Pigeon Island National Park

Once a shooting range during the Second World War, the Pigeon Island National Park has now become a haven for the traveller yearning to understand what lies beneath the turquoise green seas that border the Paradise Island of Sri Lanka. Enthrall in the vast and vibrant coral reefs teeming with endemic marine flora and fauna, while diving or snorkelling around the island. Considering all its unique features, the Pigeon Island National Park is an exemplary location to witness the natural splendour of coastal Sri Lanka.

Best Known For

  • The Pigeon Island National Park is undoubtedly noted for what lies beneath its surrounding waters, as it is home to a great many species of flora and fauna, including some endemic and rare sea turtles and sharks, making it perfect for scuba diving and snorkelling. However, what lies above the waters too would interest the nature lover, as the island is home to the endangered Rock Pigeon.
  • Another great feature that the park is famed for is the bird’s eye view of the serene Indian Ocean to the East and the tranquil coast of Trincomalee to the West, making it quite the scenic location to just chill and enjoy the view.

Interesting Facts

  • The island park was initially used as a shooting range during the Second World War to train the soldiers in their fight against the Japanese threat.
  • However, in 1963, the island was designated as a wildlife sanctuary due to the sprawling coral species, reef fish and breeding Rock Pigeon.
  • It was in 2003 that the sanctuary was elevated to being ‘national park’ status.
  • The Pigeon Island National Park is really two islands that are naturally connected together by corals and have quite contrasting features.
  • The large Pigeon Island is fringed by a coral reef with over 100 species of exquisite coral reefs. Moreover, it boasts of the highest point of the island that is around 44-metres above sea level, making it quite the observation deck to view the serene ocean.
  • The small Pigeon Island is surrounded by rocky islets and proves to be a major breeding ground for the endemic Rock Pigeon of Sri Lanka.
  • Being home to around 100 species of coral species, many marine animals have taken refuge in them, to be specific, 300 species of reef fish, making it perfect for the nature lover to go snorkelling or scuba diving around the reefs.
  • Some of the more notable species of marine wildlife that can be witnessed in these coral reefs are the juvenile and adult Blacktip Reef Sharks and even many endangered turtle species like the Hawksbill and Olive Ridley.

Times, Seasons and Tips

  • The marine national park in Sri Lanka is open daily from 7.00am to 5.30pm, however, the best time to go snorkeling or diving to the island is in the morning or afternoon.
  • The season generally lasts when the weather in the area is quite hot and when the sea is calm, which typically lasts from May to September.
  • Apart from the initial entry costs, there are a few other costs that have to be incurred, similar to other national parks in the country.
  • The island is accessible only through boat which would cost around LKR 2,000 and could add up if there are more people in your party.
  • Moreover, the scuba gear and snorkelling gear should also be budgeted for, since there are many diving shops that offer rental services on the equipment.
  • However, the ideal way of exploring the marine national park is by organizing through your accommodation provider, since all that hassle of arranging a boat, equipment and tour guide will all be covered.
  • Do make sure you bring footwear, since you will be stepping on coral and could lead to many foot grazes that could get quite nasty.
  • Please adhere to the rules and regulations set forth by the relevant authorities, so no littering of the area.
  • If you do have a GoPro or any other adventure camera, then do bring that along as well.

Sri Lanka may be known for its National Parks, however, taking a closer look into the Pigeon Island National Park really stands out from the usual national parks in the country, as it is not necessarily known for what lies above the island, but what lies beneath it. The Pigeon Island National Park certainly provides a completely different experience.

Title image by: Roshie Kahandawela

Location info



May - September


LKR 3,150
LKR 950

Tickets At

Guided Tour

Sri Lanka Day Tours


Nature and Outdoors

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