Pigeon Island National Park
Nilaveli Beach Hotel
This reputable resort offers dive (€30) and snorkel (from Rs 2400) trips to Pigeon Island, open-water certification courses (€325) and...
For years Nilaveli has been considered one of Sri Lanka’s most perfect beaches. It certainly has that feeling of paradise-island...
Nilaveli Private Boat Service
The local boatmen’s association has set prices for the Pigeon Island trip – Rs 1500 per two people, Rs 150 per additional person – which...
Lonely Planet review
Floating in the great blue 1km offshore, Pigeon Island, with its powdery white sands and glittering coral gardens, tantalises with possibilities. The island, a breeding ground for rock pigeons, is beautiful enough, with rock pools and paths running through thickets, but it’s the underwater landscape that’s the real star. 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. Going with a guide will cost more, but they’ll be able to point out plants and creatures that you won’t find on your own. They’ll also help you to snorkel or dive less intrusively: although Pigeon Island became a natural park in 2003, there’s not much regulation, and the recent surge in tourism is already damaging the reef and its populations.
The government has an assortment of charges for visiting Pigeon Island: entry fee adult/child US$10/5, service charge per group US$8 and charge per boat Rs 125. Add these up and take 12% of that figure to get the VAT. These are payable at the Pigeon Island National Park ticket office , on the beach, before heading out, though if you go with Poseidon Diving School or one of the hotels, you’ll stop on the way. In addition to the operators listed here, Chaaya Blu in Uppuveli also runs excursions to the island.
Note that the navy base in Trincomalee has a decompression chamber that can (allegedly) be reached by ambulance in 10 minutes.