When in 1626 the Portuguese captain Constantino De Sa de Noronha tried to expel the Muslim community in Western Sri Lanka, King Senarath of Kandy decided to help the haunted Muslims and re-settled 4000 Muslim families in Puttuvil; their decedents are now the core of the Pottuvil community. As the excavations around the Buddhist temple MuhuduMaha have shown, the area must have already been of great importance some 2000 years ago, but little is known about the ‘dark’ ages and still a lot of excavation needs to be done to reveal the importance of this specific region.
Pottuvil is now the main commercial center on the southeast coast, situated along the A4 highway from Colombo to Batticaloa, located between the ocean and a big lagoon. On the other side of the lagoon lies Arugam Bay, the famous surf resort which has made the area popular. East of the town is a large area of moving sand dunes, an area well worth a visit to explore and with two famous major surf points: Whiskey Point and Pottuvil Point. The town is full of life, businesses, banks, markets and small restaurants. The daily caught from the sea is to be found on the busy fish market, where locals and businesses bargain for the best quality against the lowest price, a nice place to experience the local character of the town. The population consists mainly of Muslims, with a smaller number of Tamils, as well as a small Buddhist community. Pottuvil has also profited from the tourism boom in Arugam Bay, providing jobs and all kind of products. Pottuvil has experienced a difficult time, suffering from a 30 years’ civil war and a devastating Tsunami in 2004. However, Pottuvil has shown to be unbreakable and is recovering from these catastrophic events.