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17 Awesome Things to do in Hikkaduwa, Sri Lanka

17 Awesome Things to do in Hikkaduwa, Sri Lanka

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Hikkaduwa, Sri Lanka is a town located only 100 kilometers south of Colombo on Sri Lanka’s southern coast. Its beautiful beaches and large array of restaurants and hotels, make it a top choice for holidaymakers – both local and international.

However, once in Hikkaduwa, it isn’t immediately clear what exactly the best things to do are. Besides lounging on the beach, how should you spend your time in Hikkaduwa, Sri Lanka?

This is what we thought when we first arrived in Hikkaduwa, but after some research and exploring, we discovered there is actually a wide variety of things to do in Hikkaduwa.

In this blog, I’m going to share with you all of the information and things to do in Hikkaduwa that I discovered on my travels.

Things to do in Hikkaduwa, Sri Lanka

1. Swim with Sea Turtles

sea turtle in Hikkaduwa, Sri Lanka
Swimming with sea turtles is one of those experiences you’ll remember forever!
Location:Hikkaduwa Main Beach
Rating:5/5 – One of the best wild turtle encounters in Sri Lanka

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.

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!

2. Watch Baby Turtles Hatch (and run for the ocean)

baby turtle on the sand in Hikkaduwa, Sri Lanka
A baby turtle heads for the ocean on Hikkaduwa Beach!
Location:Hikkaduwa Beach
Rating:5/5 – Very nice experience and the babies are so cute!

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!

This is a public area and free for anybody to join. They even let some tourists help transport the baby turtles from the hatchery to the beach.

Watching the turtles is very special and easily one of the best things to do in Hikkaduwa, Sri Lanka.

If you do happen to miss this activity in Hikkaduwa, then don’t worry because you can also see baby turtles all over Sri Lanka. In fact, it’s one of the best activities in Mirissa – a nearby beach town that’s very popular!

3. Go on Safari in a National Park

Elephants roaming in Sri Lanka
Seeing wild elephants is so cool!
Location:Udawalawe or Yala National Park
Rating:5/5 – If Hikkaduwa is your only stop, don’t leave Sri Lanka without doing a safari in Udawalawe or Yala National Parks

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!

Getting 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.

Large male elephant in Udawalawe National Park

2 Days One Night Safari in Udawalwe NP

This tour leaves directly from Hikkaduwa and includes pick up, drop off, two half-day safaris with entry and guide, some meals, accommodation, and more for a great price!

Udawalawe National Park is one of the best places to see elephants

Half-Day Safari in Yala or Udawalawe NP

If a two-day tour isn’t what you’re after then this half-day safari is a good choice. It’s only $50 but keep in mind it will be a very long day of driving each way. However its better than not doing a safari at all!

4. Go to the Tsunami Museum

the tsunami museum near hikkaduwa
Inside the Tsunami Museum
Location:On the outskirts of Hikkaduwa heading north
Cost:Free, but donations are encouraged and appreciated
Rating:5/5 – A great way to remember those lost. There are photos of the victims so it may not be suited to young children.

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 heartbreaking. 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…

You can find the location of the Tsunami Museum on Google Maps!

5. Visit the “Big Buddha” (Tsunami Honganji Viharaya)

big buddha statue hikkaduwa
The Big Buddha Statue!
Location:Outskirts of Hikkaduwa near the Tsunami Museum
Cost:Free, but donations are expected
Rating:4/5 – It’s a beautiful statue that represents the height of the 2004 tsunami

Near the Tsunami Museum is the “Big Buddha”. You simply can’t miss it as it is a very large Buddha statue on the side of the road. The first time we simply drove by and thought “oh cool.” But then the lady at our hotel told us we needed to go back and actually check it out, so we did.

When we arrived at the Buddha we were greeted by a friendly older man who pointed us to some information about the Buddha on a sign. He then told us to go inside where a young monk showed us many different photographs of the tsunami and the damage it caused in the area.

It turns out that this Buddha was built to honor those who died in the tsunami, specifically those who died on the train. There was a passenger train in which over 1700 people died when the tsunami hit. The train was on the track directly behind the Buddha when this happened.

The Buddha is 18m high which is meant to represent the height of the wave that broke over the train.

It is free to visit this Buddha but they will ask you for a small donation.

6. Visit the Buddist Temple and Monastery (Sri Pushparama Temple)

at the buddist monestary in hikkaduwa sri lanka
Me and the monk that showed us around the Buddhist monastery
Location:On the outskirts of town near the Buddha Statue
Cost:Free – donations are appreciated
Rating:4/5 – A real authentic monastery experience

If you follow the road behind the Big Buddha statue for about 1 kilometer you will reach a Buddhist temple and monastery. Here, there is one particular monk who will show you around.

We had no idea this place existed and definitely didn’t know that it welcomed visitors, but the monk at the Buddha statue told us to go – so we did.

When we arrived we were greeted by Rev.Mawadavila Shantha Thero, a monk who runs the monastery. He gave us some home-cooked sweets as well as tea and chatted with us about where we were from and his background. After, he showed us around the place including a tour of the temple.

We learned about many Buddhist philosophies as well as stories. It was very interesting and the monk showing us around was super nice and open to our questions. The entire experience took about 30 minutes and was a very genuine and interesting way to learn about the Buddhist religion.

This too was free and even though we weren’t asked for a donation, we knew that it was assumed that we would give one.

Related Read:   17 Best Things to do in Ella, Sri Lanka & COMPLETE Guide

7. Go to the Turtle Hatchery

Turtle hatchery in Hikkaduwa
An enclosed turtle hatchery on the beach in Hikkaduwa, Sri Lanka.
Location:Near the big Buddha statue
Cost:500 Rupees
Rating:5/5 – Really great cause to support and an opportunity to see and learn about turtles

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.

8. Eat Seafood

eating seafood in sri lanka
A huge plate of deep fried calamari!
Location:Any restaurant in Hikkaduwa
Cost:1,000 – 2,000 Rupees
Rating:5/5 – The seafood is very fresh and well priced

There is an abundance of seafood available in Hikkaduwa, Sri Lanka and there are also a ton of great (and affordable) restaurants to eat at! This makes Hikkaduwa the perfect place to try some fresh seafood. Everything from fish, crab, and lobster is available and it is pretty reasonably priced.

There are a few restaurants on the beach as well as plenty lining the main street in town. Expect to pay about 1,200 LKR ($7 USD) for a main of seafood, or splurge and get a seafood platter for two for about 4,000 LKR ($22 USD)!

We ate at one particular seafood restaurant which was very good called Red Lobster (not to be confused with the North American chain restaurant.) It is definitely worth stopping at for dinner one night while you’re in Hikkaduwa.

If you want to visit Red Lobster restaurant in Hikkaduwa, click here for directions.

9. Visit a Tea Shop

ranra tea shop in Hikkaduwa
The cutest tea shop!
Location:There are many dotted around town
Cost:Free to visit
Rating:3/5 – Great if you’re not heading to a tea plantation or factory in central Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka is world-famous for tea! In Hikkaduwa, there are a few different shops that you can visit to buy some tea or just have a cup. The Ranra Tea Shop is a very nice little shop with a ton of different tea of offer.

Tea makes for a great souvenir or gift to bring back to family or friends. If you want to try tea for yourself, have a seat and order a cup for only 200 LKR.

Of course, If your going to visit Ella, Nuwara Eliya, or other places near tea plantations and factories, then this may not be high on your list. But if not, this is the place to go!

Related Read:   Grand Hotel High Tea, Nuwara Eliya

10. Get Tailor-Made Clothing

clothes getting made in sri lanka
You can get all sorts of clothes made in Hikkaduwa, Sri Lanka.
Location:Around Hikkaduwa town
Cost:Very dependent on what you get made
Rating:3/5 – Great way to take a unique gift/souvenir home

If you have ever wanted to get clothing tailor-made for you, Hikkaduwa is the place to do it! There are various tailors around town to choose from but the one that comes highly recommended is called Apsara Tailors.

Here you can choose a design and fabric and the little old lady who runs the shop will measure you up and have a custom-made outfit ready within 24 hours.

Prices depend on what exactly you choose to get made and the material, but it is very reasonable. Many people choose to get bathing suits or swimshorts made! This is not only a fun thing to do in Hikkaduwa, but also makes a great souvenir!

Related Read:   14 Best Things to do in Haputale, Sri Lanka

11. Go on a Catamaran Snorkel Tour

daniel snorkeling in Hikkaduwa, Sri Lanka
Daniel, snorkeling in the calm waters around Hikkaduwa!
Location:Tours can be booked from most shops in town
Cost:2,000 Rupees for a one-hour tour
Rating:3/5 – The reef isn’t what it used to be but the tour is cheap

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.

12. Go on a River Safari

Madu river tour from Hikkaduwa
Riding down the Madu River in a boat.
Location:Tours start in town but they will take you to a river
20 minutes from town
Cost:3,000 Rupees
Rating:3/5 – To be honest, we didn’t do this but we heard mixed reviews from other travelers

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 talk 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!

13. Learn to Surf

Surfing in Hikkaduwa
Not everyone wants to surf huge waves so this beach is perfect!
Location:Hikkaduwa Beach
Cost:500 to 2,000 Rupees
Rating:4/5 – Surfing is fun and Hikkaduwa is a great place to learn

From the months of December to March, surfing is one of the best things to do in Hikkaduwa, Sri Lanka. The waves are suited for beginners and boards are available to rent right on the beach.

If you’ve never surfed before then consider joining a lesson. You can pay any one of the board rental guys to teach you and it’s a great way to get a good foundation. Lessons start at around 2,000 rupees for an hour and include your board rental.

For the more advanced surfers, there are also some decent waves to be had with a short paddle out to the bigger reef break.

Board rentals start at around 500 rupees for an hour or 1,300 rupees for the day.

14. Paddle-boarding

paddleboarding in sri lanka at sunset
Sunset makes for a nice time to get out on the water.
Location:Hikkaduwa Beach
Cost:500 to 1,000 Rupees
Rating:4/5 – Fun activity suited to most people

Paddleboarding is super fun and a great way to test your balance. Although it seems easy, paddleboarding can be a challenge at first. Hikkaduwa isn’t the calmest beach so it will be a good ab workout and challenge.

If you’ve paddle-boarded before then you can also try to surf some of the smaller waves on your board. It’s very hard but super fun!

Paddle-board hire is similar to surfboard rentals and can be rented from the same guys on the beach who offer surfboard rentals in Hikkaduwa.

15. Go Deep Sea Fishing

deep sea fishing boat in Hikkaduwa, Sri Lanka
One of the fishing boats from around town.
Location:Tours start from Hikkaduwa
Cost:$450 USD per boat for 6 people
Rating:3/5 – Unsure how good the fishing truly is as we didn’t do the tour. We did hear that it is hit and miss and seasonally dependent.

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.

16. Visit the Galle Fort

Galle Fort, Sri Lanka
Galle Fort on a beautiful day in Sri Lanka!
Location:Galle around 15 minutes from Hikkaduwa
Rating:5/5 – It’s very beautiful and in my opinion a must do

Take a day trip out to Galle (21 kilometers away ) and check out the Galle Fort! There is a great tour available which will take you to the Galle Fort from Hikkaduwa as well as visit a tea factory!

The Galle Fort is a UNESCO world heritage site and a beautiful place to explore especially if you love history. Entrance to the fort is free however you must pay $5 USD to visit the museum.

17. Drink Fresh Fruit Juice

drinking fresh fruit juice in sri lanka
Me, drinking fresh fruit juice, it’s so good!
Location:Around town, this place (pictured above)
was near the bus station
Cost:200 Rupees
Rating:3/5 – If you love fresh fruit juice then it is a must-do activity in Hikkaduwa!

Fresh fruit juice is offered everywhere in Hikkaduwa and it’s cheap. Pay only 200 LKR for a huge glass of pineapple, mango, banana, or passionfruit juice!

Our favorite place was near the bus terminal in town and it was so cheap! We could create our own flavor by mixing any fruit we wanted which made it fun and more of a fun activity (rather than just a place to have a drink.)

Related Read:   17 Things to do in Trincomalee, Sri Lanka

Where to Stay in Hikkaduwa, Sri Lanka

relax inn hikkaduwa pool
The pool at Relax Inn Hikkaduwa. Can you believe this place is only $15 USD a night for an air-conditioned room?! We had a lovely stay here.

There is a range of accommodation available in Hikkaduwa (including a few places that made our best honeymoon hotels in Sri Lanka blog!)

The biggest factor when deciding on a Hikkaduwa hotel is your budget. Below are some great choices for places to stay in Hikkaduwa to suit all budgets!

Luxury Hotels

Hikka Tranz by Cinnamon – This is the perfect option for those who want luxury all while having an exciting holiday. It is located right in the town center but also on the beach (right where the turtles swim!)

Riff Hikkaduwa – If you want a little bit of a quieter location then this hotel is perfect. It is still close enough to town when you want to go there but you get a much more private beach.

Mid-range Budget

Citrus Hikkaduwa – Offers a beachfront infinity pool and onsite bar and restaurant. Rooms range in price but if you don’t mind missing out on the “sea view” you can get a great deal!

Coral Sands Hotel – Right on Hikkaduwa beach, this hotel offers two pools in a modern building. Rooms have air conditioning, sea views, and are very reasonably priced!

Low Budget

Lucky Beachfront Hostel – This hostel is perfect for solo travelers on a budget or those who don’t mind dorm beds. The hostel is located right on town and right on the water so you can’t complain about the $5 USD price tag!

Relax Inn – This is where Dan and I stayed while in Hikkaduwa. Although it was located a few minutes from town, they had a pool, lovely air-conditioned rooms with a balcony, and it was cheap! We particularly like supporting small local businesses when we travel and staying at family-run guesthouses like this one is how we do it!

Didn’t find anything you liked? Check out all the hotels in Hikkaduwa here!

Related Read:   15 Most Romantic Honeymoon Hotels in Sri Lanka

Getting to Hikkaduwa, Sri Lanka

bailey riding in a Tuk-tuk in Sri Lanka
We drove our own tuk-tuk all around Sri Lanka – it was crazy and awesome!

You have three different options for getting to Hikkaduwa. You can choose to take public transport (which is the cheapest option); rent your own tuk-tuk, motorbike, or car and drive yourself; or hire a driver for a private transfer.

Most people come to Hikkaduwa directly from Colombo. Cheap private transfers can be easily arranged directly from the Colombo International airport. From Colombo, Hikkaduwa is only about a 3-hour drive.

Getting Around Sri Lanka

tuk tuk parked at the beach in mirissa sri lanka
We rented a tuk-tuk for our entire trip around Sri Lanka.
Watching sunsets in Sri Lanka from our tuk tuk
Tuk-tuk is a great way to get around Sri Lanka.

To visit all of the best places in Sri Lanka, you’re going to need a mode of transport. You have a few choices when it comes to getting around Sri Lanka:

Rent a Tuk-tuk

Easily the most popular (and most fun) way to travel around Sri Lanka. We actually rented a tuk-tuk on our trip and absolutely loved it! Tuk-tuks are easy to drive, cheap to rent, and the freedom that comes with your own wheels is unmatched.

If you do decide to rent a tuk-tuk in Sri Lanka, be sure to go with a reputable company that provides quality tuk-tuks, such as Tuktuk Rental (who we rented from.) These guys not only offer an amazing service, but their tuk-tuks are actually rented from local families, providing income for the local community.

If you decide to rent from Tuktuk Rental, be sure to use the coupon code ‘DEST‘ for 5% off!

For more info, read our blog: The Truth about Renting a Tuk-tuk in Sri Lanka.

Hire a Driver

If you’re only planning on going to a couple of destinations, then a private driver is not a bad idea. In the comfort of an air-conditioned vehicle, your driver can take you to your next destination. All you have to do is sit back and relax!

You can hire highly-rated drivers in advance to pick you up right from the airport when you arrive in Sri Lanka. This driver will take you to your hotel in Mirissa, Galle, Bentota, or Unawatuna. Whereas, this driver will take you to Kandy.

Of course, every time you want to change destinations you will have to arrange for another driver (unless you book this driver who will drive you around for an entire week). Car transfer can easily be organized through your hotel.

Take Public Transport

This is a choice I only recommend for those on a very tight budget and with plenty of time. Public transport is everywhere in Sri Lanka in the form of public buses and trains. It is also very cheap, costing less than a couple of dollars per journey.

However, it isn’t the most comfortable way to travel. The buses don’t have air conditioning and neither do many train services. They can also be slow-moving, stopping every couple of minutes to pick up more passengers.

With that said, public transport is popular with budget backpackers, and it is mostly safe. This is one way to travel for those who want to get around as the locals do!

Before you go…

drinking fresh coconut water in Hikkaduwa, Sri Lanka
Thanks for reading our blog and enjoy Hikkaduwa!

We hope you’ve found this blog about Hikkaduwa, Sri Lanka helpful! If you have any questions please leave a comment below so we can get back to you!

Be sure to also check out our huge selection of blogs about traveling in Sri Lanka! Some, in particular, that you might find helpful are:

Things to do in Mirissa – headed to Mirissa? Then check out all the things to do in Mirissa in our blog. It includes many things you won’t find in other blogs!

Things to do in Sri Lanka – A huge list of the 25 experiences that made our Sri Lanka trip unforgettable!

Lipton Seat guide – Lipton Seat is one of the best viewpoints in Sri Lanka. Here’s everything you need to know before you go.

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