Coral reefs can be found along most of the southern coastline of Sri Lanka. However, the reefs that surround the city of Hikkaduwa are perhaps the most easily accessed as well as the most diverse in terms of marine life forms.
The calm and shallow waters surrounding Hikkaduwa harbor a coral reef system composed of more than 60 individual hard coral species. The system is a typical fringing coral reef situated in a sheltered lagoon. Its average depth is 2 meters, and the system extends for more than 2 kilometers.
The large Montipora corals resemble huge cabbages. while the small Acropora corals can be seen extending their spike like branches. There are many other species of branching and table corals, many of which exhibit diverse colors depending on the species as well as the depth they are located at.
The coral reef represents a home for more than 170 species of reef fish. From the colorful angle fish to the parrot fish, butterfly fish, wrasses and snappers, these waters are teeming with life. Schools of juvenile trevally can often be seen swimming to escape predators, finding their way through the mazes stretching over the entire length of the lagoon.
The corals have also become the habitat of several species of turtles, which are incredibly calm and can often be approached by curious snorkelers. Popular dive sites here include the Black Coral Point, Godagala and Kiralagala.