This lively and buoyant town on the Southern coast is situated just 20 km away from the popular seaside resort of Galle.
This coastal strip of 4 km is now filled with many hotels, guesthouses, restaurants, chic cafes, shops and bars. Major pastimes of visitors who visit this stretch are snorkeling and diving. While this is an enthralling activity to engage in, it is also the best way to see life underwater and the beautiful coral reefs. This coral sanctuary (the one and only in Sri Lanka) consists of various corals of different shapes and colors. Visitors who wish to explore these magnificent coral reefs without engaging in any physical activities such as diving or snorkeling, can take a glass bottomed boat ride. Situated just a few hundred meters off the shore the coral sanctuary is home over 70 varieties of corals and many species of fish and turtles.
Hikkaduwa is the ideal spot for diving enthusiasts because of the shipwrecks located close by. The clear blue water and easy shallow conditions make it suitable for even novice divers and there are dive shops providing the necessary equipment and PADI courses. If you wish to explore the shipwrecks at hand, scuba diving is the perfect activity. Some well sought- after diving points are Kiralagala, Godagala and Black Coral Point.
In order to get close to the reefs all you have to do is to grab the essential equipment, take a boat ride and snorkel. The lagoon is the safest place for beginners to snorkel and to explore the coral reef, while stumbling upon reef fish. The more competent snorkelers, can venture out to the deeper coral patches and even catch sight of reef sharks roam about.
The Hikkaduwa beach has been acclaimed as the second best spot for surfing in Sri Lanka with four major surf points, ergo Hikkaduwa attracts a lot of visitors. Wandering further southwards from the center of the coral reefs, you will reach the perfect spot for surfing with ideal coastal conditions; clear water and good waves. While the size of waves can vary from 4 feet to 11 feet in height, the best season for surfing is from November to March.
Hikkaduwa is also home to charming temples, a fresh water lake and peaceful village life. The turtle farm and hatchery, the Seenigama Viharaya, moonstone mines, the Tsunami Photo Museum and the Tsunami Honganji Viharaya are some other places to visit while in Hikkaduwa.
Hikkaduwa is also popular for the great beach and party vibe going on, it’s all night long raves and easygoing atmosphere. The exciting range of water sports and the complete and utter beauty of this tropical and untarnished beach makes it worth paying a visit to.
It is believed that the name Hikkaduwa has been derived from the two words Ship and Kaduwa. Accordingly Ship is the short form of Shilpaya; meaning knowledge in Sinhala. In the meantime Kaduwa stands for sword. Hence, the name Hikkaduwa means ‘Sword of knowledge’.
This coastal town is an important archaeological site, with some such historical sites dating back to ancient days. Most of these sites reflect on Buddhism and there are various temples and statues.
As a result of the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake and the Tsunami caused by it, Hikkaduwa was subject to devastation and many families lost everything that once belonged to them. Nevertheless since then, this coastal village has been redeveloped and the families affected by the tsunami were provided assistance.
How to Get There
By road: the journey to Hikkaduwa; beginning from Colombo, covers a distance of 115km and takes nearly 1 hour and 50 minutes. Renting a car or taxiing is the most relaxed option. After entering the Southern Expressway from the Colombo-Batticaloa Highway (A4), the B320 exit has to be taken. From there, the Hikkaduwa- Baddegama road will take you to your destination.
By bus: the bus journey takes approximately 4 hours depending on the traffic along the way. This is a convenient mode of travel since it is not pricey and also because there are many buses leaving Colombo daily. Getting on any bus heading towards the Southern region of the country would take you to Hikkaduwa.
By train: travelling by train is another available option. Hikkaduwa bound trains are available daily and these trains operate every three hours. That being the case, it is an affordable mode of travel and the journey takes just over 1 and a half hours. This short train journey is slow but enjoyable indeed.
From Kandy: the fastest way to reach Hikkaduwa is by flying. The fastest route is by flying to Koggala from Katugastota, before taxiing to Hikkaduwa from there. This journey takes only 1 hour and 15 minutes. Another possible flight option is to taxi to Hatton and fly to Koggala. An alternative option is to travel by train. For this purpose you can either travel via Maharagama or arrive at Colombo and then proceed to Hikkaduwa. Renting a car or taxiing will take about 4 hours. You could proceed to the Southern Highway (E01) from the Colombo-Kandy road (A1) or via the Katugastota- Kurunegala- Puttalam Highway (A10).
From Hambantota: there are plenty of options if you wish to fly to Hikkaduwa from Hambantota. You could either fly Dickwella to Koggala, Hambantota to Koggala or Weerawila to Koggala, before taxiing to Hikkaduwa. Driving to Hikkaduwa along the Southern coast will take nearly 3 hours and the fastest route is via the Souther expressway (E01). With the no. 32-1 bus leaving from Hambantota to Galle every 2 hours, travelling by bus is also an easy and affordable option. On arriving at Galle, you will then have to taxi the short distance to Hikkaduwa.
The climate in Hikkaduwa too is not subject to many fluctuations. The temperature in Hikkaduwa is more or less the same as that of the seaside resorts in the South, and varies between 25 degree Celsius and 31 degree Celsius. The months from November to April, is the best time for diving and surfing because of the perfect coastal conditions.
Food and Drink
While Hikkaduwa is widely known for its jovial and merry nightlife, it is also well known for its delicious cuisine and seafood. There are many restaurants and cafes providing street food, mid-range and fine dining. These restaurants serve a fusion of western and local cuisine. Some top rated restaurants based on tourist reviews are ‘Home Grown Rice and Curry Restaurant’, ‘Cool Spot’, ‘Bookworm’, ‘Spaghetti & Co’, ‘No 1 Roti Restaurant’, ‘Nordic House Café & Barbeque’, ‘Hello Burger’, ‘The Coffee Shop’ and the ‘Tiki Burger’.
The Hikkaduwa Beach– this beautiful beach of Hikkaduwa is considered to be the second best spot to surf in, in Sri Lanka. At Hikkaduwa you can enjoy the sun, stroll around the sandy shores and do some surfing, snorkeling or scuba diving. The ideal time to visit this popular tourist attraction is between November and April where the seas are much calmer which in turn makes the visibility clearer.
Diving and Snorkelling in Hikkaduwa– The Coral Reef Sanctuary is Sri Lanka’s first and only marine national park. The coral reef begins at the fishing harbour and stretches approximately 4km to the south from there. It is a popular spot for scuba diving and snorkeling and is home to more than 60 species of hard coral and about 170 species of reef fish.
Surfing in Hikkaduwa – The Hikkaduwa beach is the 2nd best spot for surfing in Sri Lanka with its waves ranging from 4 feet to 11 feet. The best time for surfing is during the months from November to March (the dry season) and there are four major breaks. The crystal clear waters and waves provide ideal surfing conditions.
Seenigama Vihara– Resting on an island of its own, this temple is located a few kilometers northwards of Hikkaduwa, and is spread out over a large area and visited by many tourists. It is a temple where victims of theft can pray and request God Devol to punish the thieves and seek vengeance.
Tsunami Photo Museum– this museum has been setup in order to narrate the story of the devastation of the 2004 Tsunami and to honor the memory of all the victims of the Tsunami. It displays photos and newspaper cuttings about the horrendous calamity along with personal narrations of the horror of the Boxing Day Tsunami.
Moonstone Mines– situated in Meetiyagoda, which is in between Ambalangoda and Hikkaduwa, it is a popular destination which offers the ability to see the process of filtering, cutting and polishing of precious stones and priming them for sale.
Tsunami Honganji Vihara– built after the devastation of the Boxing Day tsunami, this temple is a quiet and peaceful place. There is a giant standing Buddha statue facing the Indian Ocean, which is said to be a replica of Afghanistan’s Bamiyan Buddha that was destroyed by the Taliban.
Turtle Hatchery– About 2km north of Hikkaduwa, is yet another turtle hatchery, serving to protect these turtles that are facing threats of being endangered. In order to encourage people to handover turtle eggs, the Farm rewards those who hand over these eggs.
Hikkaduwa Lake– this lake is situated nearly 5 kilometers away from Hikkaduwa and is rich in biodiversity. Glass bottomed boats rides assist tourists to explore marine life without a hassle. A boat tour exploring the lake is an activity in which visitors should engage in.
Gangarama Maha Viharaya– located a small distance away from the Baddegama Road, this temple is well known for its paintings that are said to be done by just one man over a time span of ten years.
Kumarakanda Viharaya– It is widely believed that the Portuguese had destroyed the original temple and that the temple in existence now, was built during the Dutch period. Although this is a Buddhist temple, the Dutch influence is clearly evident. The original murals on the walls of the temple has been destroyed and now new murals have been painted.
The Totagamu Rajamaha Viharaya– also referred to as the Telwatte Viharaya (located 2km north of Hikkaduwa), this Viharaya has been linked with the ancient Vijayaba Pirivena in Totagamuwa which was a leading institution or Pirivena in ancient days.