Arugam Bay: Riding High on waves to Recovery

It may be a sleepy village but Arugam Bay in Sri Lanka is a great place to get some winter sun and hit the surf. How much estrogen is in alesse 28

Arugam is also a traditional fishing Bay

You must move, it will charge,a?? shouts a tuk-tuk driver as the elephant goes out of view to my right. Besides the threat of stampeding wild elephants, therea??s a lot to take in on the A4 to Arugam Bay on Sri Lankaa??s war-torn, tsunami-battered east coast. The road itself is being rebuilt and a hangover from 25 years of the civil war, which ended last May, means every road in the country is peppered with military outposts, roadblocks and army personnel.

Sri Lanka’s best Surf spot. Is Arugam Bay

But Arugam Bay is shining a light for better things to come on the countrya??s untouched east coast. The colourful jumble of guest houses, cabanas and shops have been built and rebuilt. The slogans on some T-shirts state a??The Birth Of A Surfing Nationa?? but any Aussie surfer will tell you this point break has been a boarder mecca for years.

According to locals such as German bar owner Manfred, 2010 is the first year Arugam Bay is on the backpacker trail. a??Up until now, it was surfers and NGOs; now I think everything will change,a?? he says, telling me the area was largely ignored after the tsunami.

Arugam Bay is a sleepy village of ramshackle restaurants and fruit stalls with a handful of locals and sun-seekers waiting for something big to happen. Anyone looking for the chaos and buckets of whisky that define Ko Pha Ngan will be disappointed.

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Lining the beach, a beautiful palm-rimmed strip dotted with boats donated mostly from a Flemish rotary club, are 700-rupee (A?4) cabanas and local restaurants getting to grips with Western fare such as pizza. The excellent, traditional Sri Lankan rice and curry (a six or seven-dish feast) is still the staple, though, and orders require at least two hoursa?? notice.

a??You need to paddle harder to get on the wave, mate,a?? advises a young Australian surfer sitting in the crystal-clear Indian Ocean next to me. Noticing that I know nothing about surfing, he comes over and gives my board a push, allowing me to catch a wave. Seeing him swigging on Sri Lankaa??s native beer, Lion, in a bar later that evening, I find out he is a pro. This place is devoid of the water-bound cat fighting that takes place at many good surf spots and travellers mingle together with seasoned boarders, swapping tales about one of tourisma??s newest frontiers.

a??This is a world-class surfing spot and it is tranquil and unspoilt, which is a rarity these days,a?? says Ben Pollard, a 24-year-old Londoner who has travelled alone to Arugam Bay to surf the breaks. a??I hope the onset of tourism doesna??t ruin it.a??

The quiet, laid-back vibe of Arugam Baya??s main street is only briefly interrupted by the staccato drum beat of the kottu-makera??s blades. James, one of three Welsh surfers earning their keep in a beach bar, says the surf competition is the busiest he has seen Arugam Bay in the month hea??s been there. Monkeys scurry around while snakes and scorpions sometimes mill about the golden sand around the bar a?? but ita??s easy to relax in this working fishing village.

Whiskey Point (sadly therea??s no hard liquor on sale) is one of a number of surf spots in the area a three-wheeler will whizz you to for a couple of pounds and is probably the best for beginners like me. Sometimes there are six surfers and some bored-looking soldiers but you usually get the waves to yourself. Surfboards can be rented in all shapes and sizes for around 600 rupees (A?3.50) and each surf area suits different levels.

Arguably the best place to surf is the tricky but reliable Main Point, a reef break on the southernmost tip of Arugam Bay. A tiny beach bar straddles the point and top surfers chat with tourists under the palms, sheltering from the 40C heat.

Terry McKenna, general manager of the International Bodyboard Association, is at Arugam Bay for the first time. He later tells me over a beach breakfast the tsunami has robbed people of everything. a??The ocean has taken a lot from these people, now it is giving something back,a?? says McKenna.

There are few sunsets I have seen as perfect as those that engulf Arugam Bay at the end of every day, a blanket of gold shimmering off the water as the last surfers try their luck in the waves. One thing is for certain: in a few years all the guest houses will be busy. Most agree this will be a blessing for the area; until then, though, get a hammock while you can.


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