Arugam Bay Surf Guide: The Best Spots, Pics, Tips & More

Are you considering a surf trip to Arugam Bay? Wondering what the waves are like, which spots are the best, when to visit, and how to avoid the crowds. Welcome to our guide to surfing in Arugam Bay, with all your questions answered.   

After 6 weeks in Arugam Bay, surfing every day, it was time for us to go home. I remember thinking at the time, is this the moment? Should I just quit the job, lose the plane ticket, and stay forever? Because this is living.

I couldn’t quite put my finger on it. There is something special about Arugam Bay. Maybe it’s the extra chilled bohemian beach vibes or the authentic friendly local fishing life, perhaps the all-you-can-eat $1 curries, the sleepy slowness of the town, being surrounded by nature, oh, and especially the wild Elephants roaming the streets. 

But no, thinking back, really it was the surf.

Surfers walk down the beach at dusk to Main Point in Arugam Bay

Fun drop-ins, nice peeling right-handers, 200-meter rides, so many turns, friendly vibes, what more could you ask for? It was so much fun. And now, thanks to Arugam Bay, even as a goofy I can say I love right-handers.

If you’re on the fence about visiting the East Coast of Sri Lanka for a surf trip, or maybe you’re looking to find some new secret spots, here’s everything you need to know about surfing in Arugam Bay, and why we think it’s a must-visit destination.

A surfer making a bottom turn at Main Point in Arugam Bay

Arugam Bay Surf Spots

Arugam Bay is the land of peeling right-hand point breaks, big carvable faces, and some beautiful barrels when the swell is pumping. From the busy 500-meter-long rides in the center of town to the quiet hidden isolated point breaks just a short Tuk Tuk ride away, there are so many spots to explore and something for everyone.

Main Point

Main Point, like its name, is the center point of the East Coast surf scene located right on Arugam Bay Beach.

It’s the most powerful break in the area. A long right-hand point break that offers 4-10ft waves, beautiful 200-500 meter rides, and the occasional barrel when the swell hits. Even on the smallest days, Main Point is the only break in the area that works, so if you hit a dry patch, this is the spot to head to.

  • Wave type: Point Break
  • Wave direction: Right
  • Takeoff: Moderate
  • Rides: 200 – 500 meters
  • Level:  Intermediates / Advanced
  • Paddle out: Easy
  • Crowds: Very Busy
  • Risk: Medium – very crowded and the reef can get shallow
Arugam Bay Surf Main Point

Main Point is an intermediate and advanced spot only. The take-off is moderately steep and it breaks over a waist to chest-deep mixed sand and reef bottom. The risks are low and you’re unlikely to hit the reef unless you get caught too far on the inside.

The wave has 2 to 3 distinct sections. The first is a fast wall section where you need some speed to make it through. The second is a crumbly section around the headland that continues to a very mellow beginner’s spot. It’s a stunning wave and the reason why so many surfers come to Arugam Bay. Expect a lot of crowds at Main Point, it’s one of the busiest waves in Sri Lanka.

Read more: Main Point Arugam Bay, The Complete Surf Spot Guide

A man surf main point with a fishing boat in the background

Baby Point

As Main Point heads into the bay and starts to lose its power, the locals call this Baby Point.

Although technically it’s the same wave, this section is like a nice tranquil younger sibling to the peak of Main Point: with shorter rides, a sandy bottom, and a gentle takeoff that’s perfect for beginners. It offers 50-meter rides and it’s the perfect place to practice learning those first turns without the risk of closeouts.

A beginner surfing baby point in Arugam Bay
  • Wave type: Point Break
  • Wave direction: Right
  • Takeoff: Mellow
  • Rides: 25 – 50 meters
  • Level: Beginners
  • Paddle out: Easy
  • Crowds: Busy
  • Risk: Low – only crowds

Despite its beginner-friendly nature, Baby Point can get busy, especially during peak season when there will be lots of surf schools using this spot. The vibe is friendly, but if you want to find a quieter spot, you need to get out of the town.

A crowd watches the surfers at Baby Point in Arugam Bay

Peanut Farm

20 minutes south of Arugam Bay is Peanut Farm, a fun spot with two surf breaks, a locally run beach bar inside an old abandoned hut, a volleyball net made from fallen tree branches, a makeshift mini golf course, and a throw-your-own tent-up beach campsite. It’s the perfect spot to hang out the entire day and get a few surf sessions in.

A surfer is riding a wave whilst travellers chill on the beach at Peanut Farm

There are two peaks at Peanut Farm, the first is a mellow sand bottom break that’s great for beginners, and the second is a much bigger and more powerful break that ranges from 3-8ft and can sometimes barrel. If you’re looking for another powerful wave with fewer crowds than Main Point, this should be the first place to try.

  • Wave type: Point Break
  • Wave direction: Right
  • Takeoff: Mellow
  • Rides: 100 – 300 meters
  • Level: Beginner / Intermediates / Advanced
  • Paddle out: Easy
  • Crowds: Moderate
  • Risk: Medium / High – shallow with lots of rocks under the surface
A surfer drops into a steep takeoff at Peanut Farm Point Break

On a big day, the two peaks connect and you can enjoy long rides around the rocks, past the beginners, and all the way to the beach bar. It’s an awesome ride and a wave you definitely have to hit if you visit Arugam Bay.

Take care if you decide to surf the bigger peak. It’s easy to drift close to the shore on the takeoff where it’s knee-deep and there are lots of rocks under the surface, so if you don’t nail the takeoff you’re in for a rough ride. It’s one of the sketchiest surf spots in Arugam Bay, so it’s only suitable for intermediate and advanced surfers.

Read more: Peanut Farm Beach and Surf Spot, The Ultimate Guide

A surfer catches the beach break at Peanut Farm with two people watching

Elephant Rock

Elephant Rock Surf Spot is a nice fun right-hand point break that is great for beginners and intermidates. The wave has a nice mellow takeoff with a sand bottom so the risks are low and you can still get nice 75-meter rides on some fun 2-4ft waves. It’s a great place if you’re starting to catch regular green waves and want to learn to turn.

  • Wave type: Point Break
  • Wave direction: Right
  • Takeoff: Mellow
  • Rides: 25 – 75 meters
  • Level: Beginners / Intermediates
  • Paddle out: Easy
  • Crowds: Moderate – lots of surf schools
  • Risk: Low / Medium – beginners everywhere
A beginner surfer on a small wave at Elephant Rock near Arugam Bay

Once you’ve finished your surf it’s worth climbing to the top of Elephant Rock to see the views or catch the sunset. There’s no other viewpoint like it and it’s one of the top things to do if you visit Arugam Bay.

Read more: Elephant Rock Surf Point and Beach, The Ultimate Guide

A local boy drops into a nice wave at Elephant Rock shot from the top


30-45 minutes north of the town is an old derelict lighthouse, a stunning beach, a few stilted cabanas, and an empty, almost private surf spot. It might be my favourite spot in all of Arugam Bay.

A surfer on a wave a Lighthouse Beach

There are three right-hand point breaks at Lighthouse Beach with the two most consistent peaks offering fun 50-100 meter rides on nice 3-6ft waves with a good amount of power. There are longer more powerful rides on the East Coast, but if you’re looking to avoid the crowds this is the spot to come to, there’s usually only 5-10 people on the peak and hardly anyone in the early morning.

  • Wave type: Point Break
  • Wave direction: Right
  • Takeoff: Mellow
  • Rides: 50 – 100 meters
  • Level: Intermediates / Advanced
  • Paddle out: Easy
  • Crowds: Empty
  • Risk: Low / medium – a few rocks under the surface
A man riding a close out and Lighthouse Point Break

If you visit Arugam Bay, we highly suggest staying in Hilltop Cabanas for a few days. We spent four nights sleeping in their open-to-nature stilted cabanas right on Lighthouse Beach, it was such a memorable stay. Every morning, we’d wake up for the first light, walk 30 meters to the ocean, and just keep hitting wave after wave after wave with hardly anyone around. It was just perfect. 

Read more: Lighthouse Surf Spot, Your Guide to Arugam Bay’s Best Kept Secret

Empty quiet breaks at dawn at Lighthouse Point Break

Whisky Point

A short 10-minute Tuk Tuk ride north of Arugam Bay town is a perfect intermediate spot, Whisky Point. This right-hand point break has a nice mellow to moderate take-off into a long wave that offers 50-150 meter rides and some fun powerful sections.

  • Wave type: Point Break
  • Wave direction: Right
  • Takeoff: Mellow to moderate
  • Rides: 50 – 150 meters
  • Level: Intermediate
  • Paddle out: Easy
  • Crowds: Moderate
  • Risk: Low 

Unfortunately, since 2019, Whisky Point has been pretty inconsistent and the wave doesn’t have the same perfect shape that made this place so popular. The locals think that past storms or sand reclamation have caused issues with the sandbars. Whatever the reason, it’s a shame Whisky Point isn’t as consistent as it used to be, so be prepared for some potential disappointment if you turn up at this spot. 

Pottuvil Point

A stone’s throw south of Whisky Point is another nice intermediate spot, Pottvil Point. This spot is similar to Whisky Point with a slightly more mellow takeoff and shorter rides. Hardly anyone surfs this spot so expect only 5-10 people when it’s working. 

  • Wave type: Point Break
  • Wave direction: Right
  • Takeoff: Mellow
  • Rides: 50 – 100 meters
  • Level: Intermediate
  • Paddle out: Easy
  • Crowds: Moderate
  • Risk: Medium – lots of rocks under the surface 
The wave at Pottuvil Point near Arugam Bay

Pottuvil Point is very inconsistent and doesn’t work often. The only time you should try this spot is when a big swell hits the East Coast. Everyone will be heading to Main Point for the bigger waves, whereas you can find some empty shoulder-high peelers at Pottuvil Point.

Panama Point

If you want to find a surf spot 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 cove has a lovely small right-hand point break that is perfect for beginners.

A small wave at Panama Point surf break near Arugam Bay
  • Wave type: Point Break
  • Wave direction: Right
  • Takeoff: Mellow
  • Rides: 25 – 50 meters
  • Level: Beginners / Intermediate
  • Paddle out: Easy
  • Crowds: Low to Moderate
  • Risk: Low – a few visible rocks in the shallows

The wave here is small and mellow, usually providing 2-4ft waves and relatively short 50-meter rides. It’s a perfect spot for beginners and you will be the only person on the break. Make sure to bring everything with you, there isn’t anything on this beach other than a few fishing boats.

Fishing boats on the shore at Panama Point Beach


If you’re looking for the quietest spot in Arugam Bay, then you should head to Okanda. 23km south of the main town, and almost in Kumana National Park, is a beautiful right-hand point break that can hold big swells and give nice long powerful rides. 

  • Wave type: Point Break
  • Wave direction: Right
  • Takeoff: Moderate to Steep
  • Rides: 100 – 300 meters
  • Level: Intermediate / Advanced
  • Paddle out: Easy
  • Crowds: Low
  • Risk: Medium – rocks and rip currents 

There are 3 point breaks to choose from in Okanda, with the largest offering 8-10ft waves and the occasional barrel when the swell hits. There will only ever be 3-5 people at this spot because of its distance from Arugam Bay. Just be mindful that this spot doesn’t always work, if the swell isn’t working at Main Point, Okanda probably isn’t worth the 45 minute Tuk Tuk ride.

Arugam Bay Surf Spot Map

Arugam Bay Surf Map with all the spots in the area

Arugam Bay Surf Season

The best time to surf in Arugam Bay is between April and October during the dry season, when the Southwest monsoon brings strong consistent swells to the East Coast of Sri Lanka, nice offshore winds, and good weather. 

A surfer walking his board in the water at sunset in Arugam Bay

The best waves typically show up between July to September when the sandbars have fully formed after the winter monsoons, creating waves with a better shape and a higher chance of scoring those long 500-meter rides. These months are typically the most consistent with the swell and weather, however, they are also the busiest, so if you don’t like crowds it might be better to try the shoulder months.

May, June, and October are the shoulder months which still have the nice weather and good offshore winds, but the swell is inconsistent. These are great months for cheaper prices and avoiding the crowds, you’ll just have to put up with some dry patches where the waves are smaller. On a 3-4 week trip, you should expect at least one week of small surf in these months.

Surfers walk down the beach at sunset in Arugam Bay

During the off-season from November to March, the sands move south, onshore winds start to blow, and the waves become less predictable. Most of the spots will not be working during these periods and Arugam Bay becomes a ghost town. If you want to surf in Sri Lanka during these months, it’s best to try out one of the many surf towns on the South Coast.

Arugam Bay Surf Shops, Rentals & Lessons

Arugam Bay has a great surf infrastructure with tonnes of shops, instructors, and places to rent. Whether you need to rent a certain board, repair a ding, or organise a first lesson, there are plenty of surf shops where you’ll be able to find what you are looking for.

Surfboards on a rack for rent at Lighthouse Beach

Surf shops and rentals

There are many surf shops all along the main street in Arugam Bay. To get the best deal it’s worth taking a board for your entire stay and negotiating a discount. You’ll typically be able to shave 20-40% off their starting day rate and they’ll allow you to swap the boards if you want a different one. Prices typically cost:

  • Soft tops – $1-3 per day
  • Epoxy Boards – $2-3 per day
  • Performance or Longboards – $4-5 per day

Top tip: always negotiate your board rental, you can typically shave 25% off the first price

Surfboards against a wall at Salty Swamis

The majority of the surf shops are the same. It’s worth chatting with a few of the guys to see who you vibe with and if they have suitable surfboards. A few of our recommended shops are:

  • Dylan’s Surf Company – the shop with the newest boards, a good choice, and fewer dings. Expect good quality boards at slightly premium prices.
  • The Surf City – lots of choice but typically older boards that have been battered around a bit. Expect good value at cheap prices.
  • No Worries Surf Shop – another good value, old boards kind of shop with friendly owners. Expect cheap prices.
A surfboard shop renting boards in Arugam Bay

Fixing surfboard dings in Arugam Bay

Despite there being tonnes of surf shops in town not all of them are pro when fixing your prized possession. We recommend Surfing Sam Surfboard Repairs, the guy is very professional and did a great job with our friend’s board.  

Beginners and lessons

Arugam Bay is an amazing destination to learn to surf and level up. With its gentle mellow waves that tend not to close out, it’s one of those unique locations where you can really progress from foamies in the white water to learning to turn on the face of the wave as quickly as possible.

If it’s your first time learning to surf, it might make sense to join a structured surf camp to help you level up faster, we’ve written about the best ones lower down this page. But if you would prefer to organise things yourself, you can easily sort a lesson in one of the many surf shops in town. A private 1-2-hour lesson typically costs $10-15, can you ask for much better? 

A sign saying surfboard lessons near Baby Point in Arugam Bay

Arugam Bay Surf Camps & Accommodation

Arugam Bay is still one of those isolated off-the-beaten-path locations and this means it’s escaped the corporate surf camps and large hotel chains. It’s what gives this town its unique vibe, but it also makes picking where to stay a whole lot harder. Here are our top picks to make your search a little easier.

Best surf camps in Arugam Bay

If you’re a beginner, Arugam Bay is the perfect place to learn and there are a few surf camp gems if you know where to look.

A group of people from a surfboard camp carrying their boards to the break

Surf & Yoga Arugam Bay – Best value surf camp

The guys over at Surf & Yoga Arugam Bay are some of the most professional in the business. These guys run surf camps all over the world in some of the most popular destinations and the coaching is great.

The accommodation is on the basic side but comes with a nice private space and air conditioning. And the overall camp is really good value, it includes breakfast and dinner, daily lessons and equipment, and video training sessions with good instructors. If you’re looking for a camp to level you up for a good price, Surf & Yoga Arugam Bay is the place to book. You can find and book your surf camp here:

Beginner surfers having a lesson at Elephant Rock Beach

Paddyway Resort – Best luxury surf camp

If you want a little more luxury from your accommodation then Paddyway Resort is the surf camp for you. The guys have some stunning double rooms, nice big balconies, and a pool to cool down on those hot summer afternoons. The surf camp comes with daily lessons, surf videography, yoga lessons and half board food. You can find and book your options here: 

Best surf accommodation in Arugam Bay

If you don’t fancy Surf Camp, there are tonnes of great places to stay in Arugam Bay. Here are our top 3 favourites to make your choice a little easier.

Surf Gangs – Best all-rounder

Surf Gangs is without a doubt our favourite place to stay in Arugam Bay for digital nomads. This is a relatively new property built by Tom, a super down-to-earth guy from New York, who has put so much care and attention into the quality of the rooms and the vibe he’s creating.

We spent 3 weeks here in total and just kept extending, nowhere else came close. For $40-50 a night you can get a giant balcony room 30 seconds from the beach with a stunning garden and a pool. It’s the small things that made this place so amazing though, the aircon worked perfectly and they had a fan, the showers had warm water with actual water pressure, the rooms and the sheets were cleaned daily and the internet actually worked. These may sound like basics, but if you spend some time in Sri Lanka you’ll get what we mean. 

In the end, Surf Gangs was such a comfortable place to work and enjoy Arugam Bay from there’s nowhere else we will choose to stay when we return.

Book: See latest prices

Two balconies and a palm tree of Surf Gangs Arugam Bay

Oasis Bay – Budget value

If you’re looking for a budget hotel with friendly staff and the best free breakfast, then Oasis Bay is a great option. At $25-30, it’s still not budget, but Arugam Bay does get expensive in the peak season, and nowhere apart from hostels will be cheap. 

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The Spice Trail – Amazing quality

If you want more luxury and comfort then the Spice Trail is our top pick. This accommodation has amazing rooms looking out onto a super chilled pool area. If you’re looking for the best quality under $100 a night, Spice Trail is the place.

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The swimming pool at sunset at the Spice Trail in Arugam Bay

Hilltop Cabanas – Unique surf stay

Hilltop Cabanas is a collection of 10 stilted cabanas open to nature and immersed in the palm trees with a private beach right in front of the Lighthouse surf spot. It’s the ultimate place to just relax, unwind, and have a unique travel experience. 

What makes this place so special is the community. Because it’s small and isolated, you spend a lot of time with fellow travelers on the waves or chatting and hiding away from the sun in makeshift shacks. 

Every evening the owner, Thomas, would throw a communal dinner where we would all sit around and share stories or reminisce on who got the wave of the day. And this would continue with a few beers on the beach under the best view of the stars, there is no light pollution here, before getting an early night with the sea breeze rolling into the cabana and the sound of the jungle sending us to sleep. It almost had a kind of hostel vibe without the partying and with a private bathroom, a place to just connect with people and relax.

In the morning everyone would wake up naturally for the first light and we would all go hit the waves together. We stayed 4 nights here and it was some of the most memorable we’ve had in Sri Lanka. Rates are about $25-50 a night and you should book in advance to avoid disappointment. If you get the chance we highly recommend staying at Hilltop Cabanas.

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