Located below India, Sri Lanka divides the Arabian Sea from the Bay of Bengal. Famous for warm people and relaxed atmosphere, this old culture is blessed with temples, rich wildlife, Ayurvedic massages, and good tropical surfing. Unfortunately, Sri Lanka has been hit by 2 catastrophic events in the last 30 years: the civil war in 1983 (which claimed 64,000 lives) and the tsunami in 2004 (35,000 deaths). The bay of Arugan Bay was first surfed in 1964, and since that day it has become such as the symbol of surf in this country, but on December 26, 2004 everything was in danger of ending. 6 waves of about 13m height hit this region with apocalyptic force, destroying the fishing villages, the beach resorts and the various adjacent restaurants. Despite this disaster, the spot hasn’t changed so much and the waves continue to break regularly, making Arugam Bay a true intermediate surfer’s paradise. The quality of the waves depends a lot on how the sandbars move between the various spots, which in turn depend on the flows of the rivers. The mouth of the Sangakamanda river is rarely surfed as accessing the spot is quite complicated and the waves aren’t that good. Komari is a 20-minute walk from the end of the road to a small lighthouse on a rocky hill. Also known as Green Point, it is difficult to find and it is often ruined by the wind that rises during the afternoon. The best spot in the north is Pottuvil Point, which on best days offers rides up to 800m long with a tubing section in front of the granite rock. There is always a fun peak to surf. Just walk another 700m north to find conditions very similar to the previous ones and without crowds. Pottuvil Beach is a right-hand pointbreak with steady and powerful waves that are perfect for those who need to learn and get comfortable surf (it’s only a 20 minute tuk-tuk ride from Arugam Bay). Despite being often close-out, Main Beach shouldn’t be overlooked, especially near the bridge where a great A-frame often forms in front of the rocks. The wave that forms in front of the Mambo guesthouse is a real paradise for beginners as the waves are never too big, they break near the shorebreak, making it easier to climb to the line-up and the wind is almost always offshore. The most southern point at Arugam Bay is a top quality wave breaking over an old coral reef, which being quite shallow could be dangerous at low tide. The wave is very consistent and sometimes even cooing, and for this reason it is often crowded. Try to surf it in the morning as the afternoon breeze from SE could ruin your conditions. Moving further south you will find Crocodile Rock, a sandy point with rather soft rights. To reach this spot it usually takes 20 minutes of walking from the previous point, including the crossing of 2 rivermouths, where you can encounter wild animals. The best quality spot in the area, after Arugam Bay, is undoubtedly the semi-secret spot called Peanut Farm (just 20 minutes’ walk from Panama). Here the waves are right and very fast; while the shorebreak is perfect for beginners, the actual line up is located in front of rocks that can often be intimidating to take-off. Panama only works when the rivermouth is closed, again offering right waves on a rocky bottom. Okanda, an hour away by tuk-tuk from Arugam Bay, is a beach with a mixed rock and sand seafloor and thanks to its position, it receives a large number of swells. Continuing to the south you will get to Yala Rights. This spot is located within the homonymous national park which, for some years, has become a war zone and therefore is controlled by guards who could forbid access to the water. Access by sea is definitely the best option, although surfing in this area is not recommended at the moment. Palatupana was a very good spot, but the devastation brought by the 2004 tsunami ruined the seafloor making the waves almost always close-out. Kirinda piers help small swells break but the pollution conditions on the beaches are quite drastic. The potential for surfing increases as you move further west towards the Tangalla reefs. Book your surf stay in Sri Lanka now!
Tariff per person, starting from:
|Departure||Vista Panama Village Resort||Water Edge Resort||Vallee 69 Eco Leisure Yala|
|From 1 January 2020 to 31 December 2020||€ 126||€ 126||€ 95|
The main producer of swell is the SW monsoon, which from May to August always gives 4-10ft of good and consistent waves. The direction of the swells (from S to SW) is only important for swells that come from far away: the S-SE hits this coast better than the S-SW. Due to the distance and the angle, most of the spots work in the 2-6ft range; the perfect fit for Arugam Bay is 3-4ft. With bigger swells, Arugam Bay is not the best spot, in fact it is worth moving and heading towards Pottuvil, Peanut Farm or Okanda. The Bay of Bengal produces some rare NE swells between 2-4ft, but usually the wind is onshore and the weather conditions can be rough. During the SW monsoon, the day usually starts with no wind, then around 11 a little offshore breeze rises which recalls the sea wind from S-SE, which although it is never too strong, but could ruin the conditions in the most exposed spots. The tide level never exceeds 2ft, but in spots where the reef is covered by sand such as Arugam Bay, low tide could uncover the reef making conditions quite challenging.
How to get there: A 30-days visa is required upon arrival. If you are leaving from Europe, fly with the Sri Lankan to Colombo (CMB); if you are leaving from SE Asia or the United States, it is advisable to fly with Singapore or Malaysian Airlines. The airport is 45 minutes north of Colombo city traffic in the Negombo coastal area. Arugam Bay is a 9-hour drive away (via a rental van for $ 125), while if you want to save a little you can get there by bus with a travel time of about 12-20h ($ 3). There are 2 bus rides every day.
Getting around: Arugam Bay is 300km (186mi) from Colombo. Traffic is very slow (40km / h on average) and the road communication network isn’t very articulated. Don’t be surprised by the numerous checks on the street. The Arugam Bay area is traffic-free, except in Pottuvil. Rent a van ($ 50 / day, driver included), use the tuk-tuk ($ 1) or walk. To get to Okanda from Arugam Bay, it is possible to go by sea with boats (2h) or by road with a tuk-tuk (1h).
Accommodation and food: There are numerous cheap beach guesthouses, such as the Hilton, at $ 10-20 / day per room (with fan). Prices for slightly more equipped rooms are around $ 30. Other sleeping options could be: Siam Hotel ($ 20-40 / day), Tri-Star ($ 40-60 / day) or Stardast Hotel ($ 26-67 / day) for a double. All these accommodations are equipped with air conditioning. The food is tasty, and sometimes a little spicy; the average expense for a meal is $ 5.
Climate: The area of Arugam Bay is idyllically situated in order to avoid the devastation brought by the 2 monsoons that hit the coast from 2 different directions: from SW (May-September) and from NE (November-February). This SE corner is the driest part of the territory and it is extremely hot in the summer before the arrival of the sea breeze that cools the air. The influence of the desert climate means that in the evening the air cools, ensuring the possibility of sleeping after 11 without the use of air conditioning. The average annual rainfall is around 1900mm, in fact thunderstorms and intense rainy days can only occur with the rare NE storms that are formed in the transitional periods between one monsoon and another. Some statistics, in some years, have counted up to 330 days of sunshine a year! Swimsuit all year round!
Nature and culture: The national park in Yala is the sanctuary of excellence for wildlife; enter from Okanda (cheaper than Tissama), but you have to rent a vehicle (50-80 $ / day). Visit the Kumana Bird Sanctuary. Sri Lanka is a paradise: Sigiriya fortress, Kandy Perahera festival, Ayurvedic messages. “Full moon parties”.
Dangers and annoyances: Apart from the presence of the “Tamil tigers”, the bombings due to the civil war and other small local tensions, Arugm Bay is a very peaceful and quiet place. The main problem is the slow and busy roads. The bays usually haven’t many shady spots, so always carry plenty of water and make sure your driver (if you rent tuk-tuks or vans) will pick you up after you’ve surfed! The months from July to September are the busiest.
Tips: Domestic air flights had to be interrupted in 2007 because the “Tamil tigers” often rebelled against civilians and military forces, bombing cities with small light aircraft. The number of tourists has decreased by 20% since 2007. Bring your cash, the bank of Ceylon in Pottuvil is a nightmare. Nsp boards can be rented at the Aloha and SurfNSun center. A fish board is recommended.
Exchange rate 1 EUR = 1.08 USD
Exchange rate variations (more than 3%) will lead to an adjustment of costs. They will be communicated within 20 days of departure.
The tariff does not include
Duration: 14 days / 13 nights
from € 1.490 - Including flights
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