Pigeon Island

About a kilometre offshore from Nilaveli, the coral reef off tiny Pigeon Island was formerly one of the east coast’s primary natural attractions. Having been one of the few reefs in Sri Lanka to survive the mass bleaching that followed El Niño in 1998.. 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 , 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.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.

Poseidon Diving School
charge €50 for three people, including equipment and boat, for Pigeon Island snorkelling trips. You can also rent snorkelling gear from
them for Rs 800 per day. Open-water certifi – cation courses are €300, and single dives, to Pigeon Island or elsewhere, cost €30. Poseidon also offers whale-watching trips (per 3 people €130); you need to leave by 6am for the 10km trip.

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