Arugam Bay, Surfers Paradise

Surfing in Arugam Bay, Sri Lanka is definitely on the top of my surfing list. Beginners, intermediates, advanced surfers will all find the right wave to their level. The country has so many point breaks that make it easy to work on your surf style. The waves are also mellower and more forgiving, the water temperature is warm. The country is still cheap (except the insta fame cafes) for a western tourist and the locals are super friendly. There are 2 surf seasons in Sri Lanka. On the east costs, the waves are firing between March and late August, with some luck you can still get nice waves in September. November-March is the best time to surf the South Coast.

Arugam Bay is the hot spot on the East coast, it is a busy, surfers town. There you will find many cafes, restaurants, shops.
There are 2 spots reachable by foot in Arugam bay, but the one I would recommend for beginners (called baby Point) is not always breaking. The Main point is a powerful break, crashing over a reef. It is okay to paddle out if you are an intermediate and feeling comfortable riding over a reef, but I would not advise surfing here if you have never surfed a reef or the swell is big. I have seen many tourists getting some ugly infections from reef cuts and their surf holiday was over. My advice, get a local surf guide and go out when it’s small πŸ™‚

Elephant Rock, Sri Lanka
Copyright / @soultyboho

Elephant Rock, Whiskey Point, Pottuvil Point

There are more waves around which you can reach with a scooter or a tuk-tuk. The latter is more welcomed by locals because so they can earn money. I have heard many stories that scooters or boards were destroyed by tuk-tuk drivers as they don’t like to lose their only job, which is driving tourists to surf spots. Sri Lanka is not Bali, where it is normal to drive around on your own, so please respect this and don’t try to be the tourist who wants to change the world. πŸ™‚

Beginners will be happy to catch their first waves on Elephant Rock. It is 15 minutes ride north from Arugam bay with a tuk-tuk. You have a great chance to spot wild elephants here at sunrise or sunset.

Elephant Rock on a good day is a long, right-hand point break, breaking close to a lagoon. To reach the wave, you have to climb over some rocks. Possibility to walk over the lagoon, but I definitely would not do that as the lagoon gives a home for many crocodiles. Do not fall for β€žis just a few steps nothing will happenβ€œ. I was there when a British tourist lost his life because of a crocodile attack. It is not worth the risk! Climb over the rocks.

You can buy some coconuts at the beach, but there are no shades to hide from the burning sun (except if you build yourself a hut from shirts and leaves).

Best to surf like most of the spots in Sri Lanka, early morning and late afternoon till sunset.

Whiskey Point is another right-hander. It is 15 minutes tuk-tuk ride south from Arugam bay. This spot can hold a bigger swell, and the waves providing super open walls on a good day, perfect for learning and practicing maneuvers. At high tide, the wave loses some energy what makes it perfect for longboarders or beginners.

There is a restaurant close to the break, where you can cool down next to a fresh coconut juice. Many people choose to stay here over the day (instead of driving back to Arugam bay), as here you can spend the hot midday hours in the restaurant or its chilling area. Some new hotels popped up the last few years here, so if you want to be away from the busy A-Bay, maybe a good option for you to sleep at Whiskey Point.

Pottuvil Point is close to a conservative Muslim village. Do not do the same mistake as I did, when I was not aware of this. Was driving there in shorts and a top what made the local kids very embarrassed and I felt uncomfortable. Respect the culture and cover your shoulders when you drive through the village. Walking or driving in a bikini is not welcome except at the beach of course.

This point is not one of my favorites as it seems very inconsistent but you may have lucky days and have the most fun there. Do not trust the surf forecast to predict the waves. Many times it showed me there are no waves here, but we spontaneously checked it out and it was a beautiful breaking empty wave waiting for us.

Surfing sri lanka east coast arugam bay
Whiskey Point, Sri Lanka
Copyright @soultyboho

Peanut Farm, Light House

Peanut Farm is a longer ride, around 20 minutes North of Arugam Bay. I love this break, so as others, which makes it very packed. There are 2 points here. The upper section is for advanced only, there are many rocks underwater and when the swell is big, it is really for rippers only.
The point which breaks closer to the beach is for beginners, intermediates perfect. I had my first baby barrels here. The waves as they start to break close to the shore on good days, start to barrel. Keep in mind that it gets also very shallow there, try not to break your board or hurt yourself. Know what you are doing. πŸ™‚ This break gets also very crowded, you have to watch for each other. Here is also a restaurant and some hammocks to chill. Nearby lagoon has crocodiles in it, do not go close or try to swim there.

LighthouseΒ is a 40 minutes ride from A-bay keeps this place still relatively empty. It is a more powerful break and a short one. The surfers come here for the laidback vibe and the less crowded lineup. There are a few places to stay nearby, but there are no restaurants or stores. You may still get a cafe or food in one of the hotels, even if you don’t stay there, but some places need reservations in advance, even for meals.

Surfing secret spots

There are a few spots that are not so popular due to their rural location, like Okanda. (It is not really any more a secret, that is why I am sharing). You have to keep in mind that if you choose to surf a spot on your own in the middle of nowhere, you can get in trouble when things go wrong. I know a tourist who died while surfing Okanda because he got stuck under the reef. There was no one nearby to help. It may be inviting to search for new spots, but the best if you do that is with a local guide. The real secret spots, well let’s just keep them for the locals…

If you have the time to visit Sri Lanka during May and September and you want to surf, then it will worth the 7-8 hrs drive from the Airport to this place. I have stayed more than 9 months altogether here and felt welcomed and at home. Surfing in Arugam Bay, Sri Lanka’s east coast, is different than the South. I would say it is a bit more conservative, it is not yet modern like the southern surf places, and it is somewhat more pricey. If you are more looking for Bali vibes, locals with more tolerance, and you want to have more for your money, I would recommend checking the South Coast. I will write about that a blog post too.


Surfing in Arugam Bay, Sri Lanka

The Pros

  • Friendly, Mellow Waves
  • Lot of cafes, restaurants in A-bay
  • Warm water temperature
  • Most waves reachable within 15 mins tuk-tuk drive

The Cons

  • Pricey compared to the south coast
  • Point breaks can get really packed
  • Hospital in case of accident is really far
  • A-bay is far from the Airport (7-8 hrs drive)