“Hikkaduwa has begun to rise, cautiously, from its own ashes.” Rough Guides
Hikkaduwa is a small coastal town in the Southern Province of Sri Lanka and the first stop of my tour of the island known as the Wonder of Asia. While I had read that areas of the beach are a little worse for wear these days from erosion caused by over-development, we found ourselves in a nice quiet spot overlooking the Indian Ocean for a couple of nights.
The place is swarming with international tourists especially surfers (surf season November to April) from all over the world and there’s plenty of accommodation from the cheaper guesthouses to stunning top notch private villas. The treacherous Colombo to Galle road runs straight through the middle of the town and the traffic is busy, you certainly need your wits about you to cross the road. Walking home on the unlit streets at nights is challenging, we were nearly forced into the ditch by an oncoming speeding bus on the wrong side of the road!
Whilst we spent the day relaxing under the palms and around the pool in the sanctuary of Villa Saffron we did venture out at night to one of the many beach restaurants that are just a short stroll away. A strip of low key local places sit next to each other vying for business, we selected one where I enjoyed my first taste of Sri Lankan cuisine, a spicy potato curry with all the trimmings while my companions tried out the many seafood and meat options.
We were up early the next morning to catch the train to Weligama from Hikkaduwa train station, we were lucky to be travelling in JF Tours luxury period carriage, the Viceroy II. The trip aboard the refurbished private carriage was a wedding present to the bride and groom and attached to the regular public service train. Definitely not your usual Sri Lankan train experience, we enjoyed the spacious carriage and comfy seats with refreshments served by our own waiters, there was even a well-stocked bar but it was a bit early for the hard stuff. Some passengers boarded in Colombo, we picked up others in Galle and all disembarked in torrential rain in Weligama, I would certainly recommend checking out the luxury train travel option if you are planning a Sri Lankan holiday.
Renowned as a hippy hangout in the 1970’s, Hikkaduwa was affected by the tsunami that struck back in 2004, the Boxing Day floodwaters causing much destruction to the beach and surrounding area. It has since picked itself up and attracted back the tourists but is still not as popular as some others, the battered concrete eyesores have mostly been demolished and the beach and coral gardens are under rehabilitation. Some may say it’s too over-developed and touristy (no-where near as bad as Unawatuna), others may just take it for what it is but whatever your viewpoint I think it’s definitely worth a visit for a couple of nights.
Hit the surf, go on a wreck diving trip or grab a snorkel to check out the coral reef and hopefully spot one of the many turtles, rent a tuk tuk and visit the nearby Tsunami museum or one of buddhist temples, or like us just kick back and relax.
Read more about Sri Lanka in my previous post In Pictures | A Postcard From Sri Lanka
Unless otherwise stated, all photos on this page © Jo Brett 2017. All rights reserved. Additional photo used with courtesy of Melinda Robinson Tennekoon.