The world is full of amazing sights, tastes and experiences however every now and then as a traveler you stumble across something that is truly unique and special. Over the last few days we have been in a place that we would rate as pretty close to backpacker heaven.
When I first started reading about Sri Lanka one name kept popping up – Arugam Bay. Somehow this small town rates as one of the best ‘surf’ spots in Sri Lanka. The online rave is big enough that even as a non-surfer it was top of my ‘must see’ list.
We arrived late afternoon after a harrowing 6 hour ride from Tissa in a tuktuk and our driver took us immediately to a hotel by the name of The Beach Hut Hotel. It was love at first sight. The communal area is a rustic space with big tables under individual covers, each small area divided by great logs of worn tree trunks and living trees, orchids and shrubs to give an almost jungle feel.
Our room was in a separate section away from the dining area. A gorgeous stilted cabana with private bathroom and views straight out to the ocean. Lying in bed in the morning we watched the sun rise over the ocean while listening to the crashing waves. It was so serene as to be almost surreal.
For those that are interested we have a little video of our heavenly hideaway on youtube. Click here to have a watch 🙂
A quick chat with a lovely English lady had us heading out in search of the Siam Bar just up the road. Another gem! Imagine the coolest funkiest beachside bar that brews its own beer and serves it up in glasses straight from the freezer. Seriously – we thought we were in heaven.
As with many things in life, just when you think you have found paradise you scratch a little deeper and come across that small piece of yuk. For us it came with our first walk up the beach. In front of our hotel it was clean and well maintained but 100m further down and oh my – the rubbish that washed to the tideline was horrific. A small fishing village was set up at the far end of the beach and the idea of containing their rubbish was obviously not a part of their ‘culture’. As simple, uneducated people their idea of rubbish disposal was to throw it, anywhere that suited. Pretty much everywhere we saw a fishing village we saw a collection of rubbish on the tideline. It was such a sad state of affairs. The tourist trade is their lifeline (no tourists – no-one to sell their fish to) and yet they either had never been taught better or just didn’t care and seemingly no-one else cared enough to clean it all up.
That said, Arugam Bay is still by far the best place we have as yet visited here in Sri Lanka. We were in off season so it was quiet and peaceful, but for those that like to party, from June to September it is a party town, packed full of surfers and backpackers. For us, there was enough to see in the surrounding countryside (elephants, monkeys, beautiful waterholes, amazing birdlife) to keep us totally happy and the people that we met and socialised with each night were awesome.
After a day of sightseeing on the motorscooter we would head to Siam Bar for a couple of beers to knock out the dust then back to the Beach Hut for dinner where inevitably we would end up chatting with fellow travelers from all over the world. The beers were cold and plentiful and the company superb.
I know it sounds like I am raving on – but seriously – we have not come across a place like this in any of the travel we have done together. It was truly magical! Arugam Bay – we’ll be back!