Mirissa, you might have heard of it when people talk about Sri Lanka. This little town is located in the Matara district of the Southern province. It’s about 55km from Hikkaduwa and it’s also a very famous beach for tourists. This place is fairly new to tourism though, about 10 years ago there was nothing but an empty beach with a few homestays but today it has developed into an important holiday destination for many people. Next, I’m going to tell you what you can do in Mirissa but before that check out this video we made when we were there!
Things to do in Mirissa
1. Whale watching outside of Mirissa
This is one of the oldest tourist attractions in Mirissa and one of the best places in the world to spot Blue Whales, the biggest animal on Earth. Some companies also offer a money back guarantee if you don’t spot any whales or a free tour the next day in hope for better luck. The price range is around 30-35€ and it’s a half day trip. Definitely worth it!
There are a number of surf spots in the area and the easiest and usually consistent break is in the north end of the Marissa beach. This is an intermediate surf break and is often surfed by longboarders rather than shortboards. If you want to get more punchy waves you better head south a few hundred meters and there will be more advanced surf spots.
3. Chill at Secret beach
This is a fairly new addition to the Mirissa area. Actually, the beach has been there for a long time but in recent years more and more tourists have found this peaceful “secret beach” and now there is also a restaurant and bar to make it even more comfortable for people. This is a place where you can easily spend a day from morning to sunset just hanging out on the beach and maybe go snorkeling a bit in the clear water.
4. Visit the Parrot rock
This is a very iconic rock formation just outside the Mirissa beach and when it’s low tide you can walk there and climb the rock. This is where most tourists visit once and take a picture to Instagram. I don’t blame them, it’s a beautiful place!
5. Go to Coconut Hill and take pictures
Okay, this one is probably the most shared place from Sri Lanka on social media. This hill is facing west and the sunset is in a perfect angle with the coconut palm trees that grow on this slopy hill. If you go there, beware of falling coconuts, they can kill you instantly so better check out the area before entering.
6. Snorkeling and Scuba diving
This is another great place for snorkeling or scuba diving. It is very likely to see sea turtles here because of some turtle hatcheries nearby. The water is warm and crystal clear and there are many different tours to choose from depending on what you want. You can also go snorkeling straight from the beach but it’s not gonna be that rewarding so a boat tour is your best bet.
7. Party at the beach
Mirissa is also famous for various beach parties. The beach is packed with different bars and the easiest way to find a party is to just go out in the night and see where there are lights and loud music. There are no clubs or such bigger bars so all the parties are pretty laid back Sri Lankan style parties. It’s fun for sure!
Own thoughts of Mirissa
For me, Mirissa has always been a nice place to hang out in for a day and one night but I have never stayed there for a longer time. I have many times called this “the little Phuket” as referring to the popular Thai island whit massive tourism. It’s not a bad thing, I just like to stay in another place and just visit this kind of places. This place is probably the best beach for a family holiday because everything is close by and you have everything you need here. This is for sure one of the villages and beaches in Sri Lanka that you want to stay at least one day at, probably you want to stay for another too.
Where to stay
There are many places to stay at and the number is growing all the time but I’ll tell you the ones that I would stay in to have the best value.
Calidan* is a very great choice if you are planning on surfing the Mirissa break as it’s right in front of it.
Mirissa Beach Inn* is another great place to stay, just 50 meters from the beach and all the rooms have a private balcony
Sea World* is located on the southern end of the beach and has a more private beach area for those who really want to relax. There are also surf spots just in front of the boutique hotel.
Ballena Regency* is your choice if you need a swimming pool. All rooms are equipped with A/C and a flat-screen TV.
Triple O Six* is the best hotel in the area and is located a bit South of the village to keep it private.
This place is one of my personal favorites in the world and I have visited Hikkaduwa for the past six years. This is where you can really sit back, relax and enjoy life. This relatively small stretch of coast is loaded with a lot of stuff to do, or if you don’t feel like doing anything that’s totally fine.
With many resorts and homestays located right on the beach, you wake up to the sound of the ocean and you can right away feel the laid back feeling of the place. The food is delicious and cheap, the climate is tropical perfection and the sea is warm. This is also one of the oldest tourist spots in Sri Lanka so they are used to tourist and it’s a very safe environment for everybody. Here are some things to do in Hikkaduwa!
1. Visit a turtle hatchery or find some turtles near the beach
If you want to see turtles in the wild and also go swim with them, this is the place. There are some turtle hatcheries and one turtle rescue center if you feel like knowing more about these dinosaur-like creatures. In the hatchery, you can see baby turtles that are later set free into the ocean. The rescue center might be a bit of a sad sight with turtles that are missing limbs and such but they are also the reason the turtles are still alive.
The other option is to visit the outer point of Hikkaduwa beach, where Hikkaduwa National Park begins, to go feed and swim with adult turtles. The turtles come here every day to feed on seaweed that locals have been feeding them for a long time. It is a very exciting feeling to see these animals so close up and they are very friendly. Keep one thing in mind, they are wild animals and they should be respected so DON’T TOUCH them.
2. Eat some Sri Lankan rice & curry
This is the main food that Sri Lankan people eat and you can find it pretty much everywhere. Many different varieties of curry and spices used, usually, you get four to five different kind on one lunch or dinner serving. This is for sure one of the best dishes in Sri Lanka and my advice is that you should try it in many different places for a real experience with the flavors. I have a few favorites and they are Ranjith’s Beach hut and The Book Worm. The Book worm only have one serving every night at 18.00 but it is as close as you can get to the authentic Sri Lankan Rice & Curry.
3. Go shopping in the street and find some amazing things
Street shops are where most of the things are sold in Hikkaduwa. Most of the shops are located on the one main road that goes through the village and you can find anything from clothes, jewelry, paintings and souvenirs here. Most of the shops are open from morning to evening so choose the best time for you, to go explore. Remember to bargain and do it with a smile, it works a lot better this way. Be careful of buses and other vehicles driving by on the road because sometimes they drive really fast.
4. Custom order tailor maid beachwear, bikinis or shorts
Sri Lankans are very good at handicrafts and there is a very talented man working in a shop called APSARA TAILOR. He makes custom swimwear (actually he can make whatever you wish, but swimwear is his thing) in a few days for only about 20-40€, depending on material and design that, of course, you can choose yourself. The quality is really good and the man himself is very lovable.
5. Go for a sunrise walk or run at the beach
There are two beaches in Hikkaduwa; The Hikkaduwa beach which is smaller and more of a “big hotels” beach with a lot of tourists. Then there is Narigama beach that is a lot longer (5km) and less developed, this is the beach where you want to go or stay at if you want a more relaxed feeling to the place. It is perfect for morning runs or walks. The northern part of the beach is where most of the resorts and homestays are located and if you start here, you will run or walk straight towards the rising sun and the further you get the less there are people or houses.
6. Rent a boogie board or bodyboard for the beach waves
The Narigama beach also offers some beach activities and this is a very good beach to start your ocean hobbies. Most of the shoreline is just sand and is perfect for boogie boarding or bodyboarding. There are several surfboard rental places where they also have boogie boards for them who don’t want to surf. If you don’t like to have a board, the waves are super fun to play in just by swimming into them and “surf” with just your body. You should be a little bit cautious about this if the waves get bigger because then it gets dangerous so look at the ocean for a while before you decide to enter or just ask some locals what the situation is that day.
7. Take a surf lesson or go surf Main Point
A lot of people start their surfing life at this beach, there are many small rental shops for surfboards and they all offer surf lessons too. This is a very good place to learn and progress in surfing. One great surf school is YULA Surf School that has the perfect location and have very friendly staff. If you are a little bit more experienced surfer there are also some reef spots to surf on that are more demanding. One of the most consistent surf spots on the west coast is the Main point or Main break and this is where it can get really heavy if there is a big swell, then it’s only for experienced surfers.
8. Go snorkeling or scuba diving in Hikkaduwa National Park
Right outside of Hikkaduwa beach there is a rock formation and a healthy coral reef that make up for the Hikkaduwa National Park. You can choose to rent the snorkeling gear and swim there yourself (beware that sometimes the current might be strong) or go on a boat tour and they will take you to the best parts, snorkel gear included. You can spot a lot of different fish there and some colorful soft and hard corals. If you are into diving there are also many dive shops that offer different dives around the area. One great local shop is Barracuda Diving center that I use when I go diving there.
9. Relax in a beach chair and drink king coconut
This is probably the most common thing why people want to get to the tropics and Hikkaduwa is perfect for that. You don’t need to pay for the chair and you can stay there the whole day if you like and there will be local salesmen walking the beach and offering all kinds of stuff. The best drink for sure is Thambili, also called King Coconut, that is a yellow coconut that tastes delicious and is very good for hydration. You can also choose the chair by a restaurant and have them bring you food and drinks to you. Just relax and enjoy!
10. Visit an Ayurveda spa and get a treatment
Ayurveda is originally from India and is one of the oldest medicinal treatments in the world and has a history of almost 8000 years. In these spa treatment facilities, they first talk to you to learn about you to be able to give the right treatment. Then you get to decide what kind of treatment you need. Mostly they do aroma massages and herbal treatments but also offers manicure, pedicure and such things.
11. Go on a river safari day trip
There are vast networks of rivers just behind Hikkaduwa, and you can choose from several different tour operators and tour packages but the main thing is that you get to see some unspoiled nature from a boat on the river. You can spot a lot of different tropical animals here and really feel the “jungle” vibe.
12. Visit a moonstone mine and shop for gems
Moonstones are gems that are white, grey and purple in color. They are believed to have energetic properties like calm sleep and clearing of the mind. Not sure how it is but these stones are beautiful and near Hikkaduwa, there are a few mines that you can visit and see how the process works. It is an interesting thing to see how the mining works. There are also many jewelry stores in Hikkaduwa where you can find special stones and have them custom made to jewelry if you like, and the price range is very cheap compared to other parts of the world.
13. Enjoy the amazing sunset at the beach
This is one thing you definitely want to do, go to a restaurant or sit in a bar and have a cold drink an watch how the “big boss” drops below the horizon for a very beautiful sunset. Words can’t describe the feeling and the sight of this so you better experience it for yourself.
14. Party all night long!
Last but not least. Hikkaduwa is pretty famous for some of its parties and for a good reason. Every weekend people from other beaches, even Colombo, come to party at some of the best nightclubs on the west coast. When I say nightclub it has a slightly different meaning here, all the parties are usually open-air events and 90% of them are on the beach. The bars are most of the time open as long as there are customers and it’s not rare that there still might be a party going on when the sun rises at Saturday or Sunday morning.
Some parties you don’t want to miss are Vibration on Fridays and Chill space or Mambos on Saturdays. There are more parties if you really feel like going out, usually, every day of the week at some bar. Just check out your surrounding when you are in the area. Oh yeah and remember to ENJOY and take it easy on the arrack (local coconut rum)!
Where to stay in Hikkaduwa?
There are many options where to stay and I have personally stayed in a lot of different places. I will try to help you out with the best places I know of, for you to have an awesome time in Hikkaduwa.
*Hansa Surf is where I usually stay. The location is perfect, right on the beach and it’s cheap and they have good food.
*Thiranagama Beach Hotel is another great cheap place to stay in and it’s located on the beach but a small distance away from all the nightlife so it’s calm and quiet.
*Thambili Cabanas is for you who want to relax on the quiet side of Hikkaduwa. There is a swimming pool and a private beach area just 300m away and they have also one of the best organic restaurants in the area.
*Funky Hotel is the place to stay if you like to party. This is the place where they have a party downstairs if all the other places are closed.
*Coral Sands Hotel is the place when you want to enjoy a large pool area next to the beach where the turtles are swimming.
*Hotel Suite Lanka with a private beachfront area and castle-like building this is one very beautiful place.
*Villa 46 is a high-class service mansion in an area where no other tourists usually go. They also have a spa and wellness center for your maximum relaxation.
*Riff Hikkaduwa is the best hotel in the tourist area. You will get celebrity treatment with world class service here and it’s right on the beach.
*33 Lake Terrace is for those who like to stay out of the noisy streets and enjoy more of nature. Located a few kilometers from the town this hotel is right next to a lake and they offer a luxurious experience unlike any other in the area.
Have you ever been to Hikkaduwa? What did you like and not like about it? Comment below! I hope this article was helpful and wish you a nice experience in this beautiful place called Hikkaduwa, Sri Lanka!
This place is one of the most visited sites in Sri Lanka and has an amazing and important story in the history of the country. Have you ever heard about this place?
It is also known as a UNESCO World Heritage site because of it’s “unique exposition of an urban ensemble which illustrates the interaction of European architecture and South Asian traditions from the 16th to the 19th centuries” as said on the official site. This truly is an interesting place with a lot of different religions and ethnicity’s along with some pretty non-Asian architecture, and next, you are going to find out why!
The fort stands today next to the city of Galle which is on the southwest coast of Sri Lanka. The earliest recorded history of Galle is from the 2nd century AD and it’s said that it has been a busy port from the beginning.
This was when Sri Lanka was called Ceylon. We are not going into that any further so we jump straight to 1505 when the Portuguese landed here. They had an alliance with the king at the time so they started making some changes around the area, including the initial fort construction called “Santa Cruz” which was built of mud and palm trees. Later it was extended with some watchtowers and bastions.
The Portuguese also moved to Colombo but they had to return to Galle in 1588 after the King (Raja Singha I 1581-1593) attacked them. The story of the Portuguese ended in 1640 when 2500 Dutchmen attacked the fort and captured it, this was made in an agreement with the King (Raja Singha II).
When the Dutch settled down they started to improve the fort and also build a lot of the buildings that still are there today. This included a Protestant church, the Commander’s residence, public administration buildings, a gun house and arsenal, residential quarters, warehouses and buildings for trade and defense.
The British invaded Colombo in 1796 and a week later they conquered The Galle fort also. They used Colombo as their main base and did not pay much attention to the importance of the fort. It was used as the Southern headquarters and they did build some landmarks that are there still today. The lighthouse that is on the southern tip and probably the most recognizable of all builds by the British. They also made a lot of reinforcements to the fort during the Second World War.
THE FORT TODAY
Galle Fort is today in very good condition and it is a peaceful place to spend a day, or a few. There are two main gates from where you can enter the fort and once inside you are free to explore and investigate the place as much as you like. All the old Dutch and British architecture is still in place and it kind of feels like entering an old European town when you get in.
There are some museums and a lot of cafe’s to spend your time in. Quite a lot of art is also found when walking the streets. An interesting thing is that some of the street names are still in the original Colonial Era names; such as Lighthouse street, Hospital street and more like this.
WHAT TO DO AND SEE
The best way to explore the site is by walking, it is fairly small and one day will be enough to see most of it. When you enter the fort you will right away get the feeling of what it’s like with the small narrow streets and the European vibe around it.
One of the best views open up on the west side, the coast side where you can walk on top of the wall and hang out on the grass and enjoy the views. This is also where the lighthouse is. Another interesting spot is the north part of the fort whit massive stone walls and a clock tower rising to the sky.
When you enter the streets you can find the National Maritime Museum which is built in the old Great Warehouse where the Dutch stored spices and ship equipment. Then there is the Dutch Reformed church, Meera Mosque, The Buddhist temple that is built on the site of the old Portuguese Roman Catholic Church and The Old Dutch hospital.
There are also more government buildings to see but most interesting is the fusion of the Asian and European way of living. Go visit the art shops and small galleries and cafe’s, it is also possible to take a Sri Lankan cooking class!
There are several nice restaurants also varying from Dutch, Portuguese, Indian and Sri Lankan food. And if you are interested in staying for the night that is also possible. The sunset from the fort is very amazing and might be a reason you want to stay.
WHERE TO STAY
If you are interested in sleeping inside the fort it is possible. The fort gets quiet during the evening when most of the tourists are gone and you get to feel the real Galle fort magic.
Here are some places you might want to consider:
*Beatrice Houseis located right next to the ocean wall so it’s easy to get to the best views.
All you have to do is get to Galle and from there you can walk for 5 minutes or take a tuk-tuk. The best and cheapest way to get to Galle is by train or bus. All the trains going south from Colombo stops at Galle. And if you come from the south you can hop on the train in Matara. There are several different routes of buses also going to Galle many times a day and this is for sure the cheapest way.
You can also rent a scooter and drive there yourself, but remember to be careful because the Sri Lankan traffic can be very hectic (watch out for buses driving fast). The other easy way to get there is by tuk-tuk, you can rent the tuk-tuk for the whole day and the driver may even be willing to show you around the place.
*This post contains affiliate links. More info here.
Have you ever wondered about why there is a fortress on top of a 200-meter high rock in the middle of Sri Lanka? And what about the rock right next to it?
There is a lot of history and mythology around this whole area which is located in the Central Province of Sri Lanka. This place is famous for the UNESCO World Heritage site called Ancient city of Sigiriya or Lion rock. I will tell you some more about it in a bit.
There is also another rock there, called Pidurangala Vihara, that’s not so famous but still very interesting and mind-blowing. This is where we went! Both rocks are located just a few kilometers from each other so you can enjoy both sites on the same trip if you like.
In this post:
-The ancient city of Sigiriya, Lion Rock
-Pidurangala Vihara, Pidurangala Rock
-What to know before you go
-How to get there -Where to stay
The Lion Rock history
The Ancient city of Sigiriya, that’s the official name, is an ancient rock fortress with a lot of history. The rock itself is the result of ancient volcanic activity and it rises about 200 meters above the ground where it’s located. The rock has played a big part in the ancient civilization and is believed to have been inhabited almost five thousand years because of its shelters and caves.
The fortress, that today still stands there, is built around 477 CE to 495 CE. This was the reign of King Kashyapa, who moved the capital from Anuradhapura, which was the capital at the time, to this location because of some insecurities of his own wellbeing. He built his palace and fortress on top of this rock. The fortress was occupied for 18 years and after the King died the fortress was left to stand there alone.
Later the Buddhist monks started using it as a monastery until the 14th century. Not until 1831, the site was rediscovered and some archaeological work started.In 1982 UNESCO made it a world heritage site.This is considered one of the best preserved ancient urban planning sites and also called the 8th wonder of the world.
This rock is a bit taller and larger than Sigiriya. This site has also been used for shelter for about the same time as the more famous Lion Rock. This site became more important when King Kashyapa (477-495 CE) moved the monks, living in the area, here to live in a newly built temple and monastery. There is a “Stupa” where King Kasyanapa were cremated.
Then there is a temple just at the entrance of the hike whit a “modern” house from where you can enter the old cave temple. The hike to the rock can be divided into two stages. The first one is easy with built steps and the second one is more like climbing a natural rock formation.
When you reach the first stage there is a massive Buddha statue lying in a small cave. This statue was once the biggest brick statue of Buddha in the world and is measured 12,5 meters. The second part, where you get on top of the rock, is also the best and most demanding part of the climb. It may take some time and effort to get yourself up there but it’s well worth it.
What to know before you go
Book a tuk tuk the day before to pick you up in the morning as early as possible. If you rather go in the afternoon then just have the people at the place you stay get a tuk tuk for you.
Both rocks are temples so you need to wear appropriate clothes. This means you should have your knees and shoulders covered and no hats allowed. Some loose breathable clothes are suggestible. Wear good shoes, some people go there in flip-flops and it is possible but for more comfortable use sneakers or hiking shoes.
The Lion rock is quite easy to climb, with stairs and plateaus all the way up, and that is why it’s also very crowded. The Pidurangala rock, on the other hand, is more demanding to reach the top. Even if you can make it to the first stage, which has stairs all the way, the views are spectacular. The hike up both rocks takes about the same time, around 20-45 minutes depending on how fast you are. The way back down is about twice as fast.
Bring water and some snacks, when you finally get up there you will want to stay there for a while and enjoy the views. If you go during the day you should bring a hat and some sunscreen because it gets really hot up there. The best time to climb is early in the morning or late in the afternoon.
Our experience of Sigiriya
We came to Sigiriya from Kandy by bus and tuk tuk and the climate was very likeable, even when we visited during the rainy season in December. The thing with the fortress today is that it’s very expensive to go there for a foreigner, 5000rps! That’s a bit much and they have constantly kept increasing the price because there are more and more visitors all the time. Kind of stupid I think?
So we decided that we will climb the other rock next to it, Pidularangala rock and temple, which is about the same height and from there you get the amazing view of the fortress itself. And the best thing is that it’s not so crowded and the price is only 500rps. You need to wear proper covering clothes because of the temple site but that’s what it’s like on every religious site.
The hike up is best to do during the early hours to see the amazing sunrise from the top, or the other thing would be to go there in the late afternoon to see the sunset. The second option is more dangerous because if you enjoy the view too long it will be pretty dark to get down a semi-tricky path. For us, this was the better option because we were only staying one day. If you have more time (and/or money) you should definitely go visit both of the sites.
The area itself around the sites is very calm, a small village with some restaurants for westerns. We stayed at a homestay called Blue Water Villa* and we got to meet this very kind family who was willing to help with anything even if their English skill was not the best. A true Sri Lankan homestay! This is a place you want to visit at least once in your life, there is some magic in the air there…
How to get there
The closest city is called Dambulla and you can get there by bus, taxi or hired van. From there you need to take a tuk tuk or local bus to get to the Sigiriya village. Of course, you can also drive a scooter if you want to get the most freedom in your traveling. It is also possible to take a train from Colombo to Habarana, and from there you need to take a tuk tuk or bus to get closer. Habarana is about 16 kilometers from Sigiriya.
Where to stay
We stayed at a small homestay called Blue Water Villawhich was right next to the village.
Thambili Cabanas and Thambili Cafe are both located in Hikkaduwa on the west coast of Sri Lanka.
They have a really cool spot for relaxing and really enjoying the best parts of a Sri Lankan beach stay! The water is warm and the weather is tropical. What more do you wish for? The food at Thambili Cafe is organic and fresh and there’s something for everyone – very delicious!
The Cabanas are brand new with a really great garden and swimming pool area. The staff is always friendly and smiling, always willing to help with anything you need to know about their homeland!
Location: 920/1 Galle Road | Thiranagama, Hikkaduwa 80240, Sri Lanka