Back in 2015 Hiriketiya Cove was almost a virgin tropical beach – just a beach bar and a couple of B & B places set back among the palms. Sadly, inevitably, that’s no longer the case, such is the draw of a beautiful safe surfing beach embraced by headlands on Sri Lanka’s south coast. Too many of its magnificent surfing beaches are highly exposed, offering waves, but also dangerous rip currents.
Still, despite the cove now being more or less full of people and beach bars (expect to share the surf with typically 30-50 people at any time) we recommend these two fully serviced holiday villas as exceptional places to stay, the larger one, Cove House, sleeping six people, one 25 paces from the beach; the other, Little Cove, sleeping four, a 50-metre walk. Built in Sri Lankan ‘Palladian’ style, and furnished in stylish tropical-rustic chic, they are designed for indoor-outdoor living and can be rented separately or together.
A chef looks after breakfast, lunch and dinner – or whichever meals you choose to eat in; beds are made, the cleaning is done; and a tuk-tuk or car is on hand 12/24 to take you into the local town Dikwella or further afield. In other words, these are private-house hotels, not self-catering. The nearest you get to doing any work is mixing your gin and tonic – the staff having bought you the ice, lemon and glasses.
A few cautions: dogs might bark during the night; midges – almost invisible ones, all the more annoying – go on the offensive from about 5 pm until after dusk; monkeys may cavort – and leave a mess – on the edge of the swimming pool. Your food, though keenly priced, and delicious (especially the warm crab) costs extra, including a service charge of 10 per cent. Service in the beach food places is mostly slow to the point of torture, especially at Blue Bay Chillout Lounge. But who cares about the quibbles (most people will enjoy the monkeys, anyway) when the main thing is the beautiful, gently shelving sandy beach within its cove, offering a non-stop succession of powerful surfing waves perfect for beginners and intermediates (mid beach) to experts (the reef breakers at the W edge). The Australian owner is currently based in New York.