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Pigeon Island National Park – Home to the Best Remaining Coral Reefs in Sri Lanka

Welcome to the Pigeon Island National Park – Sri Lanka

Pigeon Island National Park

The Pigeon Island National park is one of the marine parks, located 1 km off the Nilaveli coast, the Trincomalee District, of the Eastern Province Sri Lanka. It extends up to 471.4 hectares. Total of which 9 hectares cover the landmass. The rest covers the coral reefs and which is the borderline of the National Park. Some of the best coral reefs of Sri Lanka remain in this park. In 1963, it was named as a sanctuary to protect birds. Also, in 2003, it was upgraded as a national park in Sri Lanka.

It is a popular tourist destination in Sri Lanka. You can use the Pigeon islands for your recreation purposes. The park is an ideal spot for surfing, SCUBA diving, boat rides, and snorkelling.

Pigeon Island National Park

There are two islands here, called large and small pigeon island.  In the large island, you can see the coral reef. It possesses about 200 m long and 100 m wide with over 100 species of exquisite corals. Also, you can see the rocky areas around the small pigeon island. This national park locates within the dry zone of Sri Lanka. The annual rainfall is during the North-eastern monsoon season from October to March. The ideal time to visit the park is from April to September.

Also Read: 12 Best Honeymoon Places in Sri Lanka

History of the Pigeon Island National Park

During the colonial era, the park has used as a shooting practice ground.

The name of Pigeon Island derives due to the hundreds of endemic Blue Rock pigeons. They have inhabited there. Once you enter the Island, you can see hundreds of Blue Pigeons nesting amongst the rocks.

Pigeon Island National Park

Pigeon Island National Park Map

Pigeon Island National Park Map

The Pigeon Island National Park has situated about 312 km from Colombo Sri Lanka. You can reach by traveling via Kurunegala-Dambulla-Habarana-Trincomalee way and or the Puttlama-Anuradhapura-Trincomalee Highway. I think that we had taken around 6 hours to travel there by car.

If you are a foreign traveller, you can land at Sri Lankan Colombo airport. From there you can fly to Nilaveli airport. Also, you can take a night train as low a low cost.  But due to the night travel, you will mostly miss the beautiful scenery of Sri Lanka. If not, you can use the day train or rent a taxi for a bit more money.

Flora and Fauna

Pigeon Island National Park

You can see over 100 species of coral and 300 coral reef fish in this area. Also, you can commonly see the Blacktip Reef Sharks, Sea Turtles in the shallow coral areas. In the reef areas, there are some extensive turf algae. Also, you can see some restricted fauna from the reef.  In addition to that, you can see there are three species of globally endangered marine turtles at the reef. Moreover, Pigeon Island is home to several species of birds.

Coral Reefs

Pigeon Island’s reefs are a part of the extensive system of marine habitats in the Trincomalee. You can see over 100 species of coral and 300 coral reef fish in this area. These coral reefs were not affected by the mass coral bleaching event. So that, those are the healthy live best coral reefs remaining in Sri Lanka.

Coral Reefs

Leisure Activities

Pigeon Island Beach

Pigeon Island beach

There is a beach on the large pigeon island and the small pigeon island. In there, you can see plenty of sea life and coral reefs. There are some coral cuts on the beach. So, make sure you wear your slippers when you walk.

Snorkeling

Pigeon Island is an ideal spot for snorkelling. You can start easy and safe snorkelling from 1 ft to 7ft in the water. You can witness a variety of Marine Life, colourful fishes, and coral reefs under the water. Sometimes you have a chance to see blacktip sharks and large sea turtles. If you like snorkelling, make sure to bring snorkelling gear or rent some snorkelling gear. Also, there are some restricted areas. So, we recommend you to take support from a guide while you book the boat trip.

Deep-sea Dives

There are various packages for safe dives for children at Pigeon Island. You have so many chances for deep and night dives with underwater photography with an experienced guide.

Boat Ride

Pigeon Island Boat Ride

The boat ride from Nilaveli beach to pigeon Island will add colour to your journey. According to your preference, you can use it as a speedboat ride. Also, you can enjoy swimming on the other side of the island.

Windsurfing

If there are waves at the Pigeon island beach, you can be Windsurfing there as another secondary activity.

Fishing

You can take a chance to see the many traditional fishing techniques in this area. There are fish traps as well as seine nets use for fishing in this area. So, you can have a better experience regarding traditional fishing techniques in this area.

Places close to Pigeon Island National Park

Koneswaram Temple

Koneswaram Temple

Koneswaram temple is one of the closest points, which you can reach about 40 minutes’ drive from the Pigeon Island National Park. You can see an ancient Hindu temple locates on the top of the hill and a large statue of one of the Hindu gods. You can see that the inscriptions belong to the 17th century.

Koneswaram Temple
Koneswaram Temple

This place is a calm spot to take a rest during your journey. In the evening, you can enjoy the breeze and take a great view of the Indian Ocean.

Koneswaram Temple

Kanniya Hot Springs Well

Kanniya Hot Springs Well

The Kanniya Hot Springs is another place which you can reach just 35 minutes’ drive from Pigeon island. There are seven hot water wells with a slightly different temperature. People believe that this healing power can cure illness. Also, there is a myth among the villagers. They believe that King Ravana has created these wells for his mother. That place will be an ideal place for a bath.

Kanniya Hot Springs Well

Pigeon Island National Park Entrance Fee

To reach the Pigeon Island National Park, you should rent a boat from Nilaveli Beach. It will be a 15 minutes trip to the island. The entrance fee for Pigeon Island visiting will vary according to the number of people in the group. We went there as a 10-person group. However, our total cost for the trip from Nilaveli to Pigeon Island is approximately Rs. 12 000/=, including one guide and two boats. In addition to making sure to buy goggles and other swimming equipment before getting into the boat. The cost of the one equipment set is around Rs.500/=. You have to pay Rs.400/= and Rs.250/= as an entrance fee for both islands separately.

Best Time to visit Pigeon Island National Park

Pigeon Island National Park Boat Service

You can visit the Pigeon Island National Park in the summer and winter seasons. Nilaveli is an ideal place from May to October. In this season, you can enjoy the calm sea with bright weather. This time is the best time for water sports. According to the Sri Lankans, the ideal time to visit the Pigeon Island National park in June.

Pigeon Island National Park

Pigeon Island National Park Hotels

The venue is less crowded from November to April. But the sea is slightly rougher. However, that is also the best time to visit. The Pigeon Island National Park is open for you every day from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

There are many hotels and guesthouses available in the Nilaveli and Uppuveli area. If you prefer to find accommodation close to Pigeon Island National Park, you can use booking websites to find the best hotels as you wish.

Pigeon Island National Park Hotels

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