Arugam Bay is a bay situated on the Indian Ocean in the dry zone of Sri Lanka's southeast coast. The bay is located 320 km due east of Colombo. It is a popular surfing and tourist destination. Many of the buildings were destroyed in the 2004 tsunami.
Frequent buses from Colombo to nearby Pottuvil (4 km). Most are via Ratnapura, Welawaya, Buttala, Monaragala.
A luxury aircon bus (Rs.1100, new Yutong buses, ~8 hr) leaves to Colombo Airport and Fort at 8:15PM from nearby Akkaraipattu. A tuktuk to there from Arugam Bay costs around Rs.2000 an takes 1½ hr. Tickets are sold by "Al-Rasith Travel (Pvt) Ltd."). Galaxy Lounge can reserve seats.
From Batticaloa: two daily direct buses at 6AM and 10AM. Rs.135, 5-6 hours. Stops for 1 hour in the town of Akuraivili. Tuk-tuks offer to take travelers directly from there to Arugam Bay for Rs.1500, but you could just wait for an hour for the bus to continue and not spend any additional money. The bus ride ends in town of Putuveli, which is about 3-5 km to most guesthouses in Arugam Bay. Tuk-tuks ask for Rs.200-300, but Rs.150 is a fair price. Or you could walk if no luggage; it's pleasant and flat.
Nearest train stations are Ella or Badulla on the Mountain line and Batticaloa using the inland line via Polunaruwa. All three stations are about 135 km from Arugam Bay.
Sri Lankan Airlines operates Air Taxi services on demand landing directly on the Arugam Bay lagoon.
Private taxi services can be arranged at any time of day or night. The transit time from the main international airport to Arugam Bay is 7 hours for the 350 km trip
Since the 1960s Arugam Bay's main surf point has been the main attraction. It is a righthand reef break, famous for long, constituent runs up to 750 m.
- Surfing. Arugam Bay is Sri Lanka's most popular surf spot and one of the best in Asia. Many points exists, e.g. main point and baby point in Arugam Bay, Crocodile Rock, Panama, Okanda in the south, Whiskey Point in the north. Crocodile Rock is mainly used by beginners from sunrise on. Boards can be rented virtually everywhere, tuktuks are readily available to transport surfer and board to the points nearby. Board from Rs.500/half day, course Rs.4500/2 hr/2people.
- Tuk Tuk safari, ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Arugambay Tours offer tuk tuk safaris. They will drive through Yala East National Park, but not into the boundaries of the park. Along the street down to Panama and further on into the park you might spot monkey, elephants, crocodiles and many other animals. As with any game drive, spotting animals is based on luck, the season, time of the day, etc. Rs.3900 per tuk tuk.
The nearby market town of Pottuvil (4 km to the north) has the only proper, air-conditioned supermarket. A new branch of Cargill's Food City. Other small shops are in the Bay itself. The perhaps best equipped and stocked one is "Home Needs" in the centre of the Bay.
Most restaurants are either directly on the beach (such as Emma Restaurant or Friends Indeed) or on both sides on the main road. Many restaurants have their fish (e.g. tuna or marlin, without cooling) shown, but check twice if it is really fresh or from the day before.
There is no legal wine or liquor shop in or anywhere near Arugam Bay. Palmgrove Holiday Inn caters for local patrons and has a licensed bar. Meena's Beer Bar also, but is restricted to bottled beer only (no liquor). Opposite, part of the old Siam View Hotel, Asia's perhaps oldest MicroBrew Pub existed. They produced famous All Natural Arugam Bay Surfer's Beer on draft (only). Due to strict licensing laws their operation could not legally continue after the 2009 end of the 30 year war. Hideaway resort operates a secluded bar in their garden.
A bar close to Galaxy Lounge plays electronic music till sunrise every wednesday.
There are approx. 70 establishments in Arugam Bay offering accommodation. Most are simple, family run cabana style low budget places. In total there are only about 120 somewhat better equipped rooms available with a working air-conditioning and a few basic luxuries. The most popular hotels are, as follows, coming from the bridge/Pottuvil end: #01 Stardust, #03 Galaxy, #05 Beachhut, #15 Tsunami Hotel, #32 Tristar Hotel, #37 Hideaway, #39 Arugam Bay Surf Resort, #50 Siam View Hotel (SVH). Only the latter (SVH) is air-conditioned throughout.
- 1 Emma home-stay, Panama rd, Arugam Bay, ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. Check-in: 7AM, check-out: 1PM. This place is straight on the beach. There are simple regular rooms, 2 bungalows on the beach and 2nd floor with 2 rooms, private terrace with ocean view and a kitchen. It is a home-stay with flexible local host, nice guys run this place and you can survive the heat in the chillout with fan and hammock. US$10-60.
- Panama (13 km S) – Crocodile Tank and Radella Tank
- Kudumbigala Monastery (22 km S)
- Okanda (30 km S) - Kovil and Beach
- Kumana National Park (45 km S)
- Matara. One daily bus at 6AM. Rs.305, 7-8 hours. Arugam Bay bus stop is in the nearby town of Putuveli (3-5 km from most Arugam Bay guesthouses). Note that the bus does not start in Putuveli. When it arrives in Putuveli at 6:00-6:30AM, most seats are taken; you might have to stand for 1-2 hours until the people get off at the bigger towns.