Crack into a yummy brekkie after an early-morning surf, chill by the pool then zen out with afternoon yoga, before a scrumptious sundowner to round things off. Barefoot bliss!
– Saskia, last visited in March 2019
One of the south coast’s trendiest hideaways, horseshoe-shaped Hiriketiya Bay is a not-so-secret slice of paradise. Catch some rays, hit the waves and soak up the bay’s famously chilled community vibe – superbly epitomised by Salt House.
Once an undiscovered gem, Hiriketiya – or Hiri, if you’re hip – is now the south coast’s worst kept secret. Its protected shape ensures stellar surfing conditions for 10 months of the year, drawing legions of board-riders to the cove – which, in turn, has led to countless cafés and hideaways popping up along its short stretch of golden sand.
Follow one of the narrow lanes down from the coast road and you’ll emerge from the jungle to find a hidden haven of good breaks and laid-back vibes. And if it’s a chilled retreat you’re after, Salt House has it all: complimentary surf boards, yoga classes, a plunge pool, healthy grub, massage therapies and more. Stay here and you might well forget there’s a world beyond the bay.
Laid-back bedrooms are spread across two purpose-built structures. Salt House, with its adjoining plunge pool, café and yoga shala, is two minutes inland, whilst newer sister hotel Pepper sits closer to the coast.
Stylish individually designed rooms feature big comfortable beds draped with mosquito nets, patterned tropical cushions on inviting armchairs and plenty of natural light. Some also come with desks, space for yoga or meditation, and air conditioning. Nab a ground floor room at Salt and you’ll get a cosy private patio, the perfect place for a post-surf siesta or an evening card game.
Bathrooms are open-sided, so you can shower amidst the palms and spot troops of monkeys swinging from branch to branch.
Families are well-catered for at Salt, with an extra single bed in the Family Garden Room and bunks for two in the brilliant Rooftop Apartment, which boasts a lovely lounge area and balcony overlooking the treetops.
Salt’s guests are also invited to share the rooftop lounge area, whilst those staying at Pepper have access to a communal ground-floor kitchen, as well as a striking rooftop with panoramic sunset views over Hiriketiya Bay.
Check out the group’s most recent addition, Serene Villa, for thoughtfully-appointed self-catering apartments – with a gym and table tennis – just two-hundred metres from the beach.
Café, bar & restaurant
Close to the beach
Complimentary surf boards
Air-conditioning (some rooms)
Drinking & dining
Breakfast is served in the gorgeous courtyard at Salt House, the absolute heart of the hotel. Help yourself to tropical fruit topped with curd and honey, sip a glass of freshly squeezed juice and tuck in to pancakes with eggs and bacon before you hit the beach.
The restaurant is open throughout the day for snacks and superfood smoothies in the sunshine, as well as hearty lunches and dinners. Hide away in the shade of the covered terrace with a cup of coffee and a good book, or gather at the bar for a cracking cocktail.
Treat yourself to a terrific burger and fries, yummy fresh seafood or a superb salad topped with beetroot and feta. Dishes are a fusion of local flavours and Aussie favourites – we’re huge fans of the grilled mahi mahi.
Sit beneath the stars and sip a cold beer in the garden, strings of fairy lights twinkling overhead and funky tunes wafting through the night air. What better way to relax after a day out on the water?
Facilities & activities
Join a morning or evening yoga class in the open-sided jungle shala, paddle in the plunge pool or book a soothing massage with a skilled local therapist.
Complimentary surf boards are also available for hotel guests, and the bay’s a brilliant place to surf – whether you’re an eager beginner or an old hand. Speak to the Salt team to arrange trips to other top surf spots in the area.
Pick up a couple of mementos at Salt’s on-site shop, or stroll around Hiri for fabulous food, creative souvenirs and great little eateries – from coffee spots to roti shops.
Venture further afield to explore Wewurukannala Vihara Temple, to marvel at elephants at Uda Walawe National Park, or to catch an awesome sunset from Dondra Head, Sri Lanka’s southernmost point.
Things we love
• A chilled, friendly vibe: the team are more than happy to whip up a smoothie or organise a three-wheeler to neighbouring surf breaks.
• Forget the world beyond the bay – everything’s right here waiting for you
• Salt House guests are entitled to one free yoga class, and surf board hire is totally free.
Things to note
• Not all rooms are air-conditioned, so double check before you book if this is important to you.
• Swells vary depending on the time of year (see below) so time your visit to suit your abilities.
When to visit
Sri Lanka’s south coast is in season from November to March, but the protected horseshoe shape of Hiriketiya bay ensures good surfing conditions for 10 months of the year. Waves are at their best between August and December; smaller breaks should suit beginners in January and February, while the off-season promises more challenging swell. The island is at its hottest in April (when the pool is perfect for a refreshing plunge). Conditions might be too rough for swimming or surfing during monsoon season (May-June and October-November) – so pack your yoga gear!
Location & information
The journey from Bandaranaike International Airport to Salt House takes around three hours by car on the expressway.
There are also regular bus and train services running from Colombo to nearby Matara (40 minutes away). Travellers can then hop on a local coastal bus or take a trishaw the rest of the way. For more transport information, see our travel tips.