Tips for Arugam Bay, Sri Lanka

I can´t even remember the first time I went to Arugam bay. It´s so long ago. I think it was with Mysha late September 2014.

Beaches were empty, I couldn´t surf at all, but I thought I am really good at it. 🙂 Party at Mambo´s were still full on. Good old times.Since then I have been to A-bay at least once a year, recently it´s twice a year – before and after the season. When the crowds are gone.

I am getting many questions how A – Bay is doing after the Easter bombing attacks. Well, I won´t lie you, it was a strange feeling to be there surrounded by all the armed military and police. They were literally on every corner. Basically 4 soldiers per one tourist. But I kept it in my mind they are there for our safety and didn´t make a big deal out of it. Although Arugam bay is mostly a muslim part of Sri Lanka the vibe and energy felt  more chilled than in the South Coast. That´s probably also the reason why we extended our stay in A-bay. 

It´s already more than a month since I left A-bay. I hope tourists are back there, because it´s those nice local people who need you the most!

So, here is my list of recommended places to eat, sleep, drink coffee, shop etc.

TO STAY

From my own experience it´s best to pre-book a place for 2-3 nights and then walk around and search on your own. However in peak season (July-August) it might be harder to find nice well located accommodation. There are so many great places to stay in this tiny bay so it´s difficult to pick just a few. All places I mention here are listed on booking.com.

  • I like RUPAS – from their top floor room you have a beautiful view of the whole bay, from sunrise to sunset. It´s really close to Main point. And they have various type of rooms/bamboo huts.
  • GARDEN COTTAGE is the place where I usually stay. It´s just in the middle of village, yet hidden from all the street noise in the garden. Walking distance anywhere. Rooms are with AC. There is an Indian restaurant in the front yard.
  • THARAKA´S SURF GUEST budget rooms, with AC/fan. Just on the way to Main point. There is cafe, juice bar and surfboard rental shop in the front yard.
  • WATER EDGE located in the heart of the village nice beachfront hotel & restaurant.
  • EAST SURF CABANAS modern guest house, separated cabanas with own front terrace.

You can also get whole package accommodation/surf lessons/food/yoga with some of the surfcamps based in A-bay – Surf camp Arugam bayElephant road resort.
For lessons only check the surf schools on the beach or street or online.

TO EAT

  • SEAHORSE for their pizza and happy hour cocktails. 
  • INDIAN at Garden cottage for, well, Indian food. 
  • SIAM VIEW for super tasty Thai meals. 
  • LAHIRUS – from fried rice over schnitzel to best dessert ever – Hello to the queen!
  • AR on Main road for hummus&falafel. 
  • SPICE TRAIL for it´s original Asian cuisine. 
  • LEAF & VINEperfect for a romantic dinner, great meals & cocktails.
  • KARMA GARDENS aka yummy brekkie place just on the way from Main point. 
  • THATHIS – local breakfast place, my personal no.1 choice.

COFFEE is da best in Bites cafe and Hideaway blue cafe.

Bites cafe – delicious coffee and cakes. Best taste when shared. They have also AC inside.

DRINKS

Many places offer happy hour. Usually Saturday party is at MAMBO´S. I am sure, there will be other clubs open during the main season too.

No alcohol on fullmoon day and some other special holidays. Beer shop is out of the village, just jump in a tuktuk and drive there.

Just so you know – the hangovers in the tropics are really bad!

TRIPS

Where to go on flat days or when you have too many reefcuts?

You can do a TUKTUK SAFARI, basically any tuktuk driver can take you for this trip or just ask for recommendations in your guest house or around town.

Elephant rock sunset dinner with friends organised by LUNA SURF TRIBE. I think is the best experience I had in A-bay. They’ll drive you to the spot, together you will carry essentials needed to prepare delicious jungle rice and curry dinner and then you watch cooking / sunset or just help prepare the meal. There is also a little buddhist temple cave on top of the rock.

One of my favorite trip is Kudumbigala monastery on top of the rock. To go there is a little safari too, it takes around 40min by tuktuk from A-bay. Stunning view! Great for sunset/sunrise. Don´t forget to cover your shoulders and knees.

YOGA – from what I know and tried you can practice yoga with certificated teachers in BAYVISTA, on their rooftop and in HIDEAWAY BLUE in their special yoga shala. I believe in peak season there are more places offering yoga.

yoga_arugam

SHOPPING

I love shopping, naturally. And I love local Sri Lankan shops, you never know what you will find there. I just bought the best purse made from rice bags in a small hidden shop on the Main road.

I am introducing you below to more “western style” shops, but you should definitely visit the local shops too. Just walk down the Main street and back and keep your eyes open!

  • WASTELESS A-BAY – best project on East coast. They collect YOUR plastic bottles to melt the lids into new products which you can by there. They will show you how they do it.You can also fill up your bottles with drinking water there. There are few plastic bottle collection places around A-bay.
  • RICE&CARRY all kind of bags made from recycled rice, onion etc.bags. So many beautiful designs and ideas. Perfect as souvenir for your beloved back home.
  • DEAPSEA – beautiful original linen dresses, Sri Lankan cosmetics and surfer essentials.
  • HIDEAWAY BLUE shop – this shop is hidden inside of the garden, just behind the cafe. They sell surfboards, bikinis, postcards, clothes. 
  • DYLAN´S SURF COMPANY – surf/beach wear and official Billabong seller in Sri Lanka!
  • STOLEN PARADISE – original clothing apparel made in Sri Lanka. Especially mens clothes are super nice.