We visited several beaches on our way around the Sri Lankan coast. Today’s post highlights Hikkaduwa and nearby sights, but more is coming soon on Galle, Mirissa, and Dikwella! (We had breakfast at Unawatuna but the beach was narrow and every inch of the cove was covered in lounge chairs and restaurants. We also stayed a night in Negombo but didn’t enjoy the empty drinking down vibe.) On to Hikkaduwa via Colombo!!
Colombo has a nice park. When we visited, the park-goers were predominantly covered fully covered in burkas. We had some great shwarma by the sea and watched kites soaring high into the sky. It was almost hard to walk because so many people were out.
We took the train down to Hikkaduwa from Colombo Fort Station. For tickets, you can show up same-day just come a bit early because the lines can be long. It was about a 2.5 hour journey. We were lucky enough to get standing spots in the tiny corridor next to the doorway the West side of the train, facing the sea. It was a gorgeous ride full of coconut trees and shimmering seas and the occasional block of dilapidated small houses. Many people sit on the edge of the train car with their feet dangling out, but if you try it, be ready to pull your feet back in- some spaces are not wide enough.
When we arrived, we got a tuktuk to our hotel, Ritas. We stayed at the Southern end of Hikkaduwa beach which was perfect—it wasn’t crowded and the waves were just right for my surfer (though a little rough for me to swim in). Luckily, there were beach cabanas just outside of our beach-front hotel for me to read in the shade. The long beach was covered in white sand, which is perfect for a walk early in the morning or late in the afternoon. We made a point of trying to go in for lunch and a rest mid-day because someone turned the sun up down there! It wasn’t as hot as Mandalay, but I swear the sun shone brighter (it is just above the equator). We made an official plan to get up early for some beaching and go inside for lunch and a rest in the hottest heat of the day and come back out in the afternoon when the sun is not shining so intensely.
From Hikkaduwa we visited a sea turtle hatchery (a short tuk tuk ride up the road- agree on the round-trip price before starting the ride). As it turns out, there are hatcheries all along the coast. We learned about the different kinds of turtles and saw their golf-ball like eggs. I also got to hold some babies. They were beyond cute. Apparently, in Sri Lanka, turtle eggs are a delicious treat. So the fisherman dig them up and sell them to the center to hatch and help, rather than letting other people find and eat them.
*Later in our trip, we saw a female turtle coming ashore one night to lay her eggs. So many noisy tourists with bright phones gathered that the turtle went back out to sea. Our waiter at the restaurant beside the scene said this had happened the night before as well. Noa says it takes all night to dig the nest and lay the eggs. Lesson learned: as exciting as it may be, give the turtles some space.*
Along the way to the hatchery, we also saw the Japanese Buddha statue donated to the area after the tsunami in 2004. There was a tsunami museum too, but we didn’t visit.
We visited an ancient Buddhist temple nearby called Thotagamuwa Rajamaha Viharaya. It had beautiful paintings on all of the walls and more massive painted Buddha statues that nearly didn’t fit into the halls. It’s apparently quite old and quite famous. Our tuk tuk driver gave us some details as we walked around the grounds. Tuk-tuk driver/guide/travel itinerary writer seems to be a common job (wouldn’t you love to stop at my friend’s tea shop?).
Hikkaduwa is a great place to spend a few days relaxing or checking out some local sights. More beautiful beaches coming soon in another Sri Lanka post (they’re too good. I can’t give it all to you now!) I’ll leave you with some photos of my surfer.