Bentota is located 64km south of Colombo in the South-western coastal belt of Sri Lanka. CMB Colombo Bandaranaike Airport at Katunayake – Negombo being 37km north of the city of Colombo, Bentota is approximately 101km south of the airport.
Bentota can be reached by the Colombo – Galle main road (A2) as well as the Colombo – Galle – Matara Southern Railway line. While the railway line from Negombo to Colombo mostly runs through inland, the continuation of the track from Colombo to Matara passing Bentota, hugs the southern coast most of the time enabling you to enjoy the pristine tropical beaches that pop up in between.
Just across the Bentota Bridge over the River Bentara also called the ‘Bentota Ganga’ is the coastal town of Bentota. Bentota is a very pretty rural area: the greenery of the landscape needs a special mention. Most of the land is well shaded and sheltered by tall trees with coconut palm trees dominating the landscape.
Importance of Bentota
Bentota is famed as the prime beach resort of the south-western and southern coastal belts of Sri Lanka. South of the city of Colombo, the city of Kalutara with its fine beach is the gateway to south western and southern bay beaches. Kalutara is the next popular beach after Bentota. The Beruwala Bay Beach that is found just before reaching Aluthgama at the Bentota Bridge and Bentota Bay Beach just over the bridge are the most popular twin beaches along the coast. The coast towards the further South too is replete with lovely topical beaches making it ideal for a perfect beach holiday with the sun and sand.
However, the Bentota Bay Beach, being encompassed within the Bentota National Holiday Resort Complex that features a fully-fledged support and serve infrastructure, is the most popular beach resort of Sri Lanka. With an array of luxury hotels, facilities and amenities for the foreign tourists, Bentota provides the perfect location for extended holidays by the beach. Furthermore, for the lovers of water sports, Bentota, in addition to its pristine palm fringed beaches, brings in more pleasures nowhere else to be found.
Calm seas during the season from November to April make Bentota Beach ideal for snorkelling, diving, sailing, wind surfing, water-skiing and deep-sea fishing on a traditional outrigger canoe. Bentota enriched with safe swimming conditions in the season combined with fun water sports and exciting excursions that set up an ideal background for a relaxed holiday in Sri Lanka, is an attraction for families. Accommodation options at Bentota ranges from 5 star luxury resorts to midrange and budget properties.
Bentota National Holiday Resort Complex
The Bentota National Holiday Resort Complex, constructed according to a design by architect Geoffrey Bawa in the 1970s, occupies the strip of land between the Galle Road and the Colombo-Galle-Matara railway track and is home to a range of luxury hotels, shopping arcades Railway station, Post office, Banks, a Tourist Information Centre and other stalls providing services to holiday makers. Since the establishment of the complex, it has been expanded to cater to the growing demands of the increased tourist traffic to Bentota. The shopping arcade houses a chain of shops selling drums, masks, handmade lace and many more. The open air theatre regularly stage shows of folk and mask dancing.
Bentota River, Bentota Lagoon and River Bentara
River Bentara, the legendary river at Bentota, flows into the Indian Ocean forming a lagoon at the last section of the river. The River Bentara and the lagoon set up the widest array of water sports among all the beach resorts of Sri Lanka. Jet-skiing, windsurfing, parasailing or enjoying a romantic river safari along the clam waters are some of the activities that are well known in the area.
On the northern end of the Resort is the Bentota estuary formed by the broad Bentara River that flows into the Indian Ocean.
Bentota Bay Beach
Bentota Bay Beach resort that lies sandwiched between the turquoise waters of the sea and the lagoon is endowed with a stunning landscape of greenery and exceptional recreational facilities. Bentota is the most popular location for romantic weddings; it witnesses hundreds of weddings of locals as well as the foreigners’ year in and year out. Bentota is also a well known honeymoon destination, once again to Sri Lankans as well as foreign nationals. At the northern end of the beach, is the long and narrow estuary called “Paradise Island”. At the southern end is the pristine palm fringed broad beach.
Renowned as one of Sri Lanka’s most popular beaches, Bentota affords a myriad of opportunities to water sport enthusiasts to enjoy with swimming, body-surfing, diving and a range of water sports at the river and lagoon as well as along the Bentota Beach.
Diving at Bentota Beach
The waters are usually delightfully warm; a range of scuba diving and snorkelling stores are found in the vicinity, while the majority is operated by industry certified professionals holding the PADI certification providing equipment, assistance and guidance to diving enthusiasts. Bentota is a true dream destination for the die-hard divers.
Bentota‘s principal dive site is Canoe Rock, where you will find sandy areas as well as sections with coral formations. Divers have the option of diving from a boat or straight from the shore, with the former being more popular and perhaps more exciting. A night dive is a good option for the enthusiast who craves adventure. However, the majority of diving operators take supplies of pure oxygen with them to counter the risk of decompression.
Take a short boat trip offshore to dive over the coral reefs, grab a snorkel and mask to paddle your way through tropical fish, or take advantage of the lively breezes on the west coast from December to March to windsurf. If speed is one of those cravings of yours, then Bentota offers jet ski and water-ski opportunities on the lagoon.
Hotels at Bentota Bay Beach
The estuary at Bentota and the mainland is replete with international star class hotels and boutique hotels while also providing tourists with all sorts of water sports by the beach, lagoon and river.
Shopping at Bentota
The Bentota town as well as the Shopping Arcade which is located within the Bentota National Holiday Resort Complex feature a plethora of shops and stores that enthusiastically engage in trading a wide variety of products: Batiks, traditional masks and handicrafts, hats and clothes, brassware and wooden ornaments, semi-precious and precious gem stones of Sri Lanka are at the front line.
Excursions from Bentota
Induruwa, which is located immediately south of Bentota with its offshore reef is another safe swimming beach.
Kosgoda Beach located 8km south of Induruwa beach is home to a community based turtle hatchery and turtle watching project set up by the Turtle Conservation Project (TCP) in association with the Wildlife Department of Sri Lanka. There are only 7 species of marine turtles in existence and Sri Lanka is visited by five of them – the Green Turtle, the Leatherback, the Hawksbill, the Loggerhead and the Olive Ridley.
Galapatha Buddhist Temple
The historic Galapatha Raja Maha Vihare Buddhist temple at Bentota contains stone inscriptions, stone carvings, pillars, ponds and troughs from the medieval period.
Located 11km inland from Bentota, Brief Garden is designed in a concept similar to that of Japanese gardens. It is a creation of late Bevis Bawa, a famous landscape artist. The estate, which was formerly a rubber plantation, today is a combination of a garden and open-air museum. Many sculptures by Bevis and other artists can be seen at this magnificent eco-park spreading over 5 acres.