Holidays in Hikkaduwa, Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka Independent Coach Tours
Hikkaduwa appears to have been an early tourist destination in Ceylon, for it was reported in 1843 that it “is most pleasantly situated, and a great resort of picnic parties from Galle”. Traditionally associated with the cultivation of coconuts, rice and cinnamon, plumbago mining, and the manufacture of lace and drum frames, Hikkaduwa has emerged as a modern destination for sun seekers and wave worshippers.
There is only one town by the sea that can boast of some of the best surfing waves in Sri Lanka, a long stretch of beach packed with restaurants serving deliciously fresh seafood, an equally long stretch of souvenir shops for the serious shopper, and guesthouses and hotels galore, from the cheap and cheerful to star-class. The name of the place is Hikkaduwa, and there is no other resort on the island like it.

Hikkaduwa comprises a number of different areas stretching from north to south. The main town of Hikkaduwa is the most ‘Sri Lankan’ of all areas and features the bus stand, train station and police station at one end, and the dive stations and big hotels at the other end, further south. Next is the Wewala area packed full of guesthouses and small restaurants, internet cafes and bars. Finally, a little further to the south is Narigama, which is a little quieter but has numerous guesthouses. What makes Hikkaduwa stand out from other resorts is the range of accommodation and shopping and dining options.

Many who visit Hikkaduwa are usually sun worshippers, sea worshippers or wave worshippers. The foreign influx began in the late sixties and before long the town began to bustle with fun-seeking visitors.. The Germans were the biggest influence for a long time, and although today many signboards and menus are still in German, the clientele is now much more international. In particular, the number of Australians is rising as the fame of Hikkaduwa as a surfer’s destination grows.

For those interested in the sea, it is at its best for diving and snorkelling from November to April when the visibility is generally good. The Hikkaduwa Marine Sanctuary, established in 1988, ensures the underwater world is accessible to all whether they can dive or not. Snorkelling in the shallow waters only 200m off shore is possible, and you can come across a number of brightly-coloured fish as you float a few metres above. The less adventurous can always take a glass-bottomed boat ride, though this is environmentally questionable due to the pollution and negative effects on the already depleted corals.

Should you want to see more of the Sri Lankan marine life than is in the sanctuary you will need to be a PADI qualified diver, or be willing to take your PADI course there and then. With a number of wrecks and reef gardens further out to sea, it is well worth discovering some of what underwater Sri Lanka has to offer.

Finally, there are of course those attracted to Hikkaduwa by the surfing, which is thought to be second only to that at Arugam Bay on the east coast. A word of warning for surfers though –there are there some sharp corals near the best surfing areas. However, the waves are good and the atmosphere relaxed, so head down to Wewala with your board.

Hikkaduwa comes into its own as the premier shopping destination for the backpacker. Clothes are tailored here to western tastes and in western sizes. Jewellery is not of the gaudy golden type, but the more understated silver type with beautiful semi-precious stones. There are dozens of souvenir shops with items from masks and puppets, to shells and corals, and from musical instruments to batiks and paintings..

Hikkaduwa by night means food, drink and dance. There is a wide choice of restaurants, offering excellent fresh seafood, lots of other travellers to meet and talk to, and menus that go beyond rice and curry.

In conclusion, Hikkaduwa is the kind of laid-back place that tourists tend to fall in love with. It has all the amenities, no serious hassles, and can offer the perfect beach experience for those who just want to laze, swim, surf and shop through their holiday. It is not a place that would stand out among the resorts of Thailand or India, but it is one of the best places on the coast to relax and enjoy yourself in Sri Lanka.
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