Turtles and Surfing in Hikkaduwa, Sri Lanka

I woke up bright and early eager to start my day.  I wasn’t the only one with this mindset. I watched the waves from 6-8AM while people were running on the sand or practicing yoga with small groups.

This is part five in a series of posts about my trip to Sri Lanka.

Today was the day I planned last minute and had more nerves about than being in Sri Lanka all by myself. The pros make surfing look easy and effortless but I know they are paid athletes.  I’m not a paid athlete – yet! My lesson started at 1pm and I had a few hours to kill.

I did a quick google search and learned that Hikkaduwa is known for their sea-turtle hatcheries. There are two very popular hatcheries where you can see the exact same things so I went to the one closest to my hotel.

I was walking down the street when a tuktuk asked if I needed a ride. Of course I said yes and we were off to the hatchery.  Along the way we passed a huge statue, a beautiful memorial right on the beach, and a temple on an island right off the shore. I get really lucky with taxi and tuktuk drivers when I go anywhere (knock on wood), but this man went above and beyond to tell me everything we were passing and what it meant to the people of Hikkaduwa, Sri Lanka. His name is Sampath; and, I now consider him my friend. He took me to the hatchery and walked through the entire place with me and explained things in more detail than the man who owns the hatchery. As a bonus, he was my photographer! After a few sentences back and forth, Sampath set up a time for me to help release the fresh babies into the water. Great hospitality is real and Sri Lankan’s understand it.

As we drove back to my hotel he told me all of the things I need to see while I’m in town and promised me he would take me anywhere I wanted to go.  I didn’t have a great track record with my last TukTuk driver showing up when he said he would so I didn’t think anything of it.

I went back to my hotel, changed into my bathing and relaxed by the pool until it was time to surf.

Susa was an incredible instructor! I practiced on the sand for about 5 minutes and then we went straight into the water.  I don’t mean to brag, but surfing came naturally to me. I’m decently athletic and I didn’t want to pay 60 bucks to not stand up.  I surprised myself, though.  I stood up immediately.  Grace is not my middle name, but I did stand!

We surfed for hours (4 hours), and I stood up more often than I didn’t.  I felt like Kelly Slater! I thought the waves were huge and I was a champion!

Jokes on me… the waves are not huge. Not even big enough for a 10 year old to boogie board. That was slightly disappointing hours later when I saw the pictures. But while I was in the moment, nothing could bring down my high. I was a surfer babe!

After I got back to my hotel and showered, Sampath was waiting for me in the lobby. What a punctual angel! He took me to the hatchery and we released 7 baby sea turtles into the water.  We were the only ones allowed to do it and it was AMAZING! Surfing was great, but helping increase the dwindling sea turtle population is something words will never be able to explain how beautiful it was. I went home praying that they made it to the coral reefs without any issues and will be able to lay their own eggs one day.

If you think this day was busy, just wait until you hear about how to see the best sights in one full day. Sampath and I had a huge day planned and my camera charged all night to capture the best moments!

1 Comment

  • Barb Hiemenz (Auntie Barb) says:

    Spectacular!!! You are not only a world traveler (of which I am living vicariously through you) you are now a studette surfer chick and a savior for turtles. My list keeps growing with reasons as to why you are and always will be mmfmbn. I love you beyond words and it is an absolute gas to follow your travels through your amazing writing and pictures.

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