Things To Do In Hikkaduwa
Hikkaduwa, a peculiar name for foreigners, is a small coastal town near Colombo. Although its popularity is shadowed by more renowned cities like Colombo and Kandy, Hikkaduwa offers its fair share of amenities as well. Hikkaduwa is known for its nightlife and the Hikkaduwa beach. We shall be discussing a few other things here as well which aren’t related to the sea, but let’s start off with the watery stuff, eh?
To sea or not to sea
Hikkaduwa & Narigama Beach
According to some tourists, the best time to visit this beach is in the winters. The sea shore has two bays, namely, the shorter Hikkaduwa Bay and the longer Narigama Bay. The first one has weaker waves so it is more suitable for swimming. The second bay is both larger and has stronger waves, thus is more suitable for surfing, boating and other water sports (though no one will stop you if you want to do the same in Hikkaduwa Bay). The latter offers more restaurants and supposedly a quite mesmerizing sunset view. The more sought-after times at the beach are at night, when beach parties are held near bonfire, with fine music and tasty smoky meals. The waters are clean, at least cleaner than most other beaches. However, be sure to keep an eye out for jellyfish, as not a few tourists have reported being stung by jellyfish.
Before moving on however, we should mention that tourists, especially female tourists, should be vigilant and exercise caution when travelling or swimming alone in the sea. There have been a few reports in the past against the deceptive nature of some of the lifeguards and beach administration working there.
Now this is something which will be of most fun for you if you can swim or are willing to take the scuba into the sea. Of course, for non-swimmers, they offer glass-bottomed boats to allow tourists to view the beautiful sea corals in the famous coral reef of Hikkaduwa, which is a few metres away from the shore. Some of the corals have been reported to be damaged; however, you will most certainly see other sea creatures while you’re there, including giant (or small) turtles, eels, fish, stingrays … yeah, it really is as awesome as it sounds.
Scuba, snorkeling, whale watching and what not…
Before leaving the topic of sea, we must encourage you to make the most of any opportunity you get of visiting the Hikkaduwa beach. There are several good swimming and diving schools with high user rating and professional guides. Some of the well-known ones are International Diving School, which has been awarded a Certificate of Excellence by TripAdvisor, Dive for You, Poseidon Diving Station and Dive Seenigama Dive Lanka. These places offer a wide range of water sports, snorkeling with complete scuba equipment, boat rides and whale and dolphin watching et cetera. If you went to visit the Hikkaduwa Beach but did not go to any of these places, then your visit would be useless for sure.
Apparently, this small turtle hatchery has gained quite a lot of tourist attraction. The reason behind its popularity with most tourists is perhaps the fact that they get to touch and hold real turtles, of all shapes and sizes. The guides there also explain the life cycle of turtles and describe the conservation efforts they are undertaking for endangered turtles of Indian Ocean. Some visitors have even called their visit an “emotional visit”, while others have professed that it needs further maintenance. Still there are some who have expressed displeasure at the methods being taken by the Turtle Hatchery, calling them a profit-making institution at the expense of turtles. We leave it to you to decid
e whether you want to see the turtles up close in the hatchery or you had better save those few hundred rupees of entry fee for some other activity.
Community Tsunami Museum
Speaking of emotional experiences, another great place for emotional memories is the small sized photo museum known as the Community Tsunami Museum. It is basically a small memorial landmark established through donations. The owners maintain that it runs mostly on donations. You might get great feedback about the lady who runs the museum, who apparently handles all her visitors well, both emotionally or professionally. The Tsunami Museum holds vivid photos from the devastating 2004 Tsunami that hit Sri Lanka. Tourists are also explained the causes of tsunamis and educated about precautionary measures to take before, during and after such a disaster. For some people who do not like such emotional or tragic experiences, the visit to this museum is discouraged. They might end up feeling unpleasant after visiting it. However, it is, nonetheless, a great source of information on a close, personal level.
Holier than thou
Tsunami Honganji Viharaya
If you visited the Statue of Liberty if and when you visited New York, you might be interested in seeing the tall Buddha Statue located very near the Community Tsunami Museum. The statue derives its name from the fact that it was built after the 2004 Tsunami struck Sri Lankan coast. The most intriguing and eerie fact about the statue is, that the height of the statue was made equal to the height of the tsunami wave that hit the city that damned day. The height is 18 m! The site is a beautiful one nonetheless, with a peaceful pond surrounding it and lion statues on either side. It is considered a holy site, so you might want to wear appropriate clothes before going there.
Seenigama Muhudu Viharaya
Another quaint little temple is the Seenigama Muhudu Viharaya, which is another temple with a history associated with the 2004 tsunami. The temple, on a small island less than hundred metres from shore, was the only building that survived the Indian Ocean Tsunami in 2004. It stands to this day as a testimony and proof of the miraculous power of Buddhist faith. The temple is mostly frequented by locals; it can only be reached on a boat, unless of course if you are a good swimmer and have no issues swimming your way to it. However, foreign tourists complain that the boatmen charge absurdly high for such a short distance.
Saffron Robes Art Gallery
Before we end our discussion of Hikkaduwa, a must-mention place to visit is the Saffron Robes Art Gallery, for many a foreign tourist has gone there and returned after buying a souvenir or two from the art gallery. The gallery showcases fabulous artwork, exquisitely crafted local work, creative paintings, sculptures and weird but strangely attractive masks. The workers are very patient, put no pressure on customers and that the prices are reasonable while the products, high quality. The owners of the art gallery maintain an online website of their work, where they proudly describe their work as combining philosophy and contemporary art.
Tours and Tour Guides
That’s it folks. Before leaving, we’d like to mention two popular tour guide agencies which can take you on fun-filled, informative and comfortable trips in and around Hikkaduwa and other cities of Sri Lanka. They are the Sanka Tours Day Tours and New Berlin Tours. Whether you are travelling individually or in a group, prefer short day trips or overnight stays, these professional tour guides are easily available for your tour needs. They will get things done for you in the most organized manner possible.