Welcome to Hikkaduwa, the coolest beach on the island !
Judging by the popularity of the place among youngsters, Hikkaduwa is probably the coolest beach to party at night.
The name Hikkaduwa is thought to have been derived from the two words Shilpaya, which refers to knowledge in Sinhalese and Kaduwa, which means sword. It is believed therefore that the name Hikkaduwa means sword of knowledge.
Whatever the etymology, Hikkaduwa, with its 3 km long beach is reputed to be the one of the best surfing spots in Sri Lanka. As the village was a refuge to hippies in the 1970s in search of popular beach culture away from other costly beaches, Hikkaduwa is sometimes called « Hippiekaduwa ». Since then, it has attracted crowds in search of a not-so-expensive place to chill out and party. A string of hotels and guesthouses have sprung up to host the tourist influx.
In July and August, the 5-day long Beach Festival with non-stop concerts, parties and surf competitions attracts the biggest crowds. During the peak tourist season, between October and April, Hikkaduwa can get quite crowded.
Avoid the beach boys. If you are a solo female traveller, you have to read this. If the beach boys are too intrusive, do not hesitate to change your hotel.
All useful tips and information to reach Hikkaduwa in Sri Lanka
Hikkaduwa is barely 100 km from Colombo and 20 km from Galle. You can reach Hikkaduwa by bus from Colombo in around 2 hours if you take an express bus service and the traffic is not too heavy. Otherwise, a bus journey between Hikka and Colombo can take up to 3 hours. Buses leave every 15 minutes. To get to Galle, the same buses take about 30 to 45 minutes.
There are quite many trains to Colombo every day. The journey lasts about two hours. Other trains leave to various destinations like Kandy, Badulla, Matara and, of course, Galle. Night trains connect Hikkaduwa to Vavuniya and Trincomalee.
The list of hotels and guesthouses in Hikkaduwa is limitless. Even if you are planning to spend a holiday here on a shoestring budget, you can manage to find a clean room away from the noise provided you prepare well and enquire around. Do not hesitate to change your accommodation if the one you booked fails to meet your expectations.
In Hikkaduwa, the Gangarama Maha Vihara, the seenigama Vihara and the Peraliya Tsunami monument and attractions to be seen
Gangarama Maha Vihara
This temple is quite unique as all the ornate frescoes are the works of a single Buddhist monk. The edifice is situated 500 metres from the bus station, off Baddegama Road. Located atop a large terrace, it has a modern feel. A continuous influx of devotees can be seen here all around the day.
Situated about 2 km north east of Hikkaduwa is the Seenigama Vihara. The temple is unique as it is perched atop an island and can be accessed only by boat. Another unique feature to the temple is that victims of robbery can seek retribution here. According to local belief, people who have been robbed can get a lamp made of specially prepared oil that contains a mixture of chilli and pepper. When they return home, they are supposed to light the lamp and recite a mantra. It is believed that the in a matter of weeks, the thief will be caught when misfortune strikes upon him.
Peraliya Tsunami Memorial
The village of Peraliya, just to the north of Hikkaduwa, suffered massive devastation during the Boxing Day tsunami in 2004. The Colombo to Galle train, carrying between 1,000 to 2,000 passengers was passing through Peraliya when it was hit by the biggest wave. The tsunami wave swept the train off the tracks and killed a majority of the passengers. Many homes and buildings in Peraliya and nearby villages were also destroyed, killing thousands leaving many others homeless.
A Tsunami Memorial, in the form of an 18-metre standing Buddha statue was erected on an island surrounded by a lake on 26th December 2006.
There are quite many nightclubs in Hikkaduwa offering good music and a friendly and vibrant atmosphere. Friday is probably the best evening for a night out.
Day trips to do from Hikkaduwa
Around 4 km south of Hikkaduwa, in the town of Dodanduwa is Kumarakanda Vihara, a Buddhist temple that you reach by climbing a double staircase flanked with small pillars. The main shrine contains a reclining Buddha and various frescoes. A boat ride on the Ratgama Lake (Rs.300 per person) will let you spot birds and monkeys as well visit Island Hermitage, a Buddhist forest monastery that was established in 1911 on two islands, Polgasduwa and Metiduwa.
Akurala is a fishing village set amidst coconut groves around 7 km from Hikkaduwa to the north. There are not many tourists here. The beach here is quite deserted, yet clean. The fishermen here can take you on a fishing tour.
Young tourists and locals in Hikkaduwa enjoy beach volley ball and other sports
Hikkaduwa and Narigama
The beach scene in Hikkaduwa offers a large choice of restaurants and bars. This means the sea and the sands can get quite packed during the peak season. Those in search of a lively atmosphere will get their money’s worth. Children are better off swimming at the reef-protected part of the sea near Hikkaduwa town.
Narigama Beach, just south of Hikkaduwa Beach, is a surfer’s paradise.
Lizards, crocodiles and other reptiles can be seen at Maduganga wetlands near Hikkaduwa
The Maduganga Lake and the Randombe Lake are connected by a 3-kilometre long channel forming a wetland that covers over 900 hectares. The scenic beauty of the area is enhanced by over 60 mangrove islets.
The wetland consists of multitudinous varieties of plants that offer nesting grounds to a large number of invertebrates, reptiles, birds and mammals. A boat ride on the lakes will allow you to spot many species including Mugger Crocodile, Estuarine Crocodile and Purple-faced Leaf Monkey. Over a hundred bird species have been recorded here including rare ones such as the Sri Lanka Bush Warbler, Ceylon Bush Pigeon, Sri Lanka Whistling Thrush, etc.
The mangrove forest in Hikkaduwa offers a unique topograpy for kids to discover
Cruise on the mangrove
You could end being taken for a ride if you do not negotiate each and every part of this trip. Usually the tour guide informs you that for a price that can vary between Rs.2000 to Rs.6000, you can get to cuddle a baby monkey, admire the mangrove, spot some crocodiles, get a foot massage at a fish farm, visit a temple, tour a cinnamon garden, etc. Invariably, the guide asks you to tip each and every person all along the trip. So it is better to settle for an all-inclusive tour and the duration of the tour before paying any money.
The coral reefs in Hikkaduwa offer great moments for snorkelling and diving
There are amazing snorkelling opportunities in Hikkaduwa that will allow you to admire the coral sanctuary. Although the reef is in a sorry state compared to what it used to be due to coral bleaching and pollution, you can still admire it and get to see reef fish. This is a far better way to view corals (the other alternative, glass bottom boats, are partly responsible for the coral damage). If you do not have snorkelling gear, your guesthouse can rent you for a little price (Rs.250).