2020 Sep 27
Arugam Bay was a modest fishing village, known for its scenic coastline. What many didn’t know though, was that its ocean had some of the best waves in the world for surfing. This began to change in the 70s, when the first surfers started arriving in the area.
The locals, warm-hearted and friendly, taught these tourists about the lay of the land and made them feel part of the community. In turn, the locals got the chance to learn about its surf culture. And a vibe of learning and sharing grew organically, which gave life to the Arugam Bay we know and love today.
The East coast surf season begins as the North Eastern monsoon ends nearing May, and continues until October. If what you are looking for is a mellow experience with fewer crowds, early on in the season, between late May and July, is better suited for you. If you are a more weather-beaten surfer looking for crankin’ waves, as someone familiar with the lingo might say, then the best months for you are from July to September. This is when most of the breaks are working.
Here are four surf spots, apart from the main surf beach in Arugam Bay, that you absolutely must explore!
Nestled about 4 km away from the main point in Arugam Bay, Elephant Rock used to be a lesser-known surf spot in the East Coast.
Its waves break to the right from the vantage of the surfer. These waves are known as a right. They are also pointbreaks, meaning that they wrap around the protruding rock before rolling along the coastline. The height of these waves ranges from 2 to 6 feet.
Its gaining popularity now – not only because of the waves but also because of the views. You can climb the rock to immerse yourself in a stunning sunset, and maybe you’ll even catch a glimpse of the elephants freely roaming around.
A word of caution: avoid the lagoon nearby, because it has crocodiles.
Peanut Farm is another less frequented right-hand pointbreak only a short distance south of the Elephant Rock. It gets its name from peanut plantations that used to be there before the Tsunami.
Waves here, which can be 3 to 6 feet in height, are best experienced from June to October. While they offer one section that requires more experience to navigate, another section is mellower and is ideal for beginners. During the off-season, this hidden treasure also offers clear blue seas for swimming.
Urani village is the home of the Whiskey Point, the second most sought after surf point in Arugam Bay. It is about 15 km North from the Arugam Bay beach and takes about 30 minutes in a tuk-tuk.
Its right-hand, pointbreak waves can reach between 2 to 6 feet in height and are perfect for beginner and intermediate surfers. During the months of May and October, the village becomes animated with surfers bustling about. In the evenings, music permeates the shoreline as many of the surfers mingle.
Found along the Komari beach stretch, about an hour’s drive away from Arugam Bay, Lighthouse is a less crowded spot reserved for veteran surfers. Its waves break to the right and come to life in the months of July, August and September. Even if you aren’t a pro-surfer, it is a must-visit, simply because of the spectacular coastal vistas.
A 15-minute walk further to the north from Lighthouse will get you to Green House, another surf point you might want to explore.
Surf schools and hangout spots
The experience of anyone absorbing the surf culture of the East Coast is incomplete without knowing where to learn to surf and where to unwind after a long day or surfing. It’s part and parcel of the “surf culture”! So here are a few spots you don’t want to miss out!
Surf n Sun
This family-run joint is just a few minutes’ walk away from the main surf point in Arugam Bay. It has very humble beginnings and a history that spans three generations.
In the beginning, surfing for them was a way of escaping the war. As time went by, they started surf guiding and showing their visitors some of the secret points they knew.
Today they have ISA qualified surf instructors, all of whom are locals from the village who have been surfing in the local spots since their childhood.
This is another spot that is nearby the main beach in Arugam Bay. This was built in 1979 as a holiday home by the Tissera family and is still run by members of the family. They have gathered unique local knowledge over the years and have many contacts that will enable you to have one of the best experiences of the East Coast.
The fusion and traditional Sri Lankan cuisine they offer is often prepared using organically-grown and locally-sourced produce. Hideaway Blue, their café, has amazing coffee. Oh! And Hide & Chill Bar is one of the most renowned watering holes in the region.
Sababa Surf Cafe
This is an underground, minimalist restaurant, bar and chill-out spot facing the beach at Whiskey Point. You will not find it on social media, but on a Friday, which is the party night at Whiskey Point, Sababa Surf Café is the place to be! And you are sure to have a memorable experience, with DJs playing full-on electronic music till hours way past the dawn.
Lighthouse Beach Hut
Lighthouse Beach Hut, as the name suggests, is located at Lighthouse Point. It is an eco-friendly, simple joint run by Ranga. On one side, it faces the beach, and calming greenery envelops all other sides.
Their restaurant is an excellent hangout spot where you can meet surfers from all around the world, and their rice and curry is prepared using freshly delivered fish, seafood and produce sourced from their very own organic farm.
There are also many other small joints that add to the momentum of the peak of the East Coast season. So go off the beaten path, do a bit of exploring on your own, and uncover colourful secrets of the Arugam Bay culture that only a few may know.