Pigeon Island National Park is one of the two national island parks in Sri Lanka. The park is located about 1 km from Nilaveli beach which is a very beautiful beach. The park covers 471,429 hectares and is not only a sanctuary for various marine species, coral reefs, and marine life but also a testament to the harmonious coexistence of terrestrial and marine environments.
Ranked 17th in the list of National Parks in Sri Lanka, this place is one of the best snorkeling places in Sri Lanka. So in this post, we are going to share with you information about the attractiveness of this island park.
What is Pigeon Island National Park?
Pigeon Island is popular for its unique geological formations and colorful marine life. the entire national park is made up of coral reefs, measuring 200 meters in length and 100 meters in width. The best coral reefs in Sri Lanka are located around this island and that is the best reason for this island being famous among local and foreign people.
Its name derives from the impressive population of Rock Pigeons that inhabited the island long ago. Encompassing both land and sea, the park is a treasure trove for land, marine ecology, and snorkeling enthusiasts.
The pages of history reveal that the Island served various purposes over the centuries. Initially used by local communities for coral mining and fishing, it transitioned to being a naval base during the colonial era due to its strategic location. It was later declared a maritime sanctuary in 1963 and subsequently, in 2003, elevated to the status of a national park to protect its rich biodiversity.
Situated a mere kilometer off Nilaveli Beach, Pigeon Island’s formation is an outcome of uplifted coral reefs. This geological phenomenon not only offers a captivating landscape but also fosters diverse marine habitats.
Surrounding Marine Environment
The waters encircling the island are teeming with life. The coral reefs, acting as underwater gardens, harbor a kaleidoscope of marine species. Snorkeling or diving here is akin to stepping into a different realm, surrounded by parrotfish, reef sharks, and vibrant coral polyps.
Biodiversity and wildlife
The island’s ecological diversity extends from its terrestrial wonders to the captivating underwater world, showcasing the interconnectedness of all life forms.
Terrestrial Flora and Fauna
The island is home to a variety of bird species, including the rare white-tailed sea eagle, and the terrestrial ecosystem is a small example of dry evergreen forests.
There is a wonderful world under the sea. The coral reefs are home to an amazing variety of fish and Hawksbill turtles and green turtles glide gracefully through the water. Furthermore, Blacktip Reef Sharks and rockfish are commonly seen in this region.
Activities and Attractions
The abundance of activities available in Pigeon Island National Park will satisfy the interests of any nature enthusiast.
Snorkeling and Scuba Diving
Coral reefs are a playground for snorkelers and divers. Exploring the underwater topography, swimming with idylls, and spotting hidden creatures make for unforgettable experiences.
Best Time To Visit
The best time to visit Pigeon Island National Park is from late March to November. Nilaveli is amazing in summer. You can enjoy the calm sea with beautiful bright weather. If you are looking for some water sports, summer is the best time to visit. According to locals, the best time to visit is in June.
Access to the park is by boat, and arrangements can be found at Nilaveli Beach. The short journey to the island sets the tone for the adventure that lies ahead.
The ticket is about $15. And boats and the rest of the gears you have to rent yourself and the boat would be $15 and snorkeling gears is around $4.
While the island doesn’t offer overnight stays, nearby Nilaveli provides various accommodation options. From budget-friendly places to upscale resorts, there many types of accommodation options are available for everyone to choose from.
How do you get to Pigeon Island in Sri Lanka?
The famous Pigeon Island National Park is located just 1 km off the coastal town of Nilaveli in Eastern Province. There are many different ways to reach the town.
you can take a night train to Trincomalee for as low as 10 USD. The day train is around 30-40 USD and shows you more of Sri Lanka. Then can take a taxi or public bus to Nilaweli Beach. And then hire a boat to go to the national park.
You can find a bus to Trincomalee from anywhere in Sri Lanka. Then take a taxi or Public bus to Nilaweli. Then hire a boat
you can even rent a taxi for a bit more money.
To be carried
- Carry water, food, and other essentials but bring back what you carry with you
- Sun cream and Sunglasses
- Mobile Phone
10 things to follow when going to Pigeon Island National Park
- 1. Those who wish to enter the National Park must present their National ID Card, Passport, or National Driving License at the ticket counter. Otherwise, even if you are a Sri Lankan, You will have to spend more money and buy foreign tickets, so don’t forget your identity certificates to bring
- 2. Please note that the Department of Wildlife Conservation has limited the maximum number of passengers (including children) to 07 persons per boat. Wearing life jackets is mandatory and anyone who refuses to do so will not be allowed to visit the island even if he or she has a ticket. (This does not apply to Wildlife Officers, Coast Guard Officers, Life Saving Guides)
- 3. The Wildlife Conservation Department has prohibited bringing food/drugs/firearms/pets/musical instruments loudspeakers onto the island.
- 4. Carrying and operating drones on Pigeon Island is prohibited without the permission of the Director General of the Wildlife Conservation Department. But You can carry and Operate a Drone with a proper permit. For this, You should get permission from the Battaramulla head office of the Department of Wildlife Conservation and come with the permit.
- 5. Minimize the use of plastic polythene inside and outside the Pigeon Island, make sure to bring back what you carry and dispose of it properly.
- 6. As the Wildlife Protection Ordinance is in force in the Pigeon Island National Park, breaking living and non-living corals located in the water, stepping on corals, and carrying non-living corals on land, damaging fish and damaging the natural environment may be punished. Be careful not to do the above, please inform the wildlife officials as soon as you see such acts happening.
- 7. Marine animals should not be caught, harassed, or fed
- 8. If you cannot swim, seek the assistance of one of the experienced lifeguards
- 9. Children under 6 years old and adults over 60 years old can be carried at your request and it should be done after providing the name and relevant information to the Coastal Conservation Department counter.
- 10. If you see trash on the island and in the water, help remove it
- 11. Always follow the instructions given by wildlife officers and your lifeguard
Both daring explorers and inquiring minds are drawn to Pigeon Island National Park. Remember that each footprint retains the memory of people who treasured and safeguarded this jewel before us as you enter its borders and immerse yourself in its splendor. So remember, It is our duty to protect the Island to ensure that its grandeur remains a number of years of the future.
Frequently Asked Questions
- Is Pigeon Island National Park suitable for families with children?
Absolutely! The island’s diverse attractions, from marine life to historical ruins, offer something for visitors of all ages.
- What’s the best time of the year to witness sea turtle nesting on the island?
The nesting season usually occurs from April to September.
- Can I bring my own snorkeling or diving gear?
Yes. Of course, you can bring your own snorkeling or diving gear, also you may also rent it from local businesses close to Nilaveli Beach.
- Are there guided tours available on the island?
Yes, guided tours are available. they would enhance your experience by providing insights into the island’s history, ecology, and conservation efforts.
- Are drones allowed on Pigeon Island National Park?
No, drones are not allowed on the island to ensure the safety of the wildlife and visitors.