Jetwing Surf Review, Is This Arugam Bay’s Bit Of Luxury?

Ever wondered if luxury and surfing can go hand in hand? Can a place offer champagne flutes, big waves, and chilled hipster vibes all at the same time? Welcome to our review of Jetwing Surf in Arugam Bay, where we dive into whether this hotel strikes the perfect balance.

To be honest, my usual travel style is far from luxury. Give me a surfboard and a basic shack by the beach and I’m more than content. But over the years, Beth has managed to twist my arm. We’ve found ourselves more and more swapping the hostels for hotels and basic rooms for beachfront pools.

But when we visited Arugam Bay we had to go back to basics. Despite there being many hotel options there wasn’t a lot of quality. So after 4 weeks of ‘slumming’ it a little, we decided to book a few nights in one of Jetwing Surf’s beachfront cabanas for an end-of-trip rest and relaxation.

Three beachfront cabanas against a backdrop of palm trees at Jetwing Surf

Gone were the days of salty hair and sandy sheets – here, suddenly, we were lounging in fluffy robes, eating room service, taking lazy strolls down the beach, and sipping chilled drinks by the pool. It was our holiday within a holiday.

Did we surf? No. Did we drink champagne? No. Did we have a good time? Oh yes. Would we recommend Jetwing Surf? Hmmm maybe, it really depends on what you’re looking for. 

You see, Jetwing Surf is a bit of a hit-or-miss option. On the one hand, it’s a really unique high-quality accommodation that can make a trip special. On the other, it’s a bit out of the action and can feel isolated. So you need to consider what you want from your visit to Arugam Bay and whether Jetwing Surf will fit that vibe.

A girl sits on the edge of an empty infinite pool at Jetwing Surf

But don’t worry. Whether you’re ready to book right now or just researching the area, we’ve got all the information to help make your choice a little easier. Welcome to our review of Jetwing Surf, we hope you enjoy it.

About Jetwing Surf

Jetwing Surf is part of the Sri Lankan-owned hotel chain going by the same name – Jetwing Hotels. These guys were one of the pioneers of tourism in Sri Lanka setting up their first hotel in the 1970s and they now run 34 across the country, each with a specific theme and style that always makes them a unique stay – think clifftop luxury resorts, safari camps, lakeside huts, and old colonial mountain retreats.

If you plan to visit Sri Lanka, you have to try a Jetwing at least once.

Jetwing Surfs main hotel reception in the late afternoon sun

Despite each hotel having its own theme, they all share the same principles that make them great – always with a focus on authentic Sri Lankan culture, respect for nature and sustainability, comfort and warmth, and first-class service. It really is a unique hotel chain and we’ve not found anything like it on our travels.

Jetwing Surf is one of their smaller more intimate hotels consisting of 20 rustic cabanas on a private beachfront, open-air showers, a stunning infinity pool, and a local cuisine restaurant with a fine dining twist. Being located near Arugam Bay, one of the most famous surf towns in Sri Lanka, the hotel’s theme is all about surfing, with the rooms representing a luxurious version of the beach shacks surfers frequently stay with nice little touches like the room numbers being mounted on old battered boards.

The jetwing surf swimming pool in the early morning night with not a single ripple

The Vibe

Despite its name, Jetwing is definitely not a surfing hotel. You won’t find many barefoot hippies, late-night parties, or long-haired Aussies discussing how pitted they got on some suspectly giant waves. Jetwing surf is a nice slow relaxing luxury vibe and it’s perfect if you want a quiet time or to be looked after.

The crowd at Jetwing Surf tends to be a mix of couples and families that are both foreign tourists and wealthier locals from Colombo. Everyone tends to keep themselves to themselves so don’t expect much social interaction. For once this was exactly what we wanted so it was perfect. 

A girl smiling and drinking a beer in the pool at Jetwing Surf

The staff are friendly and always attentive to your needs. Want a drink, it’ll be in your hands in 5 minutes. Need a new towel, it will just appear by magic. And every night the room was cleaned to a high standard. The guys at Jetwing Surf really defined what carefree comfort was for us.

Although we did almost nothing whilst staying here, the days felt long in a good way. We’d spend most of them on a sun lounger, drinking beers in the pool, watching the staff chase wild goats out of the hotel, and having mid-day power naps. Here, it’s all about chilling out and Jetwing does a great job of lowering you into a deep state of catharsis. If you’re looking for a place to help you relax and unwind, Jetwing Surf is the perfect vibe.

One of the staff chases goats aways at Jetwing surf

The Location

Jetwing Surf is located right on the beach in the town of Pottuvil, a small local town 1km north of Arugam Bay. The hotel’s location strikes a nice balance for those who want some quiet time. 

You’re not in the heart of Arugam Bay’s nightlife and hustle, but you’re close enough to dip in and out whenever you feel like it. It’s perfect for those who want a bit of both worlds – a beautiful secluded beachfront and the option to explore local restaurants, shops, and surf spots without too much effort. If you’ll be exploring Arugam Bay regularly then Jetwing isn’t a good option – it’s better to stay in the area and be within walking distance.

A girl swings on the beachfront swing at Jetwing surf

Pottuvil is a traditional local town and there isn’t much reason to leave the hotel to explore it. If you do, you’ll only find a few small shops, see the locals going about their day, and get a feel for the laid-back vibe of this part of Sri Lanka. It was nice, but it’s like many of the other small towns you’ll come across around the country. So it’s better to just enjoy the pool if you ask us.

The beachfront in front of the hotel is stunning and worth exploring. The hotel is close to two surf spots, Pottuvil Point and Whiskey Point, the Pottuvil Lagoon, the Muhudu Mahavihāra Temple, and the locals use the nearby park every weekend to watch the sunset. We loved the feeling of space, nature, and being immersed in the local culture. Who knows, if you go for a short walk up the beach you might even come across a wild Elephant.

A girl walking on an empty beach at Jetwing Surf

The Rooms

The rooms at Jetwing Surf bring a whole new meaning to the traditional notion of a beach shack. Each room is a standalone beach cabana dotted around the palm trees on the shoreline. From the outside, they are pretty understated, nothing too fancy just well put together with some nice touches like double glass doors and a private outside terrace.

One of the cabanas including it's doors and terrace at Jetwing Surf

The magic is revealed when you open the front door and look up to see a thatched roof made from coconut palm trees woven around the many support beams over a beautiful four-poster bed. It’s such a stunning construction and it was amazing to look up at night to watch the geckos moving between the shadows, the type of view to induce a deep sleep and good dreams.

The wooden beams and inside of the thatched roof at Jetwing Surf

The rooms had everything we needed to make our time comfortable. We had bathrobes, slippers, all kinds of local soaps, water and tea that was refreshed daily, and a locally made mosquito balm to use in the evening. There was probably more as well that we can’t remember – whatever you need, Jetwing will provide it.

The bathroom and terrace were our favourite parts of the cabana. Each night we would sit outside and watch the sunset drinking beers and wine with some music in the background. It was so peaceful and we barely noticed any other guests as we enjoyed a few private evenings.

A couple sits outside the back of their cabanas at Jetwing Surf have a few drinks

The shower is open air out the back of the cabana and the water flows through a makeshift coconut leaf showerhead. It was such a cool experience and perfect for anyone who wants to get a few Instagramable photos – and to be honest we think all showers should be outside after our experience at Jetwing!

A girl is having a shower in Jetwing Surfs open air shower

If I was to pick one negative it would be that the cabanas don’t have aircon. We visited in July, one of the hotter summer months, and it was a little toasty even with all the fans blowing. We did sleep fine and we were comfortable but anything over 3 nights and you might start to crave a little coolness. But all in all, it was worth it to stay in one of the best beach Cabanas in Sri Lanka.

Things to do

Chill by the infinity pool

Jetwing Surf has one of the most amazing pools on the East Coast – a beautiful infinity pool overlooking the beach that plays chilled music and has an all-day bar service. If you visit, you’ll likely spend half the day just chilling here, it’s paradise. Read a book, drink a few beers, take some ‘candid’ photos at sunset, and relax. It’s one of the main reasons to stay at Jetwing Surf.

A girl is in the infinite pool at Jetwing Surf enjoying the sunshine

Stroll down the beach

The hotel is located on a private beach that is deserted most of the day. It’s the perfect place to take a stroll in the early morning or evening when it’s a little cooler – it’s best to avoid doing this in the midday heat, you’ll get sweaty! 

An empty beach at sunset in front of Jetwing Surf

If you walk to the left you will come across the Pottuvil Surf Point, there’s not many surfers here but you can admire the waves and watch the fishermen do their thing. If you continue a little further you’ll come across Pottuvil Lagoon where you might catch a glimpse of a wild Elephant and you can continue up to Whiskey Point, where you’ll find many surfers and some cool hip beach bar shacks.

If you walk to the right, you’ll find a giant 3km empty beach. There’s not much happening here but it’s perfect to admire the natural beauty of one of the East Coast’s untouched natural beaches. If you walk 1km from the hotel you’ll come across the Muhudu Mahavihāra Temple, a Buddhist temple with some nice white pagodas and tonnes of spooky statutes right on the sand, it’s definitely worth visiting if you have time.

A local man walking on the beach in Arugam Bay with palm trees in the background

Hit the surf or take a lesson

Jetwing Surf is almost in Arugam Bay, Sri Lanka’s most famous surf town, so it’d be a crime not to try surfing if you visit. Whether you’re a seasoned pro or a complete newbie, there will be a wave for you – and typically a perfect long peeling right-hand point break at that. 

You can organise rentals or lessons through the reception at Jetwing Surf. For beginners, the instructors are great and will take you to the best spots for your level. If you can already surf, just grab your board and walk to Pottuvil or Whiskey Point – and if you want to find the best spots you can read our complete guide.

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

A man catches a right hand wave in Arugam Bay

Safari at Kumana National Park

If you want to swap the comfort for a little adventure then we highly recommend doing a safari at Kumana National Park. This park is connected to the famous Yala and you’ll get to see the same animals without the crowds and for half the price. We loved it, it really felt like being in the wild and we barely saw another vehicle over our 3-hour safari.

The view from inside a safari jeep at Kumana National Park

Here you’ll get the chance to see many Buffalo, Elephants, Crocodiles, Boar, Birds, and if you’re lucky some Sloth Bears or the elusive Leopard. You can organise a safari through the reception at Jetwing, the prices are around $100 per person. If you want a cheaper option then read our complete guide which gives you all the tips and tricks to organising your perfect safari. 

Read more: Kumana National Park Safari, Is It Worth Visiting?

Three deer and a boar drink out of a watering hole at Kumana National Park

Explore Arugam Bay

If you fancy a change of scene, Arugam Bay is just a Tuk Tuk ride away. It’s like stepping into a different world – one that’s buzzing with parties, surf shops, beach bars, and a fun crowd. Dive into the local surf culture, grab a bite at one of the many restaurants, or just wander around soaking up the vibes. It’s the perfect contrast to Jetwing.

Read more: Top 10 Amazing Things To Do In Arugam Bay

Two kids play in the ocean with boats lined up behind them on Arugam Bay beach

Food and Drink

The food and drinks at Jetwing Surf are all about quality, good service, and affordable prices. The hotel has one restaurant and it’s stunning – in a similar fashion to the cabanas the restaurant is open-air and features a huge thatched roof built around a very very old tree stump.

Every evening we’d watch chipmunks running around playing on the branches as we sipped on Pina Coladas and snacked on popadoms. And when we were bored of the chipmunks we could just look down to glimpse the beautiful sunset over the Indian Ocean right from our table. It’s such a stunning setup.

One of the local curries that is offered at the Jetwing Surf restaurant

The restaurant has set times for breakfast (7am to 10am), lunch (12.30pm to 3.30pm), and dinner (7.30pm to 10.30pm). If you get a little bored of the restaurant or you’re looking for a unique experience you can organise a special private sitting in your cabana, on the beach, or in one of the sunken seating areas by the pool. 

The menu is a great mix of local flavors and dishes served in a fine dining style. We had traditional rice and curry one night and it was a great twist on the all-you-can-eat buffets we frequently visit. The meal came with an array of little plates, each with its unique taste and presentation, and a few unique curries we’d never tried before. It’s the kind of food that’s as much a feast for the eyes as it is for your tongue. But don’t worry, if you fancy a bit of a change they do have the odd Western dish on the menu. If you want our recommendation though – stick to the local dishes, they’re very good.

Breakfast string hoppers, dal, and sambol served for breakfast at Jetwing Surf

As for drinks, the poolside bar service operates 10am to 6pm and you can get more at dinner or room service afterward. Whether it’s a cold beer to beat the heat, a tropical cocktail, or some fine wine, the guys have a big menu to choose from.

Prices and booking

Prices vary depending on the season and are generally on the more expensive side compared to other hotels in the area, but you get what you pay for and Jetwing also has higher quality rooms and service than anything else you’ll find in Arugam Bay. Prices are typically:

  • Off-season (November to May) – $100 per night
  • Shoulder Season (June & October) – $150 per night
  • Peak Season (July to September) – $200+ per night

In the off-season, you can book or turn up at any time and they will have space. If you are planning to visit in the peak season or shoulder seasons then availability does get taken up so it’s best to book at least 2 weeks in advance.

Book now: see the latest prices

A girl sits on the edge of the pool with a beers at Jetwing Surf

You pay for Jetwing Surf at the hotel at the end of your stay, including a bar and restaurant tab. They take all major credit and debit cards or you can also pay in cash.

Things to know

How to get to Jetwing Surf

Getting to Jetwing Surf and the East Coast is a bit of a trek. From Colombo or the airport, we think it’s best to organise a private taxi which will cost between $70-100. If you want to save some money you can use a tourist bus which will cost about $20 per person. The trip takes about 6-7 hours by road. 

If you want to cut down on travel time, you can consider a domestic flight to Batticaloa and a short taxi ride from there. It’s a lot more expensive but you save about half the time traveling. If you ask us, better to just do the drive.

A girl walking towards the beach and ocean from her cabana at Jetwing Surf

Another good option is to combine your trip to Jetwing with visits to either Ella or Yala National Park. The journey from these towns is only 1-3 hours so you can split the time and take a pause in some of Sri Lankas other top destinations.

When to stay

Jetwing Surf is open year-round. The best months to visit depend on what you’re looking for:

  • November to May – cheapest prices, worst weather, no crowds, limited vibes, inconsistent but empty surf
  • June and October – medium prices, good weather, medium crowds, chilled vibes, good surf with some off days
  • July to September – peak season, good weather, higher prices, the most crowds, most consistent surf but busy
A girl looking over the edge of the pool at Jetwing Surf

Special Requests

If you’ve got a special occasion coming up then Jetwing is pretty accommodating. It was Beth’s birthday when we visited and the hotel staff made a petal message on the bed and a free cake after dinner… which we ate at 3am after a few too many wines. Just let the staff know about the occasion before and I’m sure they’ll organise a surprise.

A waiter brings two drinks to guests at Jetwing Surf

Internet Connection

Jetwing has Wifi connection available in all the rooms and it’s relatively fast for Sri Lanka. We’d also recommend getting a Mobitel or Hutch SIM to use in the area which has unlimited internet and works great on the East Coast.

Sustainability and Eco-friendliness

At Jetwing Surf, and all Jetwing hotels, sustainability is always ensured. The hotel’s design is built around the surrounding nature rather than disrupting it. The rooms and facilities are built using sustainable local materials and their construction is designed to keep things cool without the need for air-conditioning.

Jetwing Surf takes water and waste seriously. Wastewater is repurposed for garden irrigation and organic waste is used for the soil. Plus, in a move away from single-use plastics, every room is provided reusable glass water bottles which are refilled for free. If sustainability is important on your travels, you can’t get much better than a Jetwing.

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Four goats roam around the gardens of Jetwing Surf

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