Sri Lanka’s south coast is dotted with some pretty amazing towns, but it doesn’t get much better than Hiriketiya Beach. This little cove has recently been put on the tourist map as a popular surfing destination for laidback travellers wanting to get away from the chaos and crowds of Weligama.
We took a day trip out to Hiriketiya Beach from Weligama and after just a few hours exploring the area we decided we had to go back and stay a few days! We packed our bags and left Weligama the following morning, checking into our homestay in Hiriketiya Beach where we spent the next 4 nights. It’s safe to say it’s become one of our favourite spots in all of Sri Lanka.
WHAT TO EXPECT AT HIRIKETIYA BEACH
Hiriketiya Beach (or Hiri for short) isn’t exactly a ‘hidden gem’ anymore, but you can expect far fewer tourists than busier places like Unawatuna or Weligama. The vibe at Hiri is ‘sleepy surf town meets European backpacker destination’, making it a really great place for travellers to connect with fellow nomads and make new friends.
1. SURF AT HIRIKETIYA BEACH
The main reason people head to Hiriketiya Beach is for the surf! This small bay is the perfect spot for beginners to dedicate a good few days to really refining their new skills. Surfboard rentals are available all along the beachfront for 500 LKR an hour, and if you need the extra help, lessons start from 5000 LKR an hour.
Full disclosure, it can get pretty busy, particularly around sunset with beginner surfers all vying for the same waves. Prepare for inexperienced surfers dropping in on you, or if you’re looking for a little more peace and quiet, midday is best as most people retreat to the nearby restaurants for lunch.
Surfing and yoga go pretty well hand in hand, so it’s no surprise there are a number of yoga studios and beachside classes to choose from — in fact, a lot of hotels offer combined surfing and yoga retreats. You’re welcome to roll out your mat on the beach, or if you want to join a class, Salt House, Dots Bay House and Jasper House are our top picks. Classes range from 1500-2000LKR for a casual class, or if you’re planning on becoming a regular, there are multi-class packs available.
3. MAHI MAHI SWING
Insta-worthy palm tree swings have taken Sri Lanka by storm, and whilst some are cringey tourist traps, the twin swings of Mahi Mahi in Dikwella are worth the visit. Located directly in front of Mahi Mahi Restaurant about 5 minutes from Hiriketiya Beach, head to the restaurant to grab a drink or bite to eat, watch the waves and snap that perfect swing shot. The best part is, there’s no 500 LKR fee here like the Dalawella Beach swing, just buy a courtesy coconut and enjoy the view.
4. TANGALLE BEACH
Whilst technically not part of Hiriketitya Beach, Tangalle Beach is a must-visit while you’re in Hiri. Tangalle Beach is just over a 30-minute drive from Hiriketiya and is one of the longest beaches in Sri Lanka. Stretching over an incredible 8 kilometres, Tangalle Beach is a peaceful haven with very few tourists and endless spots to lay out a towel and chill out.
Resorts line the beach so you’ll have plenty of options for food and drinks while you take in the incredible views and serenity of Tangalle Beach. We had read on another blog that the sea at Tangalle was glass-like, but they must have gone at a different season because there was quite a dramatic shore break when we visited. If you know how to navigate shore breaks safely, it’s a truly beautiful spot to dive in and cool off.
5. VISIT DOTS BAY HOUSE
More than just a great spot for yoga, Dots Bay House is a pillar of the Hiriketiya Beach community. A trendy hostel, restaurant and bar, surfers, yogis and regular ol’ backpackers can be found at Dots from sunup to sundown, fueling up with healthy meals and refreshing drinks. Located just behind the lagoon on the left side of Hiriketiya Beach, make sure to stop by Dots Bay House after spending some time in the surf and sun.
6. DONDRA LIGHTHOUSE
Dondra Lighthouse marks the southernmost tip of Sri Lanka and is another day trip we recommend you make while you’re in Hiriketiya Beach. Built by the British in 1889, it’s now both a popular tourist attraction and a still-active lighthouse. One of the prettiest lighthouses we’ve been to, it’s surrounded by manicured gardens, coconut trees and remarkably, hundreds of crows.
We went just shy of sunset and the sky was alive with crows, making for a really unique experience. It also meant we weren’t able to fly the drone, but we were content with getting photos from the ground. There’s no entrance fee for Dondra Lighthouse, but the caretakers asked us if we’d like to purchase postcards and mail them from the southernmost point of Sri Lanka. For 200 LKR each, we put a smile on their faces and hopefully our mums’ faces when they receive their postcards.
7. BLUE BEACH ISLAND
Blue Beach Island is one of those places we stumbled upon that completely blew us away. We saw on Google Maps what looked like a sandbar, so we decided to head over there with no real expectations. It’s since become one of our favourite places! The sandbar is formed by two opposing tides, connecting the mainland to Blue Beach Island. The island is actually privately owned, but day visitors are welcome free of charge from 8am – 6pm. If you want to try camping overnight, you can book through this Facebook page.
For such a small island, it has a really diverse landscape. Most of the island is surrounded by huge rocks, but atop you’ll find grassy fields and lush foliage. We headed down to the shoreline and found a sandy cove dotted with bent palms. We were the only foreign tourists but did meet a few groups of locals who only stayed long enough to take some photos. It was awesome to have this secluded little paradise pretty much all to ourselves.
8. MATARA BEACH
Matara Beach is another one of those places we just happened to stumble upon. You won’t find many foreign tourists here, but we thought it was a beautiful spot to watch the sunset. If you travel from Weligama to Hiriketiya Beach, you’ll pass Matara on your way down south.
Matara Beach is directly in front of the bus terminal, and you’ll see a bridge connecting the beach to a small island with a temple on it. You’re welcome to visit the Buddhist temple, just don’t forget to remove your shoes at the entrance. Otherwise, find a spot on the sand and wait for the sun to set the sky on fire.
9. RENT A SCOOTER & EXPLORE
Our favourite thing to do wherever we are is to rent a scooter and just drive. The coastline around Hiriketiya Beach is full of incredible beaches and raw landscapes. The further you get off the beaten track, the more authentic your experience will be. Our best memories are usually made when we have no plan at all.
HOW TO GET TO HIRIKETIYA BEACH
There are a number of different ways to get to Hiriketiya Beach based on your budget. We were travelling from Weligama, which is about an hour away. The cheapest option would be to catch the train to Matara, then hop on a bus going to Dikwella. From Dikwella town centre you can get a tuktuk to your accommodation in Hiriketiya Beach.
Whilst this is the most cost effective way, this isn’t what we did. We hired a tuktuk driver for 3500 LKR to take us all the way from Weligama, because travelling with this much camera gear on a crowded bus just isn’t ideal for us. So, at least you know your options.
HIRIKETIYA BEACH BUDGET
It can be easy to get swindled into spending too much when you’re none the wiser. We’ve put together a handy Hiriketiya Beach Budget guide so you have a rough idea of how much you’re likely to spend as a backpacker in Hiriketiya.
WHERE TO STAY IN HIRIKETIYA SRI LANKA
We spent 4 nights at Indunil Homestay and we can’t recommend it enough. It’s an awesome place for budget backpackers, with clean, comfortable rooms, breakfast included and super friendly service from the family that lives there. Some other good options include Dot’s Bay House, Jasper House and Haven Hiriketiya.
WHAT TO BRING TO HIRIKETIYA BEACH SRI LANKA
Prepare for your trip to Hiriketiya Beach with our must-have travel essentials.
Waterproof backpack & phone case: Earth Pak 35L or 55L Heavy Duty Backpack, IPX8 Waterproof Phone Case Included (click for price)
Quick-dry microfiber travel towel: Wise Owl Outfitters Camping Travel Towel (click for price)
Self-cleaning & insulated water bottle: LARQ Bottle PureVis (click for price)
Snorkel, mask & fins: Cressi Adjustable Mask, Fin & Snorkel Set with Carry Bag (click for price)
If you’re interested in photography and/or videography this is the gear we can’t live without:
Professional camera: Sony a7iv (click for price)
Action camera: GoPro HERO10 Black (click for price)
Drone: DJI Air 2s (click for price)
To see our complete camera gear read this post here.
BEST TRAVEL INSURANCE FOR NOMADS
Don’t leave home without travel insurance! The best part is, SafteyWing’s Nomad Insurance covers the C-word so you can rest assured you’re protected. Click here to sign up. Go on, do it for your mum.