eLanka | Pigeon Island – unique natural marvel By Arundathie Abeysinghe


Ms. Arundathie AbeysingheRenowned as a snorkelers’ and divers’ paradise, Pigeon Island National Park with its powdery white sands and magnificent coral gardens is one of the two maritime national parks in Sri Lanka named after the endemic Blue Rock Pigeons (Columba livia also known as rock dove, rock pigeon or common pigeon) which breed there. Visitors can see hundreds of Blue Rock Pigeons which inhabit Pigeon Island National Park nesting as well as breeding amongst the rocks, a mesmerizing sight. The Island has rock pools and paths that run through thickets. But the underwater landscape is its centerpiece.

Home to exotic species of fish, magnificent coral reefs and abundant tropical marine species,  reef fish including black tip reef sharks as well as turtles, this spectacular island is situated about a kilometer off the shore of *Nilaveli Beach in *Trincomalee. Pigeon Island can be reached by boat from Nilaveli Beach. 

According to scholars, Pigeon Island is considered as an ecosystem high in biodiversity as well as a significant reef habitat. 

Pigeon Island National Park extends approximately to 471 hectares of which about 9 hectares is covered by landmass and the remaining area encompasses the coral beds, the border line of the National Park.

Pigeon Island has two islands, large pigeon island and small pigeon island. Large Pigeon Island is approximately 200 meters long and 100 meters wide and is fringed by a coral reef. Its highest point is about 44 meters above mean sea level. Small Pigeon Island is enclosed by rocky islets. 

Pigeon Island - unique natural marvel By Arundathie Abeysinghe

According to scholars, many of the 100 species of exquisite corals and 300 coral reef fish recorded in Trincomalee area are found in the National Park making it a uniquely gorgeous live coral reef in Sri Lanka. Green Turtle (Chelonia mydas), Hawksbill Turtle (Eretmochelys imbricata) considered as a critically endangered sea turtle and Olive Ridley sea turtle (Lepidochelys olivacea), the second smallest of all sea turtles found in the world are visiting sea turtles in the area. 

The underwater world in Pigeon Island is considered as a piece of heaven by nature lovers.

During the Colonial Era, Pigeon Island had been used as a shooting range. 

Pigeon Island was designated as a sanctuary in 1963 and in 2003 it was re-designated as a national park with the objective of protecting these birds, fauna and flora as well as its coral reefs. Pigeon Island National Park is governed by the Department of Wildlife Conservation. 

Boat services are operated between the mainland and Pigeon Island. Boat ride to the island is a 15 minute ride..

Pigeon Island is a popular destination among local as well as foreign tourists. 

Stretches of white sandy beaches and clear shallow waters is ideal for scuba diving, wind surfing and snorkeling.

Pigeon Island - unique natural marvel By Arundathie Abeysinghe

Distance: About 14 kilometers from Trincomalee

Directions: Travel along Pulmoddai Road from Trincomalee up to Nilaveli Beach to reach the Pigeon Island National Park ticket office.

  • Mahavamsa– “Great Chronicle” or “Great Dynasty” in Sinhala is the most significant work of Sri Lankan origin written in Pali Language.  This Chronicle describes life and times of Sri Lankans from the arrival of Vijaya in 43 BC to the reign of King Mahasena from sixth century BC to fourth century AD. Culavamsa (lesser chronicle) covers the period from fourth century AD to British takeover of Sri Lanka in 1815. Mahavamsa consists of three parts covering a historical record of over two millennia. It is considered as the world’s longest unbroken historical record. 
  • Nilaveli Beach – Situated in the coastal town of Nilaveli, approximately 16 kilometers north of Trincomalee, Nilaveli Beach is a gorgeous sandy beach with waves which are ideal for surfing, snorkeling as well as diving. Nilaveli Beach is considered as the finest beach in Sri Lanka by local as well as foreign tourists
  • Trincomalee – Popular as ‘Trinco’ among locals, Trincomalee is a port city on the northeast coast of Sri Lanka. Trincomalee is situated on one of the world’s natural and beautiful harbors. According to scholars, it may be the site of historic Gokanna as described in *Mahawamsa. 


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