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Timings : 8:00 AM - 5:00 PM

Entry Fee : Residents - 350 INR, Foreigner Visitors - 2000 INR.

Pigeon Island National Park, Nilaveli Overview

Pigeon Island National Park is near the Nilaveli Beach in Sri Lanka. This National Park is amongst the 17 national parks in the country, but amongst the only two marine national parks in the entire region. This area is protected due to the aftermath of the 2004 Tsunami, which caused a lot of damage to the marine and coral life. This national park is also known to have the best coral reefs in the entire country! The rocky island is also home to rock pigeons, based on which the national park gets its name.

Diving and snorkeling are two everyday activities done here, apart from safari and hike.

Photos of Pigeon Island National Park

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Things to Do at Pigeon Island National Park

Snorkeling/ Diving/ Swimming
For those who do not know this already- this national park is a marine national park. So, the primary ways to explore the national park are to walk around the land, scuba diving or snorkeling. One may even take beat rides here. You can book professional diving lessons at the nearby shops or ask your hotel to arrange one for you. A typical scuba diving session can cost as low as 2,400 INR to as high as 8,000 INR! The cost of the diving sessions will depend on your number of dives and the timing for each jump. If you are not an enthusiast of diving or snorkeling, the site is also perfect for casual swimming.


Boating/ Speed Boating/ Sailing
While sailing depends on the wind, you can try your hands at boating or speed boating.

Wildlife and Flora
Because it is a marine national park, more than any animals, you will see here over a hundred species of corals and coral reef fishes. The coral reef here is rich in coral life and vertebrates and invertebrates. Sharks, turtles, such as olive ridley, hawksbill and green turtle, there are rock pigeons here to find.

Flora, consisting of coral flora, has over 100 identified species of flora. You might be lucky enough to find some new ones here as well.


There are two islands to explore here- a small and a large pigeon island. Even though the islands are tiny, you will be surprised at how closely you can see the marine life.

Food in Pigeon Island National Park

The nearby restaurants and cafes serve some of the best local Sri Lankan cuisines, which comprises of dishes and curries. The specialty of this cuisine is the use of coconut. Due to the location near the ocean, these restaurants and cafes also serve some of the best freshly cooked fish and other sea-food.

You will also find restaurants serving continental and Asian food here.

Geography of Pigeon Island National Park

The Pigeon National Park is located offshore to the Nilaveli beach. It is only a few kilometres from the beach and can be accessed by road or by waterways. The national park reef is shallow, which makes it an excellent place for diving and snorkeling. The rocky island is home to rock pigeons, based on which the name of the national park was given.

History of Pigeon Island National Park

The name of the national park comes from the rock pigeons that nest here. This region, during the colonial era, was a prime spot for hunting. Even though the Pigeon National Park was as a sanctuary in 1963, it was classified as a national park in 2003.

Due to unregulated tourism in this region, the aquatic and coral life has depleted and degraded considerably. Due to this reason, the area is now closely monitored so that marine life can be saved from further harm.

How To Reach Pigeon Island National Park

There are many routes available to reach here. 

By Air

You can take a flight from Colombo airport to Nilaveli Airport. It takes 1 and a half hours to reach. From there, cabs or taxis and tuk-tuks are also available.

By Rail
There is a railway that connects you from other parts of the country. You can take a night train for as low as 700 to 800 INR. The trains during the day may cost you more, though.

By Road
Rental cars are available from anywhere in the country to the National Park. They are easy to book and convenient as well. You can book your vehicles from any car rental services available there or make arrangements from your hotel. There are options available online, as well. This way you can make booking hours or even days before your travel.

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