Arugam Bay is hands down my favorite place in all of Sri Lanka! So it’s good you’re reading this because I’m about to tell you all about the best things to do in Arugam Bay!! During my first visit to the country, I ended up staying here for 10 days, and fell in love with the laid-back atmosphere.
It’s a small town with just one main street of shops, restaurants, and surfboard rentals, but that is what makes it so charming. People come for the surfing and the legendary beach parties, but they stay for the amazing A-Bay vibe.
I’ll go over some of my favorite Arugam Bay hotels & accommodation options (like the legendary Beach Hut), the Sri Lanka Surf places nearby, and the Arugam Bay Beach parties!
So without further adieu…these are my Top Things To Do in Arugam Bay. Just be careful, if you’re heading that way, you might find yourself staying there much longer than expected.
1) Arugam Bay Surfing
Alright, let’s start with the really obvious one. Arugam Bay is one of the world’s top surfing destinations, so if you go all the way out there and don’t at least try to go surfing — then you’ve made a huge mistake.
There are three main surfing spots to choose from:
- Main Point: This is the surf spot actually located in Arugam Bay. Every morning you’ll see dozens of surfers out there catching some quality waves. This is recommended more for intermediate to advanced surfers.
- Whiskey Point: About a 15-minute drive from Arugam Bay is this famous surf spot. It’s a really beautiful beach as well and can provide some excellent waves for beginner surfers. You’ll also notice heaps of people on surfing lessons.
- Peanut Farm: About 25 minutes from Arugam Bay is this awesome tucked away beach/surf spot. Very popular, and highly recommend.
Tuk-Tuk rides are around 500 rupees one-way to Whiskey Point & Peanut Farm. I’d look into renting your own tuk-tuk, and splitting the cost with people. It’ll be cheaper and more fun.
I feel like surfing destinations always seem to be yoga destinations as well, and Arugam Bay is no exception. When you’re walking up and down the main street, you’ll see that there are tons of yoga places. It’s a great way to start the day, get some exercise, and relax a bit. :-)
I joined a couple of classes at the Stardust Beach Hotel my first visit and had a great session. Definitely worth checking out, and it’s also a nice place to stay if you’re looking for a nice Arugam Bay hotel.
3) Rent a Moto & Explore ! !
This is one of my favorite things to do while traveling around Asia. I love the feeling you get when you’re exploring on a scooter. The roads around Arugam Bay are excellent, and there’s some really beautiful stuff to see. My advice would just be to drive down Panama & Kumana National Park.
4) Beach Days
Arugam Bay is a beautiful and long beach that is perfect just to chill at all day. Grab a book, a fresh coconut, and a towel — you’re not going to want to move. Take a dip in the ocean, play some beach volleyball, or just work on your tan.
5) Explore Panama Tank
Driving through the Panama Tank on a moto is an absolute must. It’s a short 15-20 minute ride from Arugam Bay, and there’s basically just one path to drive along and explore. The landscape is stunning and perfect for taking photos, and you’ll probably see a few crocodiles.
6) Kumana National Park
You’ll see signs all over Arugam Bay for booking a Kumana safari. This is in Yala East, so it’s definitely recommended if you haven’t done any safaris in Sri Lanka. You’ll see heaps of elephants, and if you’re lucky can spot a leopard. Sri Lankan is known for having beautiful and great safari experiences, so definitely look into it. Should cost around $30-$35 U.S.D
7) Whiskey Point Friday Nights
Arugam Bay is also the main party destination in Sri Lanka, and Friday nights at Whiskey Point should not be missed. Beautiful people at a beautiful location, great music, and lots of dancing. Once the arrack starts pouring, you’ll be glad you went.
8) Mambo’s Saturday Nights
The legendary weekly beach party at Mambos’ is an absolute must for anyone visiting Arugam Bay. It’s honestly so much fun, and was one of the highlight’s of my time in the country. I’ve been three different times now, and each time was a solid night.
The music basically doesn’t stop until everyone leaves, and the hard-core party people always make it to the sunrise! The music is really groovy deep / tech-house, and the party is always bumping.
9) Dinners at Beach Hut
The Beach Hut is hands down my favorite place to stay in Arugam Bay, but if you’re not sleeping there — at least pop on over for the daily dinner specials. They are delicious and extremely cheap. I’m talking around $3-4 for a decent sized meal. If you’re there for a fish-BBQ night, then definitely do it.
It’s also a great place to meet people, as everyone who is staying there pretty much has dinner together.
Cheaper options available for vegetarians.
10) ELEPHANT ROCK, ARUGAM BAY SUNSET
If you’re looking for some epic Arugam Bay places to visit, then Elephant Rock should be high up on your list. It’s a rock located on the left-hand side of the bay which, once climbed, provides absolutely incredible views.
Taking a tuk-tuk is recommended as the rock can be hard to find if you’re traveling alone. They will take you as far as they possibly can, and give you directions from there. Do expect a bit of a climb, but the reward is so worth it.
Climb the rock in the early evening and take a picnic with you. This way you can enjoy snacks and sundowners while you watch the sun setting.
11) KUDUMBIGALA MONASTERY
This Buddhist temple is one of the best places to visit near Arugam Bay. It’s about 18-miles from the bay and takes around 45-minutes to reach the temple if you travel via tuk-tuk. Traveling via tuk-tuk is recommended as it adds greatly to the experience.
The monastery doesn’t have an entry fee, so you’ll only have to worry about paying for the tuk-tuk ride. You can expect to pay around USD $17 for a round trip.
The monastery is steeped in history, which you’ll get the chance to learn about during this trip. There are also plenty of trails and caves around the monastery that are worth exploring. If you’re up for a little exercise, there’s a great peak to climb right by the monastery. Once you get to the summit you’ll enjoy stunning views of the coastline and your luscious green surrounds.
12) POTTUVIL LAGOON BOAT TRIP
Pottuvil Lagoon is a coastal lagoon that is home to a variety of wonderful wildlife. The lagoon is shrouded in mangrove trees. Taking a trip on one of the many canoes that glide through the water is a very peaceful experience.
As well as allowing you to experience the beauty of the nature that surrounds you, taking these boats is an eco-friendly tour option. If you’re looking for one of the best places to visit in Arugam Bay, this has got to be high on your list.
Among other things, you’ll get the chance to see crocodiles lazing in the sun, water monitors climbing the trees, and freshwater snakes swimming through the waters. Wildlife doesn’t get much more thrilling than that.
13) PEANUT FARM BEACH
Peanut Farm is a beach just a 15-minute drive from Arugam Bay and provides a peaceful escape. The gentle waves make it a great place to learn to surf, and the lack of crowds offer a reprieve from the busyness of Arugam Bay.
Enjoy a refreshing smoothie or snack from the beach cafe while you lounge around and pet the many friendly dogs that live there.
14) CHILL OUT AT HIDEAWAY
Although Arugam Bay nightlife is exciting and fun-filled, if you’re not much of a party animal there are other nightlife options available. Hideaway is the perfect place to knock back a few drinks without going too wild.
Hideaway is a resort located right on the beachfront that offers stunning rooms. But whether or not you decide to stay there, their Hide & Chill evening cocktail bar is a great place to pre-drink or end your evening off with a glass of wine.
They have great happy hour specials between 6 pm and 8 pm when they serve two for one drinks.
15) SHOP FOR LESS
Walking down the main street you’ll see a variety of stores selling wonderful souvenirs and clothing for great prices. You can even get your hands on things like custom-made bikinis (that can be resized to your preference). You can get these for as little as $30 USD and they’re great quality.
Apart from Arugam Bay’s custom clothing, you’ll get a bunch of other things on the cheap too. Spending the day window shopping and looking for some great bargains can be a fun little excursion, and give you something unique to take home with you.
16) RENT A TUK-TUK
Renting a tuk-tuk in Arugam Bay is a great way to dictate your own adventure and find loads of hidden gems along the way. Luckily, Arugam Bay has decently-kept roads and the traffic is mild in comparison to many of the other places in Sri Lanka.
Renting a tuk-tuk is relatively cheap, especially if you’re traveling with friends. It’s important to note that you’re not allowed to travel with a surfboard on your scooter in Arugam Bay. So, if you plan on making many trips to the beach with your surfboard, hiring a tuk-tuk is a much better option.
This can be especially fun if you’re traveling to some of the best beaches in Sri Lanka with your friends.
17) SRI LANKAN COOKING CLASSES
While you’re in Sri Lanka, do as the Sri Lankans do! Take a cooking class to learn traditional Sri Lankan cooking methods and how to make some of their most delicious dishes. This is an especially exciting activity for foodies who’ve enjoyed the local street food.
Learn to cook curries and coconut sambal along with a whole host of other Sri Lankan meals. Ecowave hosts great cooking classes near the main road in Arugam Bay, but there are many other places holding these activities daily.
If you don’t want to take a formal class, there are many restaurants and hotels in Arugam Bay that will arrange this activity for you for a small fee. This often ends up working out a little cheaper than taking a formal cooking class.
You’ll also get to choose which meal you want to learn to make, so you can recreate your favorite dishes when you’re back home.
18) LAHUGALA NATIONAL PARK
Lahugala National Park is just 12.5 miles from Arugam Bay and happens to be one of the smallest national parks in Sri Lanka. Although the park is small in size, it’s an important conservation area for elephants as well as birdlife.
Most of the park consists of dry evergreen forest and acts as a feeding ground for the herd of elephants. This herd is 150 strong and is the main reason the park attracts visitors. Try to visit the park during sunset as this is when the elephants visit the watering hole.
Other animals that you’ll be lucky to see in Lahugala National Park include jackal, wild cat, sloth bear, wild boar, leopard, and deer.
19) CATCH THE SUNRISE
Being a bay that faces east, watching the sunrise is not only easy, but it’s also magnificent. Head to the beautiful Arugam beach just before sunrise so you can have a little time to find the right viewing spot.
Be sure to take your camera as the golden rays are sure to put on a spectacular show as they peep over the horizon. Waking up early in the morning will never be more worthwhile than in this epic location.
20) WATCH THE SUN SETTING
Because the bay faces east, the sunrises are notably more spectacular than the sunsets. However, this doesn’t mean you should write-off watching the sun setting over the horizon. There are still some wonderful spots that allow you to witness nature’s favorite evening event.
Some of the best places to watch the sunset in Arugam Bay are Elephant Rock, Mambo’s, and Pottuvil Bridge. The bridge is an easy walk from Arugam and provides panoramic views over the Puttuvil Lagoon. You’ll likely be joined by a group of local fishermen eager to enjoy the sunset with you.
21) ENJOY A MASSAGE OR AYURVEDIC TREATMENT
South-east Asia is known for it’s reasonably priced beauty treatments as well as it’s unique and ancient eastern treatments. Sri Lanka is no different, offering a myriad of options when it comes to beauty as well as Ayurveda.
Arugam Bay Ayurveda Treatment Centre is a great place to go for a massage, or alternatively treat an ailment that you’re currently struggling with. There truly is something special about ancient eastern medicine, and these healing powers should be put to the test during your stay in Arugam Bay.
If you’re opting for a longer stay then taking an entire week off for Ayurvedic treatment is also an option.
22) RELAX BY THE POOL
A holiday is not complete without ample chill-out time. Head to one of the many resorts for a day spent by the pool, cocktail in hand. One of the best resorts to do this is Rocco’s, where you can lounge by the pool, located right on the beachfront.
Visiting a resort for the day also provides you with a luxury experience without the great cost that comes with staying there. Although, if your budget does allow it, staying at a resort such as Rocco’s does enhance your Arugam Bay experience.
23) VISIT THE COLORFUL BOATS
Being a small fishing village, Arugam Bay is constantly dotted with colorful fishing boats along the main beach. The best time to go see them is in the early morning when they’re just setting out. This is also a great time to snap a picture of the boats with the sun rising behind them.
These fishermen are often open to taking tourists on board when there is space, so if you’re up for a fishing experience, just ask them nicely.
Alternatively, you can visit in the afternoon when the fishermen are coming home from their fishing expeditions. This can provide ample entertainment for the afternoon as you watch the fisherman counting their catch.
24) MARVEL AT MUHUDU MAHA VIHARA
Muhudu Maha Vihara is a Buddhist temple that was built almost 2000 years ago. It’s situated right near the beach and currently features the remains of ancient stupas and statues. These ruins are a great place to explore and learn about the history of Buddhism.
It’s also a wonderful place to take photos, especially during the golden hours. Kill two birds with one stone and visit the beach after exploring the remains of the temple.
25) DINE AT “WHY NOT”
Although the name may suggest it’s a last resort, Why Not is anything but that. They serve up a delicious selection of traditional Sri Lankan food – like curries, sambal, rice, and bread – while preserving a beachy atmosphere.
You can expect to pay around $2 USD for a meal, which is an absolute steal for the quality you’ll be receiving.
26) BUY FRESH FISH
It’s not often that you get to buy fish straight out of the ocean, as fresh as it comes. But in Arugam Bay, you’re able to buy fish along the main road that’s come straight off the fishing boats. Take this opportunity to throw a fish on the BBQ and cook up something a little different.
If you don’t feel like cooking it yourself, there are plenty of stalls that will cook it up for you. You can expect to pay around $4 USD for a meal that’s served with either chips or rice.
If the thought of fresh fish isn’t enough to entice you, then the smell of smoking BBQs sure will. Stop by the main road for your portion of some of the best street food in Sri Lanka. It simply doesn’t come fresher and better than that.
27) Absolutely Nothing
Alright, so I probably shouldn’t list this a thing to do, because it’s simply the exact opposite.
But Arugam Bay is the perfect destination to lose track of time, and fall into the traveling mentality. Lie in a hammock, read, take naps on the beach, and enjoy the simplicity of A-Bay.
Days turn into weeks in Arugam Bay. Seriously. It can be really hard to leave.
Well there you have it. Those are my top things to do in Arugam Bay. It’s an amazing and beautiful destination in Sri Lanka, and definitely should not be missed!
Where To Stay in Arugam Bay…?
I’ve stayed at several different Arugam Bay hotels now, and I’ve definitely got a few recommendations for you!
For starters – there are tons of Amazing AirBNB Options in Arugam Bay! I love booking on AirBNB when I’m traveling, because I can read tons of reviews, and meet some awesome local hosts! If you sign up for a new account, you’ll get $40 Off Your First Night! (Which can be like 1-2 Free nights!)
For budget travelers, the following hostels are super awesome:
- Little Lagoon Hostel: Affordable rooms, excellent reviews, and just minutes from a quiet area of the beach ideal for swimming.
- Arne’s Place: Self proclaimed as the “The Friendliest Hostel”. This basic budget accommodation is great for backpackers.
Have any questions? Feel free to shoot me an email, or drop a comment down below and I’d be happy to answer them for you. Safe travels!