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Coral & Turtle habitat: Hikkaduwa, Sri Lanka

Hikkaduwa is a small beach village known for its coral reef and crystal clear water. The village is located at a distance of 21 kms from the city of Galle in the southern province of Sri Lanka.

The best way to reach Hikkaduwa is to take a government bus. There are plenty of bus options from Galle, Matara. All you need to do is ask for a bus to Hikkaduwa. Travel time is just under an hour and the costal bus ride is a great way to reach the village.  

Another option is to hire a Tuktuk or to book a taxi via the app Grab. This is a faster option but also a more costlier one. While deciding between the two, always go for a taxi from Grab and then ask a Tuktuk driver the cost for the same and you’ll know the difference. It’s more than 55-65% difference in the price quotes.

Once in Hikkaduwa, you’ll find that the beach stretch is where the main town area is. So everything is pretty much walking distance from each other.  

A must-do while here is to book a room on the beach or across the beach. The reason being while you’re at Hikkaduwa, it’s all about the beach and being in the water either snorkeling, diving and searching for giant sea turtles.

At the beach, you’ll find plenty of stalls selling diving and snorkeling gear. This is because like mentioned at the start of this post, the water and coral reef and its life is a bit too unreal to believe. It’s only when you enter the water and see the fish underwater, that you’ll get an understanding of why you need one.  

You can literally spend all day just snorkeling and chilling underwater trying to spot as many rare fish as you can.  The setup is very well maintained inside the water also, there are ropes to indicate where the coral reef is. These ropes come very handy to avoid stepping on them.

Corals are sharp and rubbing your skin to any one of them will result in instant cuts and these ropes in the water provide an excellent barrier for support especially when the waves are a bit too strong to handle.  

Another thing worth considering is moving deeper into the sea around another 100-200 metres from the coast to get a first-hand glimpse of the giant sea turtles. These can be found around the reef deeper in the sea. There are two options to spot them, the first is swimming with a guide which is the most adventurous option. If swimming is not your thing, then taking a speed boat is your only other option. The boats here have a glass bottom so you can actually look through them into the sea.

These turtles can also be spotted near the beach during sunset, a few of them get pushed by the barrage of strong waves and land up on the beach. If you spot any, make sure you don’t feed them any human food.  

While at Hikkaduwa, make sure you have a meal at the beach shacks. That’s the perfect way to cap a lunch break while snorkeling and exploring marine life.  Even the main street has excellent eating options. The crabs and lobsters are worth trying out while here, it’s really affordable and extremely tasty. Red Lobster is a place worth trying out.  

One unique thing which you’ll notice is that most of the restaurants which have concrete walls have a lot of scribbling on them. This has been done by the guests over a period of time. So all you need to do is, ask the restaurant staff for a marker and then find a spot. This kind of graffiti ends up giving a very random feel to the place. You can idle away your time waiting for your order by just reading what’s written on the wall.  

Being a bustling beach village, a lot of shops targeting tourists have started opening up which sell clothes, both beach and hippie wear, swimming gear, Sri Lankan tea and souvenirs. Once you’re done with your dose of vitamin sea, a stroll through the road for some window shopping is worth the effort.

The best time to visit Hikkaduwa is during the dry seasons from November to May. The reason being it’s the perfect time to go for a swim and spot some unique coral reef.  

Hikkaduwa is honestly a much better place to travel to as compared to Bentota (Turtle farm), it’s the kind of place everyone will love, from backpackers to family holidayers and even honeymoon couples. Hikkaduwa is that one beach which will leave a lasting memory for the amount of fun that you end up having at the beach.

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