Nilaveli and Arugam Bay: Fish & Surfboards Sri Lanka's East Coast

Sri Lanka has beautiful beaches. The most well known are along the west coast and the south, but the east coast is well worth a visit too.

Whiskey Point north of Arugam Bay


There’s tranquil Nilaveli for instance; a quiet (some would say boring) small village. More precisely, it’s some houses along the road, a few guesthouses and hotels, and even fewer restaurants. The town has been badly hit by the tsunami in 2004 and the devastation is still visible. Close to the beach there are many empty lots with ruins of former houses, overgrown by bushes – there are no big trees at all. Most houses now stand further inland and people don’t like to talk about the tragedy.

Nilaveli has a big beach but there are barely any people at the beach apart from fishermen coming back in. If you stroll along the beach in the morning they will ask you to help them drag in the net with the night’s catch.

Other than that, you can go snorkeling or dolphin (or whales, depending on the time of the year) watching tours. We didn’t do either of it, Hossam wasn’t up to much since he ate something bad in Jaffna and the weather wasn’t good anyway. Or maybe all that tranquility made us kind of lazy.

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– I’ll have the chicken surp. – For me a wadar malon juice, please. And a banana totti.

Arugam Bay

Further south on the east coast is Arugam Bay, the surf spot in Sri Lanka. The village, which consists mainly of hotels, surf shops, and restaurants, is very laid back and easy going. It’s also miles away from the “real” Sri Lanka. But the food is good (the freshest fish and great restaurants! Try Bambini’s, Arugam Bay’s No. 1 Roty shop, lead by two amazing guys with heart of gold – and their roti really is the best) and there’s plenty to do, even if you don’t surf.

A typical fishing boat
School girls singing and dancing (it’s Friday!)

North and south of Arugam Bay there are beautiful and almost empty beaches and the town’s beach isn’t bad either, with lots of fishing boats and fishermen heading out to sea and coming back from fishing. The sea is great for surfing but most places are too dangerous for swimming.

Hiring a tuk-tuk driver for a day or a half day is a great thing to do. JK, the driver of our choice (a very nice guy, here’s his number if you want to contact him: +94774284461), took us to the countryside around Pottuvil (the village just north of Arugam Bay, where you can find everything, even working ATMs) for bird watching and crocodile spotting and to some lovely beaches north of the village. There he bought a freshly caught tuna and invited us to his house for lunch. Just grilled fish with pepper, onions, tomato, and lime. Absolutely delicious.

That’s the fish!

3 Comments Add yours

    1. Thank you so much! I’m glad you like them!

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