After an incredible safari in Udawalawe national park the day before (where we saw elephants, jackals, crocodiles and boars, to name a few), we were ready to set off to our next destination in Sri Lanka. So we waved goodbye to our lodge in Udawalawe and leapt in our taxi. Today we should be driving for roughly 2 hours, heading south towards Sri Lanka's southern coastline.
I was pleased to see that today, at least for now, the sun was out in full-force.
I was super excited to be heading to the coast. Sri Lanka is renowned for its gorgeous beaches and abundance of sea-life under the waves and I hadn't even laid eyes on the coastline yet. As we were here in May which is low-season for south Sri Lanka, the weather wouldn't be as amazing as it could be. But I didn't mind. I was happy to escape the busy crowds for a quieter experience.
Last time we were on the road, we had stopped off at one of the numerous road-side fruit-stalls for some fresh coconut. This experience had ignited a new obsession within me and I couldn't wait to get my hands on one again. I told our taxi driver that I'd love to stop off for a coconut.
Surprisingly, for around an hour, all the fruit-stalls we passed were empty of coconuts. I held my breath in anticipation. It was strange as the other day they were everywhere! Plus all around us were tall, looming palms, heavy with coconuts.
Finally we found a stall with coconuts outside and I could barely contain my excitement.
It was great to have our taxi driver to help us as the locals running the stall don't speak English so he was able to request what we wanted and the stall owner happily started cutting coconuts and gave myself and Lewis a glass which we could drink our coconut out of. Like everyone we had met so far in Sri Lanka, the stall owner was so kind. She wore a beautiful smile across her face. The issue with using a glass for the coconut water instead of a straw was that we had to down our coconuts in a few seconds instead of being able to take them away with us. It was a bit of a mad panic and I accidentally spilt some on the floor!
After drinking our coconuts, we were also able to try some of the coconut flesh which wasn't quite to my taste but I was glad I got to try it.
As I gave the woman her glass back, she grinned and thanked us, her gratitude overflowing. It really is lovely to visit locally-run shops and give straight to the locals.
The drive was an hour longer than anticipated and Lewis and I began to encounter a slight issue. We had both had a full coconut each and the coconut water was going straight through us. We were absolutely bursting for the toilet! It got to the point where we couldn't hold it in any longer so we asked the taxi driver to pull over.
He pulled over on the coastal road, the raging ocean in sight and the smell of the sea entering our sinuses. We took it in turns to wonder down towards the sea, sheltered beside a small palm forest and the large wall of a building. It felt good to be by the ocean again. The blue water was surging and crashing against the rocks beneath us.
Now that was out of the way, we could continue our journey a lot more comfortably.
I knew that our villa was on a little side-road just off from the main road, close to a little beach called Hiriketiya bay. However, finding our villa was no easy task. In fact, we went up and down the same road, veering off down side-roads that were barely footpaths, let alone roads. We stopped numerous people for directions with no avail. At one point, our taxi was driving through deep sand, its wheels spinning out as it desperately tried to reverse.
The houses we passed all looked the same and I saw no sign announcing the villa which was named 'The Corner'. You'd expect it to be on a corner, right? But there was no obvious corner.
Eventually, we were met by a young lad who took us to the villa. I felt embarrassed when I noticed it in fact did have a sign it was just on the small side. In my defence, it wasn't that obvious, okay!
The guy who greeted us worked down at the local beach bar and was the one who was looking after the villa. He gave us the keys and let us know the directions to the beach.
We decided to drop our stuff off and then stroll down to the beach. We hadn't had any lunch so were absolutely starving!
The villa was quaint and had several resident guests. I happily greeted the gecko, trail of ants and chipmunk which lived above the shower. The design of many houses in Sri Lanka is fairly open and in this one there was a gap between the walls and the roof, allowing for nature to take a peek inside whenever it pleased.
A kettle and teabags in our room was a welcome treat! I knew I would enjoy my cup of tea tomorrow morning.
For now, it was time to grab a bite to eat at the local beach bar! I couldn't wait to see the beach for the first time.
Just across the road from our villa was the path to the beach. It was a sandy track sheltered on both sides by leaning palms. We passed several fruit stalls selling local produce. As we walked on, the houses on either side of the track became less and more and more vegetation encircled us. As the sand grew thicker beneath my flip-flops, I noticed some small boats up ahead with waves gently caressing them from behind. We had reached the beach!
Just before the boats was a cute building on our left with welcoming signs. The beach bar! I was immediately drawn in by the sign that announced that they cooked pizzas! Although I adored Sri Lankan cuisine, some home comforts always go down a treat!
We walked through the restaurant and settled ourselves on a little table on the beach. In front of us, the waves crashed gently against the shore and the sea-breeze ruffled our hair. There's something about the ocean that almost sends me into a trance.
Hiriketiya beach is a small bay found to the east of Dikwella beach. The bay is popular amongst surfers as it is home to some 'gnarly' waves that come high due to the curve of the land around the bay. The beach is fringed by forests of lush palms which hang casually over the golden sands, framing the perfect photograph for a postcard home.
Perhaps my favourite thing about this little beach was the fact that due to its tucked-away nature and small size, it is not heaving with people. There was one beach restaurant that was open and along the beach, behind the palms was only a handful of houses, tucked discretely away as to not obscure the beauty of the beach.
There were far more dogs than there were people on Hiriketiya beach. A pack of playful pooches charged up and down the beach, frolicking in the surf and kicking up sand. Several also took an interest in our food and hungrily waited beside out table, eyeing up our salami and pumpkin pizza without being too overbearing.
It really felt like our own secret paradise.
After gorging our pizza and narrowly resisting ordering a fresh coconut, Lewis and I decided to explore the beach and journey to the other end. We were accompanied by several dogs on our travels down the beach.
Waves crashed against pebbles as the tide began to crawl in. The stretch of sand between trees and ocean was gradually shrinking and the sun was starting to clamber down from the sky. Evening was drawing closer and our time on Hiriketiya was coming to a close.
We soaked up as much of our time there was we could. I frolicked in the surf and flew our drone across the bay, much to the curiosity of our new canine friends who sat beside us, watching as we flew the drone. Behind us, through the tangle of palms stood a lonely house, abandoned and ruined. Casting shadows in the evening light, it created an eerie yet electric feel. This was a place where nature was in charge.
The sun setting and our bellies full of pizza, we made our way back to our villa. It had been a great day at the beach and we couldn't wait to see what tomorrow would have in store.