Not surfing in Arugam Bay

On 30th June 2018 we got the first of three buses from Polonnaruwa to Arugam Bay. Our first bus took us to Batticaloa which took two and a half hours from 9:15am to 11:45am and cost us 300LKR (£1.40) in total. From Batticaloa we then got a bus that went to Pottuvil but we were told by the driver he’d take us the whole way to Arugam Bay. We weren’t so sure about this as we had never heard that to be a thing in our extensive research on our route but it was only 50LKR (25p) more each so we thought we’d trust him and give it a shot. We were ready incase we were being scammed and we just had to hope that this wasn’t the case. It cost us 400LKR (£1.90) each which we think was too much but we couldn’t find another bus and so we had no clue whether we had just got on an expensive bus or were being scammed. We didn’t know if or when there would be another bus to Pottuvil though so we couldn’t take the risk of not getting this one. The bus left at around 12:30pm and got into Pottuvil at 4:15pm and then they put us on another bus (for 50 rupees instead of the 100 extra we had paid) to get us to Arugam Bay. We were at our accommodation, the Crescent Bay Beach Hotel by 4:30pm and had been upgraded upon arrival to a cabana with an ensuite instead of a basic cabana with a shared bathroom which was a lovely surprise. We had only been able to afford the accommodation in the first place because booking.com had a deal on the place which turned out to be great for us as it was a nice room and we had a really comfortable stay here.

After settling in we went to have a look at the beach which was a minute or two away from our cabana. The beach was very nice with a steep bank, palm trees lining the entirety of it and golden sand. It was great to be back by the sea and we were glad we had booked to stay here for four nights so that we could relax and soak it all up.

That evening we went for tea at a restaurant near to our accommodation called Surfer’s Park which did rice and curry for 300LKR (£1.40) and also had the World Cup on which had been a crucial criteria for where we chose to eat that night. We ordered two types of curry, one of which was a pumpkin curry and the other one being dhal and really enjoyed our meal.I couldn’t stay awake long enough to watch the second match of the evening as it started at 11:30pm and wouldn’t finish until around 1:30am! I was exhausted from all of the early mornings, travelling and broken nights sleep and ended up being sound asleep in our peaceful cabana all night which I don’t think had happened for weeks! Having nothing to set an alarm for and nothing specific we had to do during our stay was great and just what we needed. We slept and relaxed the majority of the morning and then headed out to get some food. We chose a restaurant called Mantra which did big plates of kotthu and noodles and then headed to the beach. Unlike a lot of beaches in Sri Lanka, there were sun loungers available here that didn’t seem to be owned by a specific bar or restaurant so we could use them without having to buy a drink. Maybe they were actually owned by someone but, if they were, they were incredibly relaxed on who got to use them!We had a great day sunbathing and swimming in the sea. There didn’t seem to be too many waves which was a shame as we had come to Arugam Bay to surf and normally the waves would have been a lot better at this time of year but the beach is really nice and very long. We preferred it a lot more compared to the beaches near to Trincomalee which we hadn’t expected as they’re raved about a lot more in guidebooks and blogs. The sand was golden and clean, the water a nice colour and the palm trees that lined the bay stretched on for ages. It was also nice and peaceful and the weather was beautiful so we had no complaints and everything to be thankful for as we sat and enjoyed the sun!

We went back to our cabana at around 4:30pm just in time to avoid a rain shower that was heavy but only lasted around 15 minutes. The electricity in Arugam Bay was also slightly sporadic and so we often had power cuts but our accommodation and some of the bars had backup generators so we didn’t miss any of the World Cup football and never went too long without lights or WiFi!There are lots of nice restaurants and bars along the street in Arugam Bay (as the whole place is just one street really) and we went to a bar called 360 to watch the football that evening as it had a projector and big screen set up. It was good to get to watch so many of the World Cup games whilst we were there particularly as there was a lot of unexpected results!On our second day in Arugam Bay we hired surfboards to try surfing at a place called Main Point which was at the other end of the beach from where we were staying. Hiring a surf board from 11 until around 5ish cost us 400LKR (£1.90) each. We got a tuk tuk along the beach for 100LKR (50p) and were ready to get out and try surfing again by 11:30am.

Niall had scoped out the area the day before and had seen a few surfers out there but not so many that it would be too crowded. For some reason, the day we went to surf was incredibly busy which did make it more of a challenge as you couldn’t always attempt a wave if someone was in your way or if it would mean you were in the way of someone else who’d already caught the wave. There were some very good surfers out there too which was cool to watch when you were waiting for a wave. The area was also a reef break which meant that the waves didn’t crash on to a soft sand beach but onto hard, sharp coral. This meant we had to go around the coral to get out to sea before we could even try and get a wave and that was super tiring. It also meant the waves crashed differently to what we were used to so it was going to be harder than normal for us since we had learnt on the perfect beginners surfing beach.After around an hour we were both starting to get into the swing of things and I had managed to ride a couple of waves in even if it was on my knees! Sometimes i just kind of forget to stand up which I’m annoyed about now considering what happened next…

I saw Niall waving me into the beach and when I got there he showed me his foot and told me he’d stood on a sea urchin! All we could see was four black dots sticking into his foot and he was in a lot of pain, hardly able to walk. Sea urchins are poisonous and it’s important to treat injuries caused by them as soon as possible. We managed to get him to a beach bar called Upali Beach Resort that was full of surfers which looked out onto Main Point and they were fantastic. After seeing Niall’s foot they got it clean of any sand and got to work removing the spines so that he didn’t have to go to hospital and spend money on them doing the same thing. It was painful work and took around half an hour of using a safety pin, tweezers and antiseptic to dig holes into his foot and pull out the spines. We couldn’t believe the length of the spines that were sticking into his foot with one being around an inch long! As soon as the spines we’re out Niall felt instant relief and we were assured that the speed in removing them was crucial to stop any poison spreading through your body, causing more pain and potentially an infection. The bar couldn’t have better in looking after Niall, even giving him a free Coke to keep his blood sugar up as they worked.We got him back to our cabana, disinfected and dressed his wounds and then he crashed out for the next few hours with the adrenaline having worn off. At around 3:30pm it rained again but this time even heavier than the day before and lasting around an hour. I just chilled in the cabana which didn’t bother me really as a big part of the point of being in Arugam Bay was to relax. Niall slept until around 5:30pm and had to hobble around for the next couple of days as his wounds healed. Luckily, the furthest we had to go was down the street to get food or watch the football or along the beach to sunbathe so it wasn’t too strenuous meaning his foot had time to heal a bit. It was such a shame that Niall had injured himself as that ended our day surfing just as we were both getting the hang of it again. We had come to Arugam Bay to surf but the waves weren’t as good as normal for that time of year and then Niall got injured so our plans to surf had to be abandoned. Luckily, Arugam Bay was a nice beach and a cool place to chill for a few days so it wasn’t the end of the world.Because of Niall’s poorly foot, we went back to a chilled day of sunbathing on our final day as he needed his foot to heal for the rest of our time away. We went back to the sun loungers we had been on on the first day in Arugam Bay and spent a lot of the time swimming in the water even though the waves could bash you about a bit! It was a lush day out in the sun and a great way to finish our time in Arugam Bay.That evening, England were playing in the quarter finals of the World Cup and so we went along to the bar 360 to watch it with a lot of other Brits who were staying in Arugam Bay at the same time we were. It was a great game and the atmosphere when we won in the penalty shoot out was really great. We would be sad to leave Arugam Bay the next morning as we had really enjoyed ourselves and never got tired of how nice the beach was (not to mention building up a tan again). Saying this, we had a lot of nice things still to come on our trip and so we said goodbye to the beach and headed on to Ella.

Sending love x

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