A town steeped in history
While most commonly known for its abundance of pristine beaches, Bentota isn't short on things to see and do away from the coast too. The gardens in Bentota are a particular highlight, including the popular Lunugaga Gardens. Enjoy a guided tour around this tranquil setting and take in the beauty of the main house, which was designed by renowned Sri Lankan architect Geoffrey Bawa. It's impossible not to soak in the spiritual atmosphere of this place as you wander through acres of carefully constructed plants and monuments.
Make friends with the turtles
Situated south of Bentota Ganga River, a trip to the Sea Turtle Protection Association headquarters is one of the area's most popular activities. The centre cares for newly hatched and vulnerable turtles, striving to release as many animals back into their natural habitat as possible.
Depending on the time of year you visit, you can witness turtles laying eggs in the sand and experience the cute baby turtles exploring their new surroundings. There's even the opportunity to be there when rehabilitated turtles are released onto the beach and into the wild, making it a great day out for kids and nature lovers.
Savour the flavours of Sri Lanka
Influences from India and Indonesia have given Sri Lanka it's own unique cuisine, with flavours that range from spicy curries through to stir fries and other noodle-based dishes. Despite its humble size, Bentota is home to a wide array of restaurants, cafes and bars, each serving their own take on the local delicacies that can be found here.
Among the culinary highlights is a vast array of fresh seafood, caught locally in the area each day. Dining at a tranquil, lakeside restaurant only adds to the chilled ambience that the region has to offer, so be sure to take in some spectacular views as you enjoy your meal.
The magic of the rainforest
Less than 80 kilometres from the centre of Bentota is the Sinharaja Forest Reserve – a major hub of eco-tourism and biodiversity. Wander through 11,000 hectares of lush greenery and discover an eclectic array of flora and fauna that's native to this part of the island.
Among the endemic species that can be discovered here are giant squirrels, purple-faced langur monkeys and any number of fascinating jungle birds and reptiles. The setting is so spectacular that it's even been named a UNESCO world heritage site, providing a truly authentic experience to everyone who chooses to visit this virgin rainforest in person.
A tranquil escape
Bentota's location away from the bustle of Sri Lanka's main cities makes it the ideal choice for anyone hoping to enjoy a truly relaxing stay on the island. Spas, baths and wellness retreats make up much of the landscape for tourists here and provide ample opportunity to unwind in true Sri Lankan style. Try your hand at a yoga class, or head to one of the many spa centres for an afternoon of unashamed pampering.