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How will be an evening watching sunset over Indian ocean sitting at a river bank?
Bentota sits on the coast of the Indian Ocean and along the bank of the Bentota River. The name Bentota dates back to a mythical story about a demon named Bem who ruled over the river (tota means riverbank).
You will find all kinds of water sports in Bentota, including swimming, body-surfing, diving, jet skiing, windsurfing, parasailing, and river safaris. Some of the most established beach resorts in Sri Lanka are located here.
But then there’s more than just water sports! Visit the Turtle Hatchery Project, where turtle eggs are protected until they hatch and returned to the sea. Take local excursions to temples, cinnamon estates, as well as nature resorts. Or sign up for yoga and meditation classes!
Things to Do
1. Bird Watching on the Bentota River
Renowned for breathtaking views and exotic wildlife, Bentota River is probably the right place to explore mangrove, lily clad islands, and river banks to watch reptilians, including lizards, snakes, bats, and crocodiles. However, the most beautiful thing to do is to observe eye-catchy birds of different hues that enhance the charisma of the site.
Start your tour in the morning, but first, you need to hire a cruise for Bentota River Safari. A plethora of boats are below the Bentota Bridge, and you can hire any of them along with a guide, of course. Charges can be different according to the number of visitors. The boating tour offers you to watch wildlife and their activities, and especially, birds that make the environment mesmerizing with their melodious voices when the sun rises, and everything seems fresh and calm.
Moreover, you can also hire the services of a private agency, but you will get lifetime memories while discovering mangroves where gorgeous and rare bird species, including Herons and Halcyons, draw tourists from all over the universe. The trip will be safe and secure, so you shouldn’t worry about monitor lizards or crocodiles as they will not harm you. Check out further details for booking your tour to the scintillating river.
- Rating: 4.5/5.0
- Duration: 1.5-3.0 hours
- Cost: 4000-5000 LKR (6-8 people)
- Opening hours: 7:00 AM – 6:30 PM
- Address: Galle Road, Bentota 80500, Sri Lanka
- How to get there: By hiring a tuk-tuk (Rickshaw) or a cab/taxi from your hotel, you can reach the Bridge of Bentota River with ease.
2. Brief Garden
Settled 6.2 miles north of Bentota, Brief Garden, which used to be the home of renowned architect, Bevis Bawa, is now an attractive tourist attraction in Sri Lanka, and it’s a mesmeric stretch of the flawlessly designed scenery. The captivating Japanese-style gardens and lawns highlighting the colonial era of the place are worth exploring.
Well-groomed and maintained, Brief Garden has a lot of shady places, where you can hide from the sun for a while to avoid heat waves. There is also a lovely pond in the yard, but inside the house, you can view even more enthralling things to discover. The beautiful old trees enhance the serenity of the location, and if you want to avoid crowd, make sure to enter the landmark early in the morning. Furthermore, you will find a comprehensive collection of Bevis Bawa’s artwork along with the murals of other artists, too.
- Rating: 4.0/5.0
- Duration: 1 hour
- Cost: 1000 LKR
- Opening hours: 8:00 AM – 5:00 PM
- Address: Kalawila Village, Bevis Bawa, Bentota, Sri Lanka
- Website: https://briefgarden.com
- How to get there: Take a tuk-tuk from your hotel to the garden, and you’ll be there within 20 minutes.
3. Lunuganga Resort
Once the country house of the worldwide recognized Sri Lankan architect, Geoffrey Bawa, who was also the brother of Bevis Bawa, is now an estate, and tourists remember it by the name of Lunuganga Country Estate. Used as a cinnamon estate during the Dutch era in the past; the place later became a rubber plantation site under the British government.
Initiated in 1948, the garden at the estate become Bawa’s experimental laboratory for innovative ideas, and it opened for public in 2003 after the demise of Geoffrey. Moreover, the buildings on the estate are run as a country house hotel now.
Well, the Lunuganga Estate still retains its old charisma, and it has six suites with a fusion of antiques and a contemporary touch, which make the location balanced and beautiful.
The number of garden pavilions, including the Roman and Blue pavilion, are both for relaxation. You can’t visit the building unless you want to stay in the hotel. Moreover, the garden is a masterpiece of architecture with tropical plants, stunning lily ponds, walkways, and breathtaking views that are truly mesmerizing, so everyone should try it at least for once.
Duration: 1-2 hours
Cost: 1500 LKR
Opening hours: 9:30 AM – 3:00 PM
Address: Dedduwa Lake, Bentota 80500, Sri Lanka.
How to get there: As usual, rickshaw would be the perfect choice to reach the destination from your hotel.
4. Kande Viharaya
Because of its closeness to towns of Bentota and Aluthgama, Kande Viharaya (Mountain Temple) enjoys geographical influence, and it’s an impressive temple in Sri Lanka mesmerizes tourists from everywhere in the world for centuries. It stands at the tip of the hill.
The right place for worship with every necessary component of a Buddhist temple, Kande Viharaya of Atulgambadde, founded by respectable Karapagala Dewamitta Thero in 1743, is one of the valuable temples in Sri Lanka.
Today, it is a highly significant landmark for not only the city but for the country, too. With the presence of the bell-shaped Stupa, old-fashioned chamber, Bo Tree, and the Image House, the temple is stunning, and it also has a Sri Saranatissa Memorial Dhamma Hall outside the building.
The overall décor of the temple is incredible because you will see a moonstone on the ground and a stone-made door frame at the entrance of the chamber. When it comes to the interior, the walls and ceiling look striking with thought-provoking murals. Erected in 1731, its Image House has two halls; inner and the outer one. Moreover, a giant 160-feet-tall Buddha Statue in the temple is the pre-eminent highlight of the building, so never write it off of your bucket list.
Duration: 2-4 hours
Opening hours: Daily-24 hours
Address: Kande Viharaya, Aluthgama, Sri Lanka
How to get there: A cab or tuk-tuk can easily take you to the temple as it will take hardly 15 to 20 minutes from Bentota.
5. Galapatha Temple
Galapatha Rajamaha Viharaya, one of the ancient temples in the country, erected in the 12th century, but after Dutch invasion in the 16th century, it faced severe damage. The government of Sri Lanka rebuilt the monument, and what you view today is the renovated version of the landmark.
A stone doorway leading to the temple with two upright monolithic pillars on both sides depict a beautiful architecture. Nari Latha carvings on the pillars enhance the elegance of the building. Moreover, Galperanaya, an archeological object, is a stone water filter made out of stone, and its shape is oval with a mouth at the top.
Famous for the tooth relic of the 3rd disciple of Buddha that buried in the Stupa of the temple, the building has several statues and paintings. The sculpture of sleeping Buddha, a 25-feet-tall statue placed in sleep posture on the ground, grabs the attention of the sightseers a lot.
- Rating: 4.4/5.0
- Duration: 1 hour
- Cost: Free
- Opening hours: 5:00 AM – 9:00 PM
- Address: Galle, Bentota, Sri Lanka
- How to get there: Grab convenient transportation such as a cab or a rickshaw to the temple, which is only 10-15 minutes away from Bentota.
6. Bentota Beach
Stretches across the miles, a very hypnotic and charismatic, Bentota Beach is one of the worth exploring attractions in the city that offers a plethora of scintillating views to the visitors. To enjoy a cozy walk along the bank; this place is entirely incredible.
When it comes to cleanliness, this is a 10/10 beach!
Being a swimming-friendly tourist spot, you can swim and play adventurous water sports such as snorkeling with your loved ones to spend quality time and make sure to hit the land in either morning or evening because afternoon time can be humid and hot. You will also have enough culinary options nearby.
- Rating: 5/5
- Duration: 1-2 hours
- Cost: Free
- Opening hours: 24 hours
- Address: Bentota 80500, Sri Lanka
- How to get there: Hire a tuk-tuk from your hotel, and it will take you to the most stunning beach in Sri Lanka. Bentota Railway Station is also close to the site.
7. Beruwala Light House
Beautifully resided on Barberyn Island, Beruwala Light House is an iconic architecture erected in 1889, and even Boxing Day Tsunami couldn’t shake it from its roots.
Though nobody can visit the inner side of the tower, however, you can still explore the island for a few hours. The bush and palm trees enhance the wildlife beauty of the place. When it comes to adventurous activities, you can discover different species of flora and swimming is also a great option to enjoy your tour.
The Light House is a well-maintained monument in the country, so make sure to keep in mind all the rules and directions while entering the island.
- Rating: 4.5/5.0
- Duration: 2-4 hours
- Cost: 2500-4000 LKR
- Opening hours: 6:00 AM – 8:00 PM
- Address: Barberyn Island, Beruwala, Sri Lanka.
- How to get there: Hire a tuk-tuk to reach Beruwala, where a 5-minute boat ride will take you to the Lighthouse with ease.
8. Hatching Turtles
Nestled south of Bentota, the Turtle Hatchery Park is one of the top-rated tourist attractions in Bentota, and it is more famous among kids. However, adults find this place enthralling and engaging, too.
Out of seven species of turtle in the universe, five are in the park, including Green turtle, Hawksbill turtle, Olive Ridley, Loggerhead turtle, and Leatherback turtle. Plenty of other turtles are also there to entertain the visitors. Moreover, baby turtles will melt your heart with their palm-sized physique and overloaded cuteness.
You must have to be careful while touching the newly born turtles, and yes, you will get to discover about week-old, two-day-old, and even one-day-old babies. The guide will give you highly valuable information regarding the species and the process of hatching.
Never miss a visit to a turtle hatchery if you are with your kids. Never!
- Rating: 4.6/5.0
- Duration: 2-4 hours
- Cost: 2000 LKR
- Opening hours: 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM
- Address: Galle Road, Bentota, Sri Lanka
- How to get there: Rickshaw/tuk-tuk will take you to the place within 20 minutes.
9. Cycling Day Tour in Bentota
Hire a cycling guide; meet him at your hotel lobby in Bentota City, and your thrilling cycling tour in the countryside will start. Continue your ride through the tea and rubber plantation to a Bentota River, and you will need to cross to the other side of the river with the help of local Perry so that you can move with your cycle.
Make sure to view land monitors, bats, crocodiles, and other birds while crossing the river. Take a break and refresh yourself by drinking coconut water, and start your cycling tour through the village.
You will also come accross many other authentic attractions in the city, and will give you a lifetime enjoyment!
- Rating: 4.5/5.0
- Duration: 3-5 hours
- Cost: 4000-5000 LKR
- Opening hours: Morning time
- How to: Hire a cycling tour guide agency, and it will provide you a suitable package, including a cycle and other essentials.
10. Richmond Castle
With coconut and other plantations on the property, Richmond Castle is a prominent tourist attraction in Kalutara highlighting a significant history, and it has a unique architecture.
The façade of the castle is incredible enough to attract the attention of the sightseers, but the interior is outstanding, too. It looks more like a palace instead of a castle, but you can’t deny its charm and lovely environment.
Erected between 1900 and 1910; a 99-doored Colonial mansion is picturesque, stylish, and a fusion of traditional and contemporary design.
With its sad history, flawlessly beautiful building, and appealing surroundings, Richmond Castle is a place not to be missed.
- Rating: 4.4/5.0
- Duration: 1-3 hours
- Cost: 500 LKR
- Opening hours: 9:00 AM – 4:00 PM
- Address: Riverside Road, Kalutara, Sri Lanka
- How to get there: Grab a taxi from your hotel, and it will take you to Richmond Castle in less than an hour.
11. Aluthgama Beach
Twin beach of Bentota Beach, Ventura Beach/ Aluthgama, is among the famous locations in Sri Lanka with all the right ingredients to melt the hearts of the tourists.
A beach with golden sand, it is a luxury resort attraction that has the power to lure visitors from all over the world. You can see it over the Bentota Bridge, and several hotels, spas, and restaurants are there for sightseers with delicious food and party scenes.
With blue waters, exciting watersports, and picturesque views, Ventura Beach lures people of all ages, and couples love this destination a lot because of its serene and quiet atmosphere.
- Rating: 4.5/5.0
- Duration: 1-2 hours
- Cost: Free
- Opening hours: 24 hours
- Address: Bentota, Sri Lanka
- How to get there: By taking public transportation to the place.
12. Moonstone Mine, Meetiyagoda
If you’re looking for exploring precious stones, Moonstone Mine located in Meetiyagoda is around 19.6 miles away from Bentota City, and you can visit from the place to the mine by hiring either a three-wheeler or a cab.
Since 1906, Moonstone Mine has been shining in the sky of the world, and it is renowned for grey-colored valuable stones. However, some of them are blue, too. Resided in a small village, Meetiyagoda, a few kilometers from the coast, between Ambalangoda and Hikkaduwa, the mine is one of the notable mines in the world.
You will encounter a mine shaft, which is deep, four-walled, and box-like structure tunnel, the mine tells the ancient history of stones, and you will get to know about the procedure of mining. It will be a worthwhile experience if you got some extra hours.
- Rating: 3.5/5.0
- Duration: 1-2.5 hours
- Cost: Free
- Opening hours: From 9:00 AM
- Address: Lewduuwa Road, Meetiyagoda, Sri Lanka
- How to get there: A three-wheeler or a taxi would be the best options to reach Moonstone Mine.
Foodies’ Guide to Bentota
Best Food Experiences
Food is one of the best ways to understand a culture and is one of the memories from a travel you will cherish for long. Bentota presents some amazing culinary experiences and here are some of the best:
1. Seafood feast at Malli’s Seafood Café
We won’t be exaggerating if we say that you cannot leave Bentota without relishing the scrumptious sea food fare at Malli’s Seafood joint.
As much as it is known for its great quality of food, it also attracts customers due to its quirky location. What’s that, you may ask! This joint finds its place on the platform of Bentota railway station, overlooking the Galle railway line.
Enjoy the freshest seafood in town right from lobsters and prawns to shrimps and fishes – everything so fresh you’ll wonder they just caught it from the sea. Friendly staff and value for money menu are just the bonus qualities that earn them those brownie points. Now that we have mentioned brownie, don’t forget it’s refreshing dessert of pomegranate and ice cream.
2. Steaks and grills at Golden grill
After you have fed adventure to your adrenaline-filled soul, in Bentota, it is time for some food for the soul with the lagoon’s delicious cuisine. Looking for something peaceful, beautiful and scenic at the same time?
Head to Golden grill – a restaurant overlooking the lake and tropical greenery that lends a perfect ambiance for a sit-down dinner. Gorge on the steaks, tuna steaks and mixed grills – the stars of the eatery’s fare. Living up to the name of the place, they surely are the perfect combination of golden glow crisp and tender and juicy flavors.
Where to Eat
In addition to the honorable mentions above, there is a multitude of restaurants catering to your tastes. Here we list some of the best for all budgets. These places are popular among travelers and are safe bets.
1. Fine Dining by Saman Villas ($$$$)
Galle Road, Aturuwella, Bentota | +94 34 7 200334 | www.finediningbysamanvillas.com
Popular for their culinary magic done with the local seafood catches, this place is everything that is Bentota. The beach, the bar, the food, chilled vibes, and great hosts are to die for. A much-visited place mainly for its exciting dining options.
Be it a sandy beach or a cozy garden or right on the sands, you can choose to eat anyplace you wish.
2. Diyasisila Restaurant ($$)
Elpitiya Road, Adaganthota, Bentota
A change of scene is what awaits you here. Away from the beach hustle, this eatery lets you sit by a river and dine in style. Specialising in serving the best seafood dishes in town, this is a must visit if you want to wind down after a long day out.
3. Prem Cafe & Restaurant ($)
117 Galle Street, Robolgoda, Bentota 80500
This local restaurant is humble and quaint, but when it comes to their cooking, perfection is what people say. A simple and well cooked meal for a very low price is what you get here. Run by the friendly owner himself, this eatery has a welcoming vibe to it.
Like to explore all gourmet hot spots in Bentota? Check our guide on the best places to eat around Bentota.
Where to Stay
1. Paradise Road: The Villa Bentota ($$$$)
This luxury boutique hotel was converted in the 1970s by Geoffrey Bawa and was recently renovated by designer Shanth Fernando. Care and attention has been put into the suites and the gardens are well-maintained. There is a pool and the beach is not far from the venue. Staff are friendly, hospitable, and professional.
2. Avani Bentota Resort & Spa ($$$$)
A five star luxury hotel that has been designed by Geoffrey Bawa as a contemporary, elegant venue in his Tropical Modernist style. It has all the usual modern facilities with spa, gym, and pool. As it is located close to Bentota village, the concierge can arrange day trips and visits to local attractions.
3. Saman Villas ($$$$$)
Saman Villa is decorated in a classical Sri Lankan stye and has modern amenities such as an infinity pool, gym, and spa. It’s popular with honeymooners due to its private location, great sea views, and easy access to the beach.
4. Okin River Villa ($$$)
A lovely riverside villa set in a peaceful location. Guests can rent out the whole place which makes it a great option for a family or group holiday. There is an outdoor swimming pool and WiFi. The friendly staff provide a welcoming, tranquil experience to all visitors.
5. Palm Beach Inn and Sea Shells Cabanas ($$)
This budget hotel is surrounded by green foliage and is close to the beach. It is simple in its decor and doesn’t have much facilities, but you are only a few minutes walk away from the beach. Though it lacks basic amenities the staff are very helpful, and it is good for a quick stay or if you’re not too picky.
You will find plenty of places selling traditional handicrafts, gemstone jewelry, and other souvenirs. Most hotels and attractions will invariably have a gift shop attached to it. You may find exorbitant prices at out-of-the-way attractions. Be careful not to be overcharged at these places.
If you go with a tour guide or a driver then ask them to haggle for you with the aim bringing down the asking price to 20 or 30 per cent of the original figure. One tip is to check out the prices at your hotel gift shop on the first day that you arrive; it may be cheaper to buy from there. Artisan products created by local craftspeople may cost more than you expect, although there is some room for negotiation.
Getting-In and Around
You can get to Bentota using buses, trains, or in a car. Your choice of transport will depend on your timings and budget. If you are traveling with luggage you should be very careful to look after your belongings. Within Bentota you can hire local tuk-tuk drivers to take you out and about.
Colombo: The drive from Colombo City takes about 2 hours, however in rush hour the journey can take up to 3 hours. The taxi will cost from 5,0000-6,500 KLR, although bigger cars will cost more than this. By comparison the bus is cheap but it can take up to 4 hours in traffic. You can also take the train – however, not many trains stop at Bentota’s railway station so you should plan to stop at Aluthgama (approximately 2 kilometers away from Bentota) and then hire a tuk-tuk from the station.
Negombo: Take a taxi to Katunayake South train station and then take the train to Colombo Fort from where you can take an express train to Bentota. This journey will take around 3.5-4 hours and will cost approximately LKR 600-1,000. If you want to get there quicker you can take a taxi directly to Bentota for the higher cost of around LKR 9,000-11,000.
Galle: A taxi from Galle to Bentota will cost about LKR 6,000-7,000 and will take about an hour. For a cheaper option consider taking the train which is only add an extra 45 minutes to your journey but will be significantly cheaper at around LKR 60-200.
Kandy: Taking a taxi all the way to Bentota from Kandy is very expensive and will take about 3 hours. It is almost 60% cheaper to go by train to Maharagama and then take a taxi the rest of the way (50 min drive at about LKR 6,500-7,000). Alternatively, take the train all the way and only spend about LKR 300-700, although the journey will take anywhere from four to five hours.
Ella: As you will be traveling across the country the journey from Ella to Bentota it will be a long journey regardless of the method of transport you choose. A taxi will take round 3 hours and will cost about LKR 15,000-20,000. While the train will take about 12 hours and will cost between LKR 350-1,000. You could save a little time and money by taking a taxi to Bandarawela Bus Station and taking a bus to Ratnapura bus station, from where you can take a taxi to Bentota – the full journey will cost 9,000-11,000 and will take about 6 hours.
Dambulla: The quickest way to get to Bentota from Dambulla is by taxi (2.5 hours) but it will cost about LKR 16,000-20,000. Consider taking the train instead which only takes an extra two hours but costs significantly less at about LKR 3,000-4,500.
When to GO
Best time: December to April is the dry season and the best time to visit. Christmas and New Year is popular with tourists which means that travel and accommodation prices will be higher during this time period.
Time to avoid: May to August is Monsoon season. High waves from the monsoon make water sports very dangerous and you will have trouble getting out and about in torrential downpour. Carry a waterproof jacket or umbrella with you.
For cheap rooms head to beach cabanas, eat at budget cafes, and use local buses to travel around. If budget isn’t an issue then you can enjoy the luxury resorts and private cars still at rates cheaper than many travel hot-spots.
Most attractions have an entrance fee, and popular attractions may seem exorbitant and not worth the price. There are some ‘money-making’ schemes at attractions that are popular with foreign visitors. You will have people trying to sell you items at overinflated prices, but feel free to haggle and remember you can always walk away from the sale.
You can arrange your trip to Bentota based on any budget and have a great time.