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Located on the beautiful southwest coast of Sri Lanka, approximately 100km from Colombo and now just a two-hour journey thanks to the newly built inland highway, the beach resort of Hikkaduwa has long been a popular tourist destination due to its proximity to the coral reefs and opportunities for diving and snorkeling.

 

Often described as a mix of Bali and Goa, this bustling beach resort has a laid-back atmosphere and is scattered with numerous guesthouses, backpacker lodges and in more recent years, larger international hotels.  It’s hard to not find the word ‘coral’ in many hotel or guesthouse names, as the reef here is home to great array of colorful fish and turtles. Unfortunately over the years, the reef has been subjected to some harsh conditions, mainly boat fuel from the numerous tourist and fishing boats in the area.  This has resulted in the reef closest to the beach at Hikkaduwa becoming damaged and it is now slowly dying.  

 

Diving and snorkeling does however continue to play a key part in many tourist activities as the reef further out to sea is still thriving and for the diving enthusiasts there are many wrecks to be discovered.  Surfers are also well catered for at the southern end of town in Wewela and where the beach widens at Narigama. 

 

So, if it’s sun, sea and surf you’re after, a holiday to Hikkaduwa will not disappoint. 

 

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Local Culture Perhaps?

 

 

Local Culture Perhaps?

If you can drag yourself away from the beach, it’s worth heading out for a bit of culture to visit the Buddhist temple of Gangarama Maha Vihara, known for its many paintings completed by one man over the course of many years. Another culturally fascinating visit would be to the Seenigama Vihara temple. Located about 2km north of Hikkaduwa on its own private island in the ocean, it is one of only two temples in Sri Lanka where victims of theft can come to seek retribution.

Sinharaja Rainforest

 

Sinharaja Rainforest

If you don’t mind getting up early, and spending a full day way from the beach, try a jungle adventure and hike into the primeval Sinharaja Rainforest. Sri Lanka’s oldest and last tropical rainforest and where you will find a variety of wildlife, insects, butterflies and enormous trees with evergreen canopies. It can be quite wet here, not surprisingly, but the best time to visit is between February and April as this is when the rains are less frequent.

 
Tsunami Photo Museum

 

Tsunami Photo Museum

In December 2004, one of the world’s worst natural disasters in recent history occurred. The tsunami following the Indonesian earthquake on boxing day affected many countries and Hikkaduwa was one of the worst affected areas in Sri Lanka. Just north of the town, you will find this ramshackle, private museum which tells the story of this disaster through photographs and newspaper features. The displays may be badly lit and poorly displayed but the images here will give you a greater understanding of the suffering that ensued.

 
Drunken Monkey Bar

 

 

Drunken Monkey Bar

As with any cool, hip beach resorts, there is a great choice of street food, restaurants and bars in Hikkaduwa. One of the coolest spots is the Drunken Monkey Bar, a traditional beachfront bar and restaurant where you can enjoy a lazy afternoon. Whether you’d prefer a lunchtime pizza and a cool beer in the afternoon, a sunset cocktail or a more traditional local dinner in the evening, we recommend giving this place a try.

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