Archive for the 'AbTa News' Category

Tripping. On a small road to Arugam


Page News


For not having had the time and motivation to update our long established web sites.
This page came to the limit of permitted web space: There simply is far too much content here, built up during the past 16 years or so.
To upgrade this hosting facility, the costs were simply far too high.
However, we now have paid a small fortune and we are up & running.
Other Reasons were:

We have been too busy
We were too lazy
We are less motivated
We concentrated  more and more on our Facebook pages

From now on, we will publish more relevant posts.
And the traditional yearly Arugam Bay Walk should be posted  late this year, but within a week from now. A LOT has happened in the Bay since 2015 ! Is waking up
Is waking up

“Axit” Poll June 23rd, 2016 !

Break News
Arugam Bay will vote for Independence from Sri Lanka
The AbaY EXIT (“Axit”) Vote
Will be held on the same day as the UK Exit (“Brexit”) poll
 A decisive AbaY / Ceylon Referendum has been announced for the 23rd June.
Unless the GoSL grants the promised SAR status to the Bay of Arugam.

President Srisena was regarded – just over one year ago- as a new strong leader.
A new, fresh breeze swept the island. It was widely reported that the new, more progressive  Government would be looking into the creation of an innovative  SAR (Self-Admin. Region) region within Sri Lanka. ( reported)

The remote enclave Bay of Arugam was earmarked to be a perfect Government designated Tourist Resort to implement and try  such forward thinking policies.
Sadly, NOTHING has happened since.
Apart from more and more power cuts than ever. As a result, AbaY relies again on it’s own generators, and residents wish to break all commercial ties with distant Colombo.



The only access into the Arugam Bay enclave

Disillusioned, frustrated and following the British/Scotland vote, the recent New Zealand Flag issue as well as the pending UK  / EU “BREXIT” referendum Arugam Bay Residents have got totally fed up waiting Continue reading ‘“Axit” Poll June 23rd, 2016 !’


PM makes revelations about a “mansion” in Arugam Bay

…….“Sri lanka’s best beach is in Arugam Bay” ……
Addressing a public meeting on Sunday, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe revealed facts about a mansion that was being built in Arugam Bay.

Google Earth View of the Peanut Farm Hotel project, Panama - AbaY

Google Earth View of the Peanut Farm Hotel project, Panama – AbaY

The meeting was held in the Uluwitige area in Galle.

Prime Minister Wickremesinghe speaking at the meeting expressed these views,

”Recently I located a palace. It is bigger than the Buckingham palace. This was found in Arugam Bay. This palace also has a name. It is called the International Coordinating Headquarters. What we have found here are chalets, in other words holiday bungalows. There were 57 chalets. They were VIP chalets with pools. There are three pools. This is in the sea and it is 100 feet long. Sri lanka’s best beach is in Arugam Bay. There are pools here. What is the purpose of this. Can international coordination be done from Arugam Bay? For whom are these built? Now we have put a halt to it. They have already built 15. Only walls have been put up and we have stopped further work. The Parliament has not given approval for this. Money from the Presidential Secretariat has been given for this. All financial regulations have been violated. Who paid for these? When these expenses were stopped, we could lower the fuel prices.”

Minister of Mass media and Parliamentary affairs Gayantha Karunathilake too expressed views at the meeting.

”They filled their pockets with commissions from road construction. This government will initiate a new beginning where everything will be done in a transparent way. All this would be done within the one hundred day programme.”

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


“Our” New Airport. Mattala

The New Mattala International Airport.
Just 2 Hrs. 30 Min.  South of Arugam Bay reporters. shown here at the New Mattala Airport

More-up-to date details:

Mattala Rajapaksa International Airport awarded International Airport Certification

President Mahinda Rajapaksa will commission Mattala Rajapaksa International Airport on March 18. This is the second International Airport in Sri Lanka and the first ever Sri Lankan International Airport to be operated as an International Airport ‘from the day of commencing operations’, Civil Aviation Minister Priyankara Jayaratne said.

He was addressing a special press briefing at the Civil Aviation Ministry yesterday in connection with awarding International Airport Certification Continue reading ‘“Our” New Airport. Mattala’


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’


Few rooms left this season

March to October is High Season!

Book Early!
Arugam Bay’s popular hotels are nearly fully booked this summer.
In all, there are  only about 100 air-conditioned rooms available, anyhow.
Most of those have been taken up already!
It looks like it’s going to be a busy main season this year.
Low budget, non a/c rooms however are  still available.
Reserve direct or via etc.

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:

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?’

As tourism grows PET menace looms large

….”Even remote locations such as Peanut Farm close to Arugam Bay there is a unsightly build up of “garbage” – plastic bottles, plastic bags, and other trash that tourists have to literally walk through while accessing the beach – hardly the sort of experience that will generate a positive feedback on sites such as Trip Advisor which can make (or break) a destination”…..

72,000 PVC bottles per month !

By Suren R. Mirchandani


Tourism arrivals are expected to increase significantly over the next few years as Sri Lanka positions itself as one of the worlds best leisure destinations, from a base of approximately 500,000 per annum to 2.5 million per annum. This rapid influx of visitors will place immense pressure on the local environment, particularly on waste buildup and management by local government bodies.

Tourists- not locals- use bottled water. Shown are approx. 72K bottles: 1 month supply at Arugam Bay!

The potential for irreversible damage to Sri Lanka’s environment and reputation is very real and significant as evidenced by the already visible degradation and pollution in pristine environments such as Kalpitiya, Trincomalee and Arugam Bay. A significant increase of tourists will make an already bad situation much worse. Continue reading ‘As tourism grows PET menace looms large’

Arugam’s Beautiful Curry Chef!

Samanthi . . . . Sri Lanka's most beautiful Chef

After all these years of travelling to Sri Lanka, and living for months in Arugam Bay, i have failed to hail the unsung hero’s and heroin’s of this tropical isle. So, i’m going to start with the one person that provides me with all the fuel i need to surf! Samanthi is affectionately known as ‘Number 1 sister’. I have known Samanthi and her family for the past 6 years. She and her sister, Erandathi, were the teachers at the Pre-School, near the Buddhist Temple, at the south end of the village. Samanthi and her family have fed and watered me over this time. They have even tolerated me living in their cabanas and at times the castle. I have to surf and go fishing to prevent the weight piling on! The problem is the food! Samanthi’s cooking is the best. It is not only the Rice n Curries that she serves up, but the cakes, pizzas, desserts and short eats. I never come home to Devon lighter than when i went out. Samanthi heads a team of sisters in the kitchen. She is up and starting the kitchen duties at six every morning, and regularly works through until midnight during the tourist season. Way back, when i first arrived, it was Amma doing the cooking, and forever supplying me and the brothers with Tea. Now it is Samanthi, with the assistance of younger sisters Gayani and Ruwanthi, and cousins Geeva and Sudu. There is a constant call for me to come and eat from the kitchen, and if i miss a meal, it is always waiting there for my return. Not only is Samanthi an awesome cook, but she is also beautiful. Be warned though! She has four protective brothers, a father, and a brother in law!



Arugam Bay, a tourism hotspot

Coastal conservation and management a must:

Disna Mudalige

The southeast coast of Sri Lanka gleams with new vigour and light with the dawn of peace. This area which people dared not to go for decades due to terrorist threats is now wide open for both local and international tourists. It has become a tourism ‘hotspot’ with its wide array of tourist attractions. However, the need of a well planned coastal zone management is strongly felt with the tourism expansion in this coastal stretch.

The coastal stretch from Pottuvil to Panama includes bays famous for surfing and bathing, coastal waters rich with fish resources, lagoons providing ideal niches for prawns, crabs and lobsters, rich mangrove stands, wide sandy beaches for beach lovers and tall sand dunes for those who seek adventures.

The Beach at Arugam Bay

Arugam Bay

The tourist season in Arugam Bay in the Southeast coast starts in March with the favourable windy atmosphere for surfing. Arugam Bay is one of the best surfing areas in Asia. As estimated about 100,000 tourists visit Arugam Bay during the season which extends till October. Continue reading ‘Arugam Bay, a tourism hotspot’

Arugam Bay Fishing -v- Tourism issues

Traditional Fishing activities. A colourful old ox cart adds vibrant life to Arugam Bay beach

Arugam Bay fishing community should not be neglected over tourism- ABTA Chief

Immediate measures should be taken to address concerns of the fishing community in Arugam Bay, as they contribute towards developing tourism in one of the world’s top surfing destinations, said M. H. A. Raheem, Chairman of the Arugam Bay Tourism Association (ABTA).

A busy beach. Specially in the morning

Since the very beginning, Arugam Bay has been known as a fishing village, and the fisheries sector has become a major income generating source of the area. Continue reading ‘Arugam Bay Fishing -v- Tourism issues’

Greening Project goes to Arugam Bay

Arugam's New Road. Previously "Mercy Corps" had a fast growing tree planting program. Under the power lines

The SWITCH-Asia team took the greening message to 44 hoteliers in the Eastern Coast of Sri Lanka on 16 November 2010It was a special invitation extended to the project team by M. H. A. Raheem, the Chairman of the Arugam Bay Tourism Association (ABTA) which was aimed at making the hoteliers aware about the project and its deliverables, namely, enhancing the environmental performance of Sri Lankan hotels through improvement of energy, water and waste management systems.

The participants were enthusiastic about reducing the cost of operations of the hotels at this world famous Surfers’ Paradise.

The hoteliers were keen about the outcome they would receive by participating in the programme which will give them the opportunity to brand and market their hospitality establishments as ‘low carbon foot print hotels’ and thereby increasing the market acceptance among the growing number of eco-conscious tourists. Continue reading ‘Greening Project goes to Arugam Bay’

Help to find my brother at Arugam Bay

A few days ago, while perusing’s bulletin board for news, and doing some research for the New York Times on Tsunami survivors, I found the post that Tanner at Reef posted about Marcelo Bengoechea. Marcelo’s brother Fernando, a well-known New York photographer and an adventure travel addict went missing in Sri Lanka after literally being hit while sleeping in his bungalow at the Stardust Hotel in Arugam Bay. As many of you may know, Fernando was staying at Arugam, a place with an excellent series of right hand waves, with Nate Berkus — Oprah Winfrey’s favorite interior decorator.

Marcelo Bengoechea

Here are excerpts of the conversation. Marcelo by the way, is the creative director at Reef Brazil. If anyone reading this is in Sri Lanka, and can help him find his brother, you’d sure go a long way in bringing some peace to a hell of a nice guy, and a mightily distraught family… Chris Dixon

From Marcelo Bengoechea:

“Fernando, he’s a fashion photographer and lives in New York. Does interiors and location photograpy. He’s very well known. He’ s done a lot of lifestyle shots for Reef too. Not the girl’s butts, but the product shots.”

“He was in Sri Lanka staying at the Stardust Hotel in Arugam Bay. The place is very well known and has an excellent righthand wave. One of the latest issues of Transworld Surf says “Big Sri Lanka”, and they talk about that place in particular. The website of the resort is”

“He was on a vaction trip. He’s not as hardcore a surfer as me — so he doesn’t have to carry a board with him wherever he goes, but if there were waves, I’m sure he was surfing.”

“He planned to be in Sri Lanka for Christmas and New Years. I’m not sure if he’d actually been there before. He’s been a photographer and an adventurer — he’s traveled extensively to very remote locations. I don’t know anybody who has traveled more than my brother, and I know a lot of surfers. He’s got so many free air miles, he was always going places.”

When asked what Nate Berkus had told him, he replied:

“I actually talked to Nate. They were swept away by the wave together. From his own mouth, he told me that they were woken up in the water. They were staying in a bungalow right on the beach. They were hit first and got swept out, and between the first and second wave, there was about a 20 second lapse and they were able to grab onto a telephone pole. They thought, ‘it’s over, it’s over’, and that’s when the second wave hit them. Nate was able to climb onto a roof and my brother was swept into the lagoon and the jungle area.”

“The hotel was on a strip between the ocean and the lagoon. My brother was swept over into the lagoon and that’s the last time he was seen. His friend was lucky enough to have been in an area with an international cellphone and they were able to start a search.”

“Authorities are searching for everybody they can find alive. I contacted a person who’s looking exclusivelly for my brother. He’s in the area doing that. The search only happens during the day. There’s no power, no electricity, no lights and no communication. The guy has a satellite phone and I’m doing all sorts of research on the Internet. I’m pretty much putting as many descriptions on as I can. I went on CNN and they work worldwide. That’s why I put the posting on Surfer too. Maybe international surfers who are in the are, or who have been there… I’m just reaching out to surfers. I assume that maybe if you even have a surfboard in that area you’ll paddle around and look for my brother. I’m just reaching out to as many people as I can.”

When asked how he and his family was holding up, he replied:

“It’s tough. Being so far away, there’s not much you can do aside from watch TV and the Internet. We all come from Argentina. My family is there. I have a sister and another brother, but Fernando is an American citizen, which helps the search. We’re just all in touch as much as we can be. We believe in him. Knowing Fernando — he’s a great athlete — surfer, scuba instructor. Physically, he’s able to do whatever it takes. He’s been to remote locations and gone feral a number of times. We believe that if he did not die from the power of the wave, he might be lost in the jungle and unable to communicate. He’s strong, he’s smart and he knows survival techniques well enough that he could survive in the jungle. That’s an isolated area. There’s just nothing around there. So we have every reason to hope.”

“You know, it’s a crazy story when you actually know someone who has been in that situation. It’s unbelievable. I still don’t believe it.”

If anyone has any leads, Marcelo’s email is: Otherwise, send a prayer his way.

Go to Message Board thread regarding Fernando.

An NYTimes Article on Victims, including Fernando
Off the Runway, and in Disaster’s Path CLICK HERE.

The Fernando and Nate Blog
Most Updated Information CLICK HERE.