Hikkaduwa, located on the southwest coast of Sri Lanka, became popular by the waves that provide good conditions for surfing, presenting itself as a cheaper and more popular alternative among backpackers than other beaches like Bentota, dominate by resorts and that attract more people… but as everything changes, Hikkaduwa also changed and also became popular and part of the itineraries of the “package” holiday, giving rise to hotels and resorts, leaving behind a quiet fishing village atmosphere to turn out hectic and touristic.
As a consequence, the most southern beaches were becoming more popular and also, the previously living from fishing was mostly replaced by tourism business.
So the place to enjoy the famous Sri Lanka beaches was Narigama Beach, a mere 5 kilometers from Hikkaduwa, who heads towards the south by the infernal national road, that link Colombo to Galle (known as Galle Road). In fact, it is hard to say when it’s over a village and starts another, as along the national road, line up t houses and more houses, restaurants, shops, guest houses, hotels, grocery stores, travel agencies, souvenir shops, etc… in an endless succession that don’t allow to see the dense green patch of palm trees from the tropical landscape of this region of Sri Lanka.
While Hikkaduwa continues to attract surfers, who also had already found new spots further south along the coast, Narigama Beach attracts more couples and older tourists, mainly Russians and Germans who fled the turmoil of restaurants and bars that animate the Hikkaduwa beach, seeking for quiet of a nearly empty beach.
Sri Lanka advertises itself as one of the destinations with beautiful beaches but its geographical position of the island in the Indian Ocean between the Arabian Sea and the Bay of Bengal causes strong currents and powerful waves. Here, the sea is reputed to be dangerous, and a short swim it turns out that in fact is not very safe, with many strong currents and cross waves which make animated baths but at the same time risky. To compensate this, the temperature of the sea is perfect: warm but not too hot.
Narigama beach extends for 3 kilometers long towards the south, in a broad and continuous sand, that as you walk will have a less occupation, that means fewer hotels and houses since in terms of tourists these beaches can not be considered crowded.
This extensive beach offers pleasant walks at the end of the afternoon when the sun softens intensity, hiding behind a blanket of clouds even before reaching the horizon line. Is at this time of day that the sky gets fantastic colors, contrasting with the dawn, bright and delicate, the sunset leaves a surreal track where nature gets bizarre colors, creating moments of a strange atmosphere.
Where to stay in Narigama Beach:
Along the national road, as also along the beach and a little to the inside (with the inconvenience of having to cross the main road to reach the beach) are dozens of accommodation including resorts, hotels, boutique hotels, guest houses and many houses that rent rooms (homestays). Prices vary widely, but you can be a room for 1000 LKR, and if you choose a guest house (or homestay) the prices can be bargained in low season or for long term stays.
Along the beach are the most expensive accommodation, but walking a bit along the coconut trees and asking locals you end up finding more modest and modest places that provide good rooms at reasonable prices.
Hector’s Place is one of those places, which brings together a few small houses and rooms of various types and sizes. This place is very quiet, far enough from the road to not hear the car noise, and at less than 100 meters from the sea, which provides a constant background sound of the strong waves.
A double room, living room, balcony, and bathroom costs 2000 LKR.
For those traveling on the main road, the entrance to the Hector’s Place is located just after the Ranmal Beach Hotel, for who go towards Hikkaduwa for Galle. For who walks the road the place is not easy to find because it has not sign or identified, but walking by the sand there is a discreet sign “rooms available” near one of the observation posts, a kind of “lifeguard” that run in mixed trade selling clothes and coconut while seem to watch who bathe in the sea.
Where to eat in Narigama Beach:
Find local food at reasonable prices is not easy in these areas by the sea, where the food prices are extremely inflated, where some rice and curry can cost 500 LKR, instead of the usual 150 LKR.
Most restaurants offer a mix of local food with international food stands the fish and shellfish.
Along the road linking Hikkaduwa to Narigama there are plenty of choice in terms of restaurants, but only after an exhaustive search, was possible to find a place that serves a proper rice and curry for 200 LKR… cheaper just taking the bus and going to the village of Hikkaduwa. The site is very popular among the locals, that early starts to flock to buy a meal and takeaway, which makes that around two o’clock the food finish. The rice, instead of the usual white rice is the called “red-rice”, a little more tasty; but the focus is on the curries, which varied every day, sometimes using the jack-fruit or its seeds as an ingredient, but always accompanied by traditional sambol, a spicy condiment made from freshly grated coconut. The place has no name or any indication in English, and can be easily unnoticed. The food is delicious and spicy, as the tradition in Sri Lankan cuisine, and can be vegetarian or not.
The No Name restaurant, also located on the roadside serves kotu in generous and delicious doses, as well as vegetarian rotis in variants with meat, fish or even with banana and chocolate, a variation according to the Western taste.
In fact, the easiest and cheapest meal is undoubtedly the rotis and the kotus, which are popular as evening meal, packing several restaurants that specialize in this kind of food.
All this type of inexpensive places, as also some more expensive restaurants are located along the national road and suffering from the same problem: the discomfort caused by the constant traffic of trucks, buses, cars, motorcycles and tuk-tuks almost always running at excessive speed, adding to the discomfort caused by constant honking and pollution.
But the village of Hikkaduwa remains the “center” of activity with the train station, bus station, banks and local businesses, is a good option to find meals at reasonable prices, as well a fruit and vegetables market.
And it is certainly the right place for lovers of the traditional Sinhalese snacks, the deep fry patties, filled with delicious and very spicy curries.
Next to the bus station the milk bar sells traditional curd, a thicker yogurt from buffalo milk, more fat than what we are used to, and that comes in clay pots. The price is displayed so there is no doubt that the smaller “pot”, half a kilo costs 150 LKR.
How to get to Hikkaduwa:
Hikkaduwa can be reached by train or bus, with direct links to the city of Colombo. South of there, there are also buses and trains from Matara and Galle.
The train ride from Colombo-Fort to Hikkaduwa takes about 3 hours and the route is always done by the coast so it is preferable to choose a place on the right side of the wagon… if you can find a seat! Leaving the Hikkaduwa railway station you’ll see a small Hikkaduwa bus terminal bound for Matara, Mirissa, Galle stopping in small villages in between.
How to go from Narigama to Hikkaduwa:
The best option is to use one of the many buses that constantly pass on the national road bound for Hikkaduwa and other northern villages.
There is also a train station that is closer to the Narigama beach: Thiranagama. But given the low frequency of trains the best option is to use the bus whose high frequency don’t make you wait more than five minutes for the next bus.
The Narigama trip to Hikkaduwa takes 10 minutes and costs 8 LKR.
How to go from Narigama to Galle:
From Narigama to Galle as the frequency of the buses is high, you never waiting more than 5 minutes. If you want to go further to Mirissa ou Matara, you’ll need to change buses in Galle Terminal.
Find a bus stand can be a little difficult because many times there isn’t a shelter or sign that identifies a bus stand, however, just follow the markings on the floor in yellow, in which the local stop is defined as a rectangle…. os simply ask to the local people.
The Narigama trip to Galle takes 30 minutes and costs 35 LKR.