Bentota is a resort town on the beautiful beaches of Sri Lanka’s southwest. It is a place for surf, sand and sun. The long Bentota Beach stretches north until it meets the Benthara river mouth and lagoon, where water sport lovers flock together in search of adrenaline. This sandy strip of beach between the sea and the Bentota lagoon is popular as the “Paradise Island”. Further north beyond the Benthara River is the famous “Golden mile”. A fine strip of palm fringed sand in the small town of Beruwela, with a collection of high-end resorts. This long line of blessed Sri Lankan beaches are a perfect resort destination for all ages, simply because of the diversity they offer. From the sleepy hideout beaches of Southend Bentota beach (Also known as Induruwa beach) to the Barberyn lighthouse near the upmarket resorts of the golden mile beach, Bentota resort town has something for everyone.
Over the years, the year round calm waters of Bentota lagoon gained fame as the water sports capital of Sri Lanka. All sorts of water sports are carried out at Bentota lagoon and nearby seas. The most popular ones are water-skiing, jet skiing, speed boating, sailing, windsurfing, canoeing, lagoon boat trips, banana boating, deep-sea fishing, snorkelling at Barberyn reef and scuba diving. Canoe Rock is a great scuba diving site full of corals at Bentota. The Bentota lagoon boat rides are a popular excursion to take to see mangrove forests and do a bit of light birdwatching.
On the northern banks of the Bentota lagoon is the small town of Aluthgama town, where locals come together for daily affairs of Southern life. It is a lively place with tons of merchandise and colourful Sri Lankan markets. Nearby Beruwela fishing harbour and fish markets are a chaotic experience that is not to be missed. Towards the landside are the fruit and vegetable markets, which tend to look like explosions of exotic colours.
Nearby villagers around Aluthgama market town, make their living by making handicrafts and engaging in local industries. One of the industries popular with tourists is the coir production. Some factories offer tours inside their workshops to display how coir rope is made by processing coconut husks. The amount of work put in to make coir products is amazing. Another important way to make a living for the locals are the colourful wood carved traditional masks. They are used for Sri Lankan dancing and traditional rituals. They masks are believed to have the power to chase away evil spirits. The devil masks of Sri Lanka are a popular souvenir with tourists as well. Just like all Sri Lankan market towns, Aluthgama market is a place to experience Sri Lankan culture and colours. It is a place not to miss.
Away from the adrenaline packed Bentota lagoon and Aluthgama’s colourful markets, the Induruwa beaches at the south end of Bentota beach are also important nesting grounds for sea turtles. A number of sea turtle conservation centres operate along the beach to ensure the safety of sea turtle nests. Altogether, five sea turtles nest in Sri Lankan beaches. They are the Green turtle, Leatherback, Olive Ridley, Hawksbill and Loggerhead. Nearby Kosgoda beach is the best place to spot sea turtles in Sri Lanka. Also near the Induruwa beach are toddy tappers who risk their lives to tap toddy, which is an alcoholic beverage made from the sap of coconut flowers. The toddy tappers at Bentota use a couple of coir ropes to string coconut trees together and simply balance themselves on it to switch between trees. It is a unique experience to watch them at work and fresh toddy is also the sweetest.
Many of the villas and resorts around Bentota share common features of architecture. This is because Bentota and the surrounding areas were the experimental training grounds of the world renowned architect, Geoffrey Bawa. The most impressive of his buildings are his own home at Lunuganga known as the Bawa gardens. His brother Bevis Bawa also designed the Brief gardens near Aluthgama town. Many of his buildings are now boutique hotels around Bentota and Bentota beach hotel is the most popular one.
One of Bentota’s best kept secrets are its well established Ayurveda facilities. Ayurveda is an Indian form of medicine that predates western medicine. It is still widely practiced in Asia for its long-term effectiveness and fewer side effects. Bentota is famous for both soft Ayurveda and intensive Ayurvedic treatments. Soft Ayurveda include herbal massages, steam baths, oil massages and herbal cosmetic treatments.
As you can see Bentota is a place of diversity with a little bit of everything. One can easily spend a whole holiday lost to the beautiful beaches of Bentota.