Pigeon Island National Park

Pigeon Island National Park, Nilaveli: Hours, Address, Pigeon Island National Park Reviews: 4/5

Pigeon Island National Park

Pigeon Island National Park
8:00 AM - 5:00 PM
8:00 AM - 5:00 PM
8:00 AM - 5:00 PM
8:00 AM - 5:00 PM
8:00 AM - 5:00 PM
8:00 AM - 5:00 PM
8:00 AM - 5:00 PM
8:00 AM - 5:00 PM
Suggested duration
More than 3 hours
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Detailed Reviews: Reviews order informed by descriptiveness of user-identified themes such as cleanliness, atmosphere, general tips and location information.
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1,193 reviews
Very good

Isuru & Maria Jay
Colombo, Sri Lanka12 contributions
Our visit to Pigeon Island was an eye opener! we were amazed by the beauty of this place and would definitely visit the island again! It truly is a national treasure!

To reach the island you can catch a speed boat from Nilavali beach, it will cost you Rs .2400(LKR) which is inclusive of the boat ride and your basic snorkeling gear. An entrance ticket of Rs. 300 (Local rate) can be purchased from the office based at the entrance to the beach. Its recommended that you arrive at the island around 9 -10am in order to make the most of your day.

Pristine white shores and lush greenery welcome you after a short boat ride of less than 10 minutes. Get your diving gear on and jump in! You will be greeted by cool wares and a few friendly exotic fish. Make your way to the depths for a better view!

PS. You don't have to be a professional diver to experience this, but it is recommended that you can swim. If you can swim , don't fret! On request you can find a guide that will help to experience the waters with a life jacket and float.
Written October 25, 2021
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.
Thank you very much for your valueble comments visit again
Written January 11, 2022
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of Tripadvisor LLC.

Sue F
99 contributions
We went to Pigeon Island through one of the guys on the beach next to our guest house - we paid 7000 for the two of us to go - this included the national park fees (which I think was more than 4000), some water and coke in a cooler and some indian snacks and fruit. We could choose our own departure times. We went at 8am on a weekend - definitely go this early if you can - we were one of the first on the island but later it got crazy busy with sunbathers(???) and families just swimming. We had our own snorkeling gear and the fish were fantastic - saw an eel almost as soon as I got in the water. Really stunning. We came back at 11am but if we'd realized in advance how good it would be, we would have taken books and more food and made more of a day of it. A must do!
Written August 14, 2012
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

Princes Risborough, UK54 contributions
I was puzzled by the contradicting reviews of Pigeon Island with some rating it 1 and others 5. So here's the explanation:
1. The bay where everyone heads to is small, massively overcrowded (00's of people) and any coral within 20 metres of the shore has been destroyed. Anyone who doesn't past here will rate it 1 out of 5
2. However, once you get past this there is some pretty decent snorkelling. The best coral was to the right as you face the sea so head over there and go out a bit further and there is plenty to see. I've done plenty of diving and wouldn't be unhappy to see this on a dive.
3. There is also good fish life here, we saw a Black Tip Reef Shark close up as well as the usual mix of tropical fish.
4. On the side where the boats come in there is a cordoned off area where they are trying to re-grow the coral and you can see an entire bed of new coral. There is a rope surrounding the area that you can use as a guide - there were very few people here compared to the main bay. It's good to see what the Sri Lankian authorities are trying to do here.
Written August 18, 2018
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

Moehrendorf, Germany193 contributions
That sounds rude, I know.

It is my first time, that I would have liked to give less than one point, but that's not possible....

I have already been there in 2013. Even six years ago it was not the "hidden gem" anymore but it was not too crowded and one could believe that the guards of the national park might be there to protect the enviorment.

But now it's 2019.

Masses of tourists were brought to Pigeon Island and it's a challenge to get into the deep water, fighting against arms and legs, paddeling like mad, you can see that there much to much people that doesn't know how to behave in the water or just how to move in the water. We got away from the entrance point as quick as possible and in the deeper water it got better.

Yes, you might see fish. We saw at leat 7 black-tipped-Reef Sharks one Turtle...nothing to complain, one could say.

And we saw tourists that entdered the inner, strictly protected part of the reef, went on swimming while guards were yelling at them, finally climbing the top of the reef and walking on the reef top.

Yes, I complained. I complained why there are no guards that really take care, complained why there are signpostings indicating the fee that is to be payed when someone destroys parts of the reef....but the guards of the so called national park are here to get the entrance fee and to organise the landings of the ships, not to disturb the paying tourists.

No, there are no regulations you have to obey (of course there are, but nobody cares about it).

Yes, there are certain tourists that didn't know how to behave, not really able to control themselves, needing life vests to be protected from drowning, well equipped with long sleeves and gloves that made it easy to touch and finally to walk on the reef.

I really felt angry and disappointed when leaving that island. You might feel the same, if you would go there. Better stay somwhere else...at the beach, at a bar, in the bed....it's your choice...but better avoid a ttrip to Pigeon Island!
Written August 30, 2019
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

Alexander K
Haarlem, The Netherlands24 contributions
There is absolutely no coral. A least not the coral that is alive... Damn..... So sad to snorkle around a graveyard of dead corals.
No matter what the locals tell you (they really just want to make money after all) there is NO CORAL. Many retards write reviews about how pretty the snorkeling was, are you blind?
For the uneducated ones: What you see there are some rocks, dead coral, homeless fish and tons of plastic waste.
At the ticket office they hardly speak English so very little explanation about the situation. Parkrangers at the island itself also do not speak a word of English (very handy for a tourist spot) so why the hell sell this place as a coralhaven?
A conservation disaster we call this. I hope they close it down and protect it so it can perhaps one day recover.
Please do not go there. Don't support this.  You'll see more plastic waste then fish.
Written March 8, 2018
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

Heiko L
Amsterdam, The Netherlands146 contributions
tldr: Most dead, some tourists are idiots, the government has to step in!

This is a tough one. We are almost as guilty as anyone else who keeps on going to this place to add to the destruction.

First things first. You can get there either by a tour operator anywhere on a surrounding beach. Tickets to the park cost 2300, gear and boat depends on how you negotiate .. but you can also get all in price of 3500 (standard) and perhaps 3000 if you are good. Per person, of course.

Visibility was acceptable. It is not so polluted (at least I did not see it), as some make it to be. The boats all come through a (by now) corral free corridor and land on the beach. You go snorkeling from there and walk a few meters across the island to the second spot.

The first is where you will see sharks. I saw at least a dozen. Plus some other fish. Sometimes also turtles, but I did not see them. There are a few living corrals still left, but not many. Some area is behind a line and I think you are not supposed to go in there. Some corrals are still alive behind the line and the water is really shallow ... so if you are not very careful you could damage the few remaining corrals. Unfortunately, this is neither told us nor enforced or anything. So we saw many people swim in there, some literally standing up in the shallow water, probably standing on top of the corrals. This is heartbreaking and makes me very angry. And also feel guilty for fueling this industry myself.

On the other side of the island, there are hardly any corrals left. You'll see more fish (and more colorful as well) ... and some big corrals that are not really that colorful ... but that is it. So not sure what the point is. I think if you want to see some more you have to swim around the island .. but since the whole trip is just 2 hours on the island, you do not have the time for that (plus, after 2 hours you cool out).

So, would I do it again? No! I have seen it and I am sure there are other areas with nicer corrals that are actually preserved. The visit left me with mixed feelings. I mean, I saw sharks and lots of interesting fish .... and some live corrals ... but many dead ones, stupid people behaving like idiots and no one who cared about that. For the money the government makes here, they should protect the island much better.

If you made it till here, thanks for reading I hope I was helpful to your decision making.
Written September 28, 2016
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

Eric W
2 contributions
We went to pigeon island today. We were really shocked when we arrived. The whole island is full of people and boats. Around 11 I counted like 27 boats and probably 200-350 people. When we went into the water we realized that the reef was totally broken by all the people. Because they just walk over the corals. You don't get any briefing how to snorkel carefully. I'm wondering what they're doing with the entrance fee of around 12$ per person. It seems that it's not used to build an infrastructure and a sustainable tourism. We got a really bad conscience that we went there. I can't recommend anybody to go snorkeling there.
Written July 19, 2017
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

30 contributions
There are a plethora of operators taking people to Pigeon Island from around the Trincomalee and Nilaveli area.
They only seem to care about the money. Price appears to be around 3,000-3,500 rupees, depending on operator and location.
This includes the national park entry ticket... However, when we went with one of the operators from Trincomalee, they did stop at Nilaveli 'for the tickets', but I didnt see any exchange happen.

No briefing was given on the boat. This is ridiuclous and explains how some of the visitors behaved and why the site looks as it does.

In a national park where people are going snorkelling, good operators should be briefing their guests, a little on safety, but mostly on what NOT to do while snorkelling and visiting a national park.
There were total muppets STANDING on the coral, the worst offenders for that were actually Locals, and telling them to get off the coral just resulted in oblivious stares and head bobbing.
People should be reminded about using their fins correctly, and not bashing them around while bobbing vertically in the water and crashing them against the corals also, plenty of people were guilty of this.

The operators allowed people to "swim" in life vests AND lifesaver rings. Not ocean/pool floaties, they were actually swimming with the life saver ring from a boat around them. Utterly ridiculous. Those are rescue materials, not toys.

People were smoking in the National Park beach arwa, and dropping their cigarette butts in the sand. Another thing that should not be permitted in a protected area.

The Government needs to step in, and they need foreign help with how to run a National Park as the Sri Lankan operators dont seem to have a clue or give a darn.

The Island is quite small and you will likely be pointed to two areas, one on the opposite side from where you land - full of dead coral, mostly colourless aside from the fish, which you will see more of if you swim further out and away from others.
On the same side as you land, there is a area marked with a rope, people were swimming both inside the rope amd around it - no instructions were given regarding this and no one seemed to care what anyone got up to on the island or in the water.
On this near sode, there are more live corals, particularly if you swim away from where the more timid and often careless stand-on-coral people are, slightly less fish but more black-tip sharks spotted here.

Overall, I enjoyed a lot of what I saw once away from most others, but it certainly isnt the most amazing snorkeling I've done, and there is a distirbing amount of dead coral which is only going to increase as no one seems to give a crap about ensuring the site is visited with care.
Written May 21, 2017
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

Christo C
Colombo, Sri Lanka60 contributions
Very disappointing visit. Even though we produced our local driving licences that prove we have local residency the ticket office refused to give local rates and charged us as foreign tourists. I'm sure most Sri Lankans who visit Europe would be horrified if they were asked to pay more because they are not local.
Shame as the snorkelling was amazing but the day ruined by blatant racism by the man in the picture below.
Written May 5, 2015
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

London, UK13 contributions
We’ve just returned from an early morning snorkelling trip to Pigeon Island and we were horrified at the numbers of tourists able to visit at the same time. We got about 15 mins on our own then suddenly the hoards arrived!
There were no patrols to stop people standing on coral at the far side of the island. As a result most of the coral is dead. The side where one is supposed to see reef sharks was tourist soup.
Whilst we understand many people need to make their living from taking boat loads of tourists to this park, if we keep disrespecting nature this way there’ll be nothing left to see soon.
Written August 5, 2019
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

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  • Sun - Sat 8:00 AM - 5:00 PM
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