Where to Stay

Feb 5, 2012

Where to stay in Arugam Bay

Copyright © David Graham
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 (sstarcom@eureka.lk)

Star Rest Beach House: 0779969358 and 0773609297

Another World Hotel: 0602635831, 0779592208 and 0774686581 (anotherworldlanka@gmail.com)

Moon Eyes Beach Hotel: 0757574749 (mooneyesarugambay@yahoo.com)

Ocean Beach Hotel: 0632248405 (theoceanbeacharugambay@gmail.com)

Watermusic: 0635671431 (simi@watermusicarugambay.com)

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 (uwais.searock@hotmail.com)

Samantha’s Folly: 0773387808 (info@samanthasfolly.com)

Rocco’s Rooms: 0776642991 (info@roccoshotel.com)

New Leprechaun Surfer Hotel: 0776085448

Paradise Sand Beach Hotel: 0632248513 and 0776313725 (info.paradisesand@gmail.com)

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 (islanddreams171@yahoo.com)

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 (info@geckoarugambay.com)

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

Siam View Hotel (four rooms): 0773200201 (arugamsurf@gmail.com)

Sashini Beach Resort: 0726047113

Lahiru Place: 0779005322

Tharaka Beach Hotel: 0633631763 and 0779649566

Freedom Beach Cabanas: 0771759620, 0772317057 and 0779621823 (freedombeachcabanas@gmail.com and freedombeachcabanas@hotmail.co.uk)

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 (abaypacifichotel@gmail.com)

Tri Star Beach Hotel: 063224840

Hideaway: 0632248259

Surf n Sun: 0776065099 (surfsaman@yahoo.co.in)

Sooriyas Hotel: 0632248232 and 0776683892 (info@sooriyashotel.com)

Zim Bay Hotel: 0775395822 (zim.bay@yahoo.com)

Palm Grove Holiday Inn (18 rooms): 0632248457, 0773544281 and 0773878007 (palmgroveholiday@gmail.com and holidayinn.arugambay@gmail.com)

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 callander@gmail.com and I’ll add it to this list.

Copyright © David Graham

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