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Wikipedia | Google | Google Images | FlickrBetween Colombo and Galle sits Hikkaduwa – one of the most popular tourist destinations in Sri Lanka. The town was hit very hard by the 2004 tsunami, and a vast majority of people lost not just their businesses, but their homes, families and sources of sustenance. As part of the government relief program, sewing machines were donated to the most affected inhabitants of Hikkaduwa, and until now you can find a lot of tailor shops around town where any type of clothing can be custom-made in a very short period of time.
Hikkaduwa is most popular for its surfing beaches and wreck diving in the coastal areas. It is a great place for first-time surfers and snorkeling enthusiasts. Hikkaduwa National Park hosts a large reef, inhabited by various species of coral, green turtles, reef sharks, sea snakes, and several endemic species of fish.
Things to See
Seenigama Vihara TempleLocated a short distance away from Hikkaduwa, this temple stands on a small island, among the palm trees, and is decorated with colorful flags by local villagers.
Telwatta Tsunami Photo MuseumThe museum is a full exhibition dedicated to the tsunami that devastated the coast of Sri Lanka in 2004. The museum holds photographs of the tsunami aftermath, paintings by surviving family members, letters and poems dedicated to those who perished under the water.
In the nearby Peraliya, you will find an 18-meter statue of Buddha, built in commemoration of the tsunami victims. It was here that the Colombo-Galle train that was passing through carrying 1,500 people was hit by the tsunami, resulting in the death of thousands. The village has never fully recovered from the tragedy.
Moonstone Mine and Gem PalaceIf you are interested in mining for precious stones, or in buying any, the mine is worth a brief visit. The guides are not too pushy when it comes to selling you gemstones or other stuff, but will expect a thank you fee for their guiding services.
Things to DoSnorkeling and diving is available with many different operators across the town, both by the shore and in the open sea. Wreck diving is very popular in the area, although for more experienced divers rather than beginners: a lot of ships are quite old and located at big depths. Several trawlers and smaller ships from early 20th century can be found under the calm sea surface off the coast of Hikkaduwa. Curiously enough, Jules Verne included the coast of Sri Lanka into the journey of Captain Nemo and his Nautilus submarine, when the crew watched local fishermen free dive for precious pearls into the sea.
North of Hikkaduwa, you can find a private Turtle Research Centre, where one can watch both adult turtles and eggs in the artificial hatchery.
Surfing is the main reason many people visit Hikkaduwa and decide to stay here for days and even weeks. It is also a great and cheap place to learn surfing from scratch. Reef End Surf School offers reasonable prices and experienced instructors.
Places to Stay
- Hikka Train Hostel is quite far from the beaches, but a nice place to stay in residential Hikkaduwa, quiet and less of a party place.
- Mambo’s Surfer’s Paradise gained a bad reputation because of its territorial local surfers who create trouble for foreign male travelers and aggressively hit on solo female travellers.
- Blue Moon Restaurant is a widely recommended place to eat in Hikkaduwa. It also has a guesthouse for quite reasonable prices and in close proximity to the beach.
There are a lot of other beach resorts and bars of all scales, whether you like surfing, diving, snorkeling or just beach-bumming.
Getting There and Around
- Buses run from Central Colombo along the southern coastal highway and can be flagged down anywhere along the way. They are always full, so unless you start your journey from Colombo bus station be prepared to stand on your feet the entire journey.
- There is also a train that runs from Colombo Railway Station down to Matara and Galle, passing through Hikkaduwa.
- The best way to travel around town is either by walking or by taking a tuk tuk (no more than 200 LDR around town). There are also cheap buses running around the town and to nearby villages. You can try renting a motorbike from a local dealer, but driving on your own in Sri Lanka is not exactly the most chilled and relaxing thing to do. You will learn to put up with constant honking, but better stay on the safe side and let somebody else drive you.
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Author: wilhelminamurray. Last updated: Jan 14, 2015