Kristina and I are super excited because in one month we made it past UAE, Nepal and India and are currently at the 4th country of our trip which is Sri Lanka! We are glad we have been able to escape the noise and craziness of India but most importantly – we are finally on the coast of the Indian ocean. We both enjoy diving, snorkelling and surfing and we are glad we can give all of those activities a try here. I have just booked myself on a diving trip during which I will be exploring two shipwrecks* local to a southern town of Hikkaduwa in which we are currently residing.
*The first one is Conch which is an impressive 3555 ton (3225 metric tonnes) oil tanker which sunk in 1903. Built in 1892 it was one of the oldest steam-powered oil tankers in the world. I am not entirely sure about the second one but I think it is likely to be the Earl of Shaftesbury which was a sailing ship from 1820s. I will write a separate post (with pictures) once I come back!
In the meantime Kristina will have some uncontested time to our mask and a snorkel so she can keep looking for cool fish while I am away.
We have already done some snorkelling around Hikkaduwa coral reef in the last couple of days and saw some colourful fish. A massive parrot fish has definitely been the highlight of the day (my GoPro froze the moment I spotted it so I have been unable to take a good picture of it just yet!). Banner fish and trumpet fish are common here too along with a few types of others. I am told by the locals you can also see turtles by swimming a bit further into the ocean during the swell, but we have not had any success with that yet.
The reef starts literally meters away from the shore and continues for several hundred meters into the ocean, but you can see a lot of various types of fish within the first 30-50 meters. The good thing is that you don’t need a boat to reach it. In my opinion even having fins is unnecessary. As a matter of fact, not having fins can play to your advantage because coral reef is really close to the surface and it is extremely easy to damage it if you are not careful.
In the 20+ hours of snorkelling we have not spotted any sea urchins, lionfish or scorpion fish so it is reasonably safe to snorkel here too. Just be careful and not touch the corals too much. You can bruise or cut yourself easily and it is not great for the marine life too.
It really upsets me seeing people swimming around and carelessly stepping on corals and damaging them with their fins. It happens all the time here and it sucks. The reef has been affected by the tsunami in 2004 and I can definitely tell tourism is not helping it recover.
Other than that, it has been a good opportunity to properly try out the GoPro and take some pictures underwater. I hope you like the results.