a close encounter with an elephant at lunchtime and be back in the water by mid afternoon. Arugam Bay, on Sri Lanka’s eastern coast, is one such place, and since the country’s civil war ended three years ago, the small town has been busier than ever – despite how hard it is to get to.

South of Arugam. nr. Panama

Other than a highway from Colombo, the capital, to Galle, a city in the south, most of Sri Lanka’s roads remain practically as they were in the 1950s – which means narrow, dual carriageways shared by everyone, including cyclists, buses and trucks. As such, the coast-to-coast haul from Colombo to Arugam Bay by public bus is a 400-rupee, 320km journey that takes nearly 12 hours. It is hot, uncomfortable, occasionally terrifying and utterly worthwhile.

Panama - to Kumana track

On a recent trip, a young man with an AK-47 boarded the noisy bus and prodded the barrel of his assault rifle into the belly of a middle-aged woman. Rather than panic and scream, she politely asked him to refrain, and the young man, a soldier in the Sri Lankan army, looked a bit embarrassed and apologised. The weapon, hanging from his shoulder, had accidentally prodded the woman as he leaned forward to stow his luggage in the cramped overhead compartment.

Well-marked busses leave frequently from the Bastian Mawatha Bus Terminal in Colombo. Alternatively, visitors can make the journey by taxi, which will take less time and has the added bonus of privacy and air-conditioning, but will cost about 16,500 rupees.

Once you get to Arugam Bay, there is not much to do.

..."not much to do" ....

The town – nicknamed “A Bay” by locals – is basically a thin strip of road with bars and restaurants frequented by young surfers and partygoers, a smattering of places to stay, a few surf shops and not much else, but travellers are lured by the excellent food on offer, easy access to exotic wildlife and waves that are widely regarded as some of the country’s best. It seems like a place on the cusp of something, which, in a way, it is. Many of the local tourism operators, tuk-tuk drivers and restaurant staff say that 2012 has been the busiest year yet.

The hometown surfers have grown up on Arugam Bay’s many breaks, and run the town’s surf shops and schools. Continue reading ‘Riding (Arugam’s) new wave’


$1 “low Season” fun @ AbaY

This full 2 hour show costs just 100 Rupees.
Same rate for foreigners & tourists, too!
A superb nostalgic  trip into past Glory Years of showmanship!
A traveling Circus visiting Arugam Bay & PottuVille

Remarkable fact:
Just two non local visitors came to watch this unique, authentic show.
Others are said to be in the South & West. Complain about high rates and bad weather:
See what they are missing - soon Arugam Bay will also be fully Commercialized.
Quiet Christmas Greetings from the dry and pleasant Bay of Arugam to All!

Arugam’s New Street Signs

A few days ago, the local Authority based at nearby PottuVille planted  new Streets signs.
Here are all the ones we  managed to capture  this afternoon:

Tuskers without Borders

Spotted by Dhammika.

Wild Elephants without Borders

On the side of the main road to PottuVille.

Beautiful East Coast Tusker

Crossing Lahugala, 15 min. due West of Arugam Bay

Birding For Beginners

A Boat Tour of Pottuvil Lagoon
Jürgen and Mike, from Germany and the USA. Born wanderers.
There’s more to do in Arguam Bay than just surfing and chilling out in beachside bars. The village is surrounded by some amazing and largely undeveloped nature. One sunny morning, we took a tour of the Pottuvil Lagoon, just to the north, hoping to see the elephants and crocodiles which make their home there.


Bright and early at 6am, we piled into a tuk-tuk and set off for Pottuvil, where a boat and its conductor were waiting for us. The vessel looked rather homemade, a wooden pallet tied to two skinny canoes, and if we had been venturing into deeper water, I’d have been nervous. But this water was merely crocodile-infested, so I happily clambered on.

We glided silently out into the water, with the rising sun slowly bringing color to the sleepy scene in front of us. Thick forests of mangroves line the lagoon, their roots providing shelter for fish and their branches for birds. Our guide navigated us around the lagoon, alternating between pushing and rowing, depending on the depth of the water.

Along with diving birds, eagles and water buffaloes, the only other living creatures we saw were fishermen, returning home after a long night of work. They were moving as silently as us, cutting quickly across the surface of the still water, and waved hello instead of shouting. We didn’t see any crocodiles or elephants, but that was fine by us. It was as if everybody — animal, nature and man — had conspired to make this as serene an experience as possible.

-Book Your Sri Lanka Flight Here

Ancient wedding @ Arugam Bay?

The Ceylon Traveller Magul Maha Viharaya, Lahugala
(about 10 min. West of Arugam Bay)

….. “the actual location where the wedding took place is the nearby Muhudu Maha Viharaya at Arugam Bay” …..

Another view of the Magul Maduwa, Small stupa near the entrance, Ruins of a stupa, Stone pillars, Preaching hall (dharma shalawa) , Children attending sunday school at the temple and Stone carving of a monkey

Text and Photos by Sachini Perera

I visited Magul Maha Viharaya in Lahugala back in 2009. It is yet another place that has so much history behind it and lots of interesting tidbits but is not flaunting any of it, preferring to exist quietly.
Lahugala is ten miles inland off the East Coast town of Pottuvil, an area believed to have been part of the Ruhunu kingdom. It is home to several tanks, beautiful green vegetation, a National Park (with a good chance of seeing elephants frolicking near the road) and the Magul Maha Viharaya, which is also known as Ruhunu Maha Viharaya.
During the war, many civilians from adjoining villages had left the area for safety and it is only now that the temple is once again being patronised regularly and is visited by pilgrims and tourists. Continue reading ‘Ancient wedding @ Arugam Bay?’

Arugam Bay: Sri Lanka’s last frontier?
© Siyambala 2012
….“Don’t write about this place,” the chubby little man admonished Supem De Silva sternly. “People will come here and spoil everything.”…..

According to industry expert Supem De Silva, you’ll find more family-friendly places to go and fun things to do within easy driving range of Arugam Bay than there are around almost any other travel destination in Sri Lanka.

“Don’t write about this place,” the chubby little man admonished Supem De Silva sternly. “People will come here and spoil everything.”

The agitated speaker was Manik Sandrasagra, the late auteur of Sri Lankan cinema, but Supem hadn’t known who he was back then. This was in 1998, and Supem had been gathering information for Arugam Bay’s first online directory of hotels and other services. He’d seen Sandrasagra sitting by himself at another table at Chutti’s Place Restaurant. Since the movie director was barechested, with a towel draped over his shoulders, Supem had assumed he was one of the local beach bums.

The baby waves at Whiskey Point are perfect for beginning surfers. Lessons cost around $20 an hour.

Supem chuckles as he recounts this story, shaking his head as he adds that Manik had been a consultant to the Sri Lanka Tourist Board at the time (I could just picture this scene, having encountered the mercurial director and his larger-than-life personality when I wrote the ads for Rampage, Manik’s 1978 movie about a homicidal elephant; my colleague Chris Greetwrote the movie’s tagline, “Can an elephant plan and execute a murder?”).

In a way, Supem notes, his encounter with Manik Sandarasagra neatly illustrates one of the reasons why Arugam Bay has been overlooked as a tourist destination. On the one hand there are those who’ve been coming to Arugam Bay for years, and who are apprehensive about the notion of it becoming discovered as a resort. And on the other, there are those who should know about Arugam Bay and don’t. Among this latter group are travel industry experts who aren’t even aware that there’s hotel accommodation here.

Johnson Ratnasingham’s new Amigo Surf School charges around $20 an hour for lessons (that’s Farook painting the sign in February). I forgot to ask Johnson whether he named the school after his dog Amiga, a personable pooch.

Arugam Bay is a black hole as far as many people in the travel industry are concerned,” says Supem ruefully. “They have no idea what’s available here.”

That’s too bad, because the fact is that there are quite a few good hotels in Arugam Bay. And there are going to be even more, what with a number of plans for hotels underway (scroll down to the bottom of this post for information on a really cool new place to stay in Arugam Bay for around $9 a day).

Elephants are supposed to need 300 pounds of fodder a day, but at the rate this fellow was stuffing himself with water plants at Lahugala National Park (twelve miles from Arugam Bay), I’d say they eat a great deal more.

Supem himself is an unassuming guy whose mind is a jackdaw’s nest of fascinating facts about Sri Lanka. He’s also able to step out of the Sri Lankan mindset and see the country from a tourist’s perspective.

He knows, for example, that you’re not coming here to be bored out of your skull by sitting through a harangue on Sri Lanka’s religious history and cultural heritage; you’re coming here to enjoy yourself and have an unforgettable time. He gets that.

Supem De Silva created Arugam Bay’s first online directory of hotels and other services, and was the first webmaster of the first site dedicated solely to news about the area. The Sri Lanka Tourist Board is using his case study on Arugam Bay as the basis for its plans for the area’s future. In case you wondered, there are no tall buildings within fifty miles of Arugam Bay; took this picture outside Supem’s office in Colombo.

As a senior travel industry professional—among other things, he lectures trainee tour guides on Sri Lanka’s east coast attractions—Supem has seen the glazed eyes and the jeez-what-did-I-get-myself-into look of Continue reading ‘Arugam Bay: Sri Lanka’s last frontier?’

Where to Stay

Feb 5, 2012

Where to stay in Arugam Bay

Copyright © David Graham travel

If beach access is important to you, you’re in luck. Arugam Bay has a number of beachfront hotels and cabanas.

List of phone numbers

Scroll down to the bottom of this page to see contact information for a number of hotels and bed-and-breakfasts in Arugam Bay, Sri Lanka. This is a list of phone numbers that I compiled myself, walking from one end of the main drag to the other.

I was following in the footsteps of Fred Netzband-Miller, who did the same walk every year from the 1990s through the summer of 2011. Notes Fred, “We did a similar exercise, walking from bridge to bridge and taking photos of every sign we could spot. The results for previous years are on our home page, and there’s a condensed version on Picasa.”

Incidentally, I might have missed a place or two—some areas close to the beach are literally honeycombed with affordable places to stay—but these phone numbers will save you a lot of grief if you arrive without a reservation.

Built in 1979, Fred Netzband-Miller’s Siam View Hotel— Arugam Bay’s oldest surfer hangout—survived the 2004 tsunami with aplomb. It was voted the Best British Pub in Sri Lanka in the Telegraph’s 2010 Best of British Awards. The Siam View is known in the surfer community for its great food, cold beers, convivial atmosphere and strong wi-fi signal.

Start thinking ahead

Arugam Bay’s surfing season runs from April through October, when rooms can be hard to get. This magnet for diehard surfers has barely enough guest beds to accommodate everyone who drifts in here at the height of the season, when visitors can outnumber the year-round residents. It pays to make your reservations well in advance, especially if you’re thinking of staying at a popular place like the Siam View Hotel, which starts filling up early in the season.

Some of the places on the beach have their own websites, but most don’t. Use the contact information I’ve provided below to call and find out what’s available, when, and for how much. And if you’re calling from overseas, check the current time in Colombo before you call. That way you won’t disturb these guys in the wee hours of the morning.

No street numbers

You’ll notice there are no street numbers in the list below. Arugam Bay is a lot like Carmel, California, in this regard. I have simply listed the places as I found them, working my way down from the north end of town, a little ways south of the bridge across the bay. I’d like to say I’ve listed the hotels in their exact order, but that’s probably not the case.

The type and cost of accommodations vary widely in Arugam Bay. You could chill out in a pleasant no-frills beach cabana for a few dollars a night, or opt for plush digs costing more. Either way, make your reservations in advance.

Two-lane blacktop

Since the places I’ve listed are on both sides of the Panama-Pottuvil road (the two-lane blacktop that runs south from the small town of Pottuvil to Arugam Bay, and that some have cheekily taken to calling Main Street), I’ve divided the list into two sections, east and west.

When it comes to giving directions to addresses on coastal roads, Sri Lankans rarely refer to the points of the compass. Most people tend to describe a house or a place of business as being either on the “land side” or the “sea side.” Thus, my eastside listings are for places on the sea side of the road, and westside listings are for places on the land side.

You’ll be fine staying at a place on the land side of the road. All it really means is that you’ll need to schlep your board across a two-lane blacktop to reach the beach. There’s not much traffic other than the occasional three-wheeler driver sputtering by, sounding his horn apropos of nothing.

Sri Lankans describe the location of a house or hotel as being either on the “land side” or “sea side” of a coastal road.

Don’t forget to ask

Surfing fanatics, like those pioneering Australians who camped out here in the 1960s, probably won’t care as much about creature comforts as they do about riding the waves. But I’m guessing this won’t be the case for everyone.

This is so obvious that it’s barely worth mentioning, but I’ll say it anyway: Make sure you verify that your room comes with what you absolutely can’t live without. Most surfers are cool with spartan accommodation, but if you’re finicky about things like an attached bathroom, air conditioning, hot water, clean sheets, fresh towels, laundry service and free wi-fi or whatever, you should ask about them up front.

The Arugam Bay infrastructure is a work in progress. The good news is that it’s being upgraded. That said, you may experience the occasional power outage or find yourself without water on tap for an hour or two. If you stay at a hotel that has a power generator and its own water supply, this won’t be an issue. You’d have to pay more for such amenities of course, but hey.

Food for thought

It’s the same with restaurants. Most hotels in Arugam Bay have restaurant facilities, and a few offer the whole enchilada—fine dining with polished silverware, spotless napery, romantic lighting and a decent wine list.

On the other hand, if you’re determined to spend as little as possible on food and accommodation so that you can splurge on three-wheeler scooter taxi rides to the fabulous surfing spots around Arugam Bay, you can definitely do that, too.

Fact is, if you’re on a limited budget and you’re just here to surf—and don’t care much about where or what you eat, as long as it tastes OK—Arugam Bay has plenty of street cafes where you can gorge yourself into a stupor on $5 a day. If that’s the case but you still believe as I do that civilization began with the invention of the fork, I’d advise you to bring along a supply of clear plastic cutlery.

Facing south on the Panama-Pottuvil road: Staying at a place on the land side of this road shouldn’t impose too much of a hardship on you, since all it means is that you’ll need to tote your board across a street about as wide as Pacific Avenue in downtown Santa Cruz, and not quite as busy. By the way, I love this sign.

A note on the phone numbers: If you’re calling a number in Arugam Bay from anywhere in Sri Lanka, you need to first dial 0 (zero), just like you need to first dial 1 (one) when dialing a number in a different area code in California. So if you’re in Colombo and you’re calling the Siam View Hotel in Arugam Bay, for example, you’d dial 0773200201. But if you’re calling the hotel from, say, Santa Cruz, you’ll need to add the two digits for international direct dialing plus the two digits for the Sri Lanka country code (94) and dial 01194773200201 instead. In other words, you’ll need to insert four digits (1194) between the zero and the rest of the number. If you’re calling from overseas, make sure you look up the current time in Colombo before you call, to avoid disturbing these guys in the middle of the night. I’ve already added the zero to the numbers listed below, so don’t go adding another one.

Rooms, beach cabanas and hotel accommodation on the eastside:

Stardust Beach Hotel (18 rooms, villas and cabanas): 0632248191 (

Star Rest Beach House: 0779969358 and 0773609297

Another World Hotel: 0602635831, 0779592208 and 0774686581 (

Moon Eyes Beach Hotel: 0757574749 (

Ocean Beach Hotel: 0632248405 (

Watermusic: 0635671431 (

Rikas Resort: 0779969356

Holiday Park Cabanas: 0774621167, 0114369960, 0752915185 and 0787509523

Sandy Beach Hotel: 0773242764

Tiffany Beach Hotel: 0779358869

Galaxy Lounge Cabanas (seven cabanas): 0632248415

Mid Bay Guest House: 0779949319 and 0776984538

Casra Hotel: 0778151583

The Tsunami Hotel: 0634923383 and 0776642991

Nice Place: 077342240 and 0756725959

Arne’s Place: 0771358303 and 0775564304

Tropicana Beach Hotel: 0771272677

Rockview Beach Hotel: 0776424616

Sea Rock Beach Resort: 0632248341 and 0775387142 (

Samantha’s Folly: 0773387808 (

Rocco’s Rooms: 0776642991 (

New Leprechaun Surfer Hotel: 0776085448

Paradise Sand Beach Hotel: 0632248513 and 0776313725 (

Blue Ocean Cabanas: 0771759619

The White House: 0776013895 and 0776925119

New Tri Star Beach Hotel: 0632248454

Dean’s Beach Hotel: 06779584308 and 0771272869

Sea Rider Bed and Breakfast: 0777719954 (

Sunrise Beach Hotel: 0632248200

Bay View Hotel: 0714832122

Orient Beach Rest: 0776683623

Arugam Bay Surf Resort: 0632248189

Del Mar Hotel: 0712950109

Gecko Restaurant and Rooms: 0632248212 and 0771591265 (

Rupa’s Beach Hotel (13 rooms, 10 cabanas): 0632248258

Siam View Hotel (four rooms): 0773200201 (

Sashini Beach Resort: 0726047113

Lahiru Place: 0779005322

Tharaka Beach Hotel: 0633631763 and 0779649566

Freedom Beach Cabanas: 0771759620, 0772317057 and 0779621823 ( and

Coco Bay Hotel: 0632248510

East Surf Cabanas: 0775402481

Rooms and hotel accommodation on the westside:

Alaska Hotel: 0776994581 and 0778433504

Hangout Hotel and Restaurant (two rooms): 0724906874 and 0722894429

Ithara Hotel: 0724518014 and 0724518014

Sri New Dilshan Guest House: 0754713591 and 0634909535

The Danish Villa: 0776957936

Seatop Hotel: 0633632202 and 071820065

Fantasy Hotel: 0778743578

Farhath Guest House: 0770454552

The Green Room Beach Cabanas: 0771929956

The Pacific Hotel: 0632248340 and 0777515243 (

Tri Star Beach Hotel: 063224840

Hideaway: 0632248259

Surf n Sun: 0776065099 (

Sooriyas Hotel: 0632248232 and 0776683892 (

Zim Bay Hotel: 0775395822 (

Palm Grove Holiday Inn (18 rooms): 0632248457, 0773544281 and 0773878007 ( and

Kumudu A.G.A. Ariya Beach Hotel: 0632248017 and 0770571946

Note that this is not a complete list of hotels, beach cabanas and other lodging available in Arugam Bay. I’ve only listed the places for which I could find phone numbers (that is, the actual phone number of the hotel itself and not that of a tour operator). If these places have their own websites, I’ve provided links to them. I’ll keep adding stuff like their email addresses—plus the number of rooms and cabanas they have available—when I get this information. I couldn’t find contact information for Seashore Beach Resort, Aloha, Meena’s, Ever Green Cabanas, Hummus Bay and Kudakalliya Guest House, so I didn’t list them. If you own or operate a place in Arugam Bay and have been left out, email your contact information to and I’ll add it to this list.

Copyright © David Graham

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