Sri Lanka is home to two Marine National Parks, one of which is the Pigeon Island Marine Sanctuary. The Pigeon Island Marine Sanctuary extends up to 471.4 hectares in total of which 9 ha cover the landmass and the rest encompass the coral beds which is the border line of the Marine National Park.
The Pigeon Island National Park is 312 km from Colombo and can be reached by travelling via the Puttlam-Anuradhapura-Trincomalee Highway. The estimated travel time by car is 5 hours 55 minutes.
The name Pigeon Island has come about after the hundreds of endemic Blue Rock Pigeons that inhabit the island. It is situated in the Eastern Province, north of Trincomalee, one kilometer off the Nilaveli coast; a stretch of beach known as the most beautiful in the island.
The Pigeon Island Marine Sanctuary is aa unique natural phenomenon made up of two Islands called the Large and Small Pigeon Islands. It was designated as a Marine Sanctuary in 1963 and was selected as a National Park in 2003. On entering the Island visitors can see hundreds of Blue Rock Pigeons, an endangered species nesting and breeding amongst the rocks.
The Large Pigeon Island possesses a 200m long and 100m wide coral reef with over 100 species of exquisite corals making it an unmatched live coral reef, unlike any other in Sri Lanka. It is considered an ecosystem high in biodiversity and a socioeconomically important reef habitat whose vegetation consists mainly of Acropora spp., Montipora spp., Faviddae, Mussidae and Poritidae coral species; this is in addition to soft corals such as Sinularia, Lobophyton, and Sarcophyton. This coral rich habitat surrounded by a maze of smaller islets and rocky outcrops in the vicinity of the Small Pigeon Island has made it a favourable feeding and breeding ground for over 300 species of coral reef fish creating a colorful underwater symphony. The fish species include juvenile and adult Black tip reef shark, in addition to a number of endangered and protected fish species such as Bi-color cleaner wrasse, Raggedfin parrotfish, Humphead Wrasse, Mellon Butterflyfish, Black wedged buterflyfish, Moorish idon, Blue ringed angelfish and Emperor angelfish. Interestingly there are also visiting sea turtles such as Hawksbill sea turtle, Green sea turtle, Leatherback, Loggerhead and Olive Ridley amongst other varieties of interesting vertebrates and invertebrates. This underwater fantasy is a piece of heaven for those interested in scuba diving, snorkeling, & surfing.