Welcome to surfers paradise.
Arugambay is a little hotspot village on the east coast of Sri Lanka, to which surfers, both expert and beginner, from around the world flock in their masses. The Main Street runs parallel to the sea front, a stones throw from the beach. The beach itself is endless and golden, flecked with black silt turfed up by the nonstop waves. Masses of colourful fishing boats rest on the shores. And the water is a warm turquoise and glorious.
The bay itself is safe for swimming once you bob over a few waves! The main surfing happens on various points around the village, which you can reach easily enough within twenty minutes by tuk tuk (1000SLR there and back with two surf boards on the roof). We selected our boards (rental for a half day for decent boards is around 500SLR each) and headed off to Whiskey Point where we’d heard that you can enjoy watching some of the pros off the point, while even beginners can try their luck in the shallower water.
As I have surfed before, we decided not to get lessons and I very roughly outlined some of the basics to Rich on the beach. If you were interested in lessons I’d suggest using Safa Surf School- we saw them teaching at Whiskey Point and they all seemed very friendly and seemed to be doing a really good job! One old Sri Lankan pro surfer, who was showing quite a lot of the kids up, obviously began to feel sorry for Rich flailing around in the surf and helped him out a bit. By ten thirty the sun was already blazing and we’d had enough of being battered by the waves so we chilled out on some nearby (and free to use) shaded beds, before heading back to the village. My advice would be that if you do wanna go surfing, go early! We got there at 7.30am, and it was already proving to be a bright morning. Plus, the sea is warm, so there are no excuses!
We spent our afternoons escaping the heat of the sun in our cabanas, but as soon as it got cool enough we’d go swimming in the bay, and share pancakes and icecream made from coconut and bufalo milk at some of the beach front cafes. There are loads of places to eat in Arugambay, but some them are a lot more expensive (especially if they are western run), so make sure you have a good look around. Freshly caught fish are found outside most resturaunts, so you can chose your catch and watch it be prepared and put on the BBQ right in front of you for your dinner.
As a very tourist influenced place, drinking is also popular in the bay. We went for cocktails at the very trendy Hideaway bar (happy hour 6-7pm) and were not let down by the hype (their Pineapple Express cocktail is dangerously divine).
One cool evening, we decided to walk to the nearby viewpoint, Crocodile Rock. We cut through the sand dunes (make sure you leave markers to remember which dune you came through on your way back!) and it was then about a half hour walk along the beach, with the waves crashing on our left. Wade through the shallows at the edge of the lagoon, and it’s easy to clamber up the smooth rock and to the summit.
Crocodile rock itself is well worth the walk. The 360 panoramic views over the grassy plains, village, jungle, lagoon, and ocean, are just breath takingly beautiful. We didn’t stay for sunset as it gets dark quickly, but as we walked back we were still able to soak up the colours against the pillaring storm clouds, and the most amazing rainbow halo effect was cast by the final rays just catching the high peaks of water vapour.
This part of the bay, as you walk out of town along the beach, is much less developed. The impact of the 2004 tsunami is still evident. Remains of torn down houses scatter the sea front, and old fences and roads peeter out and then just vanish suddenly, swallowed by the sand.
We are staying in the most chilled out place I have ever been. Run by an Italian masseuse and Sri Lankan fisherman, East Surf Cabanas is, in my opinion, just… paradise perfection. Palm leaf wooden cabanas, sandy pathways through the shady trees, their boughs heavy with flowers, sand filtered drinking water on tap, delicious food, huge breakfasts, and super friendly people. There are some really sweet and silly kittens here at the moment, and the most loved baby in Sri Lanka with her podgy knees and squeals of delight to keep everyone giggling.
I feel like we could stay here for weeks and weeks, but it’s time to move on and get out of this blistering sun. Bring on the cool hill country!
Hope you’re all well,
Stay breezey 🌴
-sorry for lack of photos, I will upload them once home! –