Bentota is 65 km from Colombo and is a popular and fully geared tourist resort. Before the era of mass tourism and the consequent construction of the National Tourist Resort of Bentota, the first foreigners to stumble upon this charming spot, must have been Arab merchant sailors, who also discovered Beruwela in the 11th Century a little further north.
However it was the Portuguese who in the 17th Century, built a small fort at the mouth of the Bentota or Bentara Ganga. This wide river marked the southern extremity of Portuguese held territory in the island, as Dutch sails appeared on the horizon further south. The Dutch used the fort during their rule, as a resting place for stagecoaches plying between Colombo and Galle.
Later the British converted this simple halt into a rest house for travelers. Its idyllic location and tranquility made it a popular haven. By the 1970s, the rest house had become a hotel, opening the door to the commercial strip marking the resort today.