6 Stunning Beaches To Explore In Arugam Bay

Looking for some isolated coves, some hidden gems or what Arugam Bay beaches have to offer? Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. Welcome to our guide to the best beaches in Arugam Bay.

Sri Lanka is blessed with some of those most stunning beaches in the world, and the Arugam Bay area is up there with the best to explore in the country. The east coastlines isolated position on the map has protected it from the overdevelopment of beachfront hotels and main roads you’ll find in the south and this means travelers can still find the kind of landscapes and nature that the former explorers of Ceylon used to discover. 

Best beaches in Arugam Bay

This shoreline has this feeling of wildness to it with long deserted beaches backing onto wild overgrown jungle, crocodile filled lagoons resting against soft golden sands and world class waves crashing next to calm isolated bays. It’s the perfect place to grab a motorbike, get out of town and explore rural Sri Lanka.

If you’re looking for more than pure Robinson Crusoe vibes then don’t worry Arugam bay has so much more to offer, this area of the coastline has a unique blend of surf culture intertwined with hippie vibes, local life and wildlife. Whatever you’re looking for there’s probably a beach offering it, here are our top 6 beaches in Arugam Bay to make your search a little easier.

Arugam Bay Beach

Arugam Bay beach is the focal point of the area where fishermen launch their boats, local kids play in the sea, surfers commute to the breaks and bars serve cold coconuts, or a few cocktails if you are that way inclined. You can waste days just chilling here and have a perfect trip.

A row of boats and palm trees on Arugam Bay Beach

The first surfers came to Arugam Bay in the 1980s when there were just a few shacks on the beach and fishermen sailed past giant untouched waves. Since then the town has been built around the surf culture with many bohemian beach clubs, hippie cafes and surf shops to explore, but luckily it’s still kept its remote feel. 

It’s the perfect beach to visit if you want to relax and chill, go for a swim in warm tropical waters, have a few drinks, try out some surfing or watch local fishermen going about their business. This beach has so much to do you’ll definitely need a few days to explore it.

Great for

  • Surf: 5⭐ – The best wave! Great for beginners to advanced. If you’re lucky you can catch long 400m rides, this spot can get crowded.
  • Swim: 4⭐ – Yes! The shore break is small with a sandy bottom, enjoy floating in 28c.
  • Relax: 5⭐ – There are some great beach clubs to chill and it’s easy to find a quiet spot. 
  • Nature: 2⭐ – It’s a stunning beach but it’s right in town, you can expect a lot of palm trees and the occasional monkey.
  • Restaurants/Bars: 5⭐ – There’s so many to choose from on the beach, Salty Swamis and Mambos are our favourite.
  • Crowds: 2⭐ – This is one of the busiest beaches in the area, head to the northern part to find some quieter spots.


The beach is located just off the main road in Arugam Bay, if you’re staying in town the maximum you will be is a 2 minute walk away!

Silhouettes of a dad and son walking past a fishing boat at sunset

Peanut Farm Beach

Peanut Farm beach is a vibrant traveler hotspot with the perfect balance of untouched beauty, amazing waves and a laid-back atmosphere. There are no buildings or hotels on this beach, just 2km of soft golden sand framed by overgrown jungle. It’s got this deserted island kind of feel where travelers come for the day to hangout and it’s a perfect reflection of the hustle and bustle of Arugam Bay.

A makeshift volleyball net on Peanut Farm beach, one of the best beaches in Arugam bay

The main part of the beach is next to an abandoned peanut farm where the locals have taken it over to build a little cafe, sell art and rent surfboards. The blend of untouched coastline and just enough amenities makes this the perfect beach in Arugam Bay to take a day trip and find a relaxing spot outside of the main town.

Great for

  • Surf: 4⭐ – Yes. This is a great spot with two peaks and an occasional beach break, great for beginners to advanced.
  • Swim: 2⭐ – The bigger shore waves and lots of surfers mean it’s not the best. It’s ok for a quick cool off dip.
  • Relax: 4⭐ – With a beach cafe and chilled traveler vibes, this is one of the best beaches to chill at all day. Unfortunately there are no beds so bring a towel.
  • Nature: 4⭐ – The beach is untouched with monkeys in the trees and if you’re really really lucky you might see an elephant, this a stunning beach.
  • Restaurants/Bars: 3⭐ – The locals run a little cafe where you can get rice and curry, omelets and rotis, and they have the best iced coffees! 
  • Crowds: 3⭐ – There’s definitely less people than Arugam Bay but the beach is smaller, it can feel busy at times. There’s a quieter section at the second surf peak.
A surfer is on a wave on Peanut Farm beach


Peanut Farm is 7km to the south of Arugam Bay along the main road and then down a dirt track. The easiest way to get to the beach is with a Tuk Tuk driver from the main town. A return trip will be around $9-11 depending on how well you negotiate and they’ll wait for you at the beach. Alternatively grab a bike and make your own way, the dirt track is easy to navigate and relatively safe.

Two men sit on a sofa under a shack on Peanut Farm Beach

Elephant Rock Beach

Elephant Rock Beach is centered around a stunning natural rock formation that aptly got its name for its resemblance to the majestic profile of an elephant when you look at it from a distance, and if you’re lucky you might be able to spot a few from the top of the rock as well.

A view of the lagoons and beach from the top of Elephant Rock

This beach has a feeling of wildness to it with makeshift sunbeds on the beach, locals giving lagoon taxi rides on homemade gondolas, buffalo grazing on the jungle edge and not a single building in sight. 

The rock is one of the only elevated positions on the coastline and at about 100m tall it’s easy to climb with panoramic views of the entire area. It’s the best place to watch the sunset with uninterrupted views to the horizon, amazing reflections off the lagoon and often a fiery orange sky.

With dirt roads to navigate to get to the beach, a scramble across the rock, and a birds eye view of the coastline, it’s a great beach to get out of town, have a little adventure and explore the natural beauty of the surrounding area.

Great for

  • Surf: 3⭐ – The waves have less power than the other breaks and it’s crowded with surf schools, it’s good for beginners or intermediates. 
  • Swim: 2⭐ – The bigger shore waves and lots of surfers mean it’s not the best. It’s ok for a quick cool off dip.
  • Relax: 3⭐ – It’s ok. They have a few makeshift shaded daybeds but the lack of amenities and the heat means it’s best to chill for just the morning or evening.
  • Nature: 5⭐ – This beach is off the beaten path surrounded by jungle and lagoons with a stunning viewpoint at the top of elephant rock. It’s one of our favourites of the area.
  • Restaurants/Bars: 0⭐ – Best to bring a packed lunch because there’s nothing here, you can buy water from the guys renting surfboards if you need to.
  • Crowds: 4⭐ – This is one of the quieter beaches in the area, there’s always a few people surfing but it’s a nice empty beach.
A man is paddling a gondola to get across the lagoon to the beach at Elephant Rock


Elephant rock is about 4km south of Arugam bay. The easiest method is by Tuk Tuk which will cost between $7-10 for a return trip. It’s also relatively easy to motorbike but watch out the dirt track is pretty bumpy with lots of sand traps so take care. If you don’t feel confident on a bike then it’s best to take a Tuk Tuk.

If you feel really brave you can walk down the beach from Arugam Bay town to Elephant Rock. On the way you can stop off at the lagoons and climb crocodile rock. The beach is stunning but it is really hot during the day. If you do this just be mindful that there won’t be a Tuk Tuk waiting for you to take you back so you might have to ask some other travelers if you can hop in with them or take some whatsapp numbers for some drivers in town.

A girl stands on the beach looking at Elephant Rock

Panama Beach

If you want to get even more off the beaten path then Panama Beach is great to explore. At the end of a 1km dirt track through pine tree forests is a deserted black beach with an abandoned half built hotel, an isolated cove and no one to be seen. This is the perfect beach to climb on the rocks, chill on the beach and swim with no one around.

A deserted and black sand beach at Panama

Great for

  • Surf: 1⭐ – If there’s a big swell you might get lucky, there’s often no waves here so it’s better to explore the other spots.
  • Swim: 4⭐ – With small waves and a sandy bottom this is a great place to go for a swim, you’ll have the ocean all to yourself!
  • Relax: 3⭐ – This beach is almost always empty, it’s a great place to spend an hour or two if you’re exploring the area around Arugam Bay. 
  • Nature: 5⭐ – This beach is stunning with giant rocks, small black beaches, shrubs everywhere and abandoned buildings covered in overgrown trees. It’s a beautifully isolated beach.
  • Restaurants/Bars: 0⭐ – There’s a guy selling warm coconuts and bottles of water under the trees, but it’s best to bring everything you need.
  • Crowds: 5⭐ – Expect almost no one here and to have the beach all to yourself.
Boats on the banks between two rocks on Panama Beach


Panama beach is about 9km south of Arugam Bay. It’s possible to get a Tuk Tuk here but it’s not really worth it, we suggest only coming here if you rent a motorbike. It’s great to do an entire day trip exploring the farmlands and trying to find some elephants.

A girl looks out to sea on Panama Beach with rocks in the background

Lighthouse Beach

45 minutes north of Arugam bay is a best kept secret. There’s a collection of 10 stilted cabana’s open to nature and immersed in the palm trees with their own private beach and practically a private surf spot. It’s the ultimate place to just relax, unwind and have a really unique travel experience. 

Makeshift sun shades and surfboards at Hilltop Cabanas at lighthouse surf spot

There are multiple surfable peaks at Lighthouse beach and there will only ever be 5 people on the wave with friendly vibes. It’s the best place to come and find some private waves. If you’re not into surfing then potentially there is not much to explore here unless you want to see some peanut farms or eat at Hilltop Cabana’s. 

We highly suggest staying at Hilltop which is one of the most relaxing places on the east coast with great food and a refreshing community vibe, it’s definitely one of our top things to do in the area. The hotel has its own private beach with many daybeds and makeshift shacks, it’s the perfect place to disconnect and find some zen vibes. 

Great for

  • Surf: 5⭐ – Perfection! This is the quietest spot in Arugam Bay with some good power and some long rides, typically there will only be 5 people on the peak.
  • Swim: 0⭐ – This beach has strong currents with lots of hidden rocks, it’s best to avoid swimming here. 
  • Relax: 2/5⭐ – It’s a very quiet beach but there’s not many places to chill, but if you buy some food or stay at Hilltop Cabana’s you can chill at one of the most relaxing places on the east coast.
  • Nature: 2⭐ – There’s lots of nice palm trees and not a lot of overdevelopment, but there’s also not much here.
  • Restaurants: 4⭐ – There’s not a lot of choice but Hilltop Cabanas has some of the best food on the east coast!
  • Crowds: 5⭐ – expect almost no one here, if you walk up the beach a little you can have half a mile all to yourself.
Two dogs walk down the beach at lighthouse surf spot


Lighthouse beach is 20km north of Arugam bay, it’s only really suitable to get here by Tuk Tuk. It’s quite far so we only suggest coming if you want some private surf or to visit Hilltop Cabanas.

A girl sits in front of the lighthouse looking at the surf at the beach

Kottukal Beach

If you’re looking for a little bit of luxury or to immerse yourself in the local culture then Kottukal beach is for you. This is a wide empty sand beach with almost nothing on it apart from a few luxury hotels. Every Saturday the locals come here to watch the sunset and bring a bunch of street food and ice cream trucks with them. It’s the perfect beach to grab a roti or some dahl cookies and immerse yourself in the local culture. 

A deserted and empty beach at kottukal

If it’s within budget and you’re spending some time in Arugam Bay, we suggest staying in the beachfront cabanas in Jetwing Surf. It was the most relaxing place we stayed with a perfect infinity pool and a couple of days just chilling on our own private beach.

Great for

  • Surf: 0⭐ – Pottuvil Point is nearby but it hasn’t worked in a few years, there are much better spots in the area.
  • Swim: 0⭐ – Very strong currents, big shore waves and lots of hidden rocks, you should avoid swimming here.
  • Relax: 4⭐ – This is a very quiet area with a few sunbeds and a wide sandy beach, try and get a day pass for Jetwing Surf’s infinity pool which is just perfect.
  • Nature: 2⭐ – There’s lots of nice palm trees but not much else around.
  • Restaurants: 4⭐ – Every Saturday the locals come to the beach to watch the sunset, there’s some great street food available. Jetwing Surf is also a good option for fancy Sri Lankan dishes. 
  • Crowds: 5⭐ – this beach is often empty with only a couple of people on it, perfect for a casual walk or to get some peace and quiet.
A local man is walking on Kottukal beach with palm trees in the background


Kottukal Beach is about 4km north of Arugam Bay. The only way to get here is by bike or Tuk Tuk, we suggest combining this with the Muhudu Maha Viharaya Stupa, which is an awesome Buddist temple with many statues leading to a white spire. A Tuk Tuk will cost about $6-8.

A view of the pool at Jetwing Surf overlooking kottukal beach

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