In Sri Lanka’s far East Coast lies a wave-rich stretch of coastline. A small slice of coast perfectly positioned to groom the Indian Ocean swells that meander their way into Sri Lanka. Offering luscious right walls, warm waters, welcoming locals and a laid-back pace of life relaxed pace of life to match, for regular footers, there are fewer places as easy and enjoyable to surf. From when to go, where to stay, and where to surf, here’s everything you need to know about surfing Arugam Bay.
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Arugam Bay Surf Season
Arugam Bay surf season is between April and October. This is when the largest swells from the Indian Ocean wrap into the Arugam Points. Here, waves are consistent and in July and August, you’ll score the best waves. However, you can also luck into fun waves in the shoulder season months of March or October. Outside of this season, you’ll need to head south to Midigama or Hikkaduwa.
Arugam Bay Surf Report
Arugam Bay Surf Spots
While it’s known for the famous main break, there are multiple right-hand point breaks in the vicinity of Arugam Bay.
Hence the name, Main Point is the main wave in town and also happens to be the best and most consistent surf spot in Arugam. Main Break picks up the most swell and will always be a foot or two larger than the surrounding breaks.
The wave itself is a long, albeit mellow, right, peeling for hundreds of meters along a golden sand point. With open face for carves, a double-up section on the inside, and even a section for the odd head dip, Arugam has a little of everything. Don’t be fooled though, while the wave itself is mellow and user-friendly (one of the best intermediate surf destinations on earth), the reef is sharp and shallow in parts.
On the inside of Main Point is Baby Point–a fantastic option when learning to surf in Sri Lanka. Baby Point in Arugam Bay is one of the best beginner surf spots in the world (in my opinion) and provides a fun, fat peak for beginners to take our foamies, catch their first waves and serve as an easy entry point to their first unbroken waves…
South of Arugam itself is a fun wave called Elephant Rock. A sand bottom right that works for advanced surfers on larger wells while also providing a fun playground for more novice riders, thanks to the general lack of power and flat sandy bottom.
North of Arugam is Pottuvil Point another right point and the second closest to town. You’ll need to jump in a Tuk Tuk and head through the larger town of Pottuvil to reach it!
If you’re feeling adventurous, Okanda can be a great wave on the right day. However, it can be fickle and you’ll need to drive an hour south to reach it. A full-day mission!
After Main point, Peanut Farm is the highest quality wave in the area. The point here is 23 different breaks, with the furthest out being the most consistent and therefore best for advanced surfers, while the inner points can be good for intermediates.
Where is Arugam Bay?
Arugam Bay is on the East Coast of Sri Lanka, around an 8-hour drive from Colombo–the capital city.
How to Get There?
The best way to get to Arugam Bay is by private taxi transfer. Usually, you can arrange this via your accommodation, (you can also get one at the airport).
It typically costs around $100-150 for the transfer and the journey time varies depending on traffic, weather, and wildlife. usually around 8 hours. Yes, we got held up by an elephant crossing the road once.
By Public Transport
You can also reach Arugam via a series of local trains and buses. However, I’d only suggest doing this if you’re on a super tight-budget surf trip, as getting on and off these is stressful, especially after you’ve traveled internationally and even more so with a 6ft+ board bag.
Where to Stay?
Arugam is a thriving and rapidly growing surf town, so as you’d expect, it has a wide range of accommodation options for all budgets.
If you’re looking for an affordable dorm room in Arugam, Cactus could be a great option. While certainly nothing flashy, Cactus dorm rooms are only $4 per night and you’ll be right in the heart of the action. One of the cheapest stays in town. Learn more here on Booking.com.
Ceylonia Rooms & Hostel
While you can book both privates and dorms here, Ceylonia is another awesome budget option in town! The property boasts a garden and bar and you’ll be within a 5-minute walk from the waves at Main Point. Dorm rooms from $6 per night. Learn more here.
Sharing its name with the Nicaraguan surf town of the same name, this is where I stayed during my 1-week trip to Arugam. It cost around $22 per night for a private room, the wifi was excellent, the owners were friendly and the rooms were clean. The only downside was the 20-minute walk to Main Point compared to alternative accommodation options. Check out Popoyo Resort here.
Tropicana Homestay is a beautiful spot to stay in Arugam. With clean rooms, great wifi, and a garden, you’ll have somewhere to relax between surfs and be within a short walk to both Baby and Main Point. Check out Tropicana on Booking.com. Private rooms for $30 per night.
*For all my accommodation when I travel, I use Booking.com (sometimes Hostewlrold). Booking.com is epic because they have such a variety of accommodation types, free cancellation (handy if your plans change) and they have the Genius System, which after a certain amount of bookings, you can score discounts and free breakfasts.
Best Surf Camps in Arugam Bay
If you hate all the hassle of organizing and arranging your surf travel, check out Book Surf Camps, they take the stress out of your surf trip and make it easy to book your accommodation, airport transfers, coaching, equipment, and food in one easy booking. Check out the best surf camp packages in Arugam here.
Beginner Surfing in Arugam Bay
Baby Point is an excellent beginner surf spot in Arugam. A right point/beach break with mellow peeling whitewater as swells become diluted as they wrap around the point. Along the beach are numerous surf schools where you can hire soft boards and take surf lessons.
Tips for Surfing in Arugam Bay
As you’d expect for somewhere this warm, easy, and mellow to surf, the place draws the crowds. In the Arugam line-up, you’ll find surfers from all over the globe, from the UK to Aus, Israel, and everywhere in between. There are local surfers who as they should, get the best waves, but despite the crowds, generally, the intensity is relaxed.
Because Arugam attracts an eclectic mix of beginners and intermediates and even advanced surfers, the normal order of line-up etiquette doesn’t always flow as it should. Drop-ins, snaking, and paddling straight out into the next wave are all normal here. This is something I found frustrating on my recent trip.
Sri Lankans are incredibly welcoming and willing to share their waves with people from all over the globe. However, like anywhere respect the locals and let them get their waves first.
Most of the Arugam Bay points are accessible. Main points from town, and the others via a Tuk Tuk taxi or car. While none of the surrounding point breaks are secret spots anymore, if you make the drive, you’ll be rewarded with waves and fewer crowds!
As you’d expect for a country sitting just north of the equator, it’s super super hot in Sri Lanka. Surfing between 10 am and 3 pm shouldn’t be taken lightly and full sun protection is needed. Here, the UV index is at its highest and you’ll need zinc, sunscreen, and sun hat for surfing.
Arugam Bay is a thriving surf town, with an ever-expanding array of bars, restaurants, and surf schools. The town comprises one long street where you’ll find everything you need, all the accommodations, bars, and surf schools are essentially located on this street.
Arugam Bay Off-season
Generally, there are no waves between November and March in Arugam Bay, and due to large volumes of rain and onshores this is considered the off-season for Arugam. However during shoulder season, you may score fun waves, for example at the end of the season around October, there can still be swell and better still, fewer crowds.
Arugam Bay Sharks
Arugam Bay is not a “sharky” surf destination and while there are sharks in Sri Lanka, it’s generally not a problem when surfing throughout the country.
What’s Arugam Bay Town Like?
Arugam town comprises one long street where all the restaurants, bars, cafes, and accommodations are. In season, it’s a bustling and alive place with surfers coming from all over the world. A real mix of locals and surfers from all over, a modern surf town living wonderfully blended with Sri Lankan life. Tuk Tuks everywhere, extreme heat, hassle, and rubbish, but everything you need from a surf town with surf schools, yoga, cafes, restaurants, and healthy nightlife.
One day, while checking the waves at Baby Point, we came across a snake chamfer carrying Pyhtons in his bag walking a monkey attached to his finger via a length of string. Yep, some of the craziness you see regularly in Sri Lanka.
There’s no doubt Arugam Bay is an epic surf destination, one of the world’s best, especially if you’re an intermediate. For laid-back living, tropical climes, mellow right pointbreaks, and low living costs, add Arugam to your surf travel list. For more information on surfing in Arugam Bay, please comment below or head over to my YouTube channel.