Situated in the Galle District of the Southern province, Bentota is a coastal city famous for golden beaches. The town is a popular tourist attraction and also a favourite destination for water sports. It is especially famous among the foreign tourists. The name comes from a mythical story which dates back to the time of the kings, which says a demon called Bem ruled this river (tota = river bank). Bentota hosts a handful of world proclaimed hotels. It is home of the famous Sri Lankan Jeweler Aida. Bentota is also home to the ancient art of indigenous healing called Ayurveda. Bentota is famous for its production in Toddy; an alcoholic beverage made out of coconut nectar. The city's population is estimated to be between 25,000-50,000.
Bentota combines a number of package resorts plus an excellent selection of upmarket hotels and the National Tourist Resort. The town has been a tourist haven since the 19th century, when Galle was the island’s main port. Those proceeding to Colombo in stagecoaches stopped here at the rest-house (long gone) and indulged in a meal of local oysters.
Bentota is Sri Lanka’s water-sports centre. The sea here is calm and an excellent diving location. The beach divides into two- the North and the South. The north end comprises a spit of land – dubbed “Paradise Island” - dividing the waves of the Indian Ocean from the still waters of the Bentota Lagoon. The more pleasing southern end comprises an attractive swathe of wide sandy beach where some of the island’s best upmarket hotels are located. Surprisingly, although Bentota is one of the island’s most popular resorts, the beach is relatively quiet.
The Bentota Lagoon offers a wide range of water-sports such as wind-surfing, water-skiing, canoeing, banana-boating and deep-sea fishing. In addition, the Bentota Ganga (river) has been an important tourist attraction since the 19th century. Boat safaris up the beautiful river provide an ideal opportunity to observe a variety of fauna – from herons to crocodiles - associated with a wetland environment.
You can explore the remains of the Galapata Vihara, built in the 12th century, which has interesting wall paintings, Buddha statues, and a large rock that has an extract from the chronicle, the Mahavamsa, carved on it.