World-class surf conditions fringe a land of jungle and ancient temples. Elephants peer at you behind flocks of peacocks as you race away in your tuk tuk towards one of the many nearby surf breaks: this is a place where water buffalo queues are the only heavy traffic on the roads and your driver is likely to be a local surf legend.
Sri Lanka Wildlife. Photo: Jelle Mollenvanger
Your companions in the line-up are as likely to be sea turtles as they are travellers from far and wide. The tropical climate will have you swooning even if the locals don’t, and if neither of them knocks you off your feet, it will be the sheer variety of riches this land has to offer.
You are guaranteed to dream of those pristine balmy waters long after you’ve left. This is a mirage made real: Arugam Bay, you keep a little piece of every heart that stops to stay a while.
Baby Point. Photo: Yanik Tissera Photography
There are two surfing seasons in Sri Lanka as a result of the east-west monsoons. The south west’s dry season typically brings offshore winds to greet the long-distance Indian Ocean groundswells from October through to April and Arugam Bay in the east has blazing hot days and epic waves from May to October, and even outside of these months there will be breaks working.
Out east, surfers of all abilities will find a wave to suit them in Arugam Bay: Main Point has a famed 500-metre right-hand wave with a barrel section; Pottuvil Point can yield up to 800 metre rides; the varied (right-hand) breaks at stunning Elephant Rock, Peanut Farm, Whisky Point, and Baby Point mean that on any given day there is always more than one wave to ride.
Peanut Farm. Photo: Frederic de Wandeleer
Pottuvil Point. Photo: Yanik Tissera Photography
If you want to travel in time, drive 20 minutes south to Panama where you will find a Hindu village which seems to be not quite of this world, host to ancient temple festivals, the gateway to mysterious Buddhist Kudumbigala monastery, and views of the stars like you’ve never seen before. Join East Surf Cabanas for a BBQ under the stars at Leopard Rock to taste its sublime magic. Panama also has an empty surf break and a lagoon with more crocodiles than you will ever want to see again. Keep your eyes peeled for the leopards out there, too – this is National Park territory.
From the remote to the bustling, the Bay has a vibe day and night. The crowd moves from venue to venue depending on the day of the week, so you will not fail to find a gathering that is right for you. Wake up and start your day with an artisan coffee, satisfy your thirst with fresh coconut water from the sweeter than you’ve experienced before orange Sri Lankan coconut – the Thambili – and enjoy soulful live music in a sultry jungle bar in the evening. Arugam Bay is sure to wrap you up in its magic, it is a surf destination in the Indian Ocean not to be missed.
Thambili, Sri Lankan Coconut. Photo: Tinka Blu
Written by Debbie Krupski