Get blown away!
Updated: Jun 7, 2019
One of the most popular tourist attractions in the area surrounding Dikwella town in the district of Hambantota Sri Lanka, the blowhole or ‘hummanaya’ as it is known in Sinhalese, is quite a sight!
Believed to be named so because of the rumbling ‘hoo’ sound that can be heard just before the water shoots up from the cave, this blowhole is said to be one of the largest in the world. Marked by signs showing the way, the blowhole can be reached with a 15-minute walk from the main road. Parking is available for 50-100 Sri Lankan rupees (roughly 0.60 USD). The walk takes you up and back down a hill, past a few houses where local fishermen live. The ground is rocky and uneven, so mind your footing! Along the way, locals sell freshly caught and fried fish – the perfect snack to accompany the dazzling vistas of the surrounding cerulean waters and rocky cliffs. Once you have purchased a ticket from the little information center at the halfway-point, it’s a 5-minute walk up a shady hill to the blowhole. Tickets are priced at Rs. 20-30 for locals and Rs. 250-300 (-2 USD) for foreigners.
The formation of a coastal blowhole requires a cave adjacent to the sea/ocean with an opening on its roof and waves entering into the cave with force. These ‘sea caves’ or ‘littoral caves’ are formed by natural weathering of rocks and cliffs, along with erosion caused by the water. As the waves rush into the cave and crash against the walls, there is a buildup of pressure within the cave. The almost eerie sound of the water in the cave becomes louder as the pressure builds with each wave, before erupting into an expulsion of a jet of water through the opening on the roof of the cave. Then, nature resets, only to repeat itself in about 10 minutes. As the water shoots up - if you’re lucky and the sunlight is at the right angle- you’ll see the colors of the rainbow at the top of the spray.
Depending on the time of year and the strength of the wind in the area, the height of the expelled water varies. The best results are seen during the season where the sea is rough and winds are strong. For the Dikwella blowhole, the optimal period would be between the months of April and July (June is often said to be the best month). The water column may reach between 20-30 meters (roughly 60-100 feet) during this time. Railings surrounding the area safeguard curious visitors from accidentally finding themselves in the way of the water.
If you’re in the area and it’s the right time of year, then the ‘hummanaya’ is well worth a visit!