Are you planning a trip to Sri Lanka? There are so many great places to visit, and a stay at one of the beautiful south coast beaches should be high on your list.
Hikkaduwa is one such place. With beautiful beaches, wildlife and temples to explore, there is plenty to keep you busy.
Here we have a guest post from Jimmy and Tah from Divert Living, who left their careers in the military and finance to become full-time travelers. Jimmy and Tah share their top things to do in Hikkaduwa.
10 Things to do in Hikkaduwa
Hikkaduwa is a small coastal town adorned with tropical woodland and sandy shorelines just 116 km (72 miles) south of Colombo.
With beautiful beaches, exquisite nature and a large array of hotels & restaurants, the town is considered one of the top tourist sites in Sri Lanka for both locals and international tourists.
If you think vacationing in Hikkaduwa is limited to lounging on the beach, then you might need to change your perspective. There is so much to do and enjoy in the city that one couldn’t get enough of it on a single visit to Hikkaduwa.
1. Snorkeling in Hikkaduwa
Certainly, one of the top things to do in Hikkaduwa Beach is snorkeling. One of just two marine parks in Sri Lanka is located off Hikkaduwa. Simply rent some snorkeling gear and take a short boat ride over to the Hikkaduwa Coral Reef.
Once you are at your destination, dive in and enjoy the views of the underwater world. There are many local tour operators that can organize snorkeling trips and the average cost is around 2,000 rupees for one hour. The best time of year for snorkeling is between November and April.
2. Glass Bottom Boat Ride
If snorkeling is not your thing or your kids are too young, then a ride on a glass-bottom boat is the perfect way to explore the sea life from above.
You can easily hire a boat decked out with a glass or transparent bottom on the seashore. Paddle while you get a glimpse of the underwater world. The cost is around 4,000 rupees.
3. Swim at Hikkaduwa Beach
Obvious perhaps, but simply one of the best things to do in Hikkaduwa is to enjoy time on the beach.
Explore the different beaches nearby, take in the gorgeous sunsets and take a swim. One of our best Hikkaduwa tips is to look out for giant turtles in the shallows later in the day at the southern end of the beach. They are enormous animals and observing them in the their natural habitat is one of the best things to see in Hikkaduwa.
4. Go On A River Safari
If you are wondering what to do in Hikkaduwa apart from visiting the beach, there are a number of large lakes and rivers close to town to explore.
A river safari is a great way to explore the backwaters and is one of the best things to do around Hikkaduwa. The Madhu River near Balapitiya is a popular place to explore, or rent a canoe and paddle up the Hikkatuwa lake system.
As you cruise through the mangroves, look out for wildlife, particularly birds, monkeys and possibly even a crocodile or two.
5. Surfing in Hikkaduwa
Water sports in Hikkaduwa are one of the most popular things to do and the area is quite famous for surfing among adventure enthusiasts. The clean waves and consistent swell allow people to indulge in this exhilarating activity.
Surfboards are available for hire on the beach. It is a good place to learn to surf as the waves are suited for beginners. Ask any one of the board rental guys to teach you in return for a fee.
They also have paddleboards for rent, which is a fun way for kids to explore the water when the waves are small.
6. Explore Sri Pushparama Temple
Apart from adventure and nature, if you want to spend some spiritual time in Hikkaduwa then visit Sri Pushparama Temple or one of the other nearby temples.
Visiting this Buddhist temple is one of the best things to do near Hikkaduwa Beach in Sri Lanka. As you enter the temple, a monk of the shrine bids you a warm welcome and will show you the vicinity of the temple.
Here you’ll get to learn about the Buddhist philosophies as you walk around the complex. This is a great introduction and way to learn about the Buddhist religion.
Entry is free, however it is an option to donate to the temple and monks.
7. Watch Baby Turtles Be Released
If snorkeling didn’t satisfy your evergreen curiosity for spotting turtles, watching them be released into the ocean is another great experience.
The local turtle hatchery on Hikkaduwa Beach releases the turtles into the ocean most evenings. You can visit the hatchery for a fee, but it is free to watch them being released and in the early evenings is one of the best places to visit in Hikkaduwa Beach.
8. Eat Seafood
No Sri Lanka itinerary would be complete without tasting the delectable local cuisine. There is a huge range of Hikkaduwa restaurants and many specialise in seafood at affordable rates.
Find a beach front restaurant, order your meal and enjoy the scrumptious taste of some of the best seafood in the world.
9. Visit galle Fort
If you need a break from the beach, a visit to Galle Fort is one of the most popular day trips from Hikkaduwa. As it is just 20 km south of town it is one of the best things to do near Hikkaduwa.
Galle Fort is a UNESCO World Heritage site and one of the top tourist attractions in Sri Lanka. If you love history and architecture, this is the perfect place to be. Entry to the fort is free. Don’t forget to explore the streets, galleries and restaurants too!
Grab a tuk tuk, catch the train or organise a private shuttle for the day. Click here for more details.
10. Enjoy Fresh Juice
The coastal town of Hikkaduwa is dotted with numerous roadside juice bars. From banana and mango to pineapple to passionfruit, the juice bars at Hikkaduwa serves a wide variety of delicious fresh juices.
All thanks to the local fruit market that work around the clock to deliver the freshest fruits to these vendors. Typical costs are around 200 rupees – cheap enough to become a daily habit during your stay.
Where to Stay in Hikkaduwa
One of the great things about Hikkaduwa is the huge range of accommodation available. From luxury 5-star hotels to simple family run guesthouses, there is a wide range of options to choose from.
Villa Red Lobster
Best For: Budget stays
If you are traveling on a very tight budget, the best thing to do is find accommodation on your arrival in town. Like a lot of places in Asia, there are many guesthouses that don’t advertise online. A quick scout along the beachfront will usually provide a range of options.
However, if you are traveling during a busy time, with kids, or you are more comfortable booking your Hikkaduwa hotels in advance, the Villa Red Lobster is a great budget option.
Situated on a quiet street within walking distance of the beach, with an outdoor pool, onsite restaurant and bikes available for hire, it offers incredible value.
The air conditioned rooms are generously sized and family rooms are available. The villa is also close to Hikkaduwa shopping areas.
Sapphire Seas Beachfront Hotel
Best For: Location
Beachfront with an outdoor pool and onsite restaurant, the Sapphire Seas offers mid-range budget air conditioned rooms just metres from the beach and away from the crowds in town.
It is located 3km south of Hikkaduwa town closer to Narigama Beach. The proximity to the ocean, the peaceful location and attentive service make Sapphire Seas one of the top rated (and best value) hotels in the area.
The onsite restaurant offers meals throughout the day and the option of both the pool and beach means there really is no reason to leave, although town is just a quick tuk tuk ride away.
Villa Saffron Hikkaduwa
Best For: A Luxury Stay
There are a number of 5 star hotels in Hikkaduwa but if you are looking for luxury boutique villas in Hikkaduwa, the Villa Saffron is one of the highest rated villas in the area.
With just 5 boutique rooms, Villa Saffron is beachfront with a huge outdoor pool and onsite restaurant rated highly for its incredible food and service.
Villa Saffron is the place to go for attentive service, a little luxury and complete relaxation. You may find you simply don’t want to leave!
Read Reviews: Trip Advisor | Check Rates & Book: private transfer. Prices are surprisingly affordable, especially if you are traveling as a family or a group. The journey from Colombo is around 2 hours.
If you are coming from Galle or Colombo, one of the most memorable ways to get to Hikkaduwa is by train. The train hugs the coast and offers spectacular views along the way.
The official timetable says the journey takes about 2 hours, but the trains are often delayed and it may take longer. Nonetheless, this is a trip worth taking.
Train and bus tickets can be booked in advance online. Click here to check the price and availability.
Best time to Visit Hikkaduwa
Hikkaduwa weather is warm all year round. The best time to visit is in the dry season from November to April. The seas are calm and best for swimming and snorkeling during this time.
As the weather in Hikkaduwa is drier and less humid at this time, peak season is December to February. The area will be busiest and accommodation tends to be more expensive at this time.