The popular coastal town of Hikkaduwa with its endless sunny skies, white sands and surf has long been regarded as a back-backer’s haven for travellers heading down the coastline. One of its major attractions is the stunning coral reefs which helped promote the town as a top destination for snorkelling and scuba diving in Sri Lanka. Attractions aside, this really is a beautiful reef and unlike the other reefs found along the southern coastline, the coral reefs near Hikkaduwa are the most diverse and easily accessible.
Due to the wide range of bio-diversity among the reefs, it was declared a marine sanctuary in 1979 and later a Marine National Park. The main coral reefs can be found in calm, shallow waters near a lagoon, making it a perfect snorkelling excursion for anyone who wants to attempt it without any previous experience. The reef begins nearby to the fishing harbour and extends out about 4km south. Up to 60 species of coral has been recorded so far with over 170 species of marine life. Tropical fish like angel fish, butterfly fish, snappers, parrot fish and more can be seen frequently swimming among the corals whilst schools of trevally fish are typical found swimming in shallow lagoons along with a few turtles.
The best way to experience the reefs is to go with a guide who can take you to all the best spots along the corals and explain the differences between the vast formations of corals and marine life. If you’re staying at one of the hotels along the coastline like the Cantaloupe Hotels, the hotel will usually arrange a trusted guide to accompany you. For scuba divers, venture out beyond the shallow reef where several deeper reefs and rock formations can be found, teeming with marine life. There are even a few old shipwrecks that over the years have turned into artificial reefs, providing sanctuary for corals and reef fish. The best time to visit the Hikkaduwa coral reefs is between November and April when the seas are calmer and sunny skies are aplenty.
Hikkaduwa coral reef, Img Credit:[Sophie Thomas]
Damon Starky is a creative nomadic travel writer, who is well informed and experienced on a wide range of interests that would connect to the needs of any type of traveler. Google+
Often regarded as Sri Lanka’s most popular safari hotspot the Yala National Park is no ordinary wildlife sanctuary in the island nation. Offering visitors a glimpse of some of the tropical country’s most coveted wildlife inhabitants and its most breathtaking natural surroundings, a safari experience is a must for all visitors based in properties along the South Coast such as Cantaloupe Hotels. Organizing a safari in Yala Sri Lanka is as simple as finding a local tour operator and selecting a safari package while resorts and hotels in the area and the national park itself offer safari experiences to suit every type of traveller and budget.
As the second most expansive national park in the country, the Yala National Park is spread out over 97,880 hectares. Divided in to five blocks, two blocks are open to visitors and have been named the Kumana National Park and the Ruhuna National Park. Having been declared a wildlife sanctuary as early as 1900, the park is famed as the best venue to spot Sri Lankan Leopards and elephants in the wild.
Home to countless herds of elephants, the gentle giants will not be the only mammals safari-goers spot on an outbound excursion in Yala. Housing around 44 species of mammals, the park also boasts the highest density of leopards on the planet. Other frequently spotted animals on a safari encounter in Yala include wild water buffalos, Sri Lankan Sloth Bears and golden palm civets. The red slender loris, toque macaques and fishing cats are among the top wildlife inhabits occupying Yala.
The sanctuary is also home to a whopping 215 species of birds, most of which occupy the designated bird park in Yala known as the Kumana National Park. Some of Yala’s most prized birdlife varieties include the brown-capped babbler and Indian paradise flycatcher while the black-headed ibis and crimson-fronted barbets are also popular bird species occupying Yala. Creepy crawlies large and small are also the pride of the national park which provides a verdant home for 47 species of reptiles including an equal number of endemic species. Safari excursions in Yala can be booked in the form of morning tours or after dark safaris for spotting nocturnal inhabitants of the parkland.
Auburn Silver is a travel writer who has a passion for fashion and a deep interest in admiring new and exotic attractions around the world. Google+