Beach Bliss, Jungle Boat Trip & Ayurveda Spa – Bentota, Sri Lanka

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Bentota Beach
Bentota Beach

I kick off my sandals and put my winter pale toes in the silky white and warm sand, and it feels like heaven! I close my eyes, and all I can hear are the waves hitting the beach.

After a long, dark, and snowful winter back in Norway, arriving at Bentota beach was just what we needed and had longed for all autumn and winter. It was a dream come through!

As part of the 70th birthday celebration of my mom, Espen and I took my parents to Sri Lanka for their first time. After two days of sightseeing in Colombo city, we did what we came to Sri Lanka for – The three S`s = Sea, Sand, and Sun ♥

Espen and I have earlier been to Mirissa Beach and Tangalle Beach, and love both places, but this time we wanted to start our round trip a little closer to Colombo (a 2-hour drive).

Our choice fell on Bentota, where none of us had been before. We had no expectations, but what a surprise! I would say that Bentota has some of the best and most beautiful beaches in the whole of Sri Lanka.

Located by the Bentota Ganga lagoon, the Bentota area has several big and posh hotels as well as some excellent boutique hotels. The main town is Aluthgama, which is more like a small and fairly chaotic village on the main road that goes along the southwest coast of Sri Lanka. Aluthgama also has a train station.

Aluthgama town
Aluthgama Town
Aluthgama Train Station
Aluthgama Train Station

Many of the nice hotels in the Bentota area have well known Ayurveda centers, which is a traditional Sri Lankan medicine in the form of spas with herbal and spice treatment and massage.

Bentota Beach

There are several lovely beaches in the Bentota area, like Moragalla Beach (just where the Bentota Ganga river meets the ocean) and Ventura Beach. They are more informally referred to simply as Bentota Beach, and together they make a very long stretch of fine white sand.

Bentota Beach
Bentota Beach

The sandy strip of Bentota Beach that runs parallel to Bentota Lagoon (or Bentota Ganga) is nicknamed Paradise Island as it is like a long narrow peninsula out in the ocean. It is a well-deserved name in my opinion.

Paradise Island Bentota
Paradise Island
A fisherman at Bentota Beach
A fisherman at Bentota Beach

Although Bentota Beach is stunning and has several big and posh hotels, it has strangely few people; it was almost empty the three days we spent there. But that was just fine by us.

Sunset Bentota Beach
Me walking in the sunset at Bentota Beach

Bentota Beach

The Bentota lagoon and beach is the perfect place for enjoying water sports. You can hire equipment or join a course or take a trip deep-sea fishing, snorkeling, canoeing, diving, windsurfing, waterskiing, or jet-skiing. There are several local tour operators located right by the beach, like the Sunshine Water Sports Center and Diyakawa Water Sports.

Jet skiing Bentota
Jet skiing is popular in Bentota


River Safari On Bentota Ganga

One of the most popular activities in Bentota, besides beach bumming and water sports, is going on a boat trip on the river Bentota Ganga.

River boat trip on Bentota Ganga
Riverboat trip on Bentota Ganga
Bentota Ganga river
Bentota Ganga river looks like something out of a fairytale

We did that one late afternoon when the sun was getting weaker, and we had a very nice and peaceful river safari lasting for about three hours.

We hired a boat and driver from the hotel we stayed at, which took us upstream of the river through the jungle. We saw lots of beautiful and colorful birds and eagles, as well as a crocodile (!) and snakes. We enjoyed it, especially my dad who loves birds.

Bentota Ganga river
Doesn`t this look like something out of the movie Apocalypse Now?! Expecting to meet Colonel Kurtz any moment….
River boat Bentota
Me at the boat trip up Bentota Ganga river

Bentota Market

The Monday market in Aluthgama town is the highlight of the week among the locals in the Bentota area.

Bentota Market
Bentota Monday Market

People from all over the southwest coast, especially women, come here to shop for groceries, vegetables, clothes, and all kinds of nick-nacks for the whole week.

Bentota Market
People from all around the Bentota area shop their groceries here

Luckily we were in Bentota on a Monday and could visit this bustling market. We bought lots of deliciously fresh vegetables and exotic fruits, as well as some gifts to bring back home to friends and family.

As you might know from my “Fruity Friday” series on this blog, I simply L-O-V-E ♥ fruits!

Ayurveda Herbal and Spice Garden

Bentota is also famous for the traditional Sri Lankan spa and health treatment Ayurveda which is made out of local herbs and spices. Many of the big hotels have well-respected Ayurveda centers. Ayurveda is not only an oily massage and spa but also a plant-based medicine treatment for injuries of all kinds. The medicine is derived from leaves, fruits, roots, bark, and seeds, like cinnamon and cardamom.

Just outside of Bentota (on our way from Colombo), we visited one of the Ayurveda gardens that are located in this area. The head gardener and trained Ayurvedic doctor showed us around the green and lush garden and explained all about the different herbs and spices that they grow, as well as what they are used for in Ayurveda medicine and treatment.

Ayurveda garden
My mom smells some herbs that grow in the Ayurveda Garden

We even got to try out some Ayurveda products, like the cream that removes unwanted hair (it actually works!). We also got a head and neck Ayurveda massage. It was sooooo nice!! 🙂

Ayurveda massage
Me and my mom getting an Ayurveda head and neck massage

The whole guided tour of the garden was free; we did not pay for any entrance tickets. BUT they asked for tips, and we felt obligated to give the guides, and massage therapists some money so basically it was not free.

The End

BentotaWe enjoyed our four days in Bentota. It was bliss to hit the beautiful and peaceful beach after two hectic days of sightseeing in the chaotic capital Colombo.

In my opinion, Bentota Beach is one of the best beaches in Sri Lanka.

Hope to be back in Bentota soon!

Where To Stay In Bentota

Bentota has accommodation options for everyone, from big package-holiday resorts to small beautiful and unique boutique hotels and guesthouses.

Waterside Bentota Hotel
We stayed at the Waterside Bentota and had two upstairs rooms. Waterside Bentota Hotel only has 6 rooms, and the service and hospitality of the staff are excellent.

Waterside Hotel
Sunset from our room at Waterside Hotel

The rooms are big and comfortable, although they could need a little upgrade. All rooms have a big private bathroom, and the best of all, a rather big balcony with an awesome view over the Bentota Ganga river and the beautiful hotel garden. The swimming pool is very nice and big.
We stayed here for four nights, and loved it! My mom and dad actually love it so much that they came back and stayed a whole week at the end of our trip.

The hotel is owned by Susan, a British woman who is in her 80s. She built the hotel after the Tsunami in 2004 to create jobs for the locals. All the staff, as well as the manager, are Sri Lankan and they all speak perfect English. The food is amazing. We ordered the Sri Lankan rice and curry one day, it is one of the best we have ever had!

The hotel has a boat and the boatman will ship you to the beach (only 5-10 min), market (across the river, 5 min) or take you up the river for a riverboat trip if you want.
Click here for the latest prices

Vivanta by Taj
This is a beautiful modern resort right by the sea with a stunning private beach. The garden is amazing and the swimming pool is huge. Their restaurant, Palms Restaurant, have great food which is served as a buffet with all kinds of options. I don`t think you can find a better hotel in this area.
Click here for the latest prices

Paradise Road The Villa
Beautifully located by the sea and Bentota Beach, each of the suites has a unique and different interior design. The garden and swimming pool is gorgeous, and the bar makes delicious home-made ginger beer and cocktails. Fast and free Wifi is an extra plus. Some of the rooms even have outdoor bathrooms, so cool!
Click here for the latest prices

AVANI Bentota Resort & Spa
We stayed at AVANI Riverside hotel in Bangkok and went to check out this AVANI hotel in Bentota. It is just as nice as the one in Bangkok, modern, fresh, with big rooms. The location is perfect, right by Bentota Beach with a lovely garden and swimming pool. They also have a gym and a spa center.
Click here for the latest prices

Centara Ceysands Resort & Spa
We walked past this hotel every day as it perfectly located right by Bentota Beach, with the lagoon on the other side. It is the biggest hotel along the beach, with modern and big family rooms. They actually have two swimming pools located in their big green and lush garden. Their spa center and gym look awesome.

The food is delicious, and they serve both Sri Lankan and western type of food, as well as BBQ. They have theme nights every night with certain kind of food like street food, Indian, Mexican, Italian and so on. The hotel is popular among families with children, as they have a kids club and babysitting service.
Click here for the latest prices

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Have you been to any of the beaches in Sri Lanka? What is your favorite beach? Please leave a comment in the comment area below. If you like this article and find it useful, please share it on social media. Thank you! 🙂 

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About The Writer Maria Wulff Hauglann

Maria is a Norwegian travel nerd who has explored more than thirty countries on four continents. She holds a master's degree in Computer Science, as well as an MBA. In 2014 while on a year-long trip across South East- Asia, Maria co-founded the travel blog Nerd Nomads to help others get out and explore the world. In 2018 she left her day job permanently for a life of full-time travel. See our about page for more about Maria.


    • Bentota sure is a beautiful place! Love the beach! Thanks for commenting, Chris and Laura!

      Happy travels!


    • Hi Vishwa,

      So glad to hear that you like our article about Bentota! We love Sri Lanka, and will definitely come back over and over again. You are lucky that live in such a beautiful country.

      Happy travels!


  1. The Bentota beach seems outstanding, Maria! Do you have any tips about a cheaper accommodation there?

    • Hi Agness,

      Yeah, Bentota Beach is great! I was really surprised how beautiful it was and how few people that used the beach. Just the way I like it. 🙂

      Sorry, can`t help you with tips about cheaper accommodation. There are mostly mid- and top-range hotels and guesthouses in this area. But you might be able to find some home-stays.

      Have a great trip to Sri Lanka and enjoy Bentota!


  2. hi, what is this spice garden called? I am trying to get information about places like this. All other i have seen are close to Kandy…

    • Hi Kidde,

      Unfortunately, I don`t remember what this spice garden is called, so sorry about that! It is on the left side of the road from Colombo to Bentota. There are several nice spice gardens in this area, just ask your driver to stop at one.

      Have a great trip to Sri Lanka and enjoy the spice gardens!


  3. Fantastic blog on Bentota! So helpful, my partner and I are going for 18 days travelling around Sri Lanka in 3 weeks and I cannot wait!!! 😀

    • Hi Cheri,

      Lucky you who are going to Sri Lanka for three weeks! It is a fantastic country with amazing people and beautiful nature! You will have a great time!

      Have a nice trip to Sri Lanka!


  4. Hey Maria, thank you so much for all the information. I was wondering if you give us contacts for the river safari!

    Thank you,

    • Hi Sana,

      We booked the river safari in Bentota through the hotel we stayed at, the Waterside Bentota Hotel. Its easy to book a river safari in Bentota, either at your hotel or at the beach as there are several booking stands at the beach offering river safari trips.

      Have a great time in Bentota and enjoy the river safari!


  5. Very informative your post! I am between Mirissa and Bentota. I have two kids 3 and 8 years old. Which beach in your opinion would be more appropriate for families?

    • Hi Patricia,

      Thank you so much! Hmm, I would say that both Mirissa and Bentota is perfect for kids as they both have white soft sandy beaches, shallow water, and the waves are that not big.

      Although Mirissa is a bit busier than Bentota with surfers and cafes/ restaurants on the beach. In the evening and night, the beach at Mirissa turns into a party so if you are staying close to the beach you might find the party music disturbing. But it´s very nice to have fresh seafood dinner at one of the many beach restaurants in Mirissa in the evening.

      Have a great trip to Sri Lanka and enjoy your beach time!


  6. Hi Maria,

    You blog is so helpful for me to plan a 10-day travelling in Lanka soon. Thank you so much to share the experiences and information on line. Just a question about the choose of beach town. I am wondering if you can have some suggestions about best position for snorkeling, because my 12-year daughter love it!

    Thanks again for your valuable blogs.


    • Hi David,

      Thank you so much! So happy to hear that our blog could be of help to you when planning your 10-day trip to Sri Lanka!

      The best place to go snorkeling and diving in Sri Lanka is Pigeon Island just outside of Nilaveli Beach. But it is on the east coast, just north of Trincomalee, so it is a bit out of the main tourist areas of Sri Lanka and it takes many hours to drive there. I guess you are planning on going to the west coast of Sri Lanka.

      On the west coast, Bentota, Hikkaduwa, Kalpitiya, Unawatuna, and Weligama, is great for snorkeling. Kalpitiya is a bit out of the main tourist area as well, as it is on the north-west coast, north of Colombo.

      Bentota is an excellent area for water sports in general, where you can go on snorkeling, canoeing, deep-sea fishing, jet-skiing, waterskiing, windsurfing, and take diving courses. The Bentota beach and area is also quieter and more relaxed than for instance Hikkaduwa and Unawatuna.

      Hikkaduwa is famous for great snorkeling, diving, and surfing conditions. Hikkaduwa National Park is a marine park that stretches along the northern end of the beach. This is an excellent place for snorkeling and you can rent snorkeling gear from places around the park ticket office. You can also rent a glass-bottomed boat, although it is not the ideal way to see the reef, snorkeling is so much better! 🙂

      Unawatuna has no surf waves, but a nice reef a short distance from the west end of the beach, excellent for snorkeling. You can easily rent snorkeling gear. You can also go on diving tours from Unawatuna, both wreck, reef, and cave dives.

      Weligama is also great for snorkeling and diving. You can join snorkeling and dive tours, as well as whale and dolphin diving and snorkeling trips at for instance Weligama Bay Dive Center. Here you can also rent snorkeling gear.

      Have a fantastic trip to Sri Lanka! Hope your 12-year old daughter get to do some great and fun snorkeling and see lots of colorful fishes!



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