Hikkaduwa Bay Beach, Sri Lanka
Along the main road (Galle road): Seenigama, Totagamuwa, Hikkaduwa, Wewala, Narigama, Thirangama, Dodanduwa.
Off the main road: Beddegama (11km inland Hikkaduwa), Ratgama lake (inland from Dodanduwa).
The beach: The season runs from November to April
Hikkaduwa, 100km from Colombo, one of the liveliest of the southwest coast is close to Beruwala Bay Beach & Bentota Bay Beach Resort of beautiful beaches & large resort hotels. There's a varied choice of beach & sea - coral for snorkelers, waves for board & body surfers, & good wide strips of sand, backed by cafes for sun bathing & relaxation.
Surfing at Hikkaduwa, Wewala, Narigama, ThirangamaHikkaduwa is Sri Lanka's surf center from November to April, & has hosted numerous international competitions. It is particularly good for beginners as the waves are comparatively gentle, most breaking on the reefs rather than the beach. The focus is around the main break, known as the "A-Frame" because of its distinctive apex, in Wewala.
At Wewala, there's good surf for board riders: international surfers flock here Nov to April.
Narigama & Thirangama further south beach widens out into a fine strip for sunbathing provide good waves for body surfing.
Scuba divingHikkaduwa is a good base for scuba diving. Local operators run trips to up to 20 sites along the coast. Most rewarding sites close to Hikkaduwa are the rock formations, especially the deep Kirala Gala (21 m to 38m), 10 minutes offshore, where there is also a wide range of pristine coral with groupers, barracuda & batfish.
A number of wrecks, some in fairly shallow water, can also be visited, such as the Earl of Shaftesbury, though the wreck-diving is better in the bays further south at VOC Galle Dutch Fort & Weligama Bay Beach
Snorkeling, Coral Gardens & WrecksHikkaduwa has excellent snorkeling just offshore. Only 200m offshore, in shallow water no more than 4m deep, a reef protects an expanse of brilliant coral populated by vividly colourful reef fish. It is a perfect snorkeling territory. Compared with glass bottomed boats that operate from the beach, snorkeling herein is an eco friendly means of enjoyment.
Inland attractions 1: Excursions to north of Hikkaduwa beach
Alut Vihara (Telwatta Monastery) (PuranaTotagama Rajamahavihara)The monastery at Telwatta, 2 km north of Hikkaduwa, was a celebrated centre of learning as far back as the fifteenth century. The original complex of monastery & temple was destroyed by the Portuguese; the present buildings date from 1805, an atmospheric complex with particularly impressive well-preserved murals, reclining Buddha statues & fine Makara toranas (Dragon arches).
Alut Vihara (meaning New Temple) is the only temple in the island dedicated to Anangaya (Eros) on the island, where lovers make offerings. The carvings between the fine Makara torana leading to the sanctuary hide a cupid with his bow & flower-tipped arrows. One of the most celebrated Buddhist monks of the island, Sri Rahula Maha Thera, is commemorated herein with a bright modern copper statue. The monk, a renowned poet was celebrated for his powers of exorcism as well as for his works of literature.
Seenigma TempleAbout 2km north of town lies the diminutive yet eye catching little white building, Seenigama temple is squeezed onto a tiny island just offshore. The Devil's Temple here is of importance for local fishermen who pray for a profitable catch of fish as well as for the protection of their lives. We can ride by motor boat or traditional catamaran.
BaddegamaThe road to Baddegama, off Hikkaduwa, to the inland is picturesque, cutting its way through coconut & banana groves, followed by small plantations-rubber, tea & spices. About halfway the road passes the Nigrodarama Mahavihar (Stupa) in Gonapinuwala. On a hill above the river in the grounds of Chirst Church Girls College, the first Anglican church in Sri Lanka was built in 1818 & consecrated by Bishop Heber of Calcutta in 1825.
Sri Gangarama Mahavihara (a Buddhist temple)Just 500m inland from the bus station along Baddegama Road, is Gangarama mahavihara, an attractive modern Buddhist temple perched atop a large terrace, whose pretty ensemble of neat white buildings is often busy with devout locals making offerings. This is an interesting Buddhist temple that has a series of popular educational paintings, the work of one man over a decade.
Inland attractions 2: Excursions to south of Hikkaduwa beach
Kumarakanda Vihara (a Buddhist temple) at Dodanduwa4km south of Hikkaduwa, just past where the Galle road crosses the railway line, on the inland side is located the Kumarakanda Vihara, looking for all the world like a Baroque Portuguese church rather than a Buddhist temple A spectacular flight of steps leads up to the principal shrine, which contains a reclining Buddha statue & various murals, including depictions of the sacred footprint, lions & processions.
Turtle Research Center at DodanduwaOn the beach opposite the Kumarakanda Vihara is a very small private Turtle Research Center, which works to protect this endangered species. Turtle eggs selected for hatching & progressive stages of the development of turtle can be seen here.
Ratgama lagoon at DodanduwaInland from Kumarakanda Vihara is a sylvan county lane that runs to the picturesque Ratgama Lagoon, which has abundant bird life & a large population of water monitors. There are three islands in the lagoon. One of the islands, Polgasduwa (Coconut Island) is home to a forest hermitage founded by a German monk. Lagoon trips are by primitive wooden catamarans. Late afternoon is the best time to see birds & other wildlife, including monkeys.
Telwatta Bird SanctuaryJust inland from the main coastal highway, 2km south of Hikkaduwa, this small lakeside bird sanctuary is especially rich in waterfowl & shore-birds such as the green sandpiper.