An idyllic retreat of pristine beaches, lively atmosphere and old world charm awaits visitors to Sri Lanka
Situated some 98km South from Colombo, Hikkaduwa has always been considered as one of the jewels of Sri Lanka. Although it was initially considered a hippie destination, the seaside resort town has risen to prominence as a popular tourist spot due to its beautiful beaches and historical significance. Easily reachable by car, bus or train, Hikkaduwa is a gem of a destination that always has something going on all year around even during the ‘slow’ monsoon season from May to October.
SOAK IN THE RESORT TOWN VIBE
Despite its laid back nature, there’s plenty to see and do in Hikkaduwa town itself. There are several places of worship that are worth a visit, such as the Seenigama Vihara, nestled on its very own island some 2km north of the town and the Gangarama Maha Vihara Buddhist temple on Baddegama Road. If you’re on the lookout for a memento, make a stopover at the moonstone mine near Meetiyagoda where the semiprecious stones are mined, polished and turned into jewellery. If you’re completely happy to just stroll around town, then head over to Galle Road where the numerous stalls and shops selling local art, handicraft, and antiques should keep your interest piqued.
Popular with young travellers, Hikkaduwa has also carved a reputation for itself as a vibrant party destination with numerous parties being organised here. The annual Hikkaduwa Beach Fest for instance is a prominent fixture and anticipated event amongst locals and foreign partygoers. Held at the end of July, the three-day beach party boasts a number of night time parties, all of which are headlined by international DJs and music acts. In the day time, the Beach Fest transforms into a carnival like atmosphere with a number of activities such as sandcastle building competitions, beach games and other activities.
SAND, SURF AND SEA
With long beaches, inviting warm waters and sandy bottoms, Hikkaduwa is a hotspot for surfers. Between the months of November to March, surfers here converge to ride the mid-sized waves but surfing aside, this fun beach town also offers an ideal setting for beachgoers who want nothing more than to sit back and soak up the sun. Nevertheless, beach activities are abundant and active-types can easily experience a pick-up game of volleyball or beach futsal, often organised by the locals. Body surfing is a popular recreational activity here along with kite-flying, which the local kids have an affinity for. Bars and eateries are also aplenty all of which serve a wide variety of local as well as western delicacies and refreshing beverages to cool you down.
THE LIFE AQUATIC
With rich, diverse and thriving coral reefs, clear water and abundant tropical fish, Hikkaduwa has a long-standing reputation as one of the best places for snorkelling and diving on the Southwest coast. From November to April, divers and snorkelers journey here to experience the Coral Garden, which is a decent spot to witness coral fishes and other marine life up close. For those who don’t want to get their feet wet but still want to appreciate the colourful reefs, hop aboard a glass bottom boat, which are readily available for rent on the beach. Additionally, Hikkaduwa’s coast also offer a number of islets, which are a hotspot for divers as they are surrounded by impressive reefs as well as ship wrecks.
SAVOUR HISTORICAL GALLE
The city of Galle is situated less than 20km away from Hikkaduwa, and is easily connected by buses, taxis and trains. The charming coastal city boasts deep European ties, which is evident by the city’s iconic forts, churches and buildings. The old town of Galle, a UNESCO World Heritage site, should be on top your list when visiting this city. The fortified town exudes Portuguese, Dutch and British architectural influences, all of which are shielded by the grandiose old fort, the city’s key place of interest. Other notable attractions include the Dutch Church and Queen’s House, both located a short stroll away from each other.