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- 20 Jan 2021, 3 nights
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It's the beaches that bring travellers to Arugam Bay, either for sunbathing on the sandy shore or surfing the crashing waves. This eastern Sri Lankan destination has a point break so perfect that it inspires pros all over the world to fly in and take it on. The golden sands and laid-back vibes of the town also make A-Bay (as the surfers call it) more than worth adding to your travel agenda.
You can stay in an Arugam Bay hostel with its own coffee shop and a garden dotted with hammocks. There's also a peaceful place hidden in the trees, only a couple of minutes' walk from the beach. If you want to wake up to a sea view, there's a hostel right on the water with cabanas to relax in on the sand. Look out for Arugam Bay hostels with tuk-tuk services to help you get around, or a comfy common room where you can meet other travellers over a drink or a board game.
Arugam Bay is compact. It has a small population in the lower hundreds and most of its international restaurants and guesthouses sit on Panama Road, which runs along the coast. Up in the town of Pottuvil, about a 10-minute drive north past the Arugam Lagoon, you can organise canoe trips through the mangroves to seek out crocodiles and monkeys. A tiny beach village curves around Whisky Point, another surf break, slightly north of Pottuvil.
If you'd like to learn how to surf, you can hire a board from the rental shops in Arugam Bay and take a tuk-tuk out to beginner-friendly beaches like Peanut Farm and Elephant Rock, both a 20-minute drive south. You could also rent a motorbike and head for Crocodile Lake (the name gives its main inhabitants away) and Kudumbigala Monastery for an adventurous ride through wildlife-rich scenery. There's even a high chance of spotting wild elephants along the way!
Arugam Bay is about 5 hours south of Trincomalee and 3 hours east of Ella. Bandaranaike International Airport is a 7-hour drive away. If you want to take public transport from the airport, you'll need to catch the bus to Colombo and then another to Arugam Bay. You could also rent a car if you're exploring other places in Sri Lanka. When in town, the best way to get around is on foot. For the surf breaks further out, just flag down a tuk-tuk.