As many of you may know, I have a slight obsession with turtles, norkelling (snorkelling) and elephants. Hikkaduwa will forever be remembered as one of my favourite places for swimming with turtles. These turtles were so big I could spot them out at sea without having to put my glasses on. They’re such chilled creatures – I love them! Apart from fuelling my turtle obsession, Hikkaduwa was also a great base for exploring nearby Galle and Unawatuna.
Galle is renowned for its UNESCO listed heritage site, Galle Fort. With its gorgeous buildings now converted into high-end stores, jewellers, cafes and guesthouses, it instantly felt like we were walking through the streets of The Rocks in Sydney. It was overcast and raining but I think that added to its charm.
The next day we finally got some sun! We decided to make the most of it and check out some of the beaches in Unawatuna. Our first stop was Jungle Beach. As the name suggests, we walked through a little jungle and over some rocks to reach it. It was a secluded little spot and apart from the local monkeys, we had the whole beach to ourselves. Later that morning people started making their way to the beach so we thought it was a perfect time to check out the next spot on our list, Unawatuna Beach.
On our walk from Jungle Beach to Unawatuna we heard a loud rustle in the bushes. We didn’t think much of it until we saw a giant goanna! It frightened us so much that we forgot to take a picture. We were on edge for the rest of the walk. Even falling leaves made us jumpy.
Unawatuna Beach is a larger and more developed spot. It’s lined with beach bars, restaurants and day beds. There wasn’t much shade so we decided to enquire about one of the beds. All we had to do was purchase a drink – done. Sipping on our watermelon juice and Coke, we spent the rest of the morning laying blissfully under our cabana. After a relaxing hour or so we decided to head back to Hikkaduwa for lunch and one final swim with the turtles.
In Weligama, our homestay owner recommended that we visit the 49th annual Esala Festival of the Seenigama Sri Devol Maha Devalaya. Seenigama was super close to Hikkaduwa so it worked out perfectly – almost. We discovered that there’s absolutely no information about the festival online and everyone we spoke to seemed to know nothing about it. Our host mentioned the dancing and fire show started at around 7pm so we thought we’d get there around that time just in case it was a little later. Shortly after we arrived we found out that the performances didn’t start until 10.30-11pm.
To try and pass the next three and a half hours we walked through the buzzing market stalls on either side of the main road. We then bought a little after-dinner snack and did some travel research. There was a little performance that we ran over to watch but once it finished we looked at the time and only an hour had passed. We gave each other the “I’m over this” face and decided to call it a night. As we walked out of the temple we saw a bus coming our way so decided to run after it and jump on hoping it would stop at Hikkaduwa. Luckily it did.
We spent our last two nights in Colombo and Negombo. In Colombo, Derek decided he wanted to get a haircut and get rid of the beard. He found a little barber shop around the corner from our hostel and by the time Derek finished translating what he wanted, I’d convinced him to keep the beard and just trim it. Long live the travel beard!
Due to his last experience in Ho Chi Minh, Derek was watching this man like a hawk. Back home, Derek always comes home with a complaint about the way his hairdresser did his hair. Surprisingly, he had nothing bad to say about this one, he actually liked it! He said it’s one of the best haircuts he’s ever had. Who would’ve thought that all the way over in Sri Lanka, Derek would get the best and cheapest haircut by a man who could hardly speak a word of English.
And just like that, our month in Sri Lanka has come to an end. It’s been a whirlwind of a trip but we’re so grateful to have seen everything we planned to and more! From religious festivals to stunning hikes and secluded beaches, Sri Lanka has exceeded our expectations; and who would’ve thought that it would make me start to like curry?! We also met some awesome people who we will try and visit during the next leg of our trip. Europe, here we come!