Our Sales Manager Aurélie writes about visiting Arugam Bay for the first time and learning to surf:
The lovely golden beach!
I went surfing for the first time! I still can’t believe it. It was on Sri Lanka’s Arugam Bay no less, which is a 3km long strip of golden beach ranked as one of the top surfing spots in the world. For the first couple of weeks since I landed on this island for a long term stay, I hit the southern beaches, perfectly content at being a beach bum. The trick is to catch the right coast at the right season. From May to October the beach season is on the eastern coast so I decided to experience the famed Arugam Bay.
Despite its fame, Arugam Bay is a remote fishing village in eastern Sri Lanka.
Arugam Bay is a small fishing village on the east coast that for a long time was relatively closed off due to the civil war, but has recently emerged as an idiosyncratic surfing hotspot. The area is very laidback and low key, very different from the raucous vibe of the southern beaches. There’s a single main road serving the town so the boutique shops and such are all basically on the sides of this road. There are small resorts and beach huts serving backpacking surfers and atmospheric restaurants to try all sorts of food. The bar-cafés here are quite lively, mostly filled with hardcore surfers swapping stories and enthusiastic noobs trying to listen in.
Chillaxing at my cabana at Samantha’s Folly
I stayed at lovely Samantha’s Folly resort right on the beach in a thatched-roof cabana. Near the beach there’s a tuk-tuk brigade to take you around town. Be aware that prices are inflated for tourists so the smart thing to do is to arrange a tuk-tuk or a driver in advance via an insider. Arugam Bay has a point break that really makes it great for surfing. I was glad to learn that I wasn’t the only beginner surfer here; in fact, there were so many groups of tourists wanting to learn. There are several surf schools along the beach charging about 2,500 LKR per lesson and about 800 LKR for surfboard rental. I signed up with a friendly local surf guide named Nishan who chose a big beginner surfboard for me.
My surfing lesson actually began on land. Nishan put the surfboard on the sand and showed me paddling and popping up techniques. Once he thought I got the hang of it, we walked to the beginner surfing spot at a corner of the Bay. A bit further from here is the spot with big waves for expert surfers. The rest of the Bay is only good for swimming or body boarding.
Many tourists come here to learn surfing.
Once we were in the water, Nishan patiently showed me how to lie on my stomach on the board and paddle like we did on the beach. He told me to look out for the place where waves were breaking and catch one right before it broke and made foam. It’s much easier said than done. I fell off my board about a hundred times and accidently swallowed loads of salt water. Nishan helped me and gave my board a push in the white water after the wave broke and eventually I managed to ride my first wave! A small one but, go me! I was super tired but happy when we finished after a while. I was determined to go surfing again the following morning, but it never happened because there was an awesome beach party that night and we stayed up until sunrise.
Sunrise seen after all night partying.
Arugam Bay beach is utterly beautiful. If nothing else, I could just lie on the golden sand sipping watermelon juice and watch the expert surfers twist their bodies on the waves far away. I had a great time on the beach trying local food, watching the gorgeous sunrise and meeting devout surfers. It’s not that well known but Arugam Bay is a good base to explore the eastern section of the Yala National Park, known as the Kumana Bird Sanctuary. There are many exotic indigenous and migrant birds to watch at Kumana but the most captivating are the stunning tropical scenery and the elephants. Yes, elephants playing and mud bathing in their natural habitat. What a way to take a break from surfing! I only spent three days at Arugam Bay and from what I saw, it deserves a much longer stay, like a month. I definitely won’t miss visiting for my second surf lesson sometime soon.