Thomas Hostel

Welcome to paradise style hostel.

blue beach island nilwella sri lanka

WHERE IS HIRIKETIYA?

‘Hiri’ is a horseshoe-bay, jungle rimmed oasis located on the south coast of Sri Lanka, around 180kms from Colombo. It’s a short drive from Dikwella (around 2mins) but is tucked away from the main highway in between Matara and Tangalle.

Hiriketiya is a visually attractive coastal village in Sri Lanka, renowned for its stunning beach, surf breaks, and laid-back atmosphere.

TOP THINGS TO DO IN HIRIKETIYA AND DICKWELLA

SURF, SURF, SURF AT HIRIKETIYA BEACH

hiriketiya surfing

Slowly becoming one of Sri Lanka’s premier surf destinations, Hiriketiya beach is the perfect place to learn to ride the waves or to take your surfing skills to the next level.

Located on a horseshoe-shaped bay with waves rolling in almost all year (10 months in fact), Hiriketiya beach provides a challenge for all grades of surfer.

The smaller swell during the peak season (Dec – Feb) is great for beginners, while the waves are at their best during Aug-Dec when intermediate/experienced surfers can take on the left-handers rolling perfectly into shore.

Beginners’ can still surf during this time, but it’s best to try your luck on the sandier beach break.

Boards can be hired from the water’s edge, and for 250 LKR per hour ($1.50!), it’s an absolute bargain. Be warned though – the waves get very busy from mid-morning to sunset, so we’d suggest surfing just after sunrise.

Also, please remember to use surfing etiquette and respect the locals and their waves.

In our experience, Weligama may be a better place to learn to surf (that’s where we learnt!), although for those with better skills surfing in Hiriketiya Bay is incredible.

SWIM OR CHILL AT HIRIKETIYA BEACH

hiriketiya snorkeling swimming

Not into surfing? Fortunately, Hiriketiya beach is a great place to chill and while the days away.

During our stay, we made a habit of heading down each afternoon to relax, swim, and watch the vibrant Sri Lankan sunsets light up the sky.

The palm-fringed beach isn’t the widest nor the most golden-sanded in Sri Lanka, but the setting is magical and the water clear.

Although surfers fill the bay come midday, there’s always enough room to swim and there are even turtles that swim in the shallows if you’re lucky enough to spot one!

If you’re after a cheap eat, Roti Hut serves cheap roti and coconuts to the left of the beach – although if you’re in a rush, be warned: we did have to wait about an hour for ours!

THE ROPE SWINGS OF DICKWELLA BEACH

Dickwella ropeswing

Whether you like them or not, rope swings (and photos on said rope swings) are a thing here in Sri Lanka, especially on the Southern Coast.

While Hiriketiya beach is spared, nearby Dickwella beach has a number for you to enjoy.

The most popular is at Mahi Mahi at Dickwella Bay beach, about a 30minute walk from Hiriketiya. There are two swings set up here, overlooking a super calm bay perfect for swimming.

We recommend coming at sunset to get the best photos, as well as the best views of another epic Sri Lankan sunset.

Dickwella beach has had many rope swings in the past, but we understand many are no longer in use – if you visit, just ask around and see if they’re back in use again!

BLUE BEACH NILWELLA

sri-lanka-blue-beach

Tucked away in nearby Nilwella lies Blue Beach, a bright-white sandbar that connects the mainland with a ubiquitous palm-filled rocky Sri Lankan outcrop. It’s a photographers heaven, especially from above (via drone), with the unique aspects providing some super cool photo opportunities.

On a calm day, the beach is a wonderful place to relax and enjoy a swim away from the crowds of Hiriketiya beach – just don’t forget to bring some food and water, as the beach has little in the way of amenities.

For divers and snorkellers, the newly created Nilwella Underwater gallery is a super-cool place to explore the unique beauty of Sri Lanka’s aquatic life. The gallery features a myriad of sculptures, structures and artificial reefs, designed to increase breeding grounds for local fish species, and create new coral reefs that encourage tourism.

To go diving or snorkelling, enquire with your accommodation in Hiriketiya.

If you’re into camping, the private island houses a super cool campground – just make sure you get permission (and pay a fee) before camping there.

Where | Blue Beach, Nilwella

A UNIQUE CULTURAL FIX AT WEWRUKANNALA VIHARAYA BUDDHIST TEMPLE

buddhist budha temple

Looking to explore something more than the beaches and breaks of Hiriketiya, our kind Airbnb hosts suggested we spend time at Wewrukannala Viharaya Buddhist temple, 1.5kms outside of Dikwella; “it’s very unique, you must visit” they reiterated. 

Unique is probably an understatement. 

Wewrukannala Viharaya draws visitors from all over the country to see the giant Buddha statue, which at 50m in height, is the tallest in Sri Lanka. However, the most unique (and frankly terrifying) part of the temple complex is the Buddhist hall of horrors, a long corridor illustrated with ghastly depictions of Buddhist hell. 

With each step through the tunnel, we gasped with horror (and a little laughter) as each depiction became more and more shocking. 

Highlights, if you can call them that, including sinners being disembowelled, viciously (and graphically) castrated, sawn in half, stabbed with spears, and being hacked to pieces. 

It takes around an hour to explore the complex – just don’t get locked in the hall of horrors, whatever you do. 

TRADITIONAL CULTURAL EXPERIENCES AT NILWELLA FISHING VILLAGE

nilwella fish therapy

While in Hiriketiya we wanted to get an insight into the traditional way of life of Sri Lanka’s coastal fisherman, so a local recommended we check out Nilwella fishing village, just north of Hiri.

Arriving at 7 am, we watched as wily fisherman slowly returned to the harbour in traditional outriggers, their arrival triggering a frenzied auction amongst wholesalers looking to snap up the morning’s catch. 

It was all over in about 30 minutes, and while it was definitely an insightful experience, it shouldn’t be top of your list of things to do in Hiriketiya unless you’re seeking authentic, cultural experiences. 

Also – be aware that there are many packs of stray dogs around this area, and unlike the rest of Sri Lanka’s strays, these ones were a wee bit aggressive.

HOW TO GET TO HIRIKETIYA AND DIKWELLA

TRAIN

Train travel in Sri Lanka is one of the best ways to travel, and the journey from Colombo to the southern coast is unmissable.

To get from Colombo to Hiriketiya, take the Beliatta train from Colombo Fort station (leaves daily – every 2hrs). You will need to disembark at Wewrukannala station, at which point you can take a tuk-tuk to Hiriketiya (10 mins).

Alternatively, you can take the train from Colombo Fort to Matara (daily, leaves every 2 hours) and then catch a bus to Hiriketiya.

BOOK | Search and book Sri Lanka train tickets here

BUS

Hiriketiya Bay is on the south coast of Sri Lanka, right next door to Dikwella Beach and east of the southern hub of Matara.

If you’re travelling to Hiriketiya and Dikwella from anywhere on the southern coast, we’d recommend taking the local bus to Dikwella (depending on where you’re coming from, you may need to change at Matara bus station), then either walking down to Hiriketiya Bay from there or taking a tuk-tuk the rest of the way.

| The bus from Matera will cost around 100 LKR per person

TUK TUK

Normally, we’re all about taking public transport but on this particularly hot travel day, with our too-heavy backpacks full of gear we were transporting back to Australia after years away, and a desire to get to the beach ASAP, we have to admit we were (pretty easily) persuaded by an absolutely lovely tuk-tuk driver to travel with him instead.

He’d recently rigged up a stereo system, got us fresh coconuts on the way and was just a lovely guy to chat with about all things Lanka, so we’re happy to have splurged.

RESPONSIBLE TRAVEL IN HIRIKETIYA

Hiriketiya is a paradise – maybe one of the most beautiful places in Sri Lanka, and we’re super keen to keep it this way and avoid the pitfalls of destinations like Bali.

Here are a few tips to keep in mind, to ensure that your travels benefit the people, and places, that you’re visiting too:

DON’T USE PLASTIC / REFUSE PLASTIC

Waste and plastic are huge issues in Hiriketiya (as with most of the world). The easiest way to reduce your overall plastic consumption in Sri Lanka is to just say NO!

Avoid buying plastic products if at all possible, say no to plastic bags, and where possible, gently highlight the negative consequences of plastic.

Some of our favourite zero-waste swaps are:

RESPECT THE LOCAL CULTURE

In Sri Lanka, the majority Buddhist culture, as well as Hindi and Muslim are both modest and reserved, so it’s important to be respectful at all times.

In Hiriketiya, that means not walking around the town in your bathing suit – cover up with a sarong or your travel linens (you’ll see signs everywhere for this!). And also keeping it quiet – no one likes a loud tourist, least of all locals.

PICK UP ANY RUBBISH YOU SEE

Although Hiri’s beaches tend to be clean, plastic can wash up on the beaches.

A simple way to help improve the problem is to pick up the rubbish in a tote bag and take it with you to dispose of properly later or drop it off at one of the restaurants or hotels.

Oh, and don’t litter. Ever. Don’t be the problem, be the solution.

DON’T WASTE WATER & ELECTRICITY

Sri Lanka might be a tropical paradise, but it doesn’t mean freshwater is endless. In fact, as the country’s tourism industry booms, so too does the demand for its limited natural resources.

Play your part and reduce your water and energy consumption. Keep showers to a minimum, and turn off electricity when you’re not at your accommodation.

 

Our Inside Pictures

Take a look at some pretty pictures captured by us.

nilwella fishing village
budha temple sri lanka

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