Bentota is famous for its golden beaches, the beach in Bentota is divided to two parts; the north and the south. The northern portion to the back of the southern beach, where the Indian Ocean’s waves meet the Bentota river as it flows into the sea, is otherwise known as ‘Paradise Island’ and is a beautifully sandwiched strip of coast between the river and lagoon and the sea. The more attractive southern part of the beach has large bands of white powdery sand, shady corkscrew palms and curved bays, prime for sunbathing, walking, swimming and other recreational activities. Despite stunning beaches and abundant sunshine, Bentota’s beaches are relativity quiet with a fairly undeveloped oceanfront.
Take a private boat for a safari adventure up the Bentota or Maadu River to explore the preserved wildlife sanctuary and local communities of a predominantly Singhalese Buddhists population. The boat winds through the mangroves and wide - and at times narrow- waterways past tiny islands, local villages, temples and cinnamon estates. Onboard you can observe local rural life along the riverbanks and perhaps stop off for refreshments at a village café, a visit to a coconut factory or a handicraft workshop. Look out for a variety of flora fauna, and a multitude of wildlife and aquatic birds such as herons, kingfishers, water monitors and crocodiles!
Enjoy a private tour led by a prominent scholar of the works of Geoffrey Bawa – Sri Lanka’s most influential and prolific architect, renowned for his pioneering work in blending structures with their natural environment. The tour of Bentota, where the heart of his work is located, includes hotels, private houses and the Lunaganga estate, a laboratory for his ideas over the decades and his most striking achievement.
Release newly hatched baby sea turtles into the ocean under the safety of nightfall. The Sea Turtles Project is a turtle hatchery located along the southern coast close to Bentota. The conservation project was initiated to protect and rescue turtles and their eggs due to their decline numbers. Local fishermen rove the sandy beaches at nighttime and collect turtle eggs, which were once sold to the highest bidder, now the turtle hatchery purchase the eggs from the fishermen. The hatchery then rebury the eggs in the sand and leave them there for 48 days allowing the eggs ample development time before hatching. Visitors to the sanctuary can see huge tanks filled with newly born turtles. The baby turtles are cared for for a certain amount of time until they reach maturity and then are taken to the sea and released at night. At the project visitors will also see recused turtles that have been maimed at sea, as well as have the chance to observe rare albino turtles kept for research.
Stop at a toddy tapper's house and watch as he shimmies up the body of a palm tree, feet bound together by a length of rope. Tappers gather sap to ferment into toddy, a sweet palm wine, or to distill into arrack, a more potent drink. The name for arrack is thought to originate from Arak, a city in Iran, and was spread through the world by Mongol invaders.
The placid waters of the Bentota Lagoon and the surrounding temperate Indian Ocean provide an all year round venue for many water sports such as wind-surfing, canoeing, water-skiing, banana-boating and deep sea fishing. Diving and snorkeling is also enjoyed along the coast around the lighthouse and the northern end of Beruwala beach. Equipment can be hired easily from many local companies, who offer lessons and trained instructors.