Sri Lanka – Hikkaduwa

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About 5 years ago a Jordanian, a South African and an Indian boarded a red eye flight from a sandy desert to a lush island. They made the journey to witness one of the most unconventional weddings of their time. A Sri Lankan girl was about to get hitched to a Brit bloke and the sequence of events that followed were in this exact order. Honeymoon -Wedding – Bachelorette party.

I’ll leave out details of the first two private events and dive straight into the bachelorette party. After a long day of wedding ceremonies…food… drink and party the poor groom had to fly back straight to work leaving his newly wed Mrs. in our custody. Felling utterly responsible to make sure she had a great time we woke up at the break of dawn to start our amazing journey to the beach town of Hikkaduwa.

hikkaduwa

A little more than 100 km away from Colombo city is this tiny little beach town. A 2 hour drive through the new express highway gets you there in no time. Another way that you would like to explore is getting on the train from Colombo Fort to Hikkaduwa – Travel time about 4 hrs. with the express train. If you are not in a hurry to reach destination, on a tight budget and prefer enjoying a bit of outback Sri Lanka then this is a good viable option. Details of train time and cost can be found on – http://slr.malindaprasad.com/

The time I traveled there was no express highway and hence we drove much longer stopping at small fishing towns, making new friends, helping fishermen untangle their nets and help maneuver a large fishing boat out of the sea. Leaving early morning is the best option as you will get to experience the everyday life of the fisher folk along the once tsunami hit now restored villages. Parts and places of the disaster still exist reminding us of how Mother Nature once played one of her worst pranks on human kind.

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As you enter this hippy town time automatically seems to slow down. It’s like watching a silent movie of 16 to 24 frame per sec. You’re not under the influence of any substance at least not yet and still it feels like its effects linger in the air. The scene from your window changes from roti stalls to tiny grocery stores selling petrol in plastic bottles to large beach, hippy & psychedelic art galleries.

If you haven’t booked out a place to stay yet then look up any of:

My top 5 places to stay:

Harmony Guest House – By far my favorite place to stay and dine. Would have loved to spend a night at this rustic beauty but unfortunately a combination of last minute plans and high season left us settling for our second option.

Neela’s Guest House & Restaurant – A great place to stay. Like most other stay options this one spills onto the sandy stretch. The rooms are clean and have maintained restrooms. The owner is extremely sweet and very accommodating.

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Hug Inn B&B – Clean and tidy. Beds have mosquito nests, rooms have a balcony and terrace area if you like to lounge away from the sun. BBQ facilities if you would like to grill your own fish and make yourself feel at home.

Mama’s Coral Beach – http://mamascoralbeach.com/

Hotel Suite Lanka – Whether you’re on your honeymoon or just traveling alone if you want to pamper yourself this is the place to stay. At a hefty price for Sri Lankan standards you get a stunning piece of the Indian Ocean to stare at all day. This treasure is mapped out with Ceylonese décor and wooden furnishings. A cozy bar and great food will keep you going through you stay. Don’t forget to treat yourself to a massage too.

Well we all know that the beauty of traveling to Asia is experience the simple life. People flock from all over the world to lie the nomad inside them. Feel free to ask the hotel you stay at to connect you to a bike rental place. These are max 100cc non geared bikes that will make you feel like a local straight away. It is also by far the most efficient and cheapest mode of getting around to explore the area. Leave your GPS behind and get adventurous. Don’t forget to put on that helmet, without one you will definitely get fined on the main streets. The roads are easy to navigate through and if you get lost stop and ask for directions. People are extremely polite and always willing to help. Don’t be lazy and get driven around stopping at restaurants and emporiums recommended by your driver. Please don’t fall for the old tourist trap.

You should by now be all set to ride away into the wind…. let’s start exploring:

Top 5 Things to do:

Sea Turtle Hatchery, Kosgoda – Though a bit of 35 to 40 min. ride away from Hikkaduwa this trip is worth its while. Fresh sea breeze across your face, plenty of scenic stops to make and coconut trees lined up in a row will guide you to your destination. You can buy yourself a firsthand insight into the lifecycle of a turtle for the Cost of 4$ per person. If you’re travelling with kids this is a great educational experience.

Tsunami photo gallery – You can stop and do this tour on your way to Hikkaduwa if traveling by road that is. This small humble museum is once again a reminder of the undying human spirit. Years later the damage may have been cleaned up for both locals and tourist however the haunting memory of tragedy persist in the air. A memorial for all the lives lost and families destroyed stands still in the form of a large statue of Buddha reassuring that faith will still prevail.

buddha lake

Seenigama Vihara Temple – This temple stands firm on an Island of its own. If you are a runaway thief then consider taking a boat or swimming across to the temple to attain retribution. Legend has it that thieves were to enter and temple and get a chilly from the monk. He would then go home burn some oil along with the chilly and his sins were to be forgiven. I’ll leave you to decide whether you want to swim across or stand by and admire the scenery.

Surf Lessons / Snorkeling: Hikkaduwa is known to attract surfers. If you are equipped with that skill go ahead and enjoy the windy waves. For those of you who want to try out the adventure sport it’s easy to find an unconventional training school sprawled across the beach. Talk to the locals and see how best you can slip in a class during your stay. For big wooziess like myself who are too afraid to be swallowed by the waves try snorkeling. The beach has some stunning coral reefs that include Nemo, Dory and all their colorful scaled friends.

Hikkaduwa Lake – A 5 minute ride from the beach to the lake is a good alternative to spend a late afternoon before the sun sets. Hire a boat and work out those muscles squeezing in a bit of exercise on vacation.

Top 5 Restaurants:

Food is of great importance on adventure trips and I take this matter very seriously. No visit is complete without trying local cuisine. After all it makes great stories to tell but most importantly introduces us to new ingredients that forever influence our ways of cooking.

Top Secret – Great ambience, perfect bar to mingle at and make new friends. Sprawled on the floor seating get cozy and exchange travel anecdotes.

Home Grown – Family restaurant serving the most delectable rice and curry. Breaking hearts one curry at a time this cute place is where you will find a new found love for curry. Voted and recommended by most travel sites it’s guaranteed to impress.

Roti stalls – There are plenty of them lined up on the main street. Trying to pick would be unfair to the food these guys serve. If you feel like keeping it light and simple try one the many options available on the menu.

roti shop

Moon Beam – Great ambience & decent food. You can never go wrong with seafood here. Especially not when you practically sitting on a stilled restaurant facing the Indian Ocean.

Mambos Place – If you’re looking for convenience to walk out of your hotel and find a spot for food, drink and party then head over to Mambos. You can stay here for hours listening to the waves dance to soft tunes in the background.

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Relax take it easy and get into you lull state. One too many of those cocktails & I am sure you’re too tipsy to tell. I leave the rest of the exploring and soul searching in this town to you now.

Next up on the blog – We drive further down to Unawatuna and Mirissa and conclude our journey at the southern tip of the island.

If you need any more information on touring the city, where to or how to please feel free to leave me a message in the comment section or mail me questandmark@gmail.com

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