Palm lined beaches, scuba diving, surfing, seafood curries, Buddhist temples and exotic massages. Although some travelers claim that Hikkaduwa is not as idyllic as it used to be, it is still a great place for a beach holiday in Sri Lanka.
If you happen to in Colombo and have time to relax or just relax in Sri Lanka, Hikkaduwa beach is about 2 and a half hours drive south of the capital. This is a great place where you can relax on the beach or get acquainted with the interesting Buddhist culture of the island.
Notorious for the aftermath of the devastating 2004 tsunami, Hikkaduwa has since rebounded and is a divine destination for surfing, snorkeling, sightseeing or just getting away from the daily grind. Popular with backpackers who have been visiting the area since the 1970s, the tourist town has expanded over the past decade but is not in the league of Kuta beaches in Bali or Goa in India in terms of development. It's still a quiet place.
Things to do in Hikkaduwa
You can surf and snorkel at Hikkaduwa's beaches. Surfing is best from November to March, when the waves in certain places reach a height of 3 m. If you are a beginner, you can rent a board and use the services of one of the surf schools that are located in front of the bars and restaurants both on the main and more the tranquil beach of Hikkaduwa and the open beach of Narigama.
Coral reefs are available for viewing directly from the beach, and large sea turtles are regularly observed at a place with the appropriate name "turtle beach" (turtle beach), which is in the area of the large Hikka Trans hotel. In numerous kiosks you can rent a mask and fins, and you can also take a boat trip and watch the underwater world through the transparent bottom of the boat.
North of Khinkaduwa is a turtle farm where baby turtles are born and raised before they are released so they don't die in fishing nets. The center is open to visitors daily so you can always see these endangered extinction of reptiles.
Nearby is the Tsunami Museum, located in an old house restored after the disaster. Here you can read touching stories from the first person, accompanied by drawings and photographs. And just a few hundred meters away is the tsunami memorial in the form of a giant standing Buddha, erected by Japan after the tsunami.
There are many Buddhist temples around Hikkaduwa, and you can freely walk around them. Just ask the tuk tuk driver to show you a few.
One of the most significant is Totagamuwa Rajamaha Viharai, 2 km north of the city, with its regal stone Buddha statues, wall paintings and elaborate wooden figures.
Lake Hikkaduwa is also a highlight. North of the city, you can take a boat tour of the lake. South of Hikkaduwa, visit the eco-gardens at Ratgama Lake. There you can row a canoe with the locals to a nearby temple on the lake, or take a tour around the islands where the hermit monks live, have tea in an eco-village, and walk through the mangroves along a wooden path, where you can often see large monitor lizards.
In addition to walking along the beach, tuk-tuks — a good way to explore the area, and their drivers, who often act as guides, usually notice you as soon as you leave their hotel.
Many small shops along the main road of Hikkaduwa, fruit and fish market, you will surely visit while walking around the city. Nearby there is a silk factory where you can watch silkworms spinning. Having driven a little in the direction of Colombo, you can see mines for the extraction of moonstone and other precious and semiprecious stones, as well as purchase them if you wish. Don't miss Hikkaduwa's Sunday Market!
North of Hikkaduwa is Ambalangoda, a town with shops furnished with antiques, traditional wooden masks and dolls, and colonial artifacts.
There are numerous clinics in Hikkaduwa that provide traditional Ayurvedic treatments that cost around $30 and last for 2½ hours and usually include full body massage, thermotherapy, steam bath and head massage.
Restaurants and bars
Halfway along the beach in Hikkaduwa is JLH Beach Bar & Restaurant, where you can sit on the veranda overlooking the reef and watch the big turtles swim by. This is a great place to dine with great fish and chilled bottles of wine .
In the southern part of Hikkaduwa, Top Secret is a popular place for breakfast, lunch or dinner. Located right on the beach with plenty of beautifully designed sunbeds and deck chairs.
For a change, grab a tuktuk go to the romantic Asian Jewel Boutique Hotel, about 15 minutes drive into the jungle west of Hikkaduwa. The menu is a mixture of local and Western cuisine.
Halle: old Danish fort and lighthouse
A half-hour drive south of Hikkaduwa and you're in the city of Galle, with its legendary cricket stadium overlooking the historic Galle Fort. The fort was created by the Portuguese over 400 years ago and further fortified by the Dutch in the 18th century. You will need at least half a day to explore this colonial relic.
This UNESCO World Heritage Site is a walled area that has art and craft galleries (many foreign residents here are artists), restaurants and cafes. You can also wander along its walls and soak up the colonial atmosphere with great ocean views.
For an unforgettable tea or dinner, stop by the ultra-colonial Galle Fort Hotel. Other stunning historical buildings — Dutch Reformed Church, Meer Mosque and Galle Lighthouse.
Apart from going to Galle by tuktuk, another option is the train from Hikkaduwa, which will be an interesting experience in itself.