Just 65 kilometers away from the busy and noisy streets of Colombo, less commercialized, peaceful and calm place lies Avani Bentota, located right next to the blue waves of Bentota and neighboring Bentota River awaits your pleasant visit for some water sports with Malu Banna, together with the guidance of Chathura, experienced and seasoned as a very advanced surfer and as well as in guiding. The best part of it is, as you pass the Bentota bridge, to your right hand side you would pass the railway crossing, and enter the world of beach hotels and out of it all you could see Avani Bentota, one of the properties by Serendib Leisure’s small luxury property, caters to all your needs with wonderful homey and cozy touches.
As you enter the property, you will be welcomed by wonderful and warm smiles of the Sri Lanka style “AYUBOWAN”, which means “May you live longer”, with a mint and cold towel to freshen up and a welcome drink to quench your thirst. The pool facing the dining area with a triangular shape, and the range of coconut trees with lines attached to them is for local toddy. You can make a request at the hotel if you would like to try some local toddy and the same would be provided for you as a wonderful cocktail to enjoy. The breeze bar has all sorts of cocktails, out of which I tried Pena cola do at its’ best.
The sea food at the resort was one part that cannot be forgotten as you experience the wonderful after taste of the Jumbo Prawns, the baked and fried Crabs, the curry cuttlefish was a wonderful experience. Jumbo prawns were baked with a touch of soya sauce, lime, ginger and some garlic. The salad that served with it was a wonderful dish to start up the dinner with.
As you experience a shot of lemon gin at the Breeze Bar, sit back and enjoy the cultural dance show performed by local artists at the pool pavilion, a colorful show and also breaking the silence, the drumming style and the dance styles that belongs to the Kandian, would come to life in Bentota, as you enjoy a plate of prawns and sip of lime gin.
The devil dance being one of the most famous among the Kandian dancing styles, was one of the highlights of the cultural show this evening, as the devil danced to the beats of the drummer, as the music flew across the yard, the spectators applaud in pride as the devil danced his final lap. As a continuous tone the drummer adjusted the tempo of the beat, and so did the devil.
The origin of Kandian dancing was first introduced to Sri Lanka from Kandy, and it is well known for the cultural dances performed by the Kandian Arts and Crafts Society. “Kohomba Kankariya”, was a well known ritual used for exorcism activities conducted during the era of the Kings. The Kandian Dance cannot be performed by everyone; it can be continued as a profession only by a selected caste by the Kandian Fudel System. Even though it was only males who originated Kandian Dancing, today females too do have a part in the different dances, and also the caste barriers were removed in order to make the dance more compatible with the moving trends and to make it an open profession for any dancer.
The fire dance conducted again by a male is also a wonderful performance as you could see, the fire would pass around his skin, but still it would not burn the skin, but just simple and smoothly the fire travels from one end to the other along the skin. The colorful light that adds the flames an additional reddish and golden look would make the show even better.
The end show with a line of colorful men and women dressed in vibrant colors and the speed up of drumming and then slow down, again speed up and then slow down is a mixture of traditional beats brought together by a well trained experienced team of performers is the best way to end a show.
After a wonderful dinner at the dining area set up near the pool, the best place to enjoy a meal with your loved one would be on the deck near the pool, as the cool breeze flow across the waters of Bentota, refreshing your mood for a wonderful dinner.
The mix of spices of the local cuisine and the option of westernized food, gives you more variety for the meal selection. If you wish to make reservations for your own private meals at the room, this too is possible with the Ala Cart restaurant at the hotel.
Water Sports at Bentota was another wonderful experience that cannot be forgotten. As you pass the Bentota Bridge, to you left hand side you’ll find “Maalu Banna” water sports centre, and you will meet Chathura, the owner of the small boat house, where they offer a range of water sports, fun games, real adventure, river cruises, sea activities and many more.
They do have courses for beginner wind surfers, for different time periods, depending on your way of learning, whether you’re a fast learner or a slow learner, either way, he will get you to surf within a day!!!
Water skiing is also in beginner level packages, where he always mentions that without falling, you cannot learn. Every time you fall, you learn something new, the direction to transfer the weight, the direction to turn and to keep up with the speed, comes through the number of times you fall into the water. No matter, life jackets will be given, and the Bentota Lake being shallow, provides a great destination not only for very experienced water sports travelers, but also for those who would love to experience is for the first time.
The Ringo ride or the tube ride is one of the all time favorites as it is suitable for beginners and professionals both. It is couples with two or more rings and you can enjoy with your friends, as you bump into each other, the speed boat is tied to the rings, and how you travel fast across the smooth floor wave of water, as water splash across your face, the warm yet soothing breeze hit your face. It is one ride to start with. Jet Ski is also a sole experience, which you can use to ride across the lake of Bentota, as you arrive to the corner, where the lake ends at the ocean, you can turn around and head back to the water sports centre. They do have packages for 15 minutes or 7 minutes.
The Banana Boat ride is for friends and family, those who would love to experience a wonderful group ride on the bright yellow banana shaped boat. Chathura, the guide would make you fall with a sudden turn if you wish to experience the adventure and if you are the type to enjoy the time with nature.
And for those who ride for romance, I believe canoeing a river cruise would be the ideal as you ride along the river of Bentota, underneath the bridge and through the mangroves.
There are also sports such as Deep Sea Fishing, Lagoon Fishing, Baby Turtle Release and Beach BBQ nights and Bentota Bicycle tours organized by Maalu Baanna Water Sports Centre other than the normal packages. These can be organized to groups seeking for personalized tours, snorkeling and diving are few other packages available at Bentota.
Back in the hotel, you can spend time at the pool, or the beach or relaxing at the Spa of Avani Bentota. The comfortable and cozy rooms with clean and tidy bedding, wonderfully furnishes rooms and the seating area adds color to your stay as you spend your nights at Avani Bentota.
It is a truly amazing hideout from the busy streets and noisy towns. I believe it would be one of the best choices for a wonderful stay with sea food and water sports at Bentota.
By Milani Wickramaratne