11/03/2017

Arugam Bay | Sri Lanka

After exploring the wonderful Sri Lankan countryside we headed to our first beach destination, Arugam Bay. I was excited to explore a new part of Sri Lanka but was also very sad to be leaving the beautiful hills and scenic train journeys that I had become used to.


HOW TO GET THERE 

We got a private taxi there, it was pricier than getting the bus but I don't think there was a particularly simple route from Ella or it took a very long time so we decided to pay more and opt for a taxi. We did want to take a tuk tuk all the way there, obviously with a driver but there wasn't one available. We ended up at a random guest house waiting for our driver to get back to us and find us a car. I think they only told us there was no tuk tuk on the day of our travel because they wanted us to agree to a high price for a car. However, we stood our ground and refused to pay their price and eventually settled on a better one.


We arrived early afternoon. After spending three hours in a very tiny car it was nice to stretch out on a bed. We then headed to get food and went to the nearest restaurant which served stone baked pizzas. Although we did make Kate's boyfriend check out the other restaurant next door just in case it had better food on offer. It didn't. The pizza was actually really good. Just like one you' get in the UK. Sometime's I find pizza in Asia a bit strange, especially the cheese! But this one was good!



WHERE TO STAY 

I can't give an personal recommendation for this. The guest house I stayed in was nothing fancy. However, this guest house was not only basic but also, quite frankly, not very nice. The promised air con might as well of not existed, the accompanying fan was just as bad. The bathroom was constantly damp. I'm pretty good at dealing with bad accommodation. I was happy to have my own private room and just accepted the problems while I was there but I definitely wouldn't go back there or recommend it to anyone.








WHAT TO DO 

Relax on the beach 

We spent our first day relaxing on the beach. There's plenty of beach which means that while there are lots of other people you can find a nice quiet spot to relax and sunbathe in. You can even take a dip in the ocean. However, the sea here is rough! I found this out when I decided to pluck up the courage and get in the sea. This was the first time I'd been in the sea on my trip but the waves were so rough I ended up being thrown to shore and resembled a beached whale. It took me a good couple of minutes to escape the waves and stand up. Probably best to wait for the sea to be a bit calmer or stick to surfing! 


Have a night out 

We decided to see what the nightlife was like that evening. We found a bar right on the beach which was full, it was fun to have a night out, the first one in our month of travel. We didn't spend too long there but enough to see that the night life in Arugam Bay is pretty good. I guess the fact that there are so many travellers and tourists here helps. 


Hire a tuk tuk for the day 

Yes, you can rent your own tuk tuk. All you need is a driving license, passport and money! 

There are a few places where you can rent tuk tuks from along the main strip. You just need a driving license and money. I think they take the drivers passport until you return the tuk tuk. I guess this covers them and ensures you actually bring the tuk tuk back!

We went the evening before to reserve the tuk tuk. Remember to bring your passport with you the next day, we forgot and had to go back to the guest house. Kate's boyfriend was our designated driver. In all honesty if he wasn't there we probably wouldn't of hired the tuk tuk as neither Kate or I felt confident enough to drive it for the whole day.


Shop


The amount of shops in Arugam Bay definitely reflected the amount of travellers there. If you want clothes or beach wear then this is the place to stock up. Unfortunately, the prices of these things also reflects the fact that Arugam Bay is set up for tourists. I'm not saying things are as pricy as they'd be in the UK but they're definitely not as cheap as other places in Sri Lanka. The clothes are nice though! There what I imagine boutiques in Bali sell. Lots of cute dresses and bikinis. There's also plenty of souvenirs on offer. 


Go surfing

Arugam Bay is known for its surfing. If you want to surf this is the place to go. I think quite a few of the beaches in Sri Lanka are good for surfing but this is, from what I heard, one of the best. I personally don't surf and didn't try it out but there are a lot of surfers here. This is also reflected in the amount of surf shops. It's very easy to hire surfing gear for a reasonable price.

You can hire a tuk tuk or mini van to take you to other, nearby beaches, these are quieter and seemed to be preferred by surfers. The two we visited were Peanut Farm beach (strange name I know!) and Panama Beach. I say 'seem' as I'm not a surfer. We still visited some of these beaches and although I didn't surf it was nice to visit them and relax on a quieter beach. 









WHERE TO EAT 

Arugam Bay is very touristy meaning there's plenty of choice for places to eat. We tried out quite a few restaurants during our stay.














                    Sun and Surf: There was a nice atmosphere here, you can sit in a 'tree house' and have your dinner or sit in the actual restaurant. They also offer various yoga classes which you can get more information about from one of the many leaflets floating around. I didn't personally try the yoga classes out myself but they seemed to be popular. There was various food on the menu from Sri Lankan to steak and chips.

Gecko Restaurant: This was one of my favourites and we came to eat here twice. The food is nothing spectacular. They offer a English breakfast which was pretty good. My favourite thing about the restaurant was the games they had on each table. The food took quite a while to arrive but we passed the time by playing snakes and ladders.

Other options:


  • Cili restaurant
  • Arugam Bay Surf resort and restaurant
  • Bay Vista


FINAL THOUGHTS 

I wasn't expecting to like Arugam Bay as much as I did. I was expecting a tourist trap. And in a sense it is. There are plenty of travellers about but the whole place has such a chilled out atmosphere that you don't feel like your overcome with other travellers. Plus it's easy to escape any crowds by wandering a bit further a field or hiring a tuk tuk like we did! 

__________________

Sophie 

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