This post was last updated on April 10th, 2020 at 09:25 am
Just north of Galle, you will find one of the nicest beaches in Sri Lanka. It has been known since the 70s when many hippies went to visit this deserted coastal town. It is known among amateur surfers and after enduring a difficult period, Hikkaduwa finally begins to regain its sparkle of the 1970s.
Hikkaduwa; Making a Comeback
The international travel world often passes Hikkaduwa on its way to Unawatuna. That has everything to do with the shocking development of Hikkaduwa since its discovery in the 1970s.
Tourism led to the systematic erosion of the beach and the construction of gray concrete hotels. The once famous snorkel spots became a labyrinth of dead coral.
That does not sound promising, and it wasn’t. However… luckily it’s on the way back to its former glory. Since the hordes of tourists have largely ignored the city in search of better destinations, Hikkaduwa is back to what it once was; a sleepy, picturesque village with a bit of hippie charm.
A Little Pearl
Hikkaduwa is making a comeback. The polluted and crumbling beach is slowly recovering and the Coral Gardens (the famous coral) are gradually getting better. Many hotels were demolished or renovated after the tsunami. The entire city now looks better than it has for years.
Along the wide beach, you will now find (cheap) accommodations and restaurants where they mainly serve fish. Even the notorious road, Galle Road, became less crowded after the construction of the new Southern Expressway.
8 Fun Things to do in Hikkaduwa
Hikkaduwa is still not the untouched paradise it used to be, but compared to a few years ago it is a pleasant improvement. That also means that there is more to do in and around the town. Most people come here to surf, snorkel or dive.
1. Go Surfing
This beach is especially popular with novice surfers because of the smaller waves. You will also find various surf schools on the beach. It is an excellent place to learn how to surf. During the high season, you have beautiful waves here.
Surfboards can easily be rented at any water sports center.
2. Discover the Coral Gardens
This is the highlight for snorkeling enthusiasts. It is still repairing the years of damage it sustained so it is still dead here and there, but you can see that there is an improvement. This coral reserve is a shallow reef 5 meters deep.
You will find a large number of underwater flora and fauna here, of which the corals have a special color! Boats with a glass-bottom sail here, making this activity accessible to everyone.
TIP – The city becomes particularly lively during the annual Hikkaduwa Beach Fest, a three-day beach party in July/August. There will be international DJs who entertain locals and foreigners with music.
3. Support the Local Turtle Shelter
A small turtle shelter can be found in the town of Hikkaduwa. This shelter helps protect endangered sea turtles.
You can visit the shelter for a small fee after which you will get a tour of the grounds.
The turtle farm is definitely recommended in Hikkaduwa. You will support a nice local initiative!
4. Visit the Tsunami Museum
The tsunami museum is located in Hikkaduwa. This museum was founded in response to the terrible tsunami in 2004 that killed nearly 230,000 people worldwide.
The museum takes you back to this horrible Boxing Day in 2004. There are many photos of what the tsunami has done to the country.
The museum is free to visit but a voluntary contribution is appreciated. These contributions support children orphaned by the tsunami.
In addition to being a special experience, you also support a nice local initiative.
5. Go Shopping!
Hikkaduwa is a great place for shopping. You will find numerous shops with nice souvenirs here. Just like in the rest of Asia, everyone sells almost the same, so you don’t have to be very good at negotiating to get a good price.
You can often get the same product from your neighbor when it is too expensive. You can also find a fruit market in Hikkaduwa that is open daily.
Every morning between 07:00 a.m. and 10:00 a.m. it is possible to visit the local fish market. In short, you can certainly enjoy a day here with nice shops and delicious markets.
Hikkaduwa is also known for the fact that you can party well. There are several parties every night in this party city.
There is also a big party in the city every night. This party kicks off every night with a fireworks show so you know where the biggest event is taking place that night.
TIP – The city gets particularly lively during the annual Hikkaduwa Beach Fest, a three-day beach party in July / August. International DJs will come to entertain locals and foreigners with music.
7. Sail Across Hikkaduwa Lake
While the glass bottom boats are very popular in Hikkaduwa, you can rent canoes at Hikkaduwa Lake and explore the lake. It is not like Inle Lake in Myanmar, but a beautiful place in the middle of a peaceful natural environment. You can do great birdwatching here.
In addition, you can also fish for shrimp that live in this freshwater lake. If you are here at the right time, you can even catch a glimpse of fishermen throwing their nets into the water.
8. Relax with Sunshine, Beaches, and Waves
The main reason that travelers come here is because of the presence of the sun, sea, beaches, and waves. That is why you can just relax in your hammock, swim, play a game of volleyball or drink a cocktail in one of the beach bars.
How to Get to Hikkaduwa
Hikkaduwa is located in southwestern Sri Lanka. The city is easily accessible from different parts of Sri Lanka. Here’s an overview of the different modes of transport you can use to get here.
You can easily reach Hikkaduwa by bus from Colombo, Matara, and Galle. From Colombo, take one of the many buses that head south towards Matara and Galle. The drive to Hikkaduwa takes about two to three hours.
From Matara and Gallo, you obviously take the bus to Colombo to get to Hikkaduwa. The bus ride will cost you approximately US$12.
The cheapest way to reach Hikkaduwa is by train. This is not the most comfortable option, but doable for a few hours.
Several trains run daily between Colombo and Matara. The total train journey takes about 3 hours from Colombo and will cost you around US$2.50.
When traveling with more people, the minivan is a good option to reach Hikkaduwa. The minivan from Colombo will cost you about US$60.
The more people take the same minivan, the cheaper it is. Minivans can be arranged at the airport or at your accommodation.
By Taxi (Cab)
The fastest and most expensive option is to take a taxi. A taxi from the airport to Hikkaduwa will cost you about US$50. This depends on your negotiation skills.
Here too, the more people take the same taxi, the cheaper it gets. When traveling with more than four people, it is wiser to take a minivan.
Accommodations in Hikkaduwa
Hikkaduwa has been popular with travelers since the 1970s. Despite the fact that Hikkaduwa has had a difficult period, the city still lives largely from tourism.
This can also be seen in the many accommodations that can be found there. The choice of accommodations is very large in Hikkaduwa. You can find nice small hostels here, but also ultra-luxury resorts.
Many of the accommodations are located in the city center or on Hikkaduwa beach. We recommend that you stay at the beach since that is where most people come to in Hikkaduwa.
Best Time to Visit Hikkaduwa
The best time to travel to Hikkaduwa is from December to March. Sri Lanka can be visited all year round due to the pleasant climate. Hikkaduwa is located in western Sri Lanka, making the best time to visit this city from December to March.
Read more information about the different Monsoon rains and about the climate in Sri Lanka.