Hikkaduwa – 12 Things to Do, Attractions, & Travel Guide

Last Updated on by Teddy

Does the siren song of the beach call to you? That’s because Hikkaduwa beach is singing your name!

Hikkaduwa is one of Sri Lanka’s most tempting beach destinations. It lies on the southwestern coast about ninety-eight kilometers south of Colombo. It is very popular amongst international tourists and boasts some of the best surfing waves on the island.

If you want to do more than just work on your tan then check out any of the following activities: visit the Hikkaduwa Coral Sanctuary; go snorkeling; dive to a shipwreck; travel to Hikkaduwa Lake; or discover the moonstone mines. Whether you’re a surfer, snorkeler, diver, or sun worshipper, you will find your place right here in Hikkaduwa!

Things to Do & Attractions

1. Hikkaduwa Marine National Park

An unforgettable way to appreciate Sri Lanka’s underwater world. This is one of two marine national parks in Sri Lanka, and has been declared a wildlife sanctuary. It contains a beautiful coral reef with amazing biodiversity. Snorkeling and scuba diving here is popular with visitors. Sea angel fish, butterfly fish, and sea turtles are just some of the marine life that can be found here. Popular dive sites include Black Coral Point and Kiralagala. Divers can enjoy underwater photography or explore the shipwrecked boats. For non-divers you can enjoy a journey on a glass-bottom boat to take in the wonders of the waters below from above. The nearby Moonstone Mines attraction is only a 15 minute car journey away.

  • Duration: 3-5 hours
  • Cost for foreign visitors: Prices depend on your tour package provider.
  • Location: Hikkaduwa
  • Distance from Colombo: 120kms or up to a 120 min drive

2. River Safari in Madu Ganga

Madu Ganga is a complex coastal ecosystem of mangroves and islands and is approximately a 50 minute car journey from Hikkaduwa. A boat trip is a wonderful way to see hundreds of species of plants and animals scattered around over sixty islands in the river and lagoon. It’s one of the last pristine mangrove forests in Sri Lanka and covers over 60 hectares. Book a boat safari with a local tour agency and your guide will introduce you to the local interest points including an old Buddhist temple situated on one of the islands. There are over 300 species in the mangroves – you may see cormorants, crocodiles, and kingfishers.

  • Duration: 3.5-5 hours
  • Cost for foreign visitors: Prices depend on your tour package provider.
  • Location: Balapitiya

3. Scuba Diving

Head to the Coral Sanctuary for some good diving in the Hikkaduwa region. Expect warm water, rock outcroppings, and colorful fish. Although the coral is still regenerating from recent bad weather, there is still plenty to see with a variety of reef species such as angel fish, puffer fish, and octopus in the area. It is also a great spot for amateur divers.

  • Duration: 3 hours
  • Cost for foreign visitors: Prices depend on your tour package provider.
  • Location: Hikkaduwa

4. Surfing, Windsurfing, and Kitesurfing

Surfing season on the South Western coastal belt draws in all kinds of adventurous people, including professional surfers. Hikkaduwa is protected by its reef, and is a great spot for water sports. The infrastructure is perfectly developed and conditions are ideal for surfing. The average wave size from November until April is approximately two to seven feet. Amateurs can learn to windsurf at the lagoon before they attempt to go out in the sea, while the latest trend is to go kitesurfing.

  • Duration: 4-7 hours
  • Cost for foreign visitors: Prices depend on your tour package provider.
  • Location: Hikkaduwa

5. Stand Up Paddleboarding

SUP or Stand Up Paddle Boarding has arrived in Sri Lanka. It’s a mixture of surfing and canoeing with participants of this sport using stable and extra large surfboards with lightweight paddles to navigate the water. There are lots of professional tour operators who rent out boats and offer lessons. Going on the calm lake is easier for first-timers and is a much more enjoyable experience than attempting SUP on the ocean. It’s also a peaceful way to explore the local waterways and to spot local wildlife.

  • Duration: 2-4 hours
  • Cost for foreign visitors: Prices depend on your tour package provider.
  • Location: Hikkaduwa

6. Seenigama Muhudu Viharaya

The thirteen hundred year old Seenigama Muhudu Viharaya temple is located on its own island. Visitors can only access the temple by boat. It is one of only two temples in the country where victims of theft can seek retribution. Locals visiting for this purpose will buy a special pepper/chili oil which they will light in a lamp, and then recite a prayer – it is said that this will bring bad luck to the thief. As a holy place it is good to remember the local customs and rules, so be sure not to wear footwear inside the temple, cover up, and dress conservatively.

  • Duration: 3-4 hours
  • Location: Galle Road, Hikkaduwa

7. Moonstone Mines

Hikkaduwa is not far from the Moonstone mines in Meetiyagoda; it only takes 15 minutes by car to get here. Moonstones are grey in color and cool to the touch. When they are polished they are described as glowing like the moon hence the name moonstone. Visitors can view the moonstone mine and watch some of the production process, although the workers do end up ‘performing’ for the tourists. Potentially a good visit if you are a geology fan and don’t mind the hard sell at the mine gift shop. Do not buy moonstones from here unless you’ve really fallen in love with something, as you can find it everywhere in Sri Lanka, and for a significantly cheaper price too.

  • Duration: About 2 hours
  • Location: Mitiyagoda, Ambalangoda
  • Contact Number: +94 71 757 5840
  • Note: Be careful when visiting moonstone or gem mines as they can be money-making attractions, with potential for overpriced items. Be sure to know the local prices for gem items, and double check the quality of any item before handing over your money.

8. Sri Gangarama Maha Viharaya

Close to the Hikkaduwa is Sri Gangarama Maha Viharaya (only 30 minutes away by car). It’s an interesting temple that is popular with Sri Lankans who travel here from across the country. Inside there are some important and educational paintings that have been created by a local monk. The temple’s monks provide guided tours of the temple complex for those who are interested. There are plenty of quiet corners for you to enjoy some tranquil relaxation time. If you visit from May to June the night views are stunning.

  • Duration: 2-3 hours
  • Location: Horagampita

9. Turtle Hatchery in Hikkaduwa

This is a conservation project funded by donations, where the aim is to protect turtle eggs and release them back into the wild when they are born. You will be able to get up and close to turtles, including baby turtles. For an extra fee visitors can help to release baby turtles. Although there is plenty to learn here, it is a tale of two halves: you will either love the values of the project, or you will be disheartened by the tourist element of the project. It is located quite close to Hikkaduwa Train Station and it only takes between 5 to 10 minutes to get here by car.

  • Duration: 30mins-2 hours
  • Cost for visitors: LKR 500. There is a separate cost to release turtles.
  • Location: Galle Road, Colombo, Hikkaduwa
  • Contact Number: +94 77 293 8338
  • Note: There are several turtle sanctuaries and hatcheries across the Western province of Sri Lanka. Not all of them uphold conservation as their highest aim, and it may seem like such attractions are a ‘tourist trap’ at the expense of the local wildlife. Be sure to do your own research, and make up your own mind based on your personal viewpoint about such centers.

10. Tsunami Honganji Vihara and Tsunami Museum

This monument is only a few minutes walk from the Turtle Hatchery. A standing Buddha erected here commemorates the loss of life and destruction brought on by the 2004 Tsunami. The statue is as high as the tsunami wave that hit the area. Over 2,000 people died including passengers on a train which was hit by the tsunami. The museum is a run by someone who survived the Tsunami, with many pictures showing the local devastation (entrance costs LKR 500). Be warned the pictures are very graphic and may be harrowing for young people and kids. Remember to respect local customs regarding religious sites and dress appropriately.

  • Duration: 1.5-2 hours
  • Cost: Entrance to Tsunami Museum is LKR 500 (donations are welcomed).
  • Location: Galle Road, Hikkaduwa
  • Advisory warning: this may not be a suitable venue for children due to devastating pictures.

11. Naga Viharaya

Locate only half an hour walk from Hikkaduwa Train Station,  this rural Buddhist temple will give visitors a taste of local culture. The name of the temple is ‘cobra’ and is based on an old legend. It’s off the beaten track for most tourists, which lends to the peaceful nature of the Viharaya. Watch the monks move in silence and appreciate a moment of tranquility. It’s not crowded and offers a peaceful and quiet place for visitors to take in the natural surroundings.

  • Duration: 1-2 hours
  • Location: Nilhena Road, Hikkaduwa

12. Hikkaduwa Lake

Hikkaduwa Lake is an enjoyable excursion away from the beach. You can arrange for boat tours and hire guides too. There is plenty of local wildlife to see including birds and monitor lizards. There are some good local restaurants with stunning views of the water and they offer traditional Sri Lankan cuisine and seafood items. From Hikkaduwa Train Station you can reach the lake within 10 minutes.

  • Duration: 2-5 hours (choose how long you want to spend here – you can also choose to book a hotel room in this area or take up a activity tour package).
  • Location: Hikkaduwa

Foodies Guide

Best Food Experiences

Food is one of the best ways to understand a culture and is one of the memories from a travel you will cherish for long. Hikkaduwa is well known for its unique dishes and here are few of the best and where to have them:

1. Kottu Roti at Fantasy Pot Luck

Hikkaduwa is well known for its special mouthwatering rotis and each little chic café on the stretch will treat you with this local fast food.

If you’re someone who goes all authentic when visiting a new place, go for the Kottu Roti at Fantasy Pot Luck. A fusion of flavours, it comes in a wide variety of sweet and spicy to choose from. Kottu is Sri Lanka’s hamburger — everybody’s favorite go-to fast food when craving something tasty.

This eatery prepares fresh rotis for you and if you think waiting will be boring, you’re mistaken. You can watch them prepare this unique street food dish and enjoy live cooking-station action. Sweet lovers, go for the chocolate banana honey roti and the spice lovers, try the chicken or cheese kottu rotis.

A real steel at a nominal price – indulge your taste buds as they fall in love at first bite.

2. Rice & Curry at Asian Jewel Boutique Hotel

An accurate description of Sri Lanka might well be the Island of Rice.

The rice and curries served in the island’s hotels are a sumptuous plateful of rice accompanied by at least five, and sometimes as many as 15, curries of contrasting textures and flavours, from highly spiced meat and fish curries to gently flavoured dishes of pineapple, sweet potato or aubergine, plus servings of unusual local.

If you are already craving for the authentic rice and curry, and is in Hikkaduwa, make sure you go to Asian Jewel Boutique Hotel. Staying true to its name, this good curry spot in Hikkaduwa is indeed a jewel when it comes to serving the choicest of curries and rice preparations.

A little out of town, you’ll need a tuk tuk or drive down to this restaurant but trust us, going a little out of the way is worth it.

Tuck in your senses in the fiery curries, sweet caramelized onion in seeni sambal (onion relish), and sour lime pickle as they dominate your palate.

3. Hoppers at Bookworm Library Restaurant

Hoppers are the Sri Lankan answer to the pancakes and waffles.

Locally known as Aappa, this delicate wafer-thin meal is prepared in a mini wok and found all over Sri Lanka. The batter is made from a slightly fermented concoction of rice flour, coconut milk, sometimes coconut water and a hint of sugar.

For some of the best home-cooked hoppers in town order breakfast in this family-run place – Bookworm Library Restaurant. At Bookworm, the food is upstairs; downstairs the family lends books and rents out motorbikes. Go for a plain or egg hopper topped with salt and pepper for seasoning or a sweet honey coconut hopper.

So when you’re in Lanka, say goodbye to the English breakfast at go for the crunchy hoppers.

Where to Eat

There are many restaurants of all types in and around Hikkaduwa. Honestly, Hikkaduwa is a food lover’s paradise. Apart from the honourable mentions above, here we list some of the best for all budgets.

1. No.1 Roti Restaurant ($$)

373 Colombo – Galle Main Road, Hikkaduwa

If roti is your thing, this is the place to be! Offering more than 200 types of roti dishes, this place will have you visiting again and again. It’s set away from the beaches and restaurants, which makes this place a must-visit for adventurers and those who like to get off the beaten path.

2. Mamas Coral Beach ($$$)

No.338, Galle Road, Hikkaduwa | 077 281 4429 | www.mamascoralbeach.com/

Mamas Coral Beach is known for its old world charm, polite hosts, and relaxing ambiance. They offer a variety of seafood dishes and a host of beverages in ample amounts for a foodie of any palette or acquired taste. This is a must visit as it exudes the local Hikkaduwa culture as soon as you step inside.

3. Home Grown Rice & Curry ($)

140 Wewala, Hikkaduwa

Hidden in a garden of sorts and under palm trees, this is a find for those who want a comfy meal in a secluded restaurant without going broke. Run by a lovely family, the ambiance is relaxing and the food has nothing to be complained about. What more could you ask for on a vacation by the beach?

4. Thambili Café ($$)

63 Galle Road, Thiranagama, Hikkaduwa

Thambili Cafe is vegan friendly, has a great chilled out vibe, and is overall a great choice for budget food. If you are lucky, you will spot their dog, a friendly cocker spaniel. They are also known for their amazing breakfast menus.

5. Isira Coffee Shop ($)

6 Waulagoda Road, Hikkaduwa

Run by a person named Siri, this is a great find for those vacationing within a budget. They pride themselves on having the best coffee in Hikkaduwa and if reviews are anything to go by, they must be right.

Their rotis and filter coffees are a must have while you wait for your food. Not to mention all the snacks offered at the counter while you’re waiting!

Or check our complete list of best places to eat in Hikkaduwa for more delicious options

Where to Sleep

There are many hotels in Hikkaduwa that provide guests with a splendid view of the beaches. Here are few we would like to recommend:

1. Lavanga Resort and Spa

The Lavanga Resort is known for spacious and comfortable rooms, a pool, and close proximity to the beach.

2. Aditya Hotel

This resort is considered a little paradise! Expect top-notch hospitality, comfortable beds, a spa bath in the washrooms, and more.

3. Kalla Bongo Lake Resort

Along with a serene lake view from the resort apartments, The Kalla Bongo Lake Resort is also famous for yoga training and delicious food.

4. Hotel Moon Beam

The stunning beach view from Hotel Moon Beam is reason enough to stay here! The delicacy and the exotic beer only make it that much more enticing.

5. Sun Beach Hotel

Spacious air conditioned rooms, a tasty breakfast, and an amazing location just near the most popular surfing spot makes this hotel a favorite amongst locals and tourists.

Shopping Guide

Hikkaduwa has a variety of local shops so you can pick up some interesting souvenirs from here. There are specialist tea stores, jewelry sellers, and art galleries.

The local artisan batik pieces are beautiful and could make a brilliant gift for a loved one!

Be careful when buying – to ensure that you are not overcharged be sure to keep an eye out for pricing when you are out and about. Sometimes a better option is to visit the hotel gift shop as this will give you an indicator as to the cost of souvenirs – you may find items are cheaper here than you will be quoted at tourist hotspots.

When to Go

Best time: With regard to the climate the best time to visit is from November to March when average temperatures hover at 30°C.

Time to avoid: If you visit the country at Christmas then be prepared for high prices as the country is deluged with tourists. The monsoon season comes twice: May to July, and October to January. It is during May to July that the Southern coastal town of Hikkaduwa is affected by the monsoon.

Dress Code

Don’t treat the whole of Sri Lanka as a beach resort as the country does have modest dress customs. Carry a shawl or shirt with you to cover up when you go to the shops.

If you visit any of the temples or other religious sites make sure you cover your shoulders and knees (this goes for both men and women). If you are wearing a hat you will have to take it off. When entering temples you will have to take your footwear off, so make sure to have a bag with you to carry them with you (don’t leave them at the temple entrance as you may lose them).

Getting-In and Around

Hikkaduwa is located in the South-West of Sri Lanka. It can be reached by train, bus, and car.

Once you are in Hikkaduwa; Tuk-Tuks, local buses, and walking will be the best ways to travel around. Even though it is possible hire scooters and motor bikes, we advice not to as road conditions can be quite strange.

Travelling between Hikkaduwa and other major travel destinations in Sri Lanka is quite easy. Below guide will help:

Colombo: It is over 90 km from Colombo to Hikkaduwa. The train takes about 90 minutes and is quite cheap. Buses to Hikkaduwa leave frequently from Colombo. If using private transport, you may take E01 expressway from Colombo or Colombo – Galle road.

Negombo: The train to Hikkaduwa via Colombo takes over 3 hours, but it is cheap. Taking a taxi will only save you an hour but will cost ten times more.

Galle: You can catch buses from Galle, most of which drop tourists in convenient locations like the guesthouse strip. Trains have frequent services leaving from Colombo and Galle. Both trains and cars only take about 30 minutes, but the train fare is comparatively inexpensive.

Kandy: The train to Hikkaduwa will take over 5 hours, while the taxi takes about 3 hours but will cost a lot more.

Ella: It’s quicker to take a taxi (or take a taxi to Wellawaya) as taking the train would take almost 12 hours. However the train is significantly cheaper than these other methods.

Dambulla: Take the train and it will take over 7 hours to get to Hikkuwada, but it will cost a fraction of the price compared to a taxi.

Budget

Accommodation prices vary with low-cost budget hostel rooms at $15+ per night; make sure to book in advance as these can be popular as they are a short walk away from the beach. For better quality accommodation head to hotels which may charge anything from $30-65 a night, or you can really indulge at a spa or luxury boutique guesthouse ($100+).

Food options vary and you can always find local eateries selling great Sri Lankan food from as little as $5. While popular restaurants and beach bars provide a great experience but at a higher price (from $30).

Depending on what you are going to be doing during your stay you will need to manage your budget. If you are interested in touring the area you can negotiate a daily rate with a tuk-tuk driver or a taxi (make sure to factor in a tip). It is best to tell your driver where you want to go as some drivers will have arrangements with venues to get tourists to them. Buses are inexpensive but take longer, and trains are cheap too. Be careful of taking taxis to and from the airport as you will be overcharged – try finding a tuk tuk in the area instead.

Some tourist attractions charge a high entrance fee, but it is usually because the money goes towards conservation. Water sports such as diving can be quite expensive too. Shopping can be expensive if you buy from ‘touristy’ gift shops, but you can pick up some nice items if you can haggle with respect.

Traveler Quotes

“Hikkaduwa Beach is one of the most popular, which is known for scuba diving and snorkelling.”

Melo Villareal of Out of Town Blog

“ The sea food in the area is amazing, the prawns are huge. A good spot for surfing.”

Neil of Backpacks and Bunkbeds

If you’re a beach lover, an animal lover, or someone in the mood for a fun adventure, then Hikkaduwa is the perfect spot for you.

Whether you want to try one of the best surfing spots in Sri Lanka, eat local home-grown rice and curry, or view baby turtles, there is so much to do here. Explore underwater shipwrecks, lounge in the warm sunshine, or discover a couple of sacred Buddha temples.

At the end of a long day on the water, grab some traditional food and prop your feet up at your beachside hotel to watch the sunset on the waves.

Hikkaduwa is one vacation you will never forget!