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Arugam Bay – Sun, Sea & Surfing.

We arrived in Arugam Bay a little under a week ago – the town is small and full of small independent guest houses, restaurants and bars. Its a real surfers town, the type of place where everybody knows each other. You can walk from one side of town to the other in 10 minutes, the locals are super friendly, the signs are hand-painted and everybody here is up for a party, the beach here is probably not everyones idea of paradise but its got a lot of character, fishing boats line the shore and the sand is a rich golden colour and although the sun hasn’t stopped shining its not a place you see many people sunbathing – its everything we expected Goa to be, We have finally found our beach town.

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SURFING

Being typical english folk, me & Jay have never tried surfing but Arugam Bay is one of the top surf spots on the planet so while we’ve been here we have given it a bash, if like us you’re new to surfing there are 2 main spots that people go to learn here –  Peanut Farm and Whiskey Point. We prefer whiskey point as its been a lot less busy and you don’t get loads of pro surfers getting annoyed with you falling off in front of them. if you’re more of a confident surfer then head to main point to catch the real waves! You can rent boards at both spots and both serve food and drink so you don’t starve to death or die of dehydration during the long days surfing in the sun! You can also get an hour and half lesson for Rs 2500 (£12) which is reasonable and you’ll learn all you need to catch your own waves and generally look cool by standing up on your board. Jay managed to stand up seven out of nine times on her first lesson!

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GETTING AROUND

One thing we loved about our stay here was the fact you can rent a scooter for Rs 800-1000  a day (£4). This was a highlight as Sri Lanka really does have the best views and weather for scooting around. One way out of town gets you to whiskey point and the other to peanut farm and on the way expect to see goats, water buffalos, monkeys, peacocks, lizards, snakes and maybe even elephants in the distance.

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The grass is so green here it look almost cartoon like and next to the blue sky it really is stunning and eve more perfect if you are seeing it on a moped with the wind in your hair and the sun setting in the background. An epic sight we will never forget and I hope one day to be back to get our fix.

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Tuk-tuks are everywhere too and you will need one of these if you are taking a board with you from town to either surf spot however you can rent them there for around Rs 1000 a day, sometimes cheaper. For those that aren’t learning to surf though, there is the main beach which is equally as picturesque right behind the main street but this surf is more for pro surfers and be careful here last there is a lot of coral so can be dangerous without surf booties. OUCH!

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FLAVOURS

We loved the food here and found you could get an equal amount of both Asian and Western food. As there is quite a lot of (healthy) competition with there being so many places to eat, everyone is on top of there game here and I don’t think we had  bad meal. Here are a couple of our favourites;

Hideaway – Amazing bar for juices, smoothies, sandwhiches and a gorgeous restaurant behind for dinner with a kick ass team of peeps. this has become our local haunt and were regulars for the happy hour 6-7pm every day, there is also live music from 6pm saturday – Hideaway is wnoed by two brothers Yanik and Yeven who can also give you great advice on things to do around the bay. Hit them up!

Breakpoint – Great falafel wraps and chicken shwarma curry wrap. Also a mean chicken schnitzel sub.

Tandoori Hut – One of our favourites. Set in a tree house just off the main strip, amazing fish and chicken with freshly prepared side dishes each day.

Kumutay (opposite buddha state end of main street) – open 24 hours great little spot for cheap food. Try the vegetable Kottu with cheese or egg. Ahhh gonna miss these beauties!

Gecko – Run by an Sri Lankan and english couple. Nice fresh food but need to up their bacon portions. One slice of  bacon in a bacon and egg sandwich is not acceptable, especially to a Londoner.  Also service was a little slow  but still worth a go.

The Seahorse Inn– Best pizza we had in Sri Lanka in a lovely garden setting with cool lighting and chilled music. Great vibes.

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NIGHTLIFE 

Theres a party every night here in Arugam Bay, the bars always rotate who has the party each night so theres no competition between them, our favourite place to party has been Mambos, which was on saturday night as you can spill out of the bar onto the beachfront and watch the light show as the sun comes up – don’t miss this!

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ACOMMODATION

We stayed at two hostels during our time in the Bay, but there are lots of guest houses along the Main street so there is no shortage of places to stay – no matter what kind of budget you’re on. It is by no means a high end resort town though so do not come here expecting 5* hotels as that really is not what Arugam Bay is about. It embraces Sri Lankan culture and does to have any plans to fill up with large skyscraper hotels appealing to the masses. Every guesthouse is original and standing in its original state.

We stayed at Hiro guesthouse which is at (we think) the best end of the street. Close to the late night Kottu place and just a bit ore of a buzzier feel going on. It is run by a cool Japanese lady who makes banging sushi and thai curries. This place was Rs 4500 per night and came with two comfortable double beds, air con and a bathroom. This would be very affordable for four friends too as it is not per person so you could cut some serious cash off the bill that way.


Overall Arugam Bay has been one of our favourite places so far, we’ve made some great friends here and there is a real sense of community, You can see how people would easily get stuck in a place like this, especially if you’re a surfer. we’re going to have a tough job dragging ourselves away from here if we stay here much longer but I’m sure we’ll be back here one day!

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Kandy To Pinawalla Elephant Orphanage, 80km By Tuk-Tuk!

After our train ride from Colombo to Kandy we did a quick bit of research but struggled to find a simple and cheap way to get from Kandy to Pinawalla. Pinawala is home to the worlds largest elephant orphanage with over 60 in total. Being on a  backpackers budget we didn’t want to pay for an expensive 80km round trip in a taxi and the buses sounded like a real pain so we took our search to the streets and hailed down a local Tuk-Tuk driver.

We knew it was quite a trip for a Tuk-Tuk so we tried to flag down one of the newer ones that looked like they could make the journey but as you would expect, every one that passed looked like it had been salvaged from the bottom of the ocean. The first driver we stopped literally laughed at us and drove off which wasn’t really the reaction we were looking for. The second agreed and said he would do it for Rs 3500 (£17) which is less than half the price of a taxi!

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Me and Jay love getting Tuk-Tuks, you get the wind in your hair, you can stop whenever you like to take photos or grab a drink and you can weave in and out of all the cars that are stuck in traffic but best of all, you are supporting the little guy!

The journey took around an hour and a half and there is plenty of great views along the way. Pinawalla was established in 1975 as a conservation breeding centre by Sri Lanka Wildlife department with only 5 baby elephants – today there are over 60! The tourist Entrance price to Pinawalla Elephant Orphanage is Rs 2500. (£12.50)

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One thing we were happy about was as you entered the park was the sense that the elephants here were really looked after. Obviously they are not out in the wild and this is always the ideal scenario however in this particular sanctuary they are not restrained and get to roam around the 25 acre park and once a day they are lead to a nearby river to be bathed, which is really quite an amazing site!

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After you have seen the elephants being bathed in the river they are walked back to the sanctuary and this gives you a chance to get up close and personal with some of the  more social elephants. There are also locals selling bananas for Rs 300 for you to feed to them as they walk past, we didn’t buy any bananas but this guy seemed to like me!

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After you’ve have seen the herd in the river you can go back to the park and see them in as near to their natural habitat as you can get. We watched a gorgeous elephant having some me time bathing and drinking which was a beautiful sight. She was showing off some serious shower skills and even remembered to wash behind her ears.

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Overall this was a great day out and the tuk-tuk really made it that extra bit more adventurous. From now on we are going to get as many tuk-tuks as possible. Today we were even thinking of possible ways we could purchase our very own to cruise from south to north Sri Lanka. Too much?