(Last updated on: 02/04/2020)
We loved Bentota on our travels around Sri Lanka. Bentota is a great place for a beach break, offering the perfect mix of culture, adventure and rest and relaxation. In this post I will tell you what you need to know when visiting Bentota on your travels with recommendations for the best tours and places to stay.
Where is Bentota?
Located in the Galle District of the Southern Province of Sri Lanka, Bentota lies on the coast. It’s around 40 miles (as the crow flies) south of the capital city, Colombo. It’s a haven for tourists because of its beauty and attractions, but it’s not somewhere that’s overcrowded.
Getting to Bentota is fairly straightforward. The nearest international airport is Bandaranaike International Airport in the capital – you can fly into here from places such as Melbourne, Kuala Lumpar, Chennai and Dubai. We flew direct from London with Sri Lankan Airways and got a great price on Skyscanner.
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From the airport, there are various ways you can travel to Bentota. Katunayake Airport Bus Station is a 16 minute walk from arrivals – jump on the 187-E CMB towards Colombo, which takes 45 minutes and will cost the equivalent of £1 GBP. At Colombo Bastian Maratha Bus Terminal, you can get a bus to Aluthgama (£1 GBP, taking 2 hours).
Alternatively you can alight and walk to Fort Station (11 minutes away). You can get the train to Aluthgama Station from here, which again costs the equivalent of £1 GBP and takes around 57 minutes. Aluthgama is a mile from Bentota, and you can walk or get a taxi into town.
TIP: the train to Aluthgama only runs every 4 hours, so it might be worth spending some time in Colombo before heading to the station!
If DIY-travel isn’t for you, and you’d rather head straight to Bentota, you can get a taxi. This will take just under 1.5 hours and should cost around £40-55 GBP. Alternatively, you may be able to arrange a transfer with your hotel.
Because our visit to Bentota was part of a larger trip travelling around Sri Lanka, we didn’t need to worry about how we would get there. We booked this customised tour on Viator, which was just perfect for us!
Things to see and do
As Bentota is a resort town, it’s mostly for relaxing. But if you’ve spent a bit too long lying horizontal on a sun bed with a Pina Colada in hand, there are some things you can do instead…
There are plenty of water sports on offer in Bentota. The crystal-clear turquoise water is the perfect place for wind surfing, banana boat rides, canyoning, jet skiing, wake boarding and more. You will find plenty of water sports centres in Bentota, and your hotel will be able to provide information and recommendations too.
If the thought of bouncing around the water is a bit much for you, go on a safari! You can do both river and land safaris in Bentota. Many land safaris take tourists to nearby Udawalawe. Here you can see wild elephants, Sambur deer, water buffalo and more! The river safari will take you down the Bentota River where you can appreciate the pure serenity of the river and also spot crocodiles, chameleons, snakes and lizards.
TIP: sometimes the skippers on the river safaris will take you to see a captive crocodile, which is a photo opportunity. As some people are morally against this, it’s worth knowing in advance and possibly checking if this is the case with your safari when booking.
Of course, the beach at Bentota is not to be missed. Often referred to as the most beautiful beach in Sri Lanka, it provides the perfect place to laze around in the sun or play in the shallows. There is beautiful white sand, and the beach itself is well-maintained. There are bars and restaurants just off the beach too!
Also in the vicinity of the beach you’ll find a major attraction: the turtle hatching centre. The Sea Turtle Protection Association is located on Galle Road, and gives you the opportunity to see and hold different species of turtles. You are also invited back at sunset to see the recently-hatched turtles being released into the water. It costs 2000 LKR per adult, and 1000 LKR per child. This money goes towards the conservation efforts in the area.
There are plenty of other things to see and do in Bentota and the surrounding areas. You can go whale watching, spend the day on a fishing trip, head to the nearby UNSECO-listed city of Kandy or explore the local area by Beetle.
Where to stay in Bentota
Being a coastal resort, there are plenty of places to stay in Bentota. You’ll be spoilt for choice when it comes to picking the perfect hotel, so here are a few of the best to get you started…
Taj Bentota Resort & Spa is an amazing hotel! It offers spectacular views of the Indian Ocean. It has a pool, spa, and four different restaurants. Rooms range from superior through to residential, and have either garden or sea views. There’s free WiFi and parking on site, airport transfers can be arranged and check-in is 24 hours a day. With room service, spa treatments and the beach on your doorstep, this is perfect for romantic getaways.
Heritance Ahungalla is a 5 star property with a pool, tennis court and golf course on site. There’s a gym and karaoke too – so something for everyone! The hotel has free WiFi and free parking, spa facilities, evening entertainment, a variety of food and 24-hour check in. Previous reviews praise the friendly staff and excellent breakfast.
Hostel Residence Bentota has private rooms and dormitories, an outdoor pool, plenty of outdoor seating areas and a terrace too. There’s free private parking, and you can do your laundry here too if you’re a long-term traveller. The beach is around 5 minutes walk away, and previous guests can’t rate the American-style breakfast highly enough.
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Bentota is the perfect place for a honeymoon, or for a relaxing stop on your long-term travels around south Asia. It has plenty of room to chill out and do nothing, but there’s always something to get stuck into if you want. Hopefully this post has helped you plan your trip!