Arugam Bay Surf Guide- Everything You Need to Know
Arugam Bay is a dreamy surf destination on Sri Lanka’s east coast. This small surfing village has developed into a booming surf town, and offers west coast surfers a reprieve from the monsoon season. The Arugam Bay surf has everything from cruise peeling point breaks, to epic barreling waves. Whether you’re an absolute beginner or an advanced surfer, you’ll love the world-class waves, crystal clear waters, and laid-back vibe at Arugam Bay.
Arugam Bay surf overview
Arugam Bay is a sleepy fishing village on the southeast coast of Sri Lanka and is untouched by the heavy monsoons that affect the west coast. It is one of the most famous surfing destinations in the country for good reason, with a variety of breaks for surfers of all levels combined with amazing scenery. If the west coast is washed out from the wet season, head east to sunny, beautiful Arugam Bay. Plus, Arugam Bay is very affordable, so if you’re looking for one of the world’s cheapest surf trips– this is it.
The different Arugam Bay surf breaks
Main point is the break closest to town, which is only a short walk along the bay. It is a long, peeling right-hander that can give a good long ride depending on the size of the swell. Experienced riders can head out past the point while beginners can still get a good wave closer to the bay. Great on any swell, take a fish out the back or a longboard in the bay. This break is most crowded in the morning and late afternoon due to its proximity to town.
Whiskey point is a great break for beginners and is located just north of Pottuvil. Take a tuk-tuk for an easy right-handed break off a bouldered point. Chest-high, lazy waves that will give beginners plenty of time to practice, with some fun peaks for the more experienced. Get in for a morning surf to avoid the crowds or head north once the afternoon winds have died off.
Pottuvil point is a fast, hollow wave that breaks close to shore and gives a decent ride. This wave is extremely popular with the locals so expect a good crowd at most times. Ideal for intermediate surfers who are comfortable on a shallow break. This wave is well worth the trip but avoid going during high tide. If you’re looking for a change of pace and want to explore a bit more of the area, head up to Pottuvil for an excellent run-in session ideal for a short board.
This popular wave is a hidden gem, but well worth the trek. This shallow point break can get up to 6 ft on a good day and is popular with surfers of all levels. Regardless of what you call it, this spot can get crowded with beginners on the smaller days. Head out on a SE swell for some excellent crumbling waves off the point, but be aware that locals advise staying out of the lagoon at high tide. Make sure you get in and out safely, it’s called Crocodile Rock for a reason!
Similar to Whiskey Point, Peanut farm is a mellow, right-handed wave that will suit both beginners and advanced surfers. Around 10 or 15 minutes away from the main town it is well worth the trip out when the swell is right. The clean, sandy break is dotted with boulders but it is popular with surf schools in the peak season due to its clean, easy waves.
Best swells for Arugam Bay
Arugam bay is perfect for a south easterly that can get up to around 6 ft in some of the more exposed beaches. Most of the point breaks in the area are protected from larger swells and can offer some perfect waves even in larger swells.
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Arugam Bay surf seasons
Arugam Bay is a popular location from April to October as it avoids the worst of the local monsoon season. The best waves will be found here in June or July, but if you hit the west coast and it is trash, just head east, you’ll find great waves and an awesome surf culture.
Where to stay for an Arugam Bay surf trip
Surf Camp at Star Rest Beach Hotel
This incredible Arugam Bay surf camp includes 5 surf lessons, a sunset picnic, professional surf coaches, surf photography, and more.
This beachfront surf hotel has a pool, sleek and luxurious rooms, an onsite restaurant, provides complimentary slippers & robes, and more.
If you’re on a budget, check out The Long Hostel. With a massive solar system, this Arugam bay surf hostel is the only “green” hostel in Arugam bay. The hostel is in walking distance from the beach, features a mix of air-conditioned and non air-conditioned rooms, a fun social vibe, and security lockers.
Gear for an Arugam Bay surf trip
The average water temps at Arugam Bay hover around a toasty 83 degrees, so you can leave your wetsuits and booties at home for this surf trip. Here are a few essentials:
While you can get it there, I almost always prefer to bring my own reef safe surf sunscreen with me on every surf trip.
- Rash guard
If you’re used to surfing with a wetsuit, you might suffer from surf rash your first few times paddling out. A rash guard is great for combatting this and helping protect you from Sri Lanka’s intense UV rays.
- Mosquito repellent
Like with most tropical destinations, mosquitos run rampant in Sri Lanka. You can either go for the hard stuff (deet-based bug repellents) or this plant-based bug repellent that still works pretty great.
Arugam Bay Surf FAQ’s
Is Arugam Bay safe?
Arugam Bay itself is quite safe with a thriving expat community and some great western-style cafes. Before traveling, check government travel advice on visiting Sri Lanka to ensure your safety as the country has experienced a period of unrest recently.
Is Arugam Bay a good surf town for beginners?
Arugam bay is ideal for beginners, and in fact, offers them a lot of variety. You can rent a board for quite cheap at any of the local surf huts and the breaks are easy to get to and safe. Main Point, Whiskey Point and Peanut Farm will all offer comfortable waves for new surfers. Get out early morning for glassy, clean waves before the afternoon winds pick up the surf and make the conditions a bit more tough if you’re inexperienced, or head out for a late surf after the wind has died down.
Other tips for Arugam Bay
Arugam Bay is located on the southeastern tip of Sri Lanka. This does mean it requires some travel to get there, but there are plenty of options. Train and Bus journeys are available that will give some unforgettable scenery. The towns of Kandy and Ella are both great stopping points, however, a train journey can easily take a couple of days and taking a board may not be ideal. A car with a driver can be rented for less than $100 and the trip will take 6-8 hours.
Once in town, the local tuk-tuk drivers will happily get you to all the local surf spots with no fuss. Just make sure you negotiate a price before you jump in to avoid any nasty surprises at the end of the day. Most drivers are happy to wait nearby while you get amongst it so take your time and enjoy what Arugam Bay has to offer.
Arugam Bay surf guide–final thoughts
Arugam Bay is famous for a reason. With an excellent mix of waves for surfers of all levels, most days you can just take your pick on where you want to surf. The local drivers know the conditions well and are happy to take you to the waves of the day. June and July offer the best surf, but this location makes it possible to surf Sri Lanka year round. Don’t miss this prime wave.