Sri Lanka’s bountiful west coast is a haven for beach lovers. At its heart is Bentota, a well-developed family-friendly coastal resort a 90-minute’ drive south from Colombo with one of the region’s longest stretches of sand, good seasonal swimming and a variety of sea- and lagoon-based water sports. It’s buzzy yet relaxed, its tone set by the many resort hotels that flank its sandy shoreline. Travel just to the south of Bentota however, and to quiet coastal hamlets such as Kosgoda and Ahungalla, and the vibe is more intimate and serene. Along these crowd-free beaches sit some of Bentota’s finest private villas and holiday homes.
The west coast is Sri Lanka’s original beach holiday destination. Yet it’s only recently that private villas have begun to spring up along its fine palm-fringed shoreline. Perched beside beaches well away from the main road, in little coastal villages, they promise a luxurious, comfortable and relaxing holiday for families, couples and groups, away from the crowds. Rental villas firmly reflect their destination; their owners often drafting in renowned Lankan architects to create their vision of a contemporary tropical home – think open-to-the-garden living spaces, double height ceilings and pavilions beside sun-drenched swimming pools.
Bentota villas are stylish and well-equipped. Bedrooms have ensuite bathrooms while living areas are spacious, allowing for convivial get-togethers or quiet moments, and promising views into tropical gardens with swimming pools and – in some villas – of the Indian Ocean beyond. Guests can dine indoors or eat alfresco, and facilities typically include TVs, music and WiFi. Most villas come with barbecues too, for grilling the fresh fish and seafood the region is known for, as well as chefs and attendants, so you don’t have to lift a finger.
Beaches in Bentota are home to five of the world’s seven species of nesting marine turtles. Kosgoda, in particular, is a prime nesting beach and these ancient creatures are often spied laying their eggs or emerging as hatchlings from the sand. Visit one of the hatcheries along the west coast to learn about their precious life cycle. Other activities in Bentota include jet skiing, water skiing, windsurfing and diving, or you could boat-trip up the Madu Ganga River to glimpse riverine wildlife and mangrove forests, and to visit an island Buddhist temple.
Two of Sri Lanka’s most notable personalities resided just inland from Bentota and created magical homes and estates for themselves here. Renowned architect Geoffrey Bawa spent over 40 years crafting Lunuganga, a hilltop house reflecting his own tropical modernist style and set amidst vast landscaped gardens overlooking Dedduwa Lake. Brief, the former estate of Geoffrey’s brother Bevis, a landscape architect, is set on a much smaller scale, though this modest low slung house is richly adorned with photos, artwork and sculptures.
For a relaxing Sri Lankan beach holiday, Bentota’s luxury villas, enigmatic coastline and unique attractions promise memories that families and groups will cherish forever.