National Park Hikkaduwa is one of Sri Lanka’s three marine national parks. The National Park includes a highly biodiversity fringing coral reef. The area was declared a sanctuary for wildlife on May 18, 1979, and then upgraded to a nature reserve with an extended land area on August 14, 1988.
Hikkaduwa coral reef is a classic low fringing reef with an standard depth of just about 5 meters (16 ft). Coral reef condenses coastal erosion and by forming a natural breakwater. The coast is by and large small, varying from 5–50 m depending on the year’s weather situation. A common recreation here is scuba diving.
The National Park is positioned in the wet zone and has an annual rainfall of 2,000 milli-meters. The rain comes in from the south-west and north-east monsoons, which take place in April-June and September- November each year. Tourists can visit the national park during the dry season, which is the best season to be here.
The coral reef is dominated by foliaceous Montipora species. There are also encrusting and branching species. Corals of Faviidae and Poritidae are found in huge colonies in the inshore regions of the reef. Staghorn, elkhorn, cabbage, brain, table and star corals are all present in the reef.
The Hikkaduwa National Park was not effected directly by the Boxing Day Tsunami which devastated the Southern and Eastern coastal areas of Sri Lanka. However, the terrestrial debris affected the coral reef to a great extent. The clearing up of the debris was carried out by volunteers after the Tsunami.
Sri Lanka’s coastal region is indeed the best for tourists who want to bring on a tan and bask in the glorious sun as you take in the sounds of the ocean and the gentle slaps of the waves as they come ashore and retrieve with the same gentleness.