Updated on May 20, 2020
Day 4 of Sri Lanka Trip, Trincomalee on July 14, 2017
Fourth day of our Sri Lanka trip.
Today we were in Trincomalee, where the nearby Pigeon Island National Park was arguably the best snorkeling site in the country. So when planning this trip my friends insisted that we spent a night or two here enjoying water activities.
But it seemed that I never had any luck when it comes to snorkeling. I mean, I can swim, to the extent I can flow on waters without drowning myself, and that’s pretty much it, any more snorkeling is something I can’t handle. So I enjoyed the boat tour to Kekova Islands last year in Kas, Turkey, because the whole point of that trip was to have fun in the water, and I did. I had a terrible time earlier this year snorkeling in Pulau Payar Marine Park, Malaysia, which ended with a cut on my knee. This time in Pigeon Island, I shall say it’s something in between, not too bad that I managed to keep my skin intact (except for the sun burn), and I saw lots of fish, but at the end of the day, it’s somewhat bored to stay in the same bay for half a day, to say the least.
However, our journey to Pigeon Island started from Nilaveli Beach on the mainland, which to many people’s surprise, was a desolate underdeveloped beach roamed by cows. A broken volleyball net was all the beach facilities that’s there. Nearby, newly-built luxury hotels carefully walled off their perimeters so that wild animals won’t frequent their pools. It was, way too third-world for a beach resort.
At least that’s what we saw the day before, when our driver took us to Nilaveli Beach to arrange the day’s trip to Pigeon Island because we didn’t book the trip in advance. This morning the sight was slightly more reassuring, the cows were gone and the coastline were lined with colorful motor boats.
Our driver arranged to get five of us onto the island at 20700LKR, the bulk of which were tickets collected by Sri Lanka Navy (foreigner price, of course). The rest was for boat, snorkeling gear, and life vests that we didn’t need. Not too bad though.
Unfortunately, there’s something wrong with my underwater cell phone cover that day, that there’s always this gap between my cell phone and that cover. The result was that most of the photos I took that day weren’t of acceptable quality. And, although tropical fish were abundant in the water, they were certainly
humancamera-shy. So I didn’t get many great photos that day.
Currents were strong out in the Indian Ocean. But at Pigeon Island there’s this natural bay where waves weren’t so high, which made it suitable for snorkeling. Underneath us there was dead coral reef, guess that’s why there were this many fish down there.
But unfortunately, this wasn’t a very large bay, and the waves out there in open water were strong, so there’s not much exploration to do.
There’s another beach with designated swimming area on the other side of Pigeon Island which faced open water. But unfortunately the currents were strong and waters here seemed to be infested with jellyfish. We called it off when we spotted a baby shark in the water.
So after four hours or so on Pigeon Island, we called our boatman who ferried us back to mainland.
After that, our driver took us to a restaurant in downtown Trincomalee where we had lunch. He said he took some previous guest from China to this restaurant, and they liked it here. Probably because this is one of the few restaurants that kept things not so spicy.
After lunch, our driver recommended marble beach to us. We searched online and found those pictures with crystal bright sands and picturesque sceneries. Although it’s not early in the day, we decided to give it a try.
Well, compared with Pigeon Island which was a resort for the foreigners, Marble Beach was a more local’s beach, as the ticket for five adults and one car was only 170 LKR, something local people could afford.
But one thing’s similar, there’s no marble on marble beach, just like that we didn’t see any pigeons on pigeon island. Besides, Marble Beach seemed to be ran by the military too. We were greeted by soldiers at the ticket checkpoint.
And the water was shallow here, it’s like 50 meters out into the sea and the water was barely over one’s waist. Good for Sri Lankan’s that were usually not so good at swimming.
It’s Friday afternoon, our driver told us that local schools usually have this afternoon off, and they would carry busloads of students to this beach “resort” so that, at the end of the school week, they could have fun.
Well, that’s definitely something my friends and I missed when we were young.
At Marble Beach, I found that there was this group of teenagers very much into this game of stacking onto each other before diving into water.
As for the beach itself, it’s not very ideal for swimming. One thing is that the water was shallow, another was that the seabed was made purely of sand, which just made the water muddy, and that’s not pleasant.
So we decided instead, to make a sand castle.
Unfortunately, we didn’t have any tools other than our bare hands to make this castle. Nor were we good designers.
So we spent about an hour and half at Marble Beach before heading back to hotel.
On our way back, we found this temple parade that block the main road up North to Nilaveli. Although we didn’t know what festival it was or what it’s about, we watched it for some time, before taking a (rather difficult) detour back to hotel.