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Arugam Bay – A Surfing Paradise

Situated on the idyllic and pristine East coast of Sri Lanka, Arugam Bay is known as one of the top 10 surf points in the world. The legendary Vihara Maya Devi is thought to have landed at Arugam Bay – or Panama, a few miles to the South, the site of a Buddhist temple excavated recently called ‘Muhudu Maha Viharaya’. The drive through Thirukovil, Oluvil, Akkaraipattu and Kalmunai towards Batticaloa could be considered as one of the most beautiful coastal journeys in the world.

Arugam Bay, the home to the international surfing community, is 2 km from Potuvil, which is the closest town with a population of about 12,000 inhabitants. It is in fact a tiny fishing village at the remote southern end of the Eastern coast, on the edge of the Yala East National Park. There is nothing in Arugam Bay but sea and sand.

It’s situated 320 km from Colombo and some 60km east of Monaragala. The shortest route from Colombo is via Moneragala, which is a 7 hour drive along the A4 highway.

A-Bay – the surfing fraternity’s acronym for Arugam Bay – is a surfer’s paradise with golden sands, blue skies and huge six foot waves and nice breaks. The best time of the year is between May and November, before the north east monsoon starts blowing. ‘The Arugam Point’, a long right hand break, on a good day generates 2m waves and a 400m ride. In addition, four or five high quality breaks could be found within a radius of 30 minutes off a long sandy beach at ‘Potuvil Point’.

The Australian Surf Professionals are organizing ‘Sri Lankan Pro Surf 2011’ for the second consecutive year in August/September this year. Sponsored by SriLankan Airlines, over 100 top calibre competitors are expected to attend this event from all the major surfing destinations in the world.

On any given day dozens of fishing boats could be seen along the sandy beach, with fishermen selling their catch right on the beach. However, during the surfing season they leave the beach to the surfers.

The beach isn’t the only attraction at Arugam Bay. About 2 km south of Arugam Point along the deserted Kudakelliya beach is the Crocodile Rock, offering a magnificent view inland across paddy fields and lagoons as well as sightings of wildlife. The Elephant Rock, 3km south of Arugam Bay, is the place to be especially early morning or late evening, to catch a glimpse of elephants roaming nearby. Okanda Beach, 28 km south of Arugam Bay, is also a popular surfing spot.

The lagoon tour conducted by local fishermen in fibreglass canoes through mangroves, offers the visitor a fascinating insight into the ecosystem in the area. The lagoon is home to a variety of wildlife including crocodiles, monkeys, birds and water snakes.

In addition to its tranquil charm and pristine beaches, Arugam Bay offers cheap transport, low cost hotels as well as star-class accommodation to the visitors. The government has announced the opening of Ampara airport for commercial flights and there are now almost daily flights to Ampara with Sri Lankan Airlines sea planes.

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