Bentota

This southwestern small resort town is an ideal place to get into the beach vacay mode of Sri Lanka. Here is your little guide to visiting Bentota.

Heads Up – The place is more of a resort town. So it is ideal for family holidays. Hence expect lots of tourists here.

Fifteen minutes of “Being an Eagle” experience in one minute –

Index-

Stay

We stayed in DEDUNU HOME -DO I RECOMMEND? – 100% yes. (this isn’t a paid post).

The homestay is just 150m away from Bentota train station & beach. It was a bit out of our budget, but totally worth it. They have a lovely cosy garden with pebble courts, creepers and other plants. The front porch itself gives you a homely feel. When you are tired of scorching heat on the beach, coming back to a home like this is heaven.

Though they cater to foreign tourists majorly, their breakfast and the decor remained true to Sri Lankan style. The vermicelli with coconut milk, appam with sambal and some fruits – The first Lankan food we ever had was here. It definitely didn’t feel like a homestay owner trying to please his customer, but a host with a warm heart. He knew that we would reach his guest house late in the night. So he was waiting for us till 1 AM with some food if in case we were hungry! He was with us the whole time while we had breakfast chatting about Bentota, Sri Lanka and IPL! The next day he had guests going to Galle. So he clubbed us with them and arranged a taxi for 6 of us – we saved money and time because of him.

Bentota is famous for its resort. In fact, it is renowned as a beachside resort town. So if you are looking for beachfront luxury resorts, you have too many options that may confuse you.

While walking to the Paramotor site, we came across two of these- Cinnamon Bentota beach and Avani Bentota, both designed by Ar. Geoffrey Bawa + saw one from the above while flying – Taj Bentota. They all looked beautiful from the outside, and I am sure they are prettier from the inside too. If our budget was higher and we stayed in Bentota for longer, I would have opted to remain in Lunuganga Geoffrey Bawa’s Country Estate. – away from touristy town and in the heart of Geoffrey Bawa’s garden. 

Avani Bentota Resort

How to reach Bentota

  • FLIGHTS – The nearest airport is Colombo International airport – 105km, 2hr journey by car. We booked a taxi at the airport at 10.30 PM, costing us around 3000 INR or 50 USD.
  • PUBLIC TRANSPORT – Colombo to Galle buses go via Bentota. The route might be scenic, but the ride could be bumpy if you choose the red buses ( NON AC, cheaper government buses). Use Routemaster to track the bus routes.
  • RAILWAYS -Bentota train station has got a good railway network. We happened to walk across the railway station while going to the beach. For the first time, I saw such a beautiful railway station! Here is the link to the Sri Lankan Railways website.

Wherever you want to go around Bentota, Tuk-tuks will be your best friend. Don’t forget to bargain for a lesser price and fix the rate before starting the ride. 

Is Bentota worth visiting?

Taj Bentota from above – Seen while Paramotoring

I loved every moment of flying in the sky paramotoring – there is no doubt about it. So the sole purpose of us going to Bentota was Paramotoring. At that time, there were only two paragliding sites in Sri Lanka. So we opted for Bentota, the closest to Mirissa. The town as such isn’t as interesting, neither as Ella nor as Mirissa /Galle. The beaches are lovely but not as much as the ones in Mirissa or Hikkaduwa. 

When we were there, a big bus of domestic travellers arrived at the beach. By evening, the shore was filled with group tourists. Later, we got to know from our homestay owner that every tour organiser gets their guests here without fail – It is closer to Colombo airport, has plenty of resorts, and has a nice coastline. So you can imagine the crowd, especially in tourist season. It is most tourists’ gateway to Sri Lanka’s beautiful beach vacation.

Does it mean Bentota isn’t worth visiting?

It depends on with whom you are travelling for how long and when. If it is your family vacation seeking a convenient holiday at a resort by the beachside, Bentota should be on your list – It has got options for day trips.

But, on the other hand, if you are a history buff and love wandering in the shaded alleys of cosy streets, Bentota may not be suitable for you. The beaches aren’t that great for lazing on doing nothing. They are too open and have no shade (We almost walked for 2km along the coast) like Mirissa. Unless you have a room in the expensive resort, there is no way to escape the scorching heat, especially afternoons.

So our verdict is – It is a great place for people travelling with families and group tours. However, it May not be suitable for flashpackers and backpackers. If we didn’t want to do paramotoring, we would have skipped Bentota. We prefer the beaches of Mirissa, Hikkaduwa or Tangalle.

How many days to spend in Bentota

We suggest one stay with one whole day is enough for Bentota. Consider two days if you want to stay in the resort, make day trips to a turtle sanctuary, and kayak in Madu Ganga lake. We suggest you not plan your lazing on the beach vacation in Bentota- it can get super crowded.

How was flying in the sky like an Eagle?

General information –
  • We did it through Sky club Sri Lanka Paramotoring. Their website never worked, so we contacted them through Facebook messenger. It was pretty easy to reserve the slots.
  • Cost-50 USD or 8500 LKR/ person for 15 minutes duration. -Payable in only cash – Lankan rupees. And it was absolutely worth every Rupees we paid.
  •  They operate from 9.30 AM to 5.30 PM. We chose 10.30 AM. I can’t compare if they are the best in Sri Lanka or not as we didn’t find any other paramotor organiser at that time.
  • Location: The takeoff and landing location is near Avani and Cinnamon resort. There are no cafes nearby for refreshments. Having juice at Avani may cost you a bomb, so carry water bottles or some canned juice. You are lucky if you find a coconut seller on the way. 
  • Learn a bit of Sinhala; it helps you converse with the organiser when you are lost in the woods beside the coast trying to reach the takeoff site.
  • Strangely, they didn’t ask us to sign on a declaration form which usually we are asked to sign while doing any flying or diving activity. There was no briefing or asking about if we have any particular health issues. That form saying “I am responsible for my life” wasn’t there at all. However, we both are alive today, so I say it was safe.
  • We were given a helmet, a life jacket with straps (you fly above the sea) and no elbow/knee guards.
  • I am not sure if you should go empty stomach to do paramotor. So we had tea and some coconut water only for breakfast and ate later to be on the safer side.

We both are early birds. We love the time of dawn when the town wakes up and gets ready for the day. The Pitambara street was waking up while we took our morning walk when the air was warm (Yes, the morning breeze was also warm in Bentota). Barechested men wearing a lungi (sarong) were walking towards the ocean. Ladies were watering their beautiful gardens. White/red tuk-tuks carried a lot of snacks and soda bottles to deliver. Empty tuk-tuks often stopped, and the drivers kept, “Hi Tourist. Welcome to Bentota. Boating in Madu Ganga lake, turtle sanctuary, Fish spa – full-day tour 1000 Rupees. Best service, do you want.”

A Series of houses lined either side of the street. The coconut trees behind every house dominated the town silhouette. Most of them were homestays with beautiful gardens in Bawa’s style. There are no flowering plants but various greens and creepers and many temple trees. The sun rose, the heat increased, and we had arrived at the highway. Honestly, the city isn’t great for cycling or walking like Galle or Mirissa. Some charm was missing. So we decided to go down and walk towards the paramotor site by the beachside.

We saw a railway track beside the beige sand at the end of the road. Walking on the platforms for a few minutes, we realised how beautiful Sri Lankan railways are. There was a bridge connecting either side of the platforms. The view from there showed us what traditional Sri Lankan buildings look like – Half-round clay tiles for sloping roofs with infinite temple trees. Sahana couldn’t stop talking about her favourite architect Geoffrey Bawa, each time she saw a building like this. After an hour of walk, we found the railway station, the most peaceful place for a break with some roof over the head to save us from brimming sunshine. 

I never thought I would lay down on a bench in a railway station. But we did it here for almost 30 minutes.

There was hardly anyone. Some locals in Sarongs were waiting for their friends, and a coconut seller approached us. The heat and tiring walk needed something as fresh as this tender coconut water. Among multiple similarities between Sri Lanka and India, Cricket is one. A smile from each other, coconut water, and there it began – 

where are you from?- India.

Ohhh, Virat Kohli – Yes, he is our Indian cricket team Captain.

I support Mumbai Indians. You? – Oh, we are from Bangalore. We are RCBians.

He smirked, laughed and said something in Sinhala. I am sure he laughed at my team that is constantly losing. So we laughed too and said, “Ee sala cup namdee” ( This time the trophy is ours), shook hands with him and walked to the beach.

The wide-open beach and blue water was the context for our next 30 minutes walk. It is simple to walk on the beach, but walking in the woods made it more exciting (and relaxing). It is crazy how tuk-tuks in Sri Lanka can sneak in every nook & cranny of the streets. There were no signs of humans, but a red tuk-tuk stood there waiting for the owner and customer.

We could hear the water splash from the pools. On the left was a wide-open beach behind the bushes, and to the right was a series of luxury resorts like Avani and Cinnamon bay. Guests relaxed on the sunbeds under the shade while their kids splashed in the pool. The half-round clay tiles on the sloping roof continued here too. Admiring the luxury, we continued to walk and got a phone call from the Paramotor organiser to check if we were on our way at 10.15. 

We saw two men wearing green shirts with Sky Club logos when we reached a spot. Behind them was a skeletal machine that had wheels. I thought they must be making something newer version. After the meet and greet, they showed the exact skeletal vehicle and said, “Are you ready, gear up”  “What on earth did we choose? Is this thing even going to take my weight? Is it ever going to take off? What if it falls into the ocean from the sky.” Blabbering with each other, Sahana wore the helmet, tightened her life jacket and was ready to fly first. 

She sat with the pilot behind her. They attached the fabric behind the vehicle, and the motor started. While I prayed for Sahana’s safety, she was excited to take off. 15 seconds of running on the sand with its small wheels, the vehicle took off, and she vanished into the sky.

Honestly, my heart was pounding until she came back. My lady being herself, returned after 15 minutes screaming and shouting of joy. She got off and said, “It is nothing like you have experienced before. You really feel like a bird up in the open air. It is all safe, and the pilot was good. Don’t be scared. You will love it.”

I am acrophobic. So I was a bit scared in the beginning. I closed my eyes and prayed again. I sat, and it flew. Once I was up in the air, the pounding heart eased. I felt lighter, and a sense of freedom rushed through my veins. All I did was sit and wonder if I can see any whales breaching the water. Common tourists like us know nothing of paramotor controls, and the pilot does magic, The humans looked tiny. What I had read in school – “70% of the earth is covered with water” was shown here with proof.

THE GLOBE AND WATER

As far as I could see, it was that bright blue water, with a splash of white when waves hit the shore of beige sand. The vast trees beside the ocean looked like mushrooms, speed boats seemed like tiny insects moving fast, and I felt like a bird with the wind hitting my face.

That 15 minutes of the ride felt like five minutes. Finally, an acrophobic man flew in the air and wanted to go further. After landing, I hugged my pilot and told Sahana, ” Birds are the luckiest, and we are blessed to fly like this.”

Will you go flying in Bentota? Let us know in the comment section below. 

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