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Swim with Sea Turtles

sea turtle in Hikkaduwa, Sri Lanka Swimming with sea turtles is one of those experiences you’ll remember forever!

If you’ve ever wanted to swim in the ocean with massive sea turtles, then Hikkaduwa is the place to do it. Right from the shore in town, you can easily spot many sea turtles just hanging out in the water. They aren’t scared of people and often swim right up to you!

There is one particular spot that always seems to have turtles in Hikkaduwa. The spot is located in front of the Hikka Tranz Cinnamon hotel. You can easily get here from the main beach in Hikkaduwa, just turn left (if you’re facing the ocean) and walk up around the bay until you reach the end.

Here, you will see a couple of signs about the turtles. This is where you are most likely to spot them!

If you’re confused, just look for the concrete steps and handrail in front of the hotel on the beach. Or, just ask one of the lifeguards.

Location: Hikkaduwa Main Beach

Cost: Free

Tip: Don’t touch or feed the turtles as it’s actually a crime in Sri Lanka. Try to just watch them peacefully and disturb them as little as possible!

Watch Baby Turtles Hatch (and run for the ocean)

Location: Hikkaduwa Beach

Cost: Free

If you love turtles as much as I do, then swimming with the adults is great, but seeing baby turtles is even better! On Hikkaduwa Beach, they have a small guarded turtle hatchery where they keep turtle eggs. Between the months of January and April, it is possible to visit this enclosure and see if any turtles are hatching. In the evening around 6:30 pm, they release the turtles from the enclosure and let them run for the ocean!

You can visit the hatchery at any time when you walk along the main beach, however, there may not be any turtles in it. Keep checking throughout the day as once they hatch you’ll know they’re about to be released!

Go on Safari in a National Park

Location: Udawalawe or Yala National Park

Cost: $50+

If Hikkaduwa is where you’re going to spend your entire holiday in Sri Lanka, then I highly suggest taking a tour to one of the national parks to do a safari.

We did our safari in Udawalwe National Park and loved it! It’s one of the best national parks to see elephants and is a stunning place to visit in Sri Lanka. Of course, it’s no good for spotting leopards and instead, you’ll need to go to Yala National Park for that!

To get to the parks takes some time, so it’s best to join an organized tour. You have two options: 1) do a one-day tour, or 2) a multi-day tour! Given how far the parks are, I really recommend doing a two-day or multi-day safari tour from Hikkaduwa.

Go to the Tsunami Museum

Location: On the outskirts of Hikkaduwa heading north

Cost: Free, but donations are encouraged and appreciated

The Tsunami Museum is one of the best free things to do in Hikkaduwa. It is located just outside of the town, about a 10-minute drive from the town center. The museum isn’t your typical museum, instead, it is a family home where a lady has collected and displayed information and photographs about the tsunami that occurred in 2004.The photos and words written are very heart-breaking. It really makes you think about how devastating the 2004 tsunami was for so many people.

The family who runs the museum also lived on that exact property when the tsunami hit, so if you have any questions, they are more than happy to chat with you about it. The Tsunami Museum is free, but if you enjoyed it be sure to leave a small donation at the donation box near the entrance!

You can take a tuk-tuk out to the museum from town or even rent a motorbike or push-bike and ride there yourself. Out near the Tsunami Museum there are a couple of other great points of interest I’m about to mention…

Go to the Turtle Hatchery

Location: Near the big Buddha statue

Cost: 500 Rupees

Just in case you didn’t already see enough turtles in town, you can visit the designated hatchery. This hatchery is located only a couple hundred meters from the Big Buddha and is free to visit.

Here, you can see both adult and baby turtles. These turtles have been rescued and at the hatchery, they are nursing them back to health before releasing them into the ocean. It is also a safe place for turtle eggs before they hatch and can be released into the ocean.

The turtle hatchery is open every day from 9 am to 6 pm.

Go on a Catamaran Snorkel Tour

Location: Tours can be booked from most shops in town

Cost: 2,000 Rupees for a one-hour tour

If you want to get out on the water there are various snorkel tours you can do that take you out on a catamaran. On these tours, you are pretty much guaranteed to see turtles as well as fish and coral.

Expect to pay about 2,000 LRK ($11.50 USD) per person for an hour-long tour including snorkel gear. Tours can be booked right on the beach in town or at one of the many tour shops. The more people you have together to go, the cheaper deal you’ll be able to negotiate!

It is important to note that the coral in the reef near Hikkaduwa is quite damaged. Years of tourism and unregulated activities have caused this damage. So, just be aware that you might not see the beautiful brightly colored coral you’re expecting. However, that’s not to say the snorkel trip isn’t worth it – just make sure you choose an ethical operator!

During the right times of year (October to April) scuba diving is also a very popular activity in Hikkaduwa, Sri Lanka.

Go on a River Safari

Location: Tours start in town but they will take you to a river

20 minutes from town

Cost: 3,000 Rupees

North of Hikkaduwa is the Madu River. Going on a river safari is one of the most popular activities in Hikkaduwa.

Tours will pick you up in Hikkaduwa town and take you out to the river’s edge where you’ll board a boat. Your guide will explain about the river, the area, and any animals you see along the way. Expect to see crocodiles and monkeys! You will also get the chance to try some fresh local fruit.

Expect to pay around 3,000 LKR per person for this 3-hour long tour. If you do have your own transport, you can opt to drive yourself out to the river (20 kilometers) and this will save you some money as the river safari alone only costs about 2,000 LKR per person.

You can save yourself time and book a great Madu River Safari online in advance!

Go Deep Sea Fishing

Location: Tours start from Hikkaduwa

Cost: $450 USD per boat for 6 people

If you love fishing then you can organize a private deep sea fishing charter right from Hikkaduwa!

To be honest, I am not sure what it’s like. The guy running the tours said you can catch a huge range of fish including Barracuda, Seer, Giant trevally, and Queen Fish. During the right season, it’s very likely you will catch something but outside of the season, it could be a challenge. The best season for fishing in Hikkaduwa is between December and March. The thing I liked most about fishing tours from Hikkaduwa is that you can take your catch to a restaurant and have it cooked for a small fee.

Tours are around $450 USD and can take up to 6 people. Compared with game fishing in other parts of the world (like Australia where you’ll pay $300 a person) this is very cheap.

More About Hikkaduwa Tourism

Hikkaduwa has some of the best scuba diving in Sri Lanka with unique dive sites such as wreck dives and spectacular reef dives. It is also touted to have the second-best surfing in Sri Lanka.The shore is lined up with restaurants, shacks and bars overlooking the sea. Narigama beach, Sea turtle hatching and rescue centre, Tsunami education centre & museum, Gangarama Maha Vihara and the Hikkaduwa national park are the spectacular tourist sights here.
You will find yourself enjoying a chilled cocktail on a deck in Hikkaduwa. Particularly corals, exotic fish and turtles are found aplenty in this resort town. There are numerous surfing schools, guesthouses and a quiet road perfect for long drives here.

People Also Ask About Hikkaduwa

  1. How To Reach Hikkaduwa ?

    A resort town by the sea, Hikkaduwa is located on the South Coast of Sri Lanka’s Southern Province, nearly 17 km north-west of Galle District and about 61 miles from Colombo. Known for its beaches and strong tides, the beach of Hikkaduwa is sprinkled with palms, restaurants and pubs. Sheltering the shallow waters opposite the beach is the Hikkaduwa National Park, which is considered the coral reserve and sanctuary to exotic varieties of fish and marine turtles. With ample accommodation options and a beachside view, Hikkaduwa’s earned the best spot for surfing, second in line in the Island Country. With nearly 3 villages covering the resort area and a 4 km line of places to eat, drink, stay or shop at, Hikkaduwa’s beaches are beautiful and wide. Here's how you can reach Hikkaduwa.

    By Air

    With over 8 flights from Chennai, 4 flights from Delhi, 4 flights from Mumbai, 3 flights from Bangalore, and 2 flights from Madurai, there are 21 non-stop flights from India to Colombo in the price range of INR 10,300-13,500 approx. On arrival at Sri Lanka’s International Airport, the distance between the airport and Colombo is about 36 km on an average. The distance between Colombo and Hikkaduwa is roughly 115 km by road.

    The nearest airport to Hikkaduwa is Koggala Airport which is about 29 km away. However, there are better options to reach Hikkaduwa. A comfortable but expensive option being, by taking a taxi from the Bandaranaike International Airport which would take about 1½ hours approx.

    By Train

    Traveling by train is the cheapest and the fastest way to reach Hikkaduwa. Sri Lankan railways operate trains from Colombo Fort Station to Hikkaduwa every 4 hours on the Colombo-Matara route, which takes about 2 hours max and costs INR 35-130 for the journey. Train numbers - 8056, 8058, 8096 and 8766 are best to travel to Hikkaduwa.

    By Road

    The drive from Colombo to Hikkaduwa is roughly 1 hour 34 minutes and either you can drive down there yourself or hire a cab. With operators like Colombo Taxi (colombotaxicabs.com), Kangaroo Cabs (2588588.com) and Budget Taxi (budgettaxilk.com), you can reach Hikkaduwa in an estimated cost of INR 4,200-5,500.

    A self-drive to Hikkaduwa would cost you about INR 600-1000 on the fuel with the additional cost of car rental.

  2. Getting Around ?

    Hikkaduwa can be covered from one end to the other in less than an hour, however, you can also hire tuk-tuks, ride the bus or rent a jeep for getting around the resort town.

  3. Weather and Best Time to Visit Hikkaduwa ?

    Hikkaduwa is a sea resort town in Sri Lanka, centring around the ideal beach holiday idea. Hikkaduwa's weather rarely witnesses varying temperatures. Given the levels of humidity and warm temperatures with a chance of rainfall through most parts of the year, Hikkaduwa is less temperate in comparison to other tourist destinations, about 4% from a perspective of pleasant weather conditions. The hottest period to visit Hikkaduwa is May, April and then March, with the maximum temperature being approx. 31.8°C in the day in the early part of May and the minimum being 26.1°C in the night.

    With some extremely humid months, Hikkaduwa experiences a high volume of stickiness through the year with the least level of humidity in March and maximum in July. The winds in this part of the country are usually calm with the breeze being at its peak in June, July and May. The busiest time for tourism is in December, followed by October and then August, with less or no traffic in June.

    Spring (March-May)

    The months of March through May are usually warm, thanks to the combined forces of temperatures and humidity levels in a range of 31.8°C-29.8°C. With over 6 to 12 days of rainfall anticipated each month, spring season is the slowest period for tourism in Hikkaduwa and is rich with lucrative travel offerings.

    Summer (June-August)

    Mid-year witnesses comfortably warm weather in Hikkaduwa with moderate rainfall of 11-14 days in a month, making the period of June through August a slow time for tourist traffic. You can look for economically priced lodging and accommodation options during this period. Summers do make a decent time to visit this town as most schools are closed and you have the advantage of vacation to venture out. The heat, however, can be a bit too oppressive in early May.

    Fall (September-November)

    With temperatures ranging 30.3°C - 29.2°C, and due credit to the wind and humidity levels, it rains or snows about 12 to 15 days in a month, making the months of September through November the second busiest period to visit Hikkaduwa. The temperatures and humidity still remain on the higher side but cool winds do make everything a little more bearable.

    Winter (December-February)

    December through February is the perfect time to visit Hikkaduwa for tourists who enjoy mildly warm weather. During this period the average maximum temperatures ranges between 31.2°C-29.4°C, with an average rain or snow fall of 4-10 days in a month. This is the busiest and the best time to visit Hikkaduwa. You will have to contend with crowds on beaches and bear the brunt of higher cost on almost everything. But it is worth it.

  4. Where To Eat ?

    Hikkaduwa’s menus are popular for their fresh and delectable seafood like fish, prawns and crab and some of the best places here serve the most authentic and delicious flavors in town. A renowned spot frequented by tourists is the Surfer’s Rest, Galle Main Road 462 which serves both Srilankan and European cuisine and after a nice surf workout, you can savor the delicacies here to appease your taste buds.

    Amaya Reef is (400 Galle Rd) another place that has something for every kind of foodie and caters to all kinds of taste buds. With a variety of fish and other seafood-based dishes, it’s a not to be missed place to relish the food with a gorgeous sea view and some warm hospitality! Then there’s Coral Gardens, No 340, Hikkaduwa 80250 with a poolside bar, and exquisite local delicacies.

    Asian Jewel Boutique Hotel, Baddegama Road, Field View Road is another joint with a wonderful rice and curry meal, one of the best in Hikkaduwa, a variety of veg and non-veg meals and host of beverages.

    The JLH Beach Restaurant (No: 382/1 Located on the Colombo - A2, A2) has been around in Hikkaduwa since 1979 and is recognized as one of the ‘A’ listers by the Srilankan Tourism Development Board for its wide range of Asian, Sri Lankan and Italian dishes.

    If you enjoy home cooked meals then the best is on offer by Bookworm, A2, Hikkaduwa, run by a family with a book café for company! A concept eatery of sorts, this form is now most popular in Sri Lanka. Other notable eateries in Hikkaduwa include the Isira Coffee Shop for its milkshakes, juices and a friendly host, and the No.1 Roti restaurant, a roadside joint popular for its lip-smacking variety of bread.

  5. Where To Shop ?

    A few 100 km from Colombo, Hikkaduwa is also known to be a shopping destination and a hub for parties for nightlife enthusiasts. A haven for those interested in water sports, surfing fans to soulful foodies, Hikkaduwa has a lot to offer to all kinds of tourists. While shopping is a crowd puller anywhere, Hikkaduwa is known for some of the choicest items and hence a must shop at, destination!

    Resplendent in a variety of gorgeous woodcraft items crafted out of rosewood, oak and walnut wood, you can expect some wondrous elephant motifs, jewelry boxes and traditional masks. With a popular spiritual discipline in Buddhism, that’s widely prevalent in Sri Lanka, Canvas Art paintings are quite famous here and available at pocket-friendly prices.

    Hikkaduwa also has a beautiful collection of trinket jewellery, which is an excellent buy not only for yourself but as gifts too. Another popular shopper’s delight in Hikkaduwa is cane and wickerwork items with a lovely display of baskets and tableware. Authentic Ceylon Tea is a must buy with its varying infusions at incredible prices at Hikkaduwa.

    In terms of visiting selected places for your shopping needs, you can explore The Saffron Robes Gallery and Studio which is the hub for some of the most talented artists in the country with a reasonable range of art collectibles spread across the four-story building and some gorgeous souvenirs. Then there’s the Genuine Batik Store also called the jungle batik, run by an artist family with live art demos, an outdoor studio with batik art that travellers can witness through different stages of creation.

    The Tea Zone and The Golden Lanka Tea Shop are a tea enthusiast’s shopping paradise with some of the choicest range of tea flavors at reasonable rates. The Galle Gem exchange has a nice collection of jewelry with some unique custom offerings as well.

  6. Top Hotels ?

    1. Riff Hikkaduwa

    in Hikkaduwa, 1.1 km from Hikkaduwa Beach, Riff Hikkaduwa provides accommodation with a restaurant, free private parking, an outdoor swimming pool and a fitness centre. Each accommodation at the 5-star hotel has pool views, and guests can enjoy access to a bar and to a garden

    2. Sapphire Seas Beachfront Hotel

    Beautiful. Relaxing atmosphere. Comfortable beds. Popular among couples. Offering an outdoor swimming pool and a restaurant, Sapphire Seas Beachfront Hotel is nestled on the golden sands of Thirangama Beach. It is located just 4 km from the famous Hikkaduwa Coral Reef and Hikkaduwa Bus Station.

    3.Suite Lanka

    1. hotel. Charming. Elegant. Suite Lanka sits on the sands of Hikkaduwa Beach, one of the widest beaches on Sri Lanka’s west coast. Offering spacious accommodation, it has an outdoor pool and restaurant.

    4.Hikka Tranz by Cinnamon

    Resort. Good breakfast. Comfortable beds. Located along Sri Lanka’s beautiful southern coast, Hikka Tranz by Cinnamon offers spacious rooms with private balconies and 32-inch flat-screen TVs. It features an outdoor pool and PADI dive centre.

    5. Coral Rock by Bansei

    Great location. Great value. Popular among women. Offering an outdoor infinity pool overlooking the Hikkaduwa Beach, Coral Rock by Bansei is located in Hikkaduwa. Free WiFi access is available.

    6. Citrus Hikkaduwa Resort.

    Citrus Hikkaduwa is located a short 10-minute drive from Hikkaduwa Town. Featuring an Ayurvedic massage centre and an outdoor pool, it offers free Wi-Fi and free parking on site.

    7. Avenra Beach HikkaduwaResort.

    Offering an outdoor swimming pool with spa bath facilities and a private beach area, Avenra Beach Hikkaduwa, a beachfront property is located in Hikkaduwa. The beautiful Narigama Beach is just 260 metres.

  7. Things To Do In Hikkaduwa ?

    Hikkaduwa’s name is believed to have been created from a mix of two words, Ship Kaduwa, which refers to Knowledge and Sword in short, which in turn inspires the name of the resort town implying Sword of Knowledge. Hikkaduwa’s beachy vibes and nightlife make it a charming tourist attraction, and a popular destination for board surfing of international repute. Home to innumerable varieties of bright colored fish, multi-colored corals, the coral sanctuary on Hikkaduwa’s shoreline has an assortment of small islets encompassing gorgeous coral growth off the beach. Besides the popular activities of Surfing and visiting the Coral Sanctuary, there are a few other things to do in Hikkaduwa.

    Surfing

    Surfing is one of the most popular things to engage in Hikkaduwa, with a clear warm water base and waves as high as 11 ft. With a high-performance wave and an A-frame peak which has a considerable line running through to the shore, with a left break into a channel with the choicest mix of sand and reef, the main reef at Hikkaduwa is mostly crowded in favorable conditions. Approx. 200 m south of the main reef is Benny’s which favors the left and is must faster and hollower than the main reef.

    You will find the best surf in the resort town during the dry season of November through March at the four major surf sports in Hikkaduwa. The adaptable and diverse selection of tides in this area includes some beach breaks as well and you will find Madiha, one of the best surfing spots in Sri Lanka on the south of Hikkaduwa.

    Boat Ride at the Coral Sanctuary

    Stretching from a line of coral hotels at the northern side of the strip to a collection of rocks, about 100 m offshore, you can explore the coral sanctuary and swim out to the rocks from the Coral Gardens Hotel, where the shore has a direct connection to the reef. The coral sanctuary is also the best place for a boat ride to witness the underwater enchantments with colourful corals and beautiful assortments of fish. A ride in a boat with a glass base will have you enjoying the scenic view in the crystal-clear waters of Hikkaduwa with a variety of delicate plants and marine creatures in their natural dwellings.

    Snorkelling and Scuba Diving

    Hikkaduwa’s magnificent coral reef and abundant ecosystem underwater make it a popular choice for snorkelling and scuba diving excursions in Sri Lanka, with over 60 species of hard coral and about 170 kinds of tropical reef fish in the Hikkaduwa National Park’s fringing bank. These excursions give the visitors an opportunity to explore a number of shipwrecks as well, some of which remain well-maintained, lying at varying depths of the ocean. The best time to explore snorkelling and scuba at Hikkaduwa is between November and April when the sea is calm and conditions opportune for some mesmeric underwater photography.

    Rent a Bicycle

    A backpacker’s ideal destination, Hikkaduwa is perfect to rent a bicycle and peddle around, strolling at a leisurely pace and enjoying the quaint town with the wonderful breeze! And whilst you’re at it, include a few sights to see like the Tsunami Education Centre and Museum that not only educates about Tsunami but also has on display pictures of the 2004 disaster; or enjoy riding amidst the tea zones in the city to relish and choose the different types of teas suiting your taste.

    Spa Treatments

    When you’re exhausted after enjoying the water sports or sightseeing, Hikkaduwa has the perfect option for you to relax without a care in the world with its wondrous & signature Sri Lankan ayurvedic spa treatments & massages to rejuvenate & refresh your body, mind & soul.

    Beach Fun

    Hikkaduwa Beaches may not match up to the ones in Goa or Bali, but they attract their fair share of travellers from across the world! The Narigama beach is renowned for being a major crowd puller, with its beach stretch of nearly 4 km and is the most crowded spot for surfing from April through October. The setting sun here splashes beautiful hues making it a charming sight for all.

    Then there’s the Laguna with a pool of shallow water that has coral reefs on both sides breaking the waves. It’s the best spot for you and your kids, should you wish to enter the ocean and hence a big hit among families to beat the heat! Early morning you can find some of the most beautiful and exotic fish around the coral area’s shallow portion.

  8. What are the top sightseeing places in Hikkaduwa? 

    The top sightseeing places in Hikkaduwa are Hikkaduwa National Park, Hikkaduwa Lake, Akurala Beach, Hikkaduwa Beach, Narigama Beach, Pitiwella Beach.

  9. Local Street Food ?

    If you are a foodie then you must indulge in the local roadside roti in Hikkaduwa Sri Lanka. There are many different roti’s to choose from, though a personal favorite of mine is the spicy vegetable and egg.

  10. What is Hikkaduwa known for ?

    Hikkaduwa is famous for serving delicious seafood curries, relaxing massages, Buddhist temples, and watersports such as surfing, snorkeling, and diving.