Bentota lies just south of the major local city Aluthgama, offers a further clutch of package resorts plus an outstanding selection of more upmarket boutique places. The beach divides into two areas. At the north end, facing Aluthgama, lies “Paradise Island” (as it’s popularly known), a narrow split of land beautifully sandwiched between choppy breakers of the Indian Ocean and the calm waters of the Bentota lagoon; however the “island” is heavily developed and covered in a sequence of big and rather pedestrian hotels. Backing Paradise Island, the tranquil lagoon provides the setting for the island’s biggest range of water sports, along with interesting boat trips up the Bentara river. The atrractive southern end of the beach (south of the railway station), comprises a wide and tranquil swathe of sand that’s home to one of the island’s finest clusters of top-end hotels, set at discrete intervals from one another down the coast. Inland from here lies the Bentota village, a traditional coastal settlement which is home to a couple of temples and few other minor attractions which the entrepreneurial locals will be happy to show you – for a consideration. Despite the number of visitors, Bentota beach remains surprisingly quiet, particularly south of the railway station. Unlike Hikkaduwa or Unawatuna, there’s virtually no beach life here, and the oceanfront lacks even the modest smattering of impromptu cafes, handi craft shops and hawkers you’ll find at Beruwela – it’s this somnolent atmosphere which either appeals or repels, depending on which way your boat’s pointing.