Why Pigeon Island in Sri Lanka should be on your bucket List?

Are you planning a trip to Sri Lanka and looking for some offbeat getaways? I have a perfect recommendation for you. Pigeon Island in Sri Lanka is a hidden secret that sways you with myriad charm. More than anything, Pigeon Island is an ideal destination for scuba diving in Sri Lanka.

The eastern coast of Sri Lanka is quite promising as a beach destination. With just 5 hour’s drive from Colombo, you can reach the famous Trincomalee town, which is one of the favorites among beach lovers. The port town is one of the important landmarks in the island nation. The very first impression of Trincomalee is quite refreshing as it gives you a slow beach town vibe with old-world charm at the same time.

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Trincomalee was formerly called Koddiyar, which means “Fort by the River.” The port city is located on a peninsula in Trincomalee Bay, and it is one of the world’s finest natural harbors. Famous for its pristine beaches like Uppuveli, Nilaveli, and Marble, Trincomalee promises the ultimate beach vacation and jaw-dropping sunrise views.


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WHERE IS PIGEON ISLAND LOCATED?

The famous pigeon island is just a few minutes’ boat ride from Nilaveli beach in Trincomalee. Located around 10 km from Trincomalee town on the eastern coast of Sri Lanka, Pigeon Island is easily accessible and a perfect destination for your day trip. Pigeon Island flaunts the best marine life in Sri Lanka. The fragile coral reef of Pigeon Island extends 200m long and 100m in width. The island is one of the only two marine national parks in Sri Lanka.

WHAT IS PIGEON ISLAND ALL ABOUT?

The name “Pigeon Island” was intriguing enough for me to jump into the boat for a day trip. The island was home to a Blue Rock Pigeon, a native endangered bird. That is how the island got its name after the bird. It was in 2003 when the island called the status of a National Park, and the boundaries were extended.

The Pigeon Island national park is a prominent destination with great marine life. It is one of the most captivating islands for travelers, with a white sandy beach, a shallow coral reef, stunning rock formations, a “Shark Area,” and numerous underwater creatures. The island is home to more than one hundred varieties of corals, various reef fish, and different species of sea turtles.

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Central Pigeon Island has two parts, a large pigeon island and a small one. The large pigeon island is where one can enjoy snorkeling and scuba diving and swim with the sharks. The small pigeon island is surrounded mainly by rocky islets. 

The best part of visiting Pigeon Island is that it is well-maintained and well-preserved due to its fragile coral reef and exotic marine life. It makes the island a protected area that is unique in Sri Lanka.

Except for travelers who are interested in scuba diving and snorkeling, you will not see any crowds on the island. That makes it relatively peaceful and offbeat. One can visit the island easily from Nilaveli beach in Trincomalee for a day trip. 

One can just relax and enjoy the island life without indulging in diving. Unfortunately, no accommodation is available, and tourists are not allowed to stay on the island. Therefore, planning your getaway from your hotel or resort from Trincomalee to Pigeon Island is best.

THE BEST TIME TO VISIT PIGEON ISLAND

The best time to visit Pigeon Island is between March to October. The Northeastern monsoon season starts in October in Sri Lanka. During this period, the sea becomes rough, making it impossible to visit the island. The Navy and private boat owners do not operate any boats due to weather conditions. Therefore, planning your trip to Pigeon Island before the monsoon season is advisable to get an unmatched snorkeling and scuba diving experience.

SNORKELING ON PIGEON ISLAND

Pigeon island is the best place to go for snorkeling in Sri Lanka. Swimming with the Black Tip Reef Sharks and different species of sea turtles is one of a kind experience you get on Pigeon Island. The pristine water and shallow coral reef make it quite vibrant as well. You do not need to be a scuba diver to snorkel on the island. Anyone can do snorkeling with a guide on Pigeon Island.

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Before entering the Pigeon Island national park, one must purchase the Entrance Ticket. It includes the entrance ticket to Pigeon Island, boat ticket, and parking fee. For snorkeling or Scuba diving, one needs to pay extra for the guide.

SCUBA DIVING ON PIGEON ISLAND

If you love scuba diving, the Pigeon Island national park is one of the ideal places to experience it. Unlike snorkeling and scuba diving, the diver can swim around the rocks in the island area. You will not get to see the Black Tip Sharks but hundreds of tropical sea fishes like the crown of thorns starfish, scorpion fish, lionfish, sting rays, anemone fish, sea turtles, cuttlefish, squids, octopus, puffer fish, spiny lobsters and more.

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The dives on Pigeon Island are not that deep, and the maximum depth is 10-12 meters. But, due to clear water, the underwater visibility is quite good in this area.

THINGS TO KNOW BEFORE VISITING PIGEON ISLAND

There are several things you should keep in mind before visiting this exotic island in Sri Lanka.

  1. Pigeon Island is one of the marine national parks in Sri Lanka. So, it is essential to respect the rules and regulations of the Island while visiting.
  2.  Since the Island is protected, tourists should stay within the buoy lines and the marked area.
  3.  The Black Tip Reef Sharks are mostly in secure “Shark Area” Tourists can only do snorkeling in this area to have a unique experience of swimming with sharks and tropical sea fishes. SCUBA DIVING IS NOT ALLOWED IN THIS AREA.
  4.  Do not litter on the Island.
  5.  You will not find any shops, hotels, or toilets on the Island.
  6.  Do not step on the corals. They are fragile and need to be protected.
  7.  Pigeon Island has NO ACCOMMODATION options available. The Island is an excellent destination for a day trip from Trincomalee.
  8.  Tourists are not allowed to stay on Pigeon Island after 5 PM.
  9.  The best time to visit Pigeon Island National Park is between March to October.
  10.  Do not plan to visit Pigeon Island during the eastern coast monsoon as the sea becomes rough and weather conditions are not permittable. NO BOAT SERVICE DURING THE MONSOON SEASON.


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11 Comments

  1. ANUKRATI DOSI

    I have never been to Sri Lanka, but Pigeon Island does sound like such a good idea.

    Reply
  2. Clarice

    Wow! This place is beautiful. We’d love to explore and see their marine life. Happy to know that they decided to protect the area. We’d love to go snorkeling and swimming with the sharks sounds exciting.

    By the way, that photo of the sunset is stunning.

    Reply
  3. Natascha

    I travelled in Sri Lanka for 4 weeks in winter. As you write in your post, this is not the best time for the north of the country, so we left this part of wonderful Sri Lanka for another time. Pigeon Island looks like paradise to mee. I would definitely go there for snorkeling and swimming. The south of Sri Lanka has beautiful beaches too, but usually the waves there are very high and I did not want to go swimming or snorkeling.

    Reply
  4. Ossama Alnuwaiser

    Those are some amazing options to do in Siri Lanka. The Nilaveli beach sounds like a place I would visit for snorkeling to enjoy its marine life while swimming offshore. I would love to visit the Pigeon Island national park to enjoy its sandy beaches. It sounds like a scuba diving trip would do the trick.

    Reply
  5. Linda (LD Holland)

    We have not yet visited Sri Lanka and I must admit I would not know were to start our visit. But we love new beach destinations so would have to check out Pigeon Island. We might even see if we can snorkel or scuba dive on our visit. That water looks so clear! But good to know the Black Tip Sharks are in a confined area.

    Reply
  6. Bhushavali

    I can’t believe I haven’t been to Srilanka yet. Pigeon Island looks totally like my time of place. Add the birding destination to it, I should definitely visit here. Are the blue rock pigeons still endangered? Good to know that it is not crowded. You got me at the ‘old world charm’ at Trincomalee topped with a day trip to this island. That’s such a beautiful mix of heritage and nature! Love it!
    Bhushavali recently posted…Sacro Monte di Ghiffa – UNESCO Site of the Sacred Mountains of Alps in PiedmontMy Profile

    Reply
  7. Lisa

    I’ve never been to Sri Lanka, but Pigeon Island does sound wonderful. I’m sure the snorkeling here is incredible, I can see from your photos. March to October is in my mind as a good time to visit!

    Reply
  8. Jackie

    I would definitely want to take a day trip to Pigeon Island from Trincomalee! I love lesser-visited places like this with soft white sand and shallow coral reefs. I think it’s fantastic that it’s a National Park now and the wildlife around the island is able to live in peace, without too many tourists endangering their habitat. I would be content to just lounge on the beach and take in a bit of paradise, but I might give scuba a try, too. Looks like a perfect place to do so!

    Reply
  9. Naeem Yasin

    Sri Lanka is my best place for tour. I have also a travel blog world traveling info but I am very glad to read your article and blog. I’m really impressed from your blog, keep it up, we always will be there. Thanks for sharing such a great travel ideas.

    Reply
  10. Chris

    Sri Lanka is really a top place for a trip if you want to escape the cold winter.

    Reply

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