Lovely Arugam Bay, a moon-shaped curl of soft sand, is home to a famed point break that many regard as the best surf spot in the country. It’s a tiny place, with a population of a few hundred, and everything is dotted along a single road which parallels the coast. So in other words, the epitome of the laid-back beach scene that first drew surfers and sun-seekers to Sri Lanka.

If you’re not a surfer, there are plenty of other draws: beachfront guesthouses, ocean-side restaurants and a mellow, swing-another-day-in-a-hammock kind of vibe that’s totally removed from the brash west-coast beach resorts. Arugam Bay also makes a great base for several adventures in the surrounding hinterland. During the low season (November to April) things get extremely quiet and many places close altogether, but it can also be a serene time to visit, with few tourists and verdant landscapes.