Arugam Bay: Surf & Sun


We were eager to explore the surf communities of Sri Lanka, which are on the east coast.

I liked the colorful boats

This region was hit especially hard during the decades-long civil war and the 2004 tsunami. The area was abandoned and villages and structures were left in ruins.

Gorgeous coastline!

Redevelopment began after 2007, and the result is still serene, basic beach communities.

The conditions were a surfer’s dream

Here, you’ll find the best surfing in the country. The main season is April – October.

Surf shack

The top-notch surf conditions draw many foreigners. As you can imagine, there’s no shortage of local surf pros willing to give lessons.

Angelo finished his wave next to a local

The most popular spot is at the southern end, which is famous for its point break. Angelo rented a board and gave it a go, while I remained on land.

Beach shack

I never had an interest in surfing, even though Angelo regularly spent hours at it at our Hamptons place and when we lived in California. It always seemed like a lot of work for not much reward, and there weren’t surf schools nearby.

It’s hard to avoid surfing!

This time, though, curiosity (well, mostly convenience) struck me and I took a lesson.

Just load the boards onto the ricks

After the instructors outfitted me with an enormous beginner board, we hopped in the tuk-tuk to a much calmer break. I learned the basics and was pulled away by a dramatic rip-tide only once. It’s a lot harder to escape while tethered to a board. Luckily, it hurled me into a cove and I was able to stop.

A stray dog finds some shade

We found out the water here can get very rough with strong rip-tides. We were prohibited from going out one day due to dangerous conditions.

Outside the Hideaway

The most popular place to stay, the Hideaway, has cute bungalows, but it was fully booked. We enjoyed drinks at the outdoor bar a couple of times and ate at the restaurant. We stayed across the street at Bay Vista, which was busier, but the rooms had ocean views and balconies.

This area has a very friendly, open, casual atmosphere and there are many good restaurants, all with outdoor seating where you can watch the scene.


Ice cream vendor

Drink stand

A single road runs along the beach, populated with guesthouses, shops and restaurants.

This was a wonderful place to relax for a few days.


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