Tis the season in Arugam Bay. Although Arugam Bay is well known for surf tourism, what do both the non-surfers and surfers alike do when, as the surfer slang goes “Flat”. Where waves are not particular at their best to go out for catching waves to surf.
Actually, quite a lot. However, first you’ll need to consider the journey to get to Arugam Bay. It can be quite daunting from the Airport and other cities located centrally in the hill country and further off the west which you’ll most likely set out from. However, though daunting the journey to Arugam Bay; is quite an epic adventure. The journey can take up to 6 to 10 hours and should get an early start. Doing so you’ll be able to see quite the treat, seeing different landscapes and vegetation you’ll cross. You could start a game on its own; to see who can identify the most shades of green or each individual picking their favourite colour and totalling up the shades to see whose favourite colour has the highest shades identified. It’s that much of a treat and never a dull journey. Unless you start late, you’ll miss the transitions as it’ll be pitch black. However, if unavoidable the stars will be out, though it’s beautiful looking out into the milky. It’s really not the best way to enjoy the stars while needing to keep an eye on the road to avoid elephants that may be around. Yes, that’s right elephants! At night along the road.
After passing the many lush forms of vegetation, various road types though they are classified as A and B roads, you’d never fail to be amazed at how much variety there is; how few the similarities are though classified as an A or B road. You’ll have reached Arugam bay by evening or just before. Perfect, after being in cramped spaces, the ability to stretch out and move freely is just what would hit the spot. There are many places for lodging, accommodating different experiences and also at varying pricing. It’s best to have booked a room online for that particular day or for the duration of your stay if your arrival is on the high season, as accommodations can be fully booked. In low season you may prefer to search for your next long-term lodging the next day by physically visiting hotels, guest houses, cabanas, dorms, villas, etc and choose at that very moment the accommodation that you feel at ease with.
With lodging out of the way, it’s time to find a place to have dinner. Places, where you lodge, may have a restaurant, but the best choice to have dinner hands down would be to hit Panama Road. Along this road, there is a selected stretch of less than 1km that’s packed with restaurants. The place comes to life much more at night as everyone would be looking for a place to grab a bit to eat after a long day of surfing or other fun-filled strenuous activities at Arugam bay. Or add to the mix like yourself a long drive to Arugam bay. Barrels that perhaps ferried vegetable oil at one point can be seen halved lengthwise. Kudos for recycling effort as they have been repurposed into cool looking BBQ machines. Fish neatly arranged on tile or stainless-steel tables beckons you over with their inviting colours of red, yellow, blue, grey; to select one of them to be barbecued whole. Besides the fresh catch of the day, there is also western menus littered along the stretch offering burgers, sandwiches, half chickens, pasta options, woodfired pizza, etc. After a satisfying dinner best to return back to the accommodation and get some much-needed sleep.
The next day an early start is the best from what I can gather. I believe experienced sufferers are amped for the early start due to knowing they’ll have a “bitchin” time as the waves are “cranking” being that a set of waves are larger than average at any other time of the day. Thus, showcasing a variety of waves having an “A-frame”, good “barrels” or “tubes”, so that one can take off on a “bomb”, on the “cleanest” of waves to catch a long ride on. More surfer slang expressing simply, the epic waves that you can come across at early hours in the morning. Another reason experienced surfers go out early in the morning, is simply that it’s less crowded. For those who are newbies, an early start isn’t needed. Take your time and set out again onto the main strip, where you’d have had dinner the night before on the select stretch of Panama Road. A stark contrast from last night. Now you should be able to easily note out the surf shops that offer surfboards and lessons. Once you find a mentor, you’re comfortable with the instructor who’ll either look like an ordinary swim coach or a bob marly look-alike will guide you down to the beginner’s spot. That’s just shy of Whiskey point. I do hope after many attempts your able to balance yourself on your board and ride the way in, until you have to fall back onto the wave carrying you; allowing to cradle your fall and let the surfboard clear your vicinity as much as given by the length of your surfboard leash so as not cause injury to yourself or others. If you didn’t catch a wave don’t despair. You’ll realise surfing is pretty hard at first, but also fun. The very least when it’s time to head back to shore being exhausted, cast away on the board lying down and ride the last waves as close to the shore as possible. Thank your surf guide and after either head to Whiskey point to learn a thing or two from other surfers sitting on the beach, or just to watch for inspiration. After you dry out in the sun your stomach like an alarm will grumble. It’ll be time to head out to again to Panama Road for lunch or your lodging.