Things to do in Hikkaduwa, Sri Lanka

posted in: Asia, Beaches, Sri Lanka | 20

Did I ever tell you that the Sri Lanka blog posts that you have read so far are not of my first visit to this country? Yep, the all just detail my 2nd visit. My first one was more than a decade back to the usual tourist circuit of Sri Lanka. It was then that I had visited the West coast in Bentota. I had loved it so much back then that I knew that I had to complete my Sri Lanka visit with at least one visit to its Western shores. My pre-trip research showcased Hikkaduwa as a better alternative to Bentota. And so it was, especially when you see the list of things to do in Hikkaduwa.

Hikkaduwa - one of the must-visit places in Sri Lanka
Hikkaduwa – one of the must-visit places in Sri Lanka

No doubt when you consider the Western beach towns of Sri Lanka, Hikkaduwa will be one of the top places to holiday. However, personally, I favored the southern quieter ones like Mirissa and Unawatuna. That said, I can’t claim to not have had any fun here. In fact, I had loads of it. The high spirited Hikkaduwa town had an infectious energy that had us exploring its beaches, waters, beach shacks, road-side markets and more. To give you an idea of what to expect, here is my list of 10 top things to do in Hikkaduwa.

About Hikkaduwa

An erstwhile fishing village, Hikkaduwa now, is one of the most popular places to visit in Sri Lanka. The clear waters and the surf waves make it irresistible for water adventurers like me. It is often, used as a holiday base for day trips to the rest of the southern shores and Galle. The little town was badly hit by the Tsunami of 2004 and a lot of people lost their homes and livelihood. It has slowly sprung back to business with its hotels and facilities. A lot of families in Hikkaduwa have also, started their home-tailoring business as they were given sewing machines as relief aids. In fact, it is one of the things I loved about the place – the quaint cloth market with trendy beach clothes. I am sure you will too, love them along with the other Hikkaduwa attractions.

How to reach Hikkaduwa?

  • The closest airport to Hikkaduwa in Colombo. The Bandaranaike International Airport is around 140 km from Hikkaduwa and it takes around 2 and a half hours to travel by road. You can consider booking a cab online through this website at a discounted rate. Alternately, you can even opt for an Uber cab or Airport taxi when there.
  • There are a lot of regular buses that go to Hikkaduwa from Colombo. From luxury to semi-luxury and regular buses, you will find the journey fairly comfortable and affordable.
  • Hikkaduwa has its own railway station. There are a lot of trains that go to Galle or Matara from Colombo. All of these halt at Hikkaduwa. You can get the railway timetable through this website.

Which is the best place to stay in Hikkaduwa?

Our rooms in the Bluenote hotel
Our rooms in the Bluenote hotel
  • Being a well-developed tourist place in Sri Lanka, Hikkaduwa has plenty of options for your stay. If you stay within the main town away from the beach, you are likely to get hotels at a lower rate. Needless to say that the beach hotels have a bit of premium.
  • Personally, I recommend staying by the beach as that is where all the action is. Staying in the town will require you to spend at least LKR 200 per tuk-tuk ride to the beach.
  • You can look through some of the luxury hotels on this site. Booking through this website gets you a good discount and does not cost you anything additional. If anything, I get to keep some commission that keeps my website going.
  • Among the mid-priced beach hotels, I loved The Citrus. Though I only had a meal here and took a tour of the hotel, I felt it was a good location, great customer service, and lovely facilities. I, however, stayed in Hotel Blue Note. I booked the same through here. The hotel is pretty good – rooms are new but the food and service are not yet up to the mark. Nothing wrong with it but nothing to write home about either. Both these hotels are beach side hotels.
  • Budget accommodation in Hikkaduwa is no issue at all. This website gives you a list of all the BnB places and their reviews. You can even book your stay in Hikkaduwa through that.

Best time to visit Hikkaduwa

The golden glow of sun setting on Hikkaduwa Beach
The golden glow of sun setting on Hikkaduwa Beach

The best time to visit Hikkaduwa is between October to mid-April. This is also, the best time for activities like Scuba Diving or Snorkeling as the water is fairly clear. Note that most of the tourist hotels close down for the rest of the year.

What to do in Hikkaduwa, Sri Lanka?

Sun, Sand, Surf, Snorkel, Scuba, Shopping….and much much more. This is just a glimpse of things that are coming your way. When you are done with this entire list of places to visit in Hikkaduwa, you will be enticed – enough to book your own trip here. So, beware 😉 and let’s get started.

Scuba Diving in Hikkaduwa

Scuba Diving in Hikkaduwa National Park
Scuba Diving in Hikkaduwa National Park

The one thing that attracted me to Hikkaduwa was Scuba Diving. Specifically diving among the shipwrecks. There are over 4 – 5 dive sites that have these sunken wonders. Adding to the diversity of the underwater kingdom are the lovely coral reefs that are teeming with creatures like reef sharks, snappers, parrotfish and my favorites – sea turtles. In fact, owing to the marine diversity in the waters around, the entire area has been classified as a marine national park. While I could not manage a sea wreck owing to the weather conditions on my chose day of dives, I still got a good feel of the underwater caverns and biodiversity of Hikkaduwa National Park – one of the two marine parks of Sri Lanka.

Hikkaduwa Snorkelling with the turtles

I hoped to catch a turtle or two during my dive in Hikkaduwa. Well, they did not oblige me at that depth and that was all because they were partying near the Hikkaduwa beach.;-) Though we had our snorkel gear all strapped up, we realized that we did not need it at all. All we had to do is just wade into the water and there they were. Their most preferred spot is the reefs near Hikka Tranz hotel. Over the two days that we stayed here, I found them lurking there, eating seaweed off our hands and generally having fun swimming with us.

Turtles eating a seaweed off our hands near Hikka Tranz, Hikkaduwa
Turtles eating a seaweed off our hands near Hikka Tranz, Hikkaduwa

Snorkeling in Hikkaduwa also, allows you to get a glimpse of the gorgeous corals in its marine park. You can either just wade across the shores of Hikkaduwa beach near the turtle reef to do some shallow water snorkel or opt for a boat tour to the coral park area. A lot of beach shacks will rent out their snorkel equipment but it is better to get one from a PADI certified shop. For one, they have better equipment and also, they will teach you the right and safe way to snorkel in the Hikkaduwa reefs.

Discovering the coral garden

The Coral gardens - one of the things to do in Hikkaduwa
The Coral gardens – one of the things to do in Hikkaduwa

When I heard of the Coral Garden of Hikkaduwa, I assumed it was a particular spot that was fenced off. What I was unprepared for is that it was a completely open area that started from the shore and led up to a small island. You can swim around the entire area to see pretty corals hiding shoals of reef sharks and other colored fish. For someone like my hubby who doesn’t enjoy snorkeling, walking along the reef was also, a great option. You can just wade through the sandy strips between the corals and actually spot the fish from the surface. Of course, remember to walk only on the sandy floor and not on the coral bed.

Close up of the shore corals
Close up of the shore corals

Also, remember that the shallow waters of the coral gardens do not have the best of corals. They are bleached and a bit damaged owing to the proximity to the shore. It is better to explore the reefs near the islands. Again, you should opt for the boat tours from Hikkaduwa that take you there in the morning for a few hours.

Water sports on the beaches

The one thing that I guarantee you on the Hikkaduwa beaches is that you will be spoilt for choice as far as watersports are concerned. No matter whether it is your first time at anything or the fact that you are a pro at something, you will find your favored dose of adrenaline right here. Surfing is one popular activity in Hikkaduwa. You can opt for the surf lessons on the gentle 3 – 5 feet waves. Bodyboarding or Boogie Boarding was something that we opted for instead of surfing. Having tried our hand at that in Mirissa, we craved for the same fun here. The video below is us doing bodyboarding in Mirissa.

Water scooters keep zipping up and down the sea while kite surfers and paragliders keep swaying along the horizon. Excited screams from the banana boat riders are like a regular sound effect on the beach. I wonder which one would you be opting for first?

Savoring the local Sri Lankan food

Beach shacks - a great place for food in Hikkaduwa
Beach shacks – a great place for food in Hikkaduwa

There is always something about the beach air. It just makes you feel so ravenous all the time. For me, it was not just that but the flavors of the Sri Lankan food. The yummy red rice with the local coconut curries and the spicy side dishes – it just makes my mouth water even now. The Galle-Hikkaduwa main road, as well as the beach, is filled with local eateries that serve this in addition to the Western delicacies. My personal favorite was this little home-kitchen called Home Grown Rice & Curry. The Tree-Top restaurant on the same road was another place that offered Sri Lankan Meals as well as the famous rotis. For those, who love seafood, don’t miss The Garlic.

My favorite Sri Lankan meal
My favorite Sri Lankan meal

A big recommendation from me would be to try out the egg appams or plain appams with chutneys for breakfast. Along with that, ensure there are the string hoppers or idiyappam as they are called in India.  I swear I can never have enough of those.

Shopping in Hikkaduwa

With a cloth tailor at every meter of the Hikkaduwa street, clothes are definitely something that you need to look at. I loved their beachwear collection – colorful and trendy. The smocked jumpsuits were definitely adorable. If you have a bit of time, you can get your custom suit or dress stitched by these tailors at a very very reasonable rate. Besides clothes, you will love the precious stones and the trinkets on the street bazaars.

Carry back some Sri Lankan tea as gifts for your friends. There are loads of emporiums along the main road with different grades of tea and flavors too! Shopping here is not only quirky and fun but quite easy on your pockets too.

Hikkaduwa Nightlife

Party can be just for two - a cosy dinner setting on the Hikkaduwa beach
Party can be just for two – a cosy dinner setting on the Hikkaduwa beach

If you are the partying sorts, you will love the nightlife in Hikkaduwa. Even though I am not big on the party scenes, I still loved the glitzy beach shacks for their live music and vibrant mood. There are plenty of music bars like Top Secret bar, Mambos and Vibration bar that seem to be liked by the visitors. Talking to a few of the other hotel guests revealed that these places were packed on weekends. They also had special nights for live and tribal music. Definitely something you must note down for things to do in Hikkaduwa at night.

Experiencing the surreal sunsets

Experience the dramatic sunsets of Hikkaduwa
Experience the dramatic sunsets of Hikkaduwa

The one thing that Hikkaduwa beat Mirissa in were its sunsets. I suppose that it owes that to the fact that it lies along the dusk horizon as against Mirissa which falls to the south of Sri Lanka. The colors and the shades of the sea and sky were just unbelievable. Whatever we did over our stay in Hikkaduwa, we made sure that we were settled down on the sand to experience this miraculous play of Sun and the Sea.

Hikkaduwa Tsunami Museum & Temples

Personally, I was so in love with the beachside that I did not venture out to explore the other Hikkaduwa attractions. However, I did come across them from afar and thought it is best to share it here – in case you wish to get to them. The Hikkaduwa Tsunami Museum promises to be a lovely melancholic affair. It showcases the lives before and after the disaster while sharing stories of the affected. It is free to visit and is well within the Hikkaduwa Town.

Hikkaduwa Beach
Hikkaduwa Beach

The other interesting Hikkaduwa Sightseeing attraction was a Buddhist temple called Seenigama Vihara. This island temple was on my list but owing to paucity of time, I dropped it. What interested me was the legend around the temple. They say that if you were ever robbed, then you need to offer a special oil made with pepper in this temple. The thief is punished suitably and is in due course of time, revealed to you. 😉

Besides these, there are plenty of turtle hatcheries that you could visit. Having visited one along my Mirissa- Galle trip, I chose to skip this one.

Day Trips from Hikkaduwa

Hikkaduwa is just 14 km from the famous city of Galle. Quite like Mirissa, you can hire a tuk-tuk and do a day trip to Galle Fort. Besides this, you can also, look up day trips to Mirissa, Unawatuna and Weligama. If you wish to touch the famous Bentota beach, it is quite possible to do so from Hikkaduwa.

Galle Lighthouse
Galle Lighthouse – a landmark of Galle fort

Consider a day safari to Yala National Park or the Udawalawe National Park. There are just plenty of options and the best part of it all, you can book all these online at a discount.

Klook.com

That, for now, is the end of my list. Ready to book yourself to this amazing place. Let’s get going with the rest of the information – but not before you have pinned this to your board.

Travel Tips

  • As is the case with most beach destinations, make sure you don’t miss out on packing Sunscreen, goggles, swimwear and caps.
  • When renting equipment like surfboards and snorkel gears, make sure they are in good condition.
  • There are plenty of grocery outlets and supermarkets around Hikkaduwa. It is pretty convenient and easy to buy things in case you have forgotten any.

Disclaimer: This article includes affiliate links. This means that at no cost to you, I will receive a small commission if you purchase through my link. Thank you for supporting me with this.

 

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20 Responses

  1. Jane Dempster-Smith

    Thanks for enlightening me about Hikkaduwa. Sri Lanka is high on our travel list. Having never heard of Hikkaduwa your article has helped me plan our itinerary. It looks the perfect base for us to stay and also to visit Galle etc.

  2. Leah

    Wow- I want to back my bags right now! Sri Lanka has been on my list for a long time, and this post only added to my desire to go soon! The sunsets sound amazing. The hotel you stayed at sounds like a great fit too.

  3. Moon Ray

    The country is full of hidden treasure. I have not heard about this place before reading your post. This has to be in my bucket list. I am always fond of your writing.

  4. Yukti Agrawal

    Hikkaduwa looks like hidden gem as not many people know about it. I visited Colombo but was not knowing about this beautiful beach with stunning sunset. Even there are so many beautiful day trips from here. As you said shopping is very good at this place, I would purchase loads of natural stones, trinkets from local vendors and even famous Sri Lankan tea.

    • Ami

      Make sure you are well loaded with cash – 😉 You might find it difficult to stop once you are here for shopping.

  5. Medha Verma

    Just like you, my first trip to Sri Lanka also included the typical places (I spent some time in Bentota as well) and I did not make it to Hikkaduwa which is a pity because it looks gorgeous! Coasts are usually my favourite places to explore and I’d love to go snorkeling here. I am a total water sports fan!

    • Ami

      It is quite a party beach. I recommend that you visit this as well as the quieter Mirissa beach (am a little partial to this).;-)

  6. Diana

    I’ve never heard of Hikkaduwa before, so thank you for putting it on my radar! I would love to scuba there and see some turtles – although so cool to hear that you don’t even have to go down very far to see them! The beaches look pristine, and the seafood sounds delicious. Give me ALL the seafood.

    • Ami

      Scuba here was fun indeed. Though a little rough compared to the other sites I had been to. Guess it was almost the end of the season and hence, the conditions.

  7. Paula

    I haven’t been to Sri Lanka yet, but all the photos I have seen from there always look amazing! So do these. We love snorkling and the seeing the life under the water, so I think we would definitely go see these turtles. Hikkaduwa seem like a great place to spend time and explore.

    • Ami

      Given you like the underwater activities, am sure you will love Hikkaduwa. Just plenty to see.

  8. Martha

    I definitely love beach destinations that are beautiful but also offer a unique cultural experience. Hikkaduwa’s growing fashion industry is very intriguing to me! I’d love to support the locals and see their beautiful take on fashion. The water adventures and day trips you embarked on also sound lovely. I definitely want to visit Yala National Park for a day safari as well! Sri Lanka has a lot of diversity and I can’t wait to dive in soon!

    • Ami

      Those day trips are so worth your while. Am sure you will love those as well as what Hikkaduwa has to offer.

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