The Ultimate Guide to Hikkaduwa Surf

by Asia Kaczmarczyk

Hikkaduwa surf attracts thousands during the Sri Lanka surf season between November and March with a mix of shore breaks and reefs for all levels.

Hikkaduwa surf

The surf in Hikkaduwa at a glance

The good:

  • A good variety of waves
  • Lots of bars to hit afterwards
  • Loads of top-rated surf schools

The bad:

  • Can be crowded
  • The beach isn’t Sri Lanka’s cleanest
  • A touch of localism here and there

This is a part of our greater guide to Sri Lanka surf.

What will I find in this guide to surfing in Hikkaduwa

An introduction to Hikkaduwa surf

Hikkaduwa might just be the most famous of all the beach town that string along the south-western shore of Sri Lanka. It’s been drawing sun-seekers and snorkelers since the very first holidaymakers came the island’s way in the 60s and 70s. However, the waves were discovered a little later…

What was found was a mix of moderately consistent and super-fun beach and reef breaks. For beginners, there’s a shallow, sand-bottomed wave. For more advanced surfers, there are A-frame sections and even harbourside waves. Essentially, you’ll always find something to match your level. Mellow whitewash for practising the pop? You got it. Faster left-handers that roll off boat jetties? That’s here too.

Generally speaking, the beginner surf schools head for the southern end of Hikkaduwa. That’s known locally as Narigama Beach. For more challenging waters, go north to the jetty and the point. All of these are within walking distance of each other, so graduating from one to the next is never a problem.

You’ll also find oodles of places to stay in Hikkaduwa. Some of the best surf camps in Sri Lanka exist here. But there are also chilled beach bungalows, boutique hotels, and backpacker hostels with rollicking beer gardens.

Where is Hikkaduwa, exactly?

North of Galle but south of Colombo, Hikkaduwa is one well-positioned surf town. It sits facing the Indian Ocean as the Sri Lankan coastline turns northwards. It’s wedged between two coastal lagoons and fronted by almost a kilometer of beachfront. The main A2 highway runs right through the middle of town. That might bring traffic, but it also ensures the whole resort is easy to reach. From Galle you’re looking at a 35-minute drive. From Colombo, it’s more like two hours.

All the top Hikkaduwa surf spots

There’s a nice mixture of different breaks to pick from on the 1,000 metres or so of shoreline that’s occupied by Hikkaduwa. Generally speaking, going north makes things trickier. Meanwhile, the southernmost sands of Narigama are blessed with the better beginner breaks. In these parts, keep an eye out for SW swells and easterly offshores.

North Jetty

Head to the harbour area of Hikka to find the ever-popular North Jetty. It holds up to overheads with nice long left that punch directly across the shallow reef. There’s a regular crowd here so don’t expect to be surfing alone. On windy days, the wave will get mushy, which makes it a fun little ride across the front of the open shoreline. It’s probably an intermediate pick.

Benny’s

One of the go-to spots in Hikkaduwa for the more experienced surfer is Benny’s. It’s named – like so many of the breaks in Sri Lanka – after the guesthouse that stands right next door. Expect a relatively deep coral bottom with a left-hand peeler. The classic point break can hold up on the bigger swells of more than 1.5 metres. Good consistency.

Narigama Beach

Also known as Sunbeach (again, after one of the local hotels), Narigama should be your first port of call if you’re looking to ride your first wave. It’s a light, mellow beachfront break with lots of local infrastructure – good rentals, great schools. Expect crowds – and a total kookfest when it’s a little rough, but nothing on par with Weligama.

Owakanda

South of Hikkaduwa itself but still less than 20 minutes in a tuk-tuk (board strapped to the top, of course), the point at Owakanda is a great escape from the crowd. Here, the buildings thin out and there are just a handful of lonely little guesthouses facing the sea. But this could be Lanka’s next big thing, thanks to a beach and reef break that are largely suited to beginners. Check it out on good swell days when the Jetty and Benny’s are packed to bursting. Little localism. Hardly any crowds.

Main Reef

Consistent but battered by the elements, the Main Reef at Hikkaduwa is an exposed but fun spot with A-frames going both right and left. It’s usually left for the experts, but we can’t see why intermediates looking to step up to the reefs don’t make an appearance. The rocks are deep below and there’s usually good vibes.

Hikkaduwa surfer

The best Hikkaduwa hotels for surfers

There are loads of reasons why Hikkaduwa has become a mecca for Sri Lankan surfing. Colombo locals flock down to its beaches from the capital to hit the waves because it’s nice and accessible. International surfers are drawn by the mix of open beach and reef breaks. Families love it for the chilled-out vibes and top hotel options. In fact, there’s somewhere to stay for all sorts of travelers. Check it out:

Lucky Elephant ($$$)

Pricier than a lot of places in the area, but worth it for the kicks is stylish Lucky Elephant. The little extra you have to pay goes on luxuries such as stunning sea views, sleek room design and a large refreshing pool right by the ocean. The price includes continental breakfast.

Booking.com

Hikka FnR Villa ($$)

Located right by Turtle Beach is this newly renovated villa. A lovely, refreshing pool sits in a leafy garden for post-surf chills. Inside, Hikka FnR Villa has comfy, relaxed rooms. The place is reasonably priced with a tasty breakfast included.

Booking.com

Jasmine Garden Beach Guest House ($)

Great location and value are what this place is all about. All rooms are air conditioned and face the sea. Jasmine Garden Beach Guest House is just a short stroll away from the mellow waves of Narigama beach.

Booking.com

A guide to the Hikkaduwa surfing season

Anyone looking to surf Sri Lanka should be aware that there are, roughly speaking, two seasons. They each see the best waves grace different sides of the island. For Hikkaduwa, it’s especially important because the seas will simply be too rough to ride during the monsoon. AKA: Essential reading below…

November-April

The high season in Hikkaduwa brings the nice S-SW swells and easterly offshore winds to bear on Hikkaduwa surf spots. It makes the beaches and the jetty breaks all glassy and lovely. It also means the weather is at its Sri Lankan best. In fact, regular days of clear skies and sun are the norm, especially in December, January and February. We’d say budget travelers might do better opting for March or November – rates tend to be lower for hotels and surf classes then.

Rash vest

May-October

It’s probably not worth you lumping the board down to this corner of Sri Lanka at this time of the year. In fact, Hikkaduwa surf spots all but shutdown for the summer months. The south-west monsoon kicks in and churns up the Indian Ocean like it’s a mango smoothie in a blender. The waves are unpredictable, periods go to shit, and onshores are common. Basically, you’re better off heading to the east coast for Arugam Bay.

Rash vest

Surf shops in Hikkaduwa

Being one of the main spots to hit the waves in all of Sri Lanka, Hikkaduwa has no shortage of gear shops. Most of them are also within easy walking distance of the beach front. Nice.

Dylan’s Surf Company

Rash vest, fins, wax, boardies – everything you need is on the racks at Dylan’s. It’s an official stockist of big brand names like Billabong, Roxy and Quiksilver, so you can rest assured that quality is assured. You can also drop in to organise surf lessons and board rentals. Convenient location on the main Galle Road.

Salty Swamis

Part café, part surf shop, Salty Swamis is one of the top stops for gear in Hikkaduwa. The retail area is something of a breath of fresh air for an island that’s quite short on genuine high-quality surf outlets (surprisingly). It’s got epoxy boards, shorties, performance boards, and longboards, all designed with the surf Sri Lanka has to offer in mind. Also check out the cool eco tees, hats, and accessories.

Hikkaduwa beach

Where to eat in Hikkaduwa

Put it this way – you won’t be going hungry in Hikkaduwa. With decades of hosting beach lovers to its back, this town has plenty of places to dine. They range from slick international cafes with creative burgers to local curry joints. Some we can recommend are:

Salty Swamis…again

Yea, Salty Swamis really is worth a double mention. Out in the chilled café area, you can settle in to enjoy homegrown Sri Lankan arabica beans. For breakfast, it’s dosa breads right next to banana toast and poached egg on avocado. Lunchtime brings in the Yogi burgers and miso-infused poke bowls. Drinks range from fruit-packed smoothies to simply divine concoctions of papaya and lemongrass and king coconut. Just don’t miss it, okay guys?

Neela’s

Neela’s is right on the beachfront, so good views are certain. It’s actually been there since the very first days of Hikkaduwa’s popularity. The name of the game is fresh fish caught by local fishermen. That’s served alongside some tasty Sri Lankan usuals: dals, coconut curries, fresh fruit salads. You should try to jostle for one of the seats on the sand beneath the shade of a coconut palm. Cliché, perhaps, but lovely.

Things to do when you’re not surfing in Hikkaduwa

Hikkaduwa isn’t just for those who want to surf Sri Lanka’s southern coast. It’s also a place for chilled beach days, diving, and enjoying fine seafood…

Laze on Narigama Beach

Narigama Beach runs for hundreds of metres right alongside the bustling Galle Road. Above all, it’s what turned this corner of Sri Lanka into a mecca for R&R. Expect sunbeds by cocktail bars. Get ready for shimmering blue waters and swaying palms. It’s quintessential Indian Ocean stuff, even though the cleanliness might be lacking here and there.

Narigama beach

Hikkaduwa Coral Sanctuary

Just off the coast of Hikkaduwa’s main beach is a protected swathe of Indian Ocean coral. The reef’s in relatively good condition, especially considering the booming popularity of the resort. Get out there with the snorkels in tow and you’ll spend your day in the company of sea turtles, brain sponges, and parrotfish. The best part? This one’s probably best explored when the sea is calm and there’s no swell rolling into those Hikkaduwa surf spots!

Hikkaduwa Coral Sanctuary

How to get to Hikkaduwa

You can easily hop on the main railway line at Colombo to get to Hikkaduwa. The town is served by regular trains that take about 1.5 hours in total. You can expect to pay in the region of 260 LKR for the ride, and boy is it a fun way to travel! We’d always recommend booking in advance, however. The trains will fill up.

Buses run to and from Galle all day long. That’s the nearest city, about 20 minutes’ driving to the south. There are also regular buses that come in from Colombo, taking between four and five hours (see why most people go for the train?).

A private transfer is probably the best way to arrive if you’re bringing the surfboard straight from the airport. Those usually cost in the region of 8,000 LKR ($41) – but remember that’s for the whole car, not per person!

How to get around Hikkaduwa

Thankfully, most of Hikkaduwa is walkable once you’re in town. The stroll from the top end of Narigama Beach to the Jetty breaks is about 20 minutes. However, you don’t have to brave the bustling Galle Road to get between the two. You can do the trip on the beach itself – great views and plenty of cocktail pitstops en route, folks!

Of course, tuk-tuk drivers will always be at hand for when you do want to explore a little further afield. Most notably, they can take you south to the uncrowded beach breaks of Owakanda for a few hundred rupees.


Have you got anything to add to this ultimate guide to Hikkaduwa surf? We’re always trying to update and change the information – otherwise, it would hardly be the ultimate guide, right?!

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