The Excursionist by J.D. Sumner

This November/December Han and I set off for a 10 day trip to Sri Lanka. We planned to stay in four different areas whilst there. This is the first part of our adventure which was down the West Coast in Hikkaduwa.

The Area

Hikkaduwa Sri Lanka

I should start by saying that we started further south and worked our way back up North to the West of the country. Sri Lanka only has one main airport for external flights, located in the West. In addition, the distance between areas can be quite lengthy and public transport, whilst perfectly adequate, isn’t the best. Therefore, we found traveling this way worked best.

Hikkaduwa is mid-way down the West Coast of Sri Lanka. It is one of the more developing towns for tourists and travelers. You have a main road running through the town with a mixture of accommodation and restaurants/bars lining each side. The ocean and beach also lines the road which means on the east side of the main road the bars all open out into beach bars! This is really surprising as from the road they look like nothing but then expand into these really cool chill-out bars.

On the first night we arrived late. We walked down to the main road which was quite daunting but no one seemed to bat an eyelid at this. As soon as we spent a bit of time in the area we understood why. The Sri Lankan people are some of the nicest people we have met. This was something that stuck with us throughout the trip. The people are incredibly friendly.

Sri Lanka bar

We spent most days exploring different parts of the beach. As I said, there are shops and bars dotted all around so you’re never short of beach bars or interesting little independent shops. We found a cool workshop where the owner carved wooden sculptures by hand and bought some to take home. Along the beach we saw giant turtles and if you can surf Hikkaduwa is a great option! The waves were quite big and surfing was popular, unfortunately neither Han or I can surf but when we go back it’s something we’d love to do!

The whole place had a really cool, chilled out vibe with an authentic feel to it. Although still developing and quite raw, Hikkaduwa is a safe, pleasant area to spend some time.

The Accommodation

We decided to stay in a villa a short 10 minute walk from the beach called Villa Tara. The decision to stay here came from a colleague recommendation and it proved to be a good one. I would advise anyone looking to stay in Hikkaduwa area to stay here.  Upon arrival at the airport the villa manager picks you up and takes you to the villa, around a 2 hour drive. The drive goes pretty quickly being a mix of motorway and Sri Lankan countryside.

Sri Lanka

The staff in the villa are so friendly and accommodating. They will go so far out of their way to ensure your stay is enjoyable it’s unbelievable. In fact, the staff even arranged for our transport to our other destinations whilst there! If you ever need any tips, help or advice on the local area and island they can help. There is an in-house cook who prepares breakfast each morning but I will go over this in more detail below.

The villa itself is a real gem. I imagine that at one point it was a grand villa when colonialism was high. Now it is a little bit of luxury in Sri Lanka. There are 5 different rooms surrounding a main pool in the center which receives the sun all day. You are secluded form the main road and within your individual rooms when in the villa. This means privacy is no issue and it is very peaceful. One thing to consider is that essentially you are in the jungle so wildlife is all around you. One night a bird flew into the open top shower and we saw a monkey on next door’s roof.

However all of this is part of the experience and Villa Tara is a wonderful place to stay.

The Food

The food in Hikkaduwa is pretty traditional and in line with the rest of Sri Lanka. In the villa we had great breakfasts cooked by the chef. These consisted of a fresh fruit smoothie of the day, eggs to your liking (Go for the Sri Lankan omelette) and spiced sausages. A fresh fruit platter followed along with yogurt, toast and jams. This is all washed down with tea or coffee.

Whilst they don’t look much, the sausages are really good! They are spiced sausages and have a really nice flavor to them. Almost like they have been barbecued and seasoned even though they have not.

Hikkaduwa food

One of the best features about Sri Lanka is how fresh all of the food is. In Hikkaduwa the local restaurants spend the day casting nets off the shore. They literally drag in hundreds of fish in each catch, put them in ice buckets and then serve later on in the evening.

In addition, there is a local supermarket with all the ingredients you need to cook in the villa. We did this for two nights as it is so cheap! You can get two days worth of food for two people for under £10. The food is good quality as well, fresh fish, meats and vegetables make for good, healthy home cooking.

So, there you have it, part 1 of our Sri Lanka adventure in Hikkaduwa. Next up is Unawatuna even further south on the west coast. If you have any questions or thoughts leave them in the comments below, it would be great to hear from you…

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