Hikaduwa was our next stop in Sri Lanka. I picked it on our quest for diving with whales but found out we missed the season by a few weeks. After our less than impressive diving in Unawatuna we decided not to dive in Hikaduwa and just to hang out.
There is a nice beach area at we were lucky enough to be at the point of it around 5:00 when the large turtles come to shore to feed. We couldn’t believe our luck when we walked up and there were about 10 5′ turtles hanging out looking for food. For a dollar or two you can buy some seaweed and feed these beautiful turtles yourself. It was so incredible to watch them in the water and then to feed them. They were friendly but competitive with each other for food. There are locals around to make sure you don’t hurt, or touch the turtles, they want you to just let them move around you and be as natural as possible. Every time we touch creatures in the ocean we take a risk of hurting them and also causing them to get sick from our bacteria etc. (If you want to feed the turtles they come in at around (9:30 am and 5 pm everyday by the Cinnamon hotel).
We also took a drive, about 20 minutes outside of Hikaduwa to an amazing turtle hatchery and sanctuary. On our way back our tuk-tuk driver stopped in front of this gorgeous Buddha statue. He was so proud of how beautiful it was, how it was standing in a very unique position for a Buddha, and to tell us the story of how it was a donation from a famous Japanese artist after the tsunami in 2004. The Buddha was HUGE and stood proudly on a small pond looking out at the water. It was a beautiful white color which reflected the gorgeous island sun.
Next to the temple area was a little tsunami museum, Tsunami Honganji Temple. J. didn’t want to go in because the sadness of it is so painful for him. I did go in to give a donation and to see the pictures. I met these two sweet men who work every day to greet visitors, maintain the temple and the little one room museum. They each have a tragic story of their own, one losing his wife and child in the tsunami. It is very important to them to honor the people who passed by sharing the stories of that terrible day. The walls are covered with images which are so devastating and heart wrenching I was left wondering how the survivors managed to go on. I couldn’t help but cry a little at the pain and loss but mostly about the incredible resilience of the community. The stories they told of love and loss and help and support were incredible. They remember each country who helped with such fondness and gratitude.
At the end of my visit one of the men took white string and tied it around my wrist, gave me a blessing and said a little prayer. It was the most beautiful gift, and I wear it still with honor.
Hikaduwa had a special feeling to it, maybe because of what they have endured or just because it is in a special place in Sri Lanka. We really enjoyed our time here. The Sri Lankan people were so sweet, and friendly we just couldn’t get enough of them.
There are some cute shops in the area, a great art gallery and a wonderful restaurant Aroma to eat! We stayed at a little villa we found on Airbnb and loved it!
Make sure you stop and watch the fishermen who fish on sticks in the ocean. It is absolutely incredible to watch their balance and skill!
As we left we were lucky enough to stop at a temple over the water in Matara where we were blessed by a monk for the Sri Lankan New Year. He also took the white string and tied it around our wrists. The string is a symbol of living a long and happy life full of blessings. I still have mine on, I am afraid if I take it off I am cursing myself, lol.