About 17km north of Galle lies Hikkaduwa, with a reputation for being the hipster alternative to other fancy beachfront resort locations. Hikkaduwa was one of the towns affected by the 2004 Boxing Day Tsunami, but it has been steadily recovering, and there are now plenty interesting restaurants, bars and shops that fringe the beachfront, and a lively young crowd to keep things fresh and fun. Many of the villagers were also given sewing machines as part of Tsunami relief efforts, and this has led to plenty of tailors in town who can custom make clothes for you.
Hikkaduwa is also a popular destination for board surfing as well as exciting nightlife! The annual Hikkaduwa Beach Festival is a huge draw for visitors, and is a 3 day bash in July/August, with a line up of hot international DJs and a trendy crowd partying it up on the beautiful beach.
There is also plenty to see in and around Hikkaduwa, here’s some of what we recommend:
1. Hikkaduwa National Park and Coral Sanctuary
The Hikkaduwa National Park is one of the 2 marine national Parks in Sri Lanka, with fringing coral reef that stretches for about 4km along the coast.
Once a beautiful coral garden with a dazzling array of colors, the coral sanctuary has now sadly been bleached to a large extent by human activities as well as the tsunami in 2004. Nevertheless, this is still a popular place to swim in because the water is shallow, and the waves are not as strong as along other stretches along the coast. Visitors can still get to see schools of fish and turtles in the waters. Alternatively, take a glass bottomed boat that allows you to peer at the marine life beneath you.
It’s always nice to see the local community being active in conservation. Here at the Turtle Hatchery in Hikkaduwa, eggs are collected and bought from the villagers and buried in the sand till they hatch. When the baby turtles are able to fish for themselves, they are released onto the coral reefs. Visitors can actually hold the little turtles, and even help to release them into the sea! A great day out for the whole family, and also a meaningful one, as proceeds go towards conservation of more turtles.
A rather somber and thought provoking museum, the museum shows tells a story of loss, but also of hope, as it depicts how villagers have tried to pick their lives up and move on. A rather heartbreaking experience, and visitors will certainly be able to empathize with the horrors of total destruction. Admission is free, but a donation is encouraged. Not far off, there is also a Buddha statue that serves as a watchful reminder and a memorial to those who perished during the 2004 Tsunami event.
4. Seenigama Vihara
The Seenigama Vihara is perched on an island of its own, only reachable by boat. It remarkably survived the 2004 Tsunami, and inspires devotees to worship there. It is also interestingly one of the temples where victims of theft can find redress, by lighting a lamp with special oil and reciting a mantra that will supposedly cause the thief to meet with bad luck. Whatever your beliefs, its unique scenic location is worth a visit.
5. Gangarama Maha Vihara
The Gangarama Maha Vihara is another interesting cultural attraction, and the highlight here are the beautiful and ornate hand painted educational murals, all done by one single monk.
These villas in hip Hikkaduwa welcomes you!