Situated on the southwestern coast of Sri Lanka, Bentota Beach offers a combination of scenic beauty and engaging activities. As a popular spot for both locals and tourists, it provides an ideal setting for relaxation and adventure. In this travel guide, we'll explore what makes Bentota Beach a must-visit destination in Sri Lanka.
About Bentota Beach
Bentota Beach is an expansive stretch on the southwestern coast of Sri Lanka, known for its sunlit golden sands and inviting waters. The beach’s gentle gradient allows the waters to remain shallow for a significant distance from the shoreline, making it especially favorable for families with children and novice swimmers.
The point where the Bentota River converges with the Indian Ocean adds a distinctive feature to the beach. This union creates areas with calm waters, ideal for relaxed swimming. Along the beach, tall palm trees provide occasional shade, offering perfect spots for those wanting to take a brief respite from the sun.
Local fishing boats, often anchored away from the main swimming areas, add authenticity to the coastal landscape, serving as a gentle reminder of the region's fishing heritage. Overall, the coastline offers an ambiance of tranquility interspersed with moments of activity, ensuring both relaxation and entertainment for its visitors.
Things to do at Bentota Beach
Bentota Beach stands out as a prime location for water enthusiasts. The blend of the calm Bentota River with the dynamic open sea offers an array of water sports activities. Visitors can ride the waves on jet-skis, feel the thrill of cutting through the wind while windsurfing, or soar high above the water during a parasailing session. Additionally, for those who want a more laid-back water experience, kayaking along the shoreline or trying stand-up paddleboarding on the river can be both relaxing and invigorating.
Snorkeling and Diving
The waters around Bentota are teeming with marine life. Snorkeling offers an easy and accessible way to explore this underwater world, with vibrant coral reefs and schools of colorful fish just below the surface. For those who wish to delve deeper, scuba diving is available. Local dive shops offer courses and expeditions, guiding divers to spots where they can witness the beauty of underwater landscapes, encounter unique marine species, and even explore sunken shipwrecks.
The wide stretch of sand at Bentota Beach is ideal for beach volleyball. It's not uncommon to see spontaneous matches springing up, and visitors are often welcome to join in.
The beach is lined with eateries offering fresh seafood and local delicacies. Enjoying a meal with your feet in the sand, watching the sunset, and listening to the waves is a memorable experience.
Boat Tours on Bentota River
A boat tour on the Bentota River offers more than just a scenic ride. As the boat glides through the waters, visitors often spot water monitors basking on the banks, and a variety of birds like kingfishers and herons darting about. The journey often includes venturing into serene mangrove tunnels, where the dense foliage creates a canopy, offering a unique experience of nature's tranquility. Guides on these tours provide insights into the local ecosystem, enhancing the overall experience.
Environmental Concerns and Preservation
Bentota Beach, as one of the prime tourist destinations in Sri Lanka, is acutely aware of the environmental impact brought by increased footfall. Recognizing this, local authorities, together with community groups, have initiated several measures to protect and preserve the pristine beauty of the coastline.
The area has seen the launch of regular cleanup drives, often facilitated by local businesses and participated in by both residents and visitors. These drives aim to tackle littering, a prevalent issue in many popular tourist spots.
Moreover, there's a significant push towards educating the public. Awareness campaigns are conducted regularly to inform and engage tourists about the importance of eco-friendly practices. From discouraging single-use plastics to promoting the use of organic sunscreens that don't harm marine life, the emphasis is on sustainable tourism.
The local vendors and beachside eateries are also encouraged to adopt sustainable practices. Many have transitioned to biodegradable packaging and utensils, further reducing the plastic waste that often finds its way to the oceans.
Another noteworthy effort is the emphasis on protecting the local marine life. Certain sections of the beach are marked as turtle nesting areas during the breeding season and are cordoned off to ensure these creatures can lay their eggs without disturbance.
Location and How to Get There
Bentota Beach lies in the Galle District of Sri Lanka's Southern Province.
By Train: A train journey from Colombo offers picturesque views of the coastline and takes about two and a half hours.
By Road: Those preferring to drive can take the Southern Expressway from Colombo, reaching Bentota in approximately 1.5 to 2 hours.
Best Time to Visit
From November to April, the climate is most suitable for beach activities. The absence of monsoons during these months ensures sunny days and clear waters.
Tips and Advice
- Sun Protection: Always apply sunblock and wear protective clothing to guard against the strong tropical sun.
- Stay Hydrated: Ensure you drink enough water, especially after prolonged exposure to the sun.
- Safety First: Heed any beach advisories and always swim in designated areas.
- Negotiate Fairly: When shopping or hiring local services, it's customary to negotiate, but always do so with respect.
- Avoid Overcrowded Areas: For a more serene experience, try to find less crowded spots, especially during peak hours.
- Stay Alert: Keep a close watch on your personal belongings to prevent loss or theft.
1. Lunuganga Estate: Once the country residence of the renowned Sri Lankan architect Geoffrey Bawa, Lunuganga Estate is a testament to his architectural genius. Visitors can stroll through the meticulously designed gardens and enjoy views of the estate's diverse landscapes.
2. Galapatha Raja Maha Vihara: This ancient temple, dating back centuries, holds significant historical and religious value. Its intricate stone carvings and serene surroundings offer a peaceful retreat from the beach's energy.
3. Bentota River Safari: The safari provides a different perspective of Bentota, taking visitors through mangroves and showcasing local flora and fauna. Guided tours often include informative commentary, enhancing the understanding of the region's ecosystem.
4. Brief Garden: Designed by Bevis Bawa, Geoffrey Bawa's brother, this garden is a lush space filled with sculptures, murals, and tropical plants. It serves as an artistic haven and a botanical wonder for visitors.
5. Cinnamon Island: A short boat ride away, this island offers insights into the age-old tradition of cinnamon cultivation in Sri Lanka. Tours allow visitors to witness the process of harvesting and processing cinnamon firsthand.
6. Sea Turtle Protection Association: Dedicated to the conservation of sea turtles, this center not only rehabilitates injured turtles but also educates visitors about these magnificent marine creatures. The hands-on experience and learning opportunity make it a favorite among families.
Bentota Beach represents the multifaceted beauty of Sri Lanka's coastlines. With its inviting sands, clear waters, and array of activities, it showcases the allure of the island's beach destinations. A visit to Bentota Beach is not just a day by the sea; it's an immersion into a distinctive blend of nature and culture, making it an essential stop for anyone exploring Sri Lanka.