Arugam Bay, known locally as “Arugam Kudah”, is a bay situated on the Indian Ocean in the dry zone of Sri Lanka’s southeast coast, and a historic settlement of the ancient Batticaloa Territory (Mattakallappu Desam). The bay is located 117 kilometres (73 mi) south of Batticaloa, 320 kilometres (200 mi) due east of Colombo, and approximately 4 kilometres (2.5 mi) south of the market town of Pottuvil.
The main settlement in the area, known locally as Ullae, is predominantly Muslim,however there is a significant Sri Lankan Tamil and Sinhala population to the south of the village, as well as a number of international expatriates, largely from Europe and Australia. While traditionally fishing has dominated the local economy, tourism has grown rapidly in the area in recent years. Arugam Kudah’s literal Tamil translation is “Bay of Cynodon dactylon”. Tourism in Arugam Bay is dominated by surf tourism, thanks to several quality breaks in the area, however tourists are also attracted by the local beaches, lagoons, historic temples and the nearby Kumana National Park.
Lovely Arugam Bay, a moon-shaped curl of soft sand, is home to a famed point break that many regard as the best surf spot in the country. It’s a tiny place, with a population of a few hundred, and everything is dotted along a single road which parallels the coast. So in other words, the epitome of the laid-back beach scene that first drew surfers and sun-seekers to Sri Lanka.
If you’re not a surfer, there are plenty of other draws: beachfront guesthouses, ocean-side restaurants and a mellow, swing-another-day-in-a-hammock kind of vibe that’s totally removed from the brash west-coast beach resorts. Arugam Bay also makes a great base for several adventures in the surrounding hinterland. During the low season (November to April) things get extremely quiet and many places close altogether, but it can also be a serene time to visit, with few tourists and verdant landscapes.