One of Sri Lanka’s beautiful south coast towns, Hikkaduwa is among traveler’s first choices when it comes to beachside destinations on the island.  World renowned for it unspool beach and coral sanctuary, this stunning coastal town is about 20 kilometers North West of Galle.

The name Hikkaduwa is believed to have come from the two words ‘Ship Kaduwa’. Ship means the shorter version of Shilpaya which refers to knowledge in Sinhalese; and kaduwa means sword. So it is believed that the meaning behind the name Hikkaduwa is ‘sword of knowledge’.

Apart from the stunning beach, Hikkaduwa also boasts of some of the country’s most important archaeological sites. There are numerous temples, monuments and statues in the area. Most historical sites and monuments found in this coastal town are related to Buddhism which is the religion practiced by the majority of the country. Some of these historical sites dates back to a few hundred years and some are as old as several thousand years.

It is believed that Hikkaduwa was a tourist’s favorite since olden days. J. W. Bennett once described in 1843 that it “is most pleasantly situated, and a great resort of picnic parties from Galle”.

Lying 98km south of Colombo on the west coast, Hikkaduwa comprises a number of different areas stretching from north to south. The main town of Hikkaduwa is the most ‘Sri Lankan’ of all areas and features the bus stand, train station and police station at one end, and the dive stations and big hotels at the other end, further south. Next is the Wewala area packed full of guesthouses and small restaurants, internet cafés and bars. Finally, a little further to the south is Narigama, which is a little quieter but has numerous guesthouses, plus the closest thing to a night club – Top Secret. What makes Hikkaduwa stand out from other resorts is the range of accommodation and shopping and dining options, unlike Bentota and Beruwala, which feature only big star-class hotels. See The Accommodation Guide for a review of Hikkaduwa budget accommodation.

Many who visit Hikkaduwa are just sun worshippers, sea worshippers or wave worshippers. It is not the most cultural or historical of places, as I found out when asking about its history, for it resulted in much head scratching and glazed looks from local tour guides. However, with a long stretch of sand for soaking up the sun, a number of wrecks and coral reefs underwater for divers, and impressive waves for surfers to catch, who needs ruins to attract tourists?