When travelling to Sri Lanka, you should not miss out on the beauty of this paradise island’s beaches. Hikkaduwa is one of the most popular beaches and is known for having great waves for surfing and the sea turtle hatchery. When you are at a loss about what to do in Hikkaduwa, this blog post is for you!
Visit the sea turtle hatchery
Sea turtles are sadly enough endangered. It is great to see people in Sri Lanka do so much in order to save their beloved sea turtles. The Sea Turtle Hatchery in Hikkaduwa is trying to protect and preserve the sea turtles that live on the shores and in the waters of Hikkaduwa.
Getting to the Sea Turtle Hatchery is relatively easy as most tuk-tuk drivers know where the hatchery is located. The building is overall quite hard to miss as it is brightly painted with fishes and sea turtles.
Inside you will be able to see a series of tanks in which the baby turtles live for the first few weeks. This is to ensure that they are healthy and big enough to make their little trek up the beach and into the water. When the turtles are released when they are a bit bigger, it is less easy for seagulls to pick off the small turtles.
By having tanks in the Turtle Hatchery, the organisation is also able to nurture sick or hurt turtles back to health.
In the Hikkaduwa Turtle Hatchery, you will also be able to see a little sandy bit during summer with what look like sand-castles made by a 3-year old. These are actually hatching mounts full of turtle eggs.
Visiting the Turtle Hatchery will cost about Rs 500, which is just over $2. That’s very little for some up-close time with these adorable and endangered creatures! Make sure to look up the scheduled feedings and to leave a donation when heading out as these volunteers are doing a fantastic job!
Take surfing lessons in hikkaduwa
Hikkaduwa is known to be an excellent place for surfing! The waves are just perfect, and there are loads of surf shops and surf companies to choose from. You can get a 1-hour surfing lesson including pick up from your hotel for about $8 if you book online.
Obviously, there are cheaper options available if you are looking for professional 1 on 1 lesson for an entire day. You can get an entire day of lessons for about $35 online with all the materials included!
Visit the Tsunami Museum in Hikkaduwa
When the Tsunami hit significant parts of South East Asia in 2004, Sri Lanka was severely hit. The Community Tsunami Museum is a museum run to keep the memory alive of that horrible December 26th.
The museum itself is divided into three parts: the first one provides visitors with loads of information about how tsunamis are formed and loads of great scientific and geological data. The second part will leave you speechless and honestly in tears with loads of pictures of Hikkaduwa and nearby villages when the Tsunami hit.
The third part of the museum is geared towards kids to help them understand the tragedy. In all honesty, this is a place you should not miss – especially when travelling with kids.
The images of local villages reduced to rubble struck me quite hard as well as the story of the train being hit by the Tsunami. People on the train literally had no chance at all.
Sri Lanka was the second worst-hit country in the world after Thailand. More than 50.000 people died on the coasts of Sri Lanka, and it is excellent to stand still with that horrible tragedy.
There is also a wall of people that are still to this day missing – and will probably never be found. In Hikkaduwa – and honestly all over the coast that was hit, you can see pictures of friends and loved ones that perished during the Tsunami.
The museum is run by volunteers and is entirely free to enter, but it is nice to leave a donation—this way the running costs of the museum can be covered.
It is also best to head to the museum by tuk-tuk as it is quite far to walk.
Go Paddleboarding in the Hikkaduwa lagoon
Hikkaduwa boasts a beautiful lagoon with unique mangroves. Not that many tourists make their way up to the lagoon so if you are looking to leave the busy beaches behind, it is a great idea to go paddleboarding in the Hikkaduwa lagoon!
You can book your paddleboarding session beforehand, but you can obviously also ask your hotel to book one for you. As there are not that many companies that offer paddle boarding I would, in fact, recommend you book your session online as it can be a lot more expensive in Hikkaduwa due to the lack of companies providing this experience.
The lagoon is stunning, and a skilled instructor will teach you how to paddleboard (very easy!). He will guide you through the lagoon and the mangroves and tell you a bit more about the wildlife in this beautiful part of Hikkaduwa!
Snorkel with the sea turtles in Hikkaduwa
Hikkaduwa has a turtle beach where you will always find at least a few turtles feeding on the seaweed by the coast. The turtles are in relatively shallow water which means you can easily get quite close to them. There is a turtle warden who stops you from touching or feeding the turtles as it this is actually a punishable offence in Sri Lanka (way to go!). I found the turtle warden incredibly kind and diligent, and I have a lot of respect for the work they do.
On the beach, people will ask you whether or not you want to go snorkelling or scuba diving, or even if you wish to hire a catamaran. The prices are quite steep, and I just did not want to trust someone on the beach giving me a mask and scuba as I had no idea how and if it was cleaned.
If you are looking to go scuba diving with the sea turtles, I would always recommend booking a session via a licensed and trustworthy company. Not only because you know the material is excellent, but also because of the turtles. If they do not respect the turtles, it is straightforward for you to report them, and most of them know the rules when it comes to swimming with and touching (NOT ALLOWED!!!!) the turtles.
As for scuba diving for the fish and coral – Hikkaduwa is not a great place. A lot of the reef was damaged by the Tsunami and tourism. Almost all coral is dead, and although there are some lovely fishes down there, I would not say it was amazing.
Josh is an avid diver but held out because we were planning on visiting the Maldives 2 weeks after we got back to Dubai (that trip fell through, and we were ultimately stuck in Sri Lanka for another 3 months). What I have heard and read online it is not advisable to dive at Hikkaduwa – go to Swami Rock instead!