Bentota is a delightful coastal town endowed with a an alluring turquoise sea front and lagoon, golden swathe of sand and endless stretches of coconut palms. It is also Sri Lanka’s unrivalled water sport capital offering ample opportunity for a variety of activities ranging from windsurfing to water-skiing, jet-skiing, snorkelling, scuba-diving, and canoeing. Bentota is home to some top end luxury resort hotels, exclusive boutique properties and charming hideaway villas. Apart from its beach and water sport appeal, Bentota offers varied excursion options to nearby attractions.
Brief Garden, 10 kilometres inland from Bentota is a captivating country estate and is the work of famed landscape artist and sculptor Bevis Bawa (elder brother of acclaimed architect Geoffrey Bawa). Featuring a beautiful colonial villa embellished with beautiful murals of Sri Lankan lifestyle and an interesting assortment of mementos and artefacts of Bevis Bawa’s life and times, it has been able to attract celebrities of yester year, such as Vivien Leigh and Laurence Oliver.
Further inland up the Bentara River lies the captivating country estate of Lunuganga, the work of celebrated architect Geoffrey Bawa; who, upon purchasing the former rubber plantation and bungalow, landscaped the grounds and renovated and expanded the original building to its present glory.
Galapatha Raja Maha Viharaya is a 12th Century Buddhist temple, located 3km inland from Bentota, on the bank of the Bentara River. This temple has some eye-catching murals and a 2500-year-old centrepiece stupa that enshrines a tooth relic of one of Gautama Buddha’s Chief Disciples and the Foremost in Ascetic Values, Arhat Kashyapa. This atmospheric medieval temple also contains stone carvings, pillars, inscriptions, ponds and troughs.
Kosgoda Turtle Hatchery, located 11 km south of Bentota, is Sri Lanka’s oldest turtle hatchery. It was set up by the Turtle Conservation Project, in association with the Wildlife Department of Sri Lanka, and works by purchasing eggs from local poachers, allowing them to hatch, and later releasing the hatchlings to sea. On some days, visitors can engage in the heart-warming experience of releasing these endearing turtle hatchlings to the vast ocean.