Sri Lanka / Travel

Top 10 awesome things to do in Arugam Bay

Top 10 best things to do in Arugam Bay, Sri Lanka

After a couple of hot and humid days in Kandy, arriving in Arugam Bay felt like finding paradise. I think I ended up liking it so much because it reminds me of what Bali used to be. A calmer version of Canggu if you will, but with a much nicer beach. Think sand for miles, palm trees, colorful boats and laid back restaurants. The atmosphere is young and fun, so it’s an ideal place for backpackers and solo travelers to meet like-minded people.

May to September is the best time to visit, in other words, we arrived just in time to soak up the last rays of summer. The locals told us that starting in October it would be pouring down for months. A-Bay was definitely one of the places I liked the most in Sri Lanka, so I decided to do a roundup of all the different activities the bay has to offer.


Related Post: My favorite Arugam Bay restaurants & hotels


Top 10 best things to do in Arugam Bay, Sri Lanka -Beach

10 things to do in Arugam Bay

Learn to surf Arugam Bay is a surf town for sure. During our visit, there were more people in the water than on the actual beach. On smaller days Main Point is a great place to learn to surf, though it gets super crowded. Peanut Farm, about 15 minutes south, also has a great beginner wave in addition to a more advanced one. It seemed to be the spot of choice for the surf schools, at least there were a lot of soft boards in the water. If you are a more seasoned surfer you should also check out Pottuvil Point, Whiskey Point and Light House, all north of the bay. Further south you’ll find Elephant Rock and Okanda. If you haven’t booked a school in advance I would walk down the main street and ask around for prices. Safa Surf Camp is supposed to be awesome!

Top 10 best things to do in Arugam Bay, Sri Lanka - Learn to surf

Go beach hopping The main beach is loooong and super nice, but only a small part is really swimmable due to big waves crashing onto land. That spot is close to Main Pont surf break, so it gets super crowded up that end of the beach. Of course, you can go in the water wherever you want, but please be careful and time your exit or else you will probably end up face down in the sand. All the surf spots mentioned above also have some great beaches worth checking out even if you don’t surf. My favorite is Peanut Farm beach, pictured below, where you’ll also find a quaint cafe serving some basic food and drinks.

Top 10 best things to do in Arugam Bay, Sri Lanka - Peanut Farm Beach

Buy a tailor-made bikini Walking down main street on our first night in the Bay, I was quickly drawn to this window full of bikinis. Inside there was an older guy making swimwear to order. It turned out I was lucky, the guy was closing shop for the rainy season the next day, so of course, I had to put in an order straight away. He has a lot of fun fabrics and styles to choose from, I went with a retro, purple pineapple pattern. For only 4500Rs / $30 I got both a souvenir and something I will wear a lot.

Top 10 best things to do in Arugam Bay, Sri Lanka - Bikini Tailor

Go on a safari to Kumana National Park, about 50 minutes south of A-Bay. There are many different companies offering different kinds of packages, some short and some whole day adventures. Our hotel manager set the whole thing up for us and arranged for the car to pick us up at the hotel. I think we ended up paying 12.500Rs, which included entry to the park, a guide and the car all to ourselves. We saw elephants, crocodiles, deer, lots of different birds, water buffalos and different small furry creatures, but sadly not the shy leopard. Remember to eat a big meal before you go, as you’ll be gone for at least six hours. And bring water, lots of water!

Top 10 best things to do in Arugam Bay, Sri Lanka - SafariTop 10 best things to do in Arugam Bay, Sri Lanka - Safari

Eat Arugam has the perfect mix of local and trendy restaurants and cafés. As I mentioned in the Unawatuna restaurant guide, the local cuisine is both delicious and cheap. We tried to eat Sri Lankan food at least twice a day and then splurge on dinner at one of the fancier restaurants at night. Below you can see the chicken tacos we enjoyed at Hideaway Resort Restaurant. Delicious though quite expensive for the area at 700Rs/$5 for just the one dish. That’s twice what we paid for an entire meal, including noodles, roti and drinks, at one of the local spots along the main road. So as you can see you’ll find places to eat that fits every budget in Arugam Bay. Another restaurant we really liked is Food Nest. Their pizzas made in a wood-fired oven are super tasty and they make a killer pineapple mojito. Yum! More about this here.

Top 10 best things to do in Arugam Bay, Sri Lanka - Best restaurants

Lagoon boat trip The afternoon is the perfect time to go for a relaxing and scenic boat ride in Pottuvil lagoon just north of Arugam Bay. It’s not the most exciting activity in the world, but it’s a great way to support the locals. If you’re lucky you’ll see some wildlife coming down to the water’s edge.

Top 10 best things to do in Arugam Bay, Sri Lanka

Do yoga Start your mornings with yoga, nothing will make you feel more energized and ready to take on the day. Driving through town I saw many signs and posters for different yoga classes, so you should be able to find something for every level. I’ve heard especially great things about Wave Flow yoga at the Stardust Beach Hotel. They offer lots of different therapies and classes, even one especially for surfers where you work on your balance and breathing.

Party As I mentioned there is a lot of young travelers in Arugam Bay, so there is usually a party going on somewhere. When we were in town, Hideaway Resort threw a super fun bash that kept going into the early hours. Look for posters scattered around town announcing parties or just follow the music, A-bay isn’t that big of a place.

Rent a scooter Arugam is one of the places we visited I would feel totally safe to drive by myself. The roads are good and the traffic isn’t too crazy. Driving by yourself you’ll notice so much more of your surroundings and have the opportunity to stop and explore whenever you feel like it. It’s also nice not to have to explain and arrange with a driver that often misunderstand what you’re saying. Just remember that surfboard racks are not allowed in A-Bay, probably so the tuk-tuks will get more work. So if you’re going back and forth to the surf breaks every day, it can get expensive. It might be beneficial to rent your own tuk-tuk, especially if you can share the cost with someone.

Top 10 best things to do in Arugam Bay, Sri Lanka

Kudumbigala Monastery is located on the outskirts of Kumana National Park, about 30km south of A-Bay. It was built all the way back in 246 BC as a refuge for Buddhist monks that wanted to get away from the hustle and bustle of the cities. The view from the top alone is worth the hike, just be aware of the wild animals. You could encounter elephants, monkeys, crocodiles and even bears. The best time to visit is early in the morning, as the heat in the middle of the jungle gets unbearable later in the day.



  • Kandja Sylla
    27. October 2016 at 04:00

    This place sounds amazing! I love that there are a ot of things I can do here aside from eating. Bookmarking this post for my future travel. Thanks for the share! xx

    • Charlotte
      27. October 2016 at 16:39

      Yes it really is! Thanks for stopping by Kandja 🙂

  • Clare
    28. October 2016 at 20:36

    I really want to go visit Sri Lanka and this place looks beautiful. I am adding it my list of places to visit 🙂

  • Rocio Chavez
    28. October 2016 at 22:08

    Gorgeous, I so love me some fab beach destinations and this looks amazing!!

  • Bruce Schinkel
    29. October 2016 at 00:56

    I’ll definitely be adding this to my list the next time I’m in Sri Lanka … thanks so much for this post!

  • Heather
    3. November 2016 at 23:21

    Hi there! Your trip to Sri Lanka looks amazing. I am heading there in February. I have five days to spare before I do a tour that covers a lot of the country. What it doesn’t cover are the beaches. Is there any particular area that you would suggest if you had five days to laze around?

    • Charlotte
      4. November 2016 at 03:42

      Hi Heather! That sounds fun, you’re gonna have such a great time. If I were going back to Sri Lanka for some beach time, I would definitely stay in Arugam Bay or in the Unawatuna area. Around Arugam you have a lot of remote beaches to explore, and the bay itself is a laid back beach community where it’s easy to meet people. Probably my favorite place we stayed on the island. Unawatuna is a bit more touristy, but you have a lot of beaches to choose from close by. You can easily jump in a tuk-tuk and go all the way down to Mirissa in less than an hour. Both places have great restaurants in all price ranges. Hope this help! Feel free to ask if you have any more questions 🙂

  • Kathleen
    15. March 2017 at 17:34

    Hi Charlotte,

    I might have missed this- but what time of year did you visit? Thanks!

    • Charlotte
      15. March 2017 at 17:48

      Hi Kathleen! Vi visited during September 🙂

  • Jess
    10. May 2017 at 21:48

    Hi, your blog is great it’s so detailed! We are going to Sri Lanka in July/August. How did you get to Arugam bay? I think we will be going from Ella. Thanks

    • Charlotte
      11. May 2017 at 22:13

      Thank you, Jess 😀 There are usually a few drivers waiting for the train to arrive in Ella. So we got a car together with some other travelers super cheap!

  • Nicole
    3. June 2017 at 18:05

    Hi Charlotte, Love to read that Arugam Bay is paradise! I’m going to Sri Lanka in September and planning on spending the last days of my trip in Arugam Bay to have some beach time. I read in the lonely planet that as a woman you shouldn’t wear a bikini or swimsuit on the beach, but cover up with a shirt. Could you please share your experience? Do you also have to wear a shirt while sunbathing? Or is it just if you’re having a drink or something to eat at a bar?

    • Charlotte
      5. June 2017 at 12:59

      Thanks, Nicole 😀 Arugam Bay is just like any other surf town, people wear bikinis and small sundresses everywhere. I wore a bikini to all the beaches we went to in Sri Lanka. That said I wore a cover up when we went off the beach. Unless the restaurant/bar had sunbeds 😉

  • Natalie Byrne
    9. August 2017 at 13:33

    Loving this blog, thinking of going to Sri Lanka early next year and visiting Mirissa and Hikkaduwa, as after a semi-lazy 2 weeks there. The photography is stunning too, something which I would love to practice too whilst away seeing new places. How do you shoot these types of images, are they treated afterwards too or shot completely this way? Would love to learn how!

    • Charlotte
      26. August 2017 at 11:15

      Hi Natalie 🙂 Thank you for a lovely comment! I definitely think you should go to Sri Lanka, I loved it there! I edit all my photos quite a bit in Lightroom. I’m doing a tutorial and giving away a free Lightroom preset sometime in the next couple of weeks, so stay tuned!

  • Lotte | Finding My Ohm
    28. September 2018 at 15:18

    I loved Arugam! The only thing is that most surf spots take a 30/40 mins ricksaw ride.

  • Julia
    17. June 2019 at 08:31

    Hey!! I loveee the post
    do you know by any chance the phone nubmer of the tailor? would be sooo happy if you do (:

    • Charlotte
      18. June 2019 at 15:59

      Hi Julia. Thank you so much! Unfortunately, I don’t have his number. He had a queue out the door when we were there so I don’t know if he would even have time to answer the phone 😛


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