About the Author
Swapnil Talekar has travelled the world for the past 10 years, with a partiality toward South Asia. His blog, myvacationwoes.com – aims to provide honest, unfiltered and unbiased experiences of the places he visits, focusing on culture, local cuisine, regional festivals and unknown facts about the locality. We came across his post on Sri Lanka’s beach town, Hikkaduwa, and thought it was great tourist-perspective piece on what you can expect when holidaying there.
Hikkaduwa – the hidden gem of Sri Lanka
Does not travelling get way more interesting when you start finding oxymorons in the places you visit: Sri Lanka, the misnomer of ‘teardrop in the ocean‘ evidently contrasts to this heavenly abode of sunshine, beaches and ‘Serendipity’, the word named after the beautiful island sure define its origins very well.
Among the beautiful cities of Srilanka, offering vistas of greens and sun is a hidden paradise of Hikkaduwa. Situated in the southern part of Srilanka, it is one of the finest getaway destinations one could imagine of. With seas prevailing wherever your sight reaches and ample of activities to explore the outrageous marine and party life, it should be a sure spot on your travel bucket list.
The reason I call it a hidden gem is because it is not much written about in travel blogs but what I’ve found first-hand is that it is extremely popular with western tourists. I myself stumbled upon it while travelling from Bentota to Galle. Hikkaduwa sees way more buzz and hip crowd and is a lot more happening place than the neighbouring Bentota. It just reminds me of Goa in peak season.
How to reach:
Hikkaduwa is positioned geographically on the southern part of Srilanka, 115 km to the south of Capital city Columbo and only 18 km from Galle, one of the main tourist spot of Srilanka. This provides it with an upper hand when it comes to transportation, making it all: very convenient, cost-effective and accessible.
What to do when you arrive at Columbo Airport? You hire a private vehicle if you have your family with you or you are moving in a large group. It costs you LKR 4000-6000 and takes two hours at the most to reach Hikkaduwa. But if you are on a budget trip and it feels heavy on your pocket to pay a few thousand bucks on mere transport, no problem. They’ve got your back there too. Srilanka has got a plan for everything! There are direct trains and mini air-conditioned buses which will cost you no more than LKR 300 for a journey to Hikkaduwa. It takes probably 2-3 hours to reach the destination.
If you are planning to visit Galle and then head on to Hikkaduwa, there is no better cherry on top than telling you that Galle remains at a mere distance of 17 km from Hikkaduwa and a ‘tuk-tuk’ can drop you off there in perhaps an hour or half!
Where to stay:
The only time we feel grateful for Srilanka being a third world country is when comparing the price of our bedding & breakfast. Believe me, when I say, it gets way cheaper than even the lesser known luxury destinations in India. The last time I went to Orchha, I thought nothing could beat the prices of luxury hotels offered here. Well, the world has got many unexpected ways to prove us wrong, and travelling is one (and probably the best) of them all. The city boasts ample of aesthetic and Instagram worthy locations to stay ranging from lavish beach resorts, humble guest house dwellings to hotels with celestial views of the horizons. The hotels starting from as low as LKR 1000 per day have facilities like pools, bars and what more? If you are ready to splurge some more bucks you might get a lagoon of your own! Isn’t that something enthralling to add on to your travel journals?
If you prefer a more expensive stay, there are a number of beautiful high-end resorts on the whole patch.
What to eat:
WHAT TO EAT? Why is that even a question? “what not to eat” will be the thing you’ll ask once you reach the restaurants. You have a wide variety of Seafood consisting of many lip-smacking Srilankan curries like sour fish curry, crab curry, shrimps and prawns cooked in whole spices. For vegetarians, you have kottu, rice, appam, eggplant pickles and vegetable curries that can’t be counted on fingers.
However, visiting Hikkaduwa, the right question should be “what to drink?”. In a place that’s famous for parties and nightlife, who would not love to hold a glass of Sangria and dance to the beats. Hikkaduwa hosts a number of bars and party places with a cream crowd (mainly foreigners). So enjoy yourselves, while you’re at it. Who lets go off a chance to dance anyway?
If you’re a foodie like me, you might also want to read: A foodie’s exploration of Sri Lanka
Things to do:
Hikkaduwa has a very vibrant nightlife. The place is buzzing with tourists crowding up at the different clubs and bars throughout the place all through the night.
After you’re done gobbling up the delicacies and partying, there’s nothing left for you to do, you’ll think. That’s where you went wrong.
Hung up with the rave from last night, you probably need a detox from the last night’s fanatics. A bit of vitamin sea and some nature peek is all you need. Go visit the Hikkaduwa National Park, one of the only three marine national parks in Srilanka which foster various flora and fauna exclusive to the particular niche.
Kosgoda Turtle Hatchery is a unique place in the area which you should surely visit. Initially built under the act of the Srilankan government to conserve the declining turtle population which it successfully accomplished, has now become more famous for sightseeing of baby turtles growing with utmost care.
“Who, but a man that cannot see do not loveth the waves of the sea” once said a wise man. Sure, he must have visited the golden sands and azure skies of Hikkaduwa. With so many beautiful beaches to visit, you will be left perplexed as to which one you should visit. I’ll give you the best advice: go visit them all! Narigama beach is very famous among the tourists for its cozy and placid vibes and the hygiene is well maintained on all of the beaches. A few turtles and other sea creatures might even pay you a visit while they are toddling on the shore. Here you can feed them with seaweed and experience a whole new level of serenity for yourself.
Hikkaduwa does not lack when it comes to providing you with thrill and adventure as well. Water sports here include snorkelling, sea diving, surfing, rowing, sailing. What makes it all the more beautiful are the coral reefs present just beneath the shallows that you can find easily. The Coral reefs here are massive and colourful, you’ll fall in love with their contrast to the blue sea water.
Unfortunately, this place was left devastated by the 2004 Tsunami in Srilanka. In the memory of the loss of men and resources during the calamity, a Community Tsunami Museum was built with photos and necessary information of the wreck. At the Tsunami Honganji Vihaar a tall Buddha statue faces towards the ocean from where Tsunami once entered the land.
These are just some of the things to explore in the beautiful land of Ceylon. To know what’s more is waiting for you in the land of sand and sun, pack your bags and head straight for it! Bon Voyage!