When it’s bitterly cold in the countries of the Northern Hemisphere, it is the perfect time for a beach holiday in Hikkaduwa, situated on the south west coast, about 100km south of the capital Colombo. The season comes from November to April. In the first place Hikkaduwa is a suitable destination for nightlife, although there is also a selection of very nice hotels and guesthouses in quieter areas of this beach resort. It’s a laid-back beach resort with accommodation on all levels, from hostels, bed & breakfast, guesthouses, surf hostels to 4 star hotels. Hikkaduwa is a typical resort destination, which means that it is mostly chosen as a relaxing final stage of a round tour across the island or as a beach destination. Historically it is not a hotspot, although the historic Galle Fort , about 25km south of Hikkaduwa, is a great place to wander around in this old fortified place, see some interesting sites and enjoy a delicious lunch, dinner, coffee, cool beer or sip your favourite cocktail in a historic lounge in the Fort.
Basically the spinal of Hikkaduwa where most of the cafes, restaurants and hotels are is the main road between Colombo and Galle. Prices for food, snacks, beer and soft drinks are very reasonable to cheap. For a good meal they charge you about Rps 1,000 to 1,500 (2014), which is the equivalent of Euro 7,- to Euro 10,-.
A disadvantage of Hikkaduwais the heavy traffic and the many buses which are usually driving too fast, so be careful! Hikkaduwa is a typical seasonal beach resort; during the off season the place is a bit desolated. Then, hotels and guesthouses take the opportunity to refurbish their places; at that time there is more rain due to the monsoon period and the sea too dangerous to bath.
History of Hikkaduwa as a beach resort
Originally a hippie destination, Hikkaduwa is attracting a wider audience nowadays. The time of flower power and smoking hashish on the beach with like- minded is over. However, marihuana is still being offered by local beach boys -being called ‘ganja’ - but trading and using drugs is still strictly forbidden in Sri Lanka. Despite the focus on a wider audience, there is still a bit of a backpackers’ mood in Hikkaduwa and the offer of accommodation consists mainly on smaller guesthouses, run by locals.
Hikkaduwa has a wide and 3km long soft golden sandy beach with space in abundance to enjoy a nice sun and sea bath, while at the same time having your privacy; it is certainly not a fully packed beach with tourists lying body to body like sardines, even not during the high season. The busiest month is December, particularly around Christmas and New Year. There are parties all over the place during the season, especially during the weekends, when the place is also busy with locals.
There are in fact three beaches, starting from the bus stand southwards. Firstly there is the Hikkaduwa Beach with a number of big hotels with many facilities. Several of them are named starting with ‘Coral’, indicating that they are situated immediately on the coastal area with the coral reef offshore.
After the Chaaya Hotel is the long and wide Wewala Beach with numerous guesthouses and restaurants along the beach, as well along the main road; the beach continues further down and is then called Narigama Beach, becoming less crowded, but still with lots of small guesthouses. All these guesthouses, shops, small restaurants and bars are typical for Hikkaduwa and makes it such a popular backpacker’s destination and different from, for instance Bentota, which mainly consists of big resort hotels.There are hardly any tall buildings in Hikkaduwa, which gives the town a bit of a village characterized place.
Hikkaduwa Beach Festival
Fun lovers come to Hikkduwa to join the ‘Hikkaduwa Beach Festival’, annually being held during a weekend at the end of July or the beginning of August. It’s a nonstop party time with many activities for young and old on the beach; grandparents, youth, children and toddlers can have a wonderful time in the big event, which is being attended by both locals and foreigners. International and local famous DJ’s, musicians and dancers are being invited for this 24 hours grand event, which should be attended when you are around Hikkaduwa.
Surfing in Hikkaduwa
The waves invite the surfer for an excellent ride on them. It is one of the best resorts on the south coast for surfing, with opportunities for all levels. There are three to four surf points in the Hikkaduwa area and together with the variety of accommodation available for each budget it attracts hundreds of surfers from various countries, such as the United Kingdom, the United States, Japan and Australia. Most of the surf points are reef breaks. The waves break on the reefs, but the surf points have a deep bottom and the reefs are flat, so none of the surf points are risky. However, always beware for the sharp corals on the reef and the bottom. It is therefore advisable to wear booties to protect your feet.
The best time to go out for a surf ride is during the early morning hours and between 4 pm and sunset; during daytime it is usually too hot and the waves not suitable due to the offshore winds.
There are surf instructors, surf schools and surf shops in abundance in Hikkaduwa, so if you are a beginner, you can sign in at a surfing school to get some technical and practical instructions, but in the end it will be your practical experience that makes you an experienced surfer.
Actual and interesting information about the surfing conditions can be obtained from magicseaweed.com and surf-forecast.com
The Main Reef is a very popular surf point for experienced surfers, it has left and right handers, which means that you can ride in both directions and makes it one of the best surfing points in Sri Lanka; the waves may reach a height up to 7 feet and the place is called “A-reef” or “A-frame” because of the sharp waves. February and March are the best months to ride the Main Reef. The Main Point is situated about 1,5km south of Hikkaduwa.
This is a smaller reef and some sand bars with the waves breaking on the beach, left, as well as right hand rides can be made. The best waves occur when the swell direction is southwest. The Beach Break is situated about 100 meters south of the Main Reef and very suitable for beginners. All are not too difficult to ride and good points to gain confidence.Be careful for dangerous rips (strong narrow currents, which can suck you behind the waves). Get a good advice from your surf instructor.
Benny’s surf point
Also down south of the Hikkaduwa Beach there are more very suitable surfing opportunities for experienced surfers, such as Benny’s surf point, a typical left handed reef breaker. Benny's is south of Hikkaduwa town and good for the more experienced surfers. When the main point of Hikkaduwa goes over 6ft the surfing conditions are superb.
North Jetty Surf Point
A surf point with a local touch, since it is situated just after the northern wall of the fishing harbour. It’s a nice consistent left hander wave between 2 and 6 ft. high. It can be quite busy here.
The Hikkaduwa Marine National park is one of the two underwater national parks in Sri Lanka; the other one is at Pigeon Island in Nilavelli Beach near Trincomalee in the north eastern part of Sri Lanka. Here the most beautiful marine life in Sri Lanka can be watched. Diving and snorkeling, as well as glass bottom boat rides are therefore the main attractions in Hikkaduwa, with many diving schools all around the place available for lessons, guided tours and the rental of equipment. Unfortunately the coral gardens have suffered much due to the El Nino in the 1990s of the previous century, when many corals died and large areas are now colourless due this bleaching process. Moreover the 2004 Tsunami has also caused a lot of damage and so did human activity harm the corals. Nevertheless there is still a beautiful marine life to be admired by the stunning view of the many colourful fish swimming around. Fortunately, due to the timeless activity of marine biologists the colours of the corals are coming back and it is expected that within a few years the Marine Park can be admired again in its full glory.