Pigeon Island National Park (පරෙවි දූපත් ජාතික වනෝද්‍යානය)

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Size471.429 hectares
Main attractionMarine life, Scuba Diving, Snorkeling

Pigeon Island National Park consists of two small islands off the east coast north of Trincomalee. The island gets its name from the Blue Rock Pigeon, a native endangered bird that lives within the rocks in these islands. The islands were declared a sanctuary in 1963 for the purpose of protecting these birds. In 2003 this area was upgraded to the status of a National Park and the boundaries were extended to include coral reefs around them. The national park is situated 1 km off the coast of Nilaveli, a coastal town in Eastern Province, encompassing a total area of 471.429 hectares.

During colonial oppression, Trincomalee was a highly strategic natural harbour that was valued by all colonial masters. This island only about 20 kilometres away from the harbour, was used as a shooting range by the colonials. Pigeon Island National Park is one of the only three marine national parks in Sri Lanka, the other two being the Hikkaduwa Corel Reefs and Adam’s Bridge Marine National Park.

The two islands are called Large Pigeon Island and Small Pigeon Island. The Large Pigeon Island is fringed by a coral reef and is about 200 m long and 100 m wide. Its highest point is 44.8 m above mean sea level. The small pigeon island is surrounded by rocky islets. The national park is situated within the dry zone of Sri Lanka. The mean annual temperature is around 27.0 °C (80.6 °F). The annual rainfall ranges between 1,000–1,700 millimetres (39–67 in) while most of the rain is received during the Northeastern monsoon season from October to March. During this period the sea is rough and windy on some days. The Navy will not operate their own boats or will not allow the private owners to operate their own boats during these periods. Therefore if you are visiting Trincomalee for the sole purpose of visiting the island, it’s best you have alternative plans in case the boats are not operating due to weather conditions.

The reef here is shallow, making snorkelling almost as satisfying as diving, and it’s home to dozens of corals, hundreds of reef fish (including blacktip reef sharks), and turtles. This is an ideal place to spend your day under the shade of a tree or on the powder-like white sand. The recent surge of tourism has somewhat damaged the corals in the shallow areas by trampling while bathing.

The island has no facilities. Therefore any food and water needs to be carried by the visitors.

A number of Hotels and Guest Houses have opened up along the sandy beaches of Nilaveli since the end of the war. There are Scuba Dive operators based in these hotels who organize dive trips. The National Wildlife Park Office lies at Nilaveli Beach and the entrance tickets to the island are the same as the entrance fee of any National Park in Sri Lanka as shown below. There is a hut operated by the local boat owners association where you could arrange a return trip. Boat operators will charge LKR 3000-5000 for a return trip to the island. These can be organized outside hotel arrangements. The islands are looked after by the Sri Lankan Navy.

The busiest period of this site is May to September due to the weather being the best during this period.

Pigeon Island Ticket Prices

Description (Fees Applicable for Category 1 Park)Price
Local – AdultsLKR 150
Local – Children (6-12 years)LKR 100
Local – StudentLKR 20
Local – Children (below 6 years)FOC
Local – Group Fee (per vehicle)LKR 400
Foreign – AdultsUSD 25
Foreign – Children (6-12 years)USD 15
Foreign SAARC Countries – AdultsUSD 20
Foreign SAARC Countries – Children (6-12 years)USD 10
Foreign – Children (below 6 years)FOC
Foreign – Group Fee (per vehicle)USD 10
Taxes on total cost15%
Entrance Fee per vehicleLKR 300
Ticket Price Schedule as gazetted in 2022

for example, for 2 foreigners with 1 child between 6-12 will have the cost of

DescriptionCost
2 adultsUSD 50.00
1 childUSD 15.00
Group FeeUSD 10.00
Total USD 75.00
Tax (15%)USD 11.25
TotalUSD 86.25

The above costs are for entry tickets for persons as gazetted in 2022. A ticket for the vehicle, as given above, has to be purchased separately.

Payments can be made in USD or equivalent LKR by foreigners. You can call 1919 (government information center) for the latest ticket prices. If you hire a private safari Jeep, the prices vary from LKR 11,000 to LKR 15,000 for a half day (4 hours) based on the park. For a full day, it’s double the cost of a half day.

Ride to Pigeon Island National Park

You can take a tuk-tuk from any hotel to the beach near Pigeon Island. You can buy your own tickets from the Wildlife Department Hut at the Beach. Transport to the island is by boat. A number of Boat services are available on the beach. You can hire a boat from the hut operated by the boat owners. Most boat owners carry few snorkels and you can rent them for a few hundred rupees. There is no requirement to use agents and middlemen for this booking.

There are no time limits to how long you can stay. Generally, 2-3 hours on the island is enough. However the boat rides are overseen by the Sri Lankan Navy and during the monsoon or periods of rough seas, Boats are not allowed to take tourists for their safety. So if the sea is rough, remember there is a possibility that the boat services could be stopped and the visit may have to be cancelled.

Also See

Map of  Pigeon Island National Park

Please click on the button below to load the Dynamic Google Map (ගූගල් සිතියම් පහලින්)
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The map above also shows other places of interest within a approximately 20 km radius of the current site. Click on any of the markers and the info box to take you to information of these sites

Zoom out the map to see more surrounding locations using the mouse scroll wheel or map controls.

Travel Directions to Pigeon Island National Park

The Pigeon Island National Park can be reached through Dambulla and is approximately 280km from Colombo. If you are travelling from Colombo You will have to reach Kurunegala through Kandy Road or Negambo Road. From Kurunegala take the Dambulla – Habarana Road.

Route from Colombo to Pigeon Island  National Park
Through : Ja-Ela – Kurunegala – Dambulla – Habarana
Distance : 291 km
Travel time: 6.30 hours.
Driving Directions : see on Google map

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