Insider's Guide To Bentota, Sri Lanka: Turtles, Temples & Countryside

Bentota Guide: What are the best things to see and do in town? From turtles to temples and tonnes of the countryside, here are the coolest things to do in the area.

Bentota Guide

The southwestern resort town of Bentota is a popular stop for many travellers in Sri Lanka. The area is renowned for its stunning beaches and a variety of activities; in fact, many people choose to spend their whole holiday here! From cultural excursions to bicycle trips through the countryside, there’s plenty to do here besides bliss out on the beach.

guide to visiting Bentota in 2019
What are the highlights of a trip to Bentota?
Price Good for Airport Kids Culture Beaches Dining Nightlife Surf Safari
$$ Watersports, beaches, wildlife, culture 66 miles * *  * * * * * *** ** *   * *  ** * ***

What is Bentota best known for?

One of Bentota’s key attractions is the Kosgoda Sea Turtle Conservation Center, which is located just a few kilometres outside of town. If nature is your thing, you’ll find plenty more to do! The surrounding countryside is stunning and diverse, with rice paddies, rubber plantations and fishing villages to explore. Aside from this, there is, of course, Bentota’s stunningly spotless beach. If you want to soak up a little of the local culture, you won’t be disappointed on this front, either. Bentota is home to a few sites of significant cultural and historic interest, so you can satisfy your cultural side, too.

Who should visit Bentota?

Bentota is popular among a range of travellers, as there is so much to experience in the area. Bentota is especially good for:

Bentota with kids
Bentota is a great place to travel with children.

When is the best time to visit Bentota?

For the best weather

Bentota stays warm throughout the year, with temperatures hovering between 26 and 28 C (79 – 82 F). However, the area does see quite a lot of rainfall during certain months of the year. To get the best of the beach and blue skies throughout your stay, visit in December, January, February, March, July or August.

To beat the crowds

Bentota’s ‘high season’ months are July, August, December and January, when many people come away on vacation. If you want sunshine but not hoards of people, the best months to arrive are February and March.

Things to see and do in Bentota

Check out the Kosgoda Sea Turtle Conservation Center

Make sure you check out some of Kosgoda’s cutest inhabitants while you’re in Bentota. The Kosgoda Sea Turtle Conservation Center can be found just the road from Bentota, making this spot ideal for a day trip!

The work done at the Kosgoda Sea Turtle Conservation Center is geared towards creating a more sustainable habitat for the turtles while caring for injured and newly hatched turtles. Kosgoda Conservation Center is home to many different species of turtle, so you can learn about the life cycles and conservation of green turtles, loggerheads, hawksbills, olive ridleys and leatherbacks during your visit.

This fascinating educational experience is a great idea for families travelling with children, who will love seeing and learning about these incredible creatures!

turtles in bentota
Visit the sea turtles at the Kosgoda Sea Turtle Conservation Center.
Learn more about Cinnamon Island

Sri Lanka is the world’s largest producer of cinnamon, with the country contributing up to 90% of the global supply. To learn more about the growth, production and oil extraction of this popular spice, check out Cinnamon Island while you’re in town!

Travel along the Madu River to reach Cinnamon Island.
Travel along the Madu River to reach Cinnamon Island.

Take a scenic boat ride along the gorgeous Madu River to reach the island, where the knowledgeable staff can tell you everything. From the medicinal benefits of the spice to its use in Sri Lankan cuisine, you can find out everything there is to know! Once you’ve educated yourself on all things cinnamon, you can buy some fresh sticks to take home from your trip.

Soak up some calm at Kande Vihare Temple

Kande Vihara (the ‘Mountain Temple’) is so named for its location. Built atop a hill near to Aluthgama town, this sacred site is easily reachable from Bentota, so it’s a popular side-trip for tourists in the area. The best time of day to visit is in the early morning or around sunset when the cool temperatures and soft, golden light create an atmosphere of unbeatable tranquillity.

The main attraction at Kande Vihare is the Samadhi Buddha statue. The newly-unveiled statue stands an incredible 48 m high, making it the largest seated Buddha in the world – a must-see if you’re in the area! Other attractions around the temple include the intricately decorated image house, a stupa and an ancient Bodhi tree believed to be over 300 years old. Arrive early for the coolest temperatures, smallest crowds and most peaceful atmosphere!

Kande Vihara is home to the largest seated Buddha statue in the world.
Kande Vihara is home to the largest seated Buddha statue in the world.
Go surfing at Bentota Beach

Bentota Beach is famed for its spotless sands and crystal waves and is a big draw for travellers in the area. If you’re staying in Bentota, chances are you’ll spend plenty of lazy days enjoying the beauty of the beach. If you want to take your beach time up a gear, however, why not take a few surfing lessons while you’re here?

The small waves, gentle current and sandy bottom create ideal conditions for beginner surfers. If you’ve never been on a board before, this is the perfect opportunity! There are a few places offering lessons and board hire along the beach, so why not give it a go?

Take a cycling trip through the beautiful Bentota countryside

Explore the countryside and villages around Bentota with a cycling tour during your stay in town. The scenery around the town is diverse and stunning, ranging from rolling green rice fields to rubber plantations. Dotted among the various natural attractions are traditional villages, where you can get a true flavour of local life.

Learn more about the daily lives and culture of the fishermen and farmers in the area. This is a fascinating educational experience with a big dose of beauty, and a top day out if you’re travelling as a family or group!

Take cycling trip through the countryside around Bentota.
Take cycling trip through the countryside around Bentota.

Off the beaten path…

Brief Garden

Get off the beaten path in Bentota with a trip to Brief Garden. This beautifully designed landscape has a fairytale feel and is a stunning setting for a romantic walk or morning stroll.

Brief Garden can be found 8 km outside of Bentota and is home to renowned architect Bevis Bawa.

The mesmerizing gardens have a unique design inspired by Japanese and colonial architecture.  Wander among the exotic greenery and breathe in the tranquillity of the gardens, for a magical day out from Bentota.

Lose yourself in the beauty of Brief Garden.
Lose yourself in the beauty of Brief Garden.

Where to eat in Bentota

Malli’s Seafood Restaurant

For exceptional seafood in stylish surroundings, pay a visit to Malli’s Seafood Restaurant while you’re in Bentota. Their deliciously fresh fish dishes and authentic Sri Lankan recipes will blow you away and the relaxed atmosphere is perfect for an evening meal. With friendly service and a sumptuous menu, it’s easy to see why Malli’s is a favourite in Bentota!


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The Happy Garden Restaurant

The Happy Garden Restaurant is a must-visit in Bentota, if only for its unique location! The place is perched on the very edge of the railway track, so diners can see trains passing right by their table. Besides this unique experience, the restaurant offers a delicious Sri Lankan menu, great service and reasonable prices.

Pier88 River Bar

Pier88 is by far one of the most popular places to dine in Bentota. Their generous portions of exceptional food and a breathtaking setting on the banks on the river are unbeatable. Come here at least once during your stay to indulge yourself in a meal that delights every sense, especially if you’re travelling as a couple!


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Where to stay in Bentota

To be by the beach

Many travellers come to Bentota to take advantage of the incredible coastline in this area. If this sounds like you, look for somewhere to stay right on the beach! A holiday villa is a great option for families with kids and can give you unbeatable access to soft white sands and calm waters.

To be in the lap of luxury

If you’ve cash to splash and want your accommodation to reflect it, consider renting a villa in Bentota. The area has a lot to offer the luxuy traveller and is home to some incredible holiday villas. These breathtaking homes are stylishly designed and sumptuously furnished, with stunning spaces and private pools. Indulge yourself in the finest of Bentota and make your trip one of a kind!