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Arugam Bay on Sri Lanka’s East Coast is a traveller’s dream. It’s full of good people, good vibes, good food, good waves, good parties, and lots of yoga!
Arugam Bay is the type of place that people visit for 2 nights and end up staying for one week in Arugam Bay, so be prepared!
To help you get the best out of Arugam Bay, or A’Bay as it’s known once you’re there, here is my Travel Guide to Arugam Bay and Arugam Bay Travel Blog.
The main thing you need to know is the best time to go to Arugam Bay because this will affect your stay big time. The best time to visit Arugam Bay in Sri Lanka is May to September.
Essentially Sri Lanka gets two Monsoons, during these Summer months the Monsoon hits the West and South Coast and leaves the East Coast of Sri Lanka where Arugam Bay is located relatively dry. I visited Arugam Bay in August and the weather was good. It was very windy and some days were overcast with a rain shower but generally, the weather was good. Because the weather in Arugam Bay is pretty good from May to September everything is open and the town is buzzing with activity.
When the South Coast of Sri Lanka reaches high season during the Winter months, Arugam Bay dies down. For example, my friends stayed in Arugam Bay in January and the town was very quiet. They enjoyed it as they stayed in their hotel complex with a pool and enjoyed the quiet vibe away from the busy Southern Beaches but nothing was really open and the amazing and full-of-life experience I had in Arugam Bay wasn’t there in January like it is in June, July and August!
Related Post: Is August a Good Time to Visit Sri Lanka??
Arugam Bay is a bit out of the way I won’t lie. The nearest main town to Arugam Bay is Pottuvil, so if you are getting to Arugam Bay by public bus, this is most likely where you’ll need to aim for as not as many buses go through Arugam Bay and you can get a tuk tuk from Pottuvil to Arugam Bay which is about 5km.
I went from Trincomalee to Arugam Bay by bus which is a popular route because Trincomalee is also on the East Coast with high season the same time as Arugam Bay.
To get to Arugam Bay from Trincomalee, get a bus to either Batticaloa or Kalmunai further down the coast, ideally go to Kalmunai as this is further South. This is what I did, from Trincomalee to Kalmunai it took about 5 hours and cost 275Rs.
From Batticaloa or Kalmunai take another bus to Pottuvil. When I got to Kalmunai there was not a direct bus to Pottuvil leaving for a while so the local guys at the bus station said to get a bus to Akkaraipattu and then Pottuvil!
This would have been possible but the buses in Sri Lanka get very busy and sweaty and with a backpack they are hard work so myself and the guy I’d met decided to get a tuk tuk from Kalmunai to Arguam Bay for 2000Rs which took 1.5 hours. This was a good balance of taking cheap local transport to Arugam Bay but also paying more towards the end for ease.
I left Nilaveli in Trincomalee at 8:30 am and got to Arugam Bay 16:00 pm.
It is possible to get from Colombo to Pottuvil by bus as there are some overnight buses. Getting to Arugam Bay from Ella is pretty easy too as it’s not too far away.
I found this website helpful when working out how to get to Arugam Bay!
It’s much easier to leave Arugam Bay, although I doubt you will want to, as there are many taxi shares on offer, these cost a lot more than the public bus but they are quicker and much comfier. Otherwise, you could head to Pottuvil Bus Station and take a public bus from there.
There are so many places to stay in Arugam Bay with lots of hotels, hostels and resorts for all travel types and budgets.
I stayed at Bay Dreams Beach Hotel which I recommend, I had a lovely room which was clean and spacious, the owners were helpful and it was reasonable in price. I stayed on the Northern end of the Bay, it was a nice place to stay and it’s a bit quieter.
If you want to be in the action, stay further South down the road that is parallel to the beach. This is where the beach gets busier and there are more cafes and restaurants on the main road too.
Popular Hotels in Arugam Bay are:
Popular Hotels, Hostels & Guesthouses in Arugam Bay that are a bit cheaper are:
If you’re looking for the best surfing spot in Sri Lanka, Arugam Bay is for you! This town revolves around surfing, but don’t worry, if you’re not a surfer like me, you’ll still enjoy it!
Surfing is without a doubt the most popular thing to do in Arugam Bay with many surf points for beginners and experienced surfers. Elephant Point is at the South end of Arugam Beach and popular for surf lessons for beginners and Whiskey Point and Peanut Farm are popular for more experienced surfers.
The only negative I heard about the surfing in Arugam Bay, especially around the beginner spots where people learn to surf and take surf lessons in Arugam Bay is that it’s very busy and as you catch a wave and you’re heading into shore there are a lot of people in the way which seems a bit dangerous and ruins your concentration!
Yoga compliments surfing well and there are so many places to do yoga in Arugam Bay! I went to Yoga Shack as it was closest to me and I loved it. They offered classes on donation basis which I liked too.
Hideaway Resort in Arugam Bay and Bay Vista are other popular places for yoga classes in Arugam Bay with prices ranging from 1200Rs- 1500Rs per class.
The best thing to do is to get to Arugam Bay and look at the posters around the town which advertise yoga with the times, places and costs as I’m sure classes change a bit each year!
If you’re wondering what to do near Arugam Bay, there are a number of day trips from Arugam Bay on offer, specifically to see wildlife. You can head to Kumana National Park which is part of Yala East National Park on a day trip to see Leopards and Elephants. One thing I would note is that I believe that during the Summer months when it’s high season in Arugam Bay, Elephants are not as popular in the Southern National Park’s and instead to see Elephants in Sri Lanka you need to go further North to Minneriya National Park outside of Sigiriya.
There’s also a lagoon called Panama Tank close by to Arugam Bay called where you can see Crocodiles! And don’t worry, you can wait until you get to Arugam Bay to book all of your tours as there are plenty of people selling them!
To be honest, if you’re like me, Arugam Bay will get you chilled out to max and aside from some Yoga, perhaps some surfing and some sunbathing on the beach, you won’t want to get up and do too much. The best way to enjoy Arugam Bay is to chill out!
You won’t find it hard to find some good places to eat in Arugam Bay as it has so many cafes and restaurants but some of my suggestions are:
Leaf & Vine further up the Northern end of the beach. It’s right on the beach and more pricey with meals costing 1000+Rs but it is a beautiful location with good food.
Hideaway Resort have a cafe which is a popular cafe in Arugam Bay, they serve healthy food and I heard that their smoothies are really good!
If you want some cheap and quick food, the vegetarian buffet for 400Rs at Mama’s restaurant is for you. There are a few restaurants with the same name but this one is the one further South along the main road.
For Food served on the beach whilst you’re sunbathing, head to Friends Indeed, it has a cool vibe and lots of sun loungers out on the beach during the day.
Finally, if you visit Arugam Bay in peak season whilst it’s busy (and remember high-season in Arugam Bay is May to September) then you’ll be in for a fair few parties!
A good place to chill and go for a few drinks any night of the week is Friends Indeed about half-way along the beach, they have good music, seats right on the beach and whether you want a chilled beer or some cocktails to get you going, the best place to drink in Arugam Bay is Friends Indeed. The staff there are cool too!
I was in Arugam Bay on a Saturday night and Saturday nights in Arugam Bay mean going to Mambo’s at the far end of the beach if you want to party! You don’t need to get to Mambo’s until about 11:00 pm and be prepared to party until 6:00 am because this is how long the music goes for!
From what I’ve read and heard, on Friday nights in Arugam Bay the place to go to is to Whisky Point.
If you’re ever not sure of what parties are on, just ask a local or a traveller who might have been there for a while, they’ll know where to drink and party in Arugam Bay!
Travel Insurance for Sri Lanka
Have you got travel insurance for Sri Lanka yet? Make sure you take insurance out before you go! I am insured with World Nomad’s who I really like because they designed by travellers, for travellers, you can even purchase insurance with them once you have left for your trip. Whilst you’re thinking about it, get a quote from them here!
Like I said at the start, most people end up staying here longer than planned so be sure to keep that in mind when planning your Sri Lanka itinerary!
To read more of my Sri Lanka posts see:
I’m Ellie Quinn!
I’m a travel addict who has been travelling on and off since 2010. In the Summer of 2018 I quit my office job in London, left my flat and I now travel and blog full time! Yes, I’m living that dream!
NOV-DEC: PROBABLY INDONESIA
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