Bali is a volcanic island and as such has a selection of black sand beaches, most notably on the east coast, the north coast and the west coast. White sand beaches can be found on the Bukit Peninsula, Sanur, Nusa Lembongan and a few select places in East Bali, such as Padangbai and Candi Dasa.
South Bali Beaches
Sun, sea and surf, or whatever triple combo tickles your fancy, is easily available since hotels in Tuban, Kuta, Legian and Seminyak are built on the beach. Crazy vendors may not be your kettle of fish, or maybe you are looking to meet a Kuta Cowboy, whatever your goals here is a quick look at some local beaches.
• Kuta Beach: Good for getting a taste of the Bali vibe. Busy with vendors, tourists and locals. Food and drinks widely available, shade under trees close to the street and nice sandy beach. Perfect place to learn to surf. This is the place where foreign females hook up with local guys. Not a good beach if you want peace and quiet.
• Kuta Halfway: Located straight up the street from the main part of Kuta beach. Way less people, less service and less shade. Good for more peace and quiet without walking too far. Sand still decently light colored.
• Blue Ocean Beach: Located at the end of Jl. Double Six, takes 15 minutes from Kuta. Very busy afternoon scene. Plenty of bars and decent places to eat. This area features people playing bat and ball games. There is a gay volleyball pit and this is the beach where foreign guys come to hook up with local ladies. The sand is a brown color. Best food Zanzibar, best beer, Blue Ocean, best place to meet ladies on the beach under one of the drinks stands.
• Pantai Gado Gado: At the end of Jl. Dhyana Pura is Gado Gado restaurant. A high end place with a beach front patio. If you have money to spend and want an elegant environment, Gado Gado will work. For a cheaper option close by, go 100 meters back up Jl. Dhyana Pura to Cin Cin restaurant (part of Puri Cendana hotel).
You can get a club sandwich for 35,000rp. Keep going down Jl. Dhyana Pura towards Jl. Legian and you’ll hit a slew of places to eat, including Santa Fe (western food), Warung Mimpi (Indonesian food) and C’Bo (Italian food), all cheap / mid range. A north distance to the west in Ku De Ta restaurant, located at the end of Jl. Oberoi, another great place to enjoy a beach-side breakfast or sunset drink. Pantai Gado Gado is popular with locals and expats for playing with the family and walking.
• Echo Beach Canggu: Takes 35 minutes from Kuta. Beach is virtually deserted, very few vendors, good surf and a great place called The Beach House serving good beer and food. Great Sunday night bbq’s. Don’t swim on this beach because of the rips.
• Pantai Seseh Canggu: Pantai Seseh is reached by following the main road Jl. Raya Canggu) towards Canggu. Reaching the big tree at the intersection in Munggu, with the sate sellers camped out and attracting locals, you hang a left towards the coast. The next 10 minutes are a dream come true as far as lovely quiet sawah. Looking around you’ll see no villas, few shops and views of the coast. The beach itself is nothing to shout about and locals with gather before sunset to gaze at the waves and the setting sun. Pantai Seseh is rugged and windswept, with dark volcanic sand.
• Pantai Berawa Canggu: Pantai Berawa is a local beach that is reasonably close to Kuta. Sand is a light brown, fairly clean. There is low scrub and trees at the back of the beach, but not the swaying palms some people associate with paradise. Pantai Berawa, and the whole Canggu beach area is windy and part of the attraction is watching the waves crash in. Sipping an iced tea at Legong Keraton is very pleasant and relaxing. Souvenir vendors hang around the entrance to the beach, but on the beach its pretty deserted.
• Jimbaran Beach: Jimbaran Bay lies just south of the airport in Tuban and the Four Seasons hotel. Jimbaran beach has yellow sand and the waves are not too big for swimmers. Although this beach still has a sleepy fishing village feel there are great food places and more springing up. A friend of mine was there recently and recommended the excellent food that is available on the beach.
• Sanur Beach: Located 2 miles SE of Denpasar, Sanur Beach has a lagoon that makes it ideal for swimming and snorkeling. There’s a mixture of traditional village life and tourist accommodation which varies between traditional style and luxury. This place is way more relaxed than Kuta.
• Semawang Beach: Semawang Beach in the southern part of Sanur is protected from waves and offers a safe place for families. Located at the beach is Stiff Chili restaurant.
• Lovina Beach: Lovina is located on the north shore of the island and has a volcanic grey sand beach. It’s definitely a different scene from the spendy hotels down on the south side of the island and is a good place to chill out for a while. You will probably be offered an early morning dolphin watching boat ride. Take my advice and decline. Twenty boats powering after four dolphins isn’t my idea of fun.
• Bukit Beaches: The Bukit is a limestone plateau and the beaches are a pale yellow / white sand. The largest beaches on the Bukit are in Nusa Dua on the eastern side of the Bukit. Dreamland has the largest beach on the western side.
One of the best Bali beaches is at the very southern end of the Bukit. Looking at a map, you ride up the hill from Jimbaran, heading to Uluwatu. Instead of turning west, you keep going straight south, towards Pura Masuka. This temple is tiny and is perched on a cliff-top, overlooking the ocean. Directly in front of it is a hiking trail that leads you down to the beach, which is usually empty. The hike takes about 15 minutes.
• Ulu Watu & Padang Padang: Hang around surfers and these two places will come up often. Ulu Watu was Bali’s first famous break and although isn’t developed for luxury tourists is getting more crowded. Located at the very south of the island on the western edge of Bukit Badung (that bit that sticks out) Ulu Watu is a chill place to relax, visit the temple and watch the surfers.
• Dreamland Beach: Located on the Bukit peninsula, takes 25 minutes from Kuta. Good for low-end surfers who like a beach break, people who like the simple beach-side warungs and a lower stress scene. There are about 20 warungs serving food and drinks, surf board rental in the high season. Vendors generally leave you alone. No shade other than inside a warung. Lovely sandy beach.
• Padang: Around the point to the left is Uluwatu, around the next point is Padang Padang. You could actually walk around during low tide. For this article, we’ll refer to the beach as Ulu-Padang. The beach has decent sand, with a coral reef protecting the beach from big waves. When the tide is out it might not look so great, but when the tide is in you’ll be able to swim. This is Bali so remember to proceed with care as currents can be strong. Bring plenty of sunscreens and a hat. The only shade is the densely packed trees at the back of the beach.
•Nusa Dua: Great lagoon and white sandy beaches. There is a heavy build up of luxury hotels and resorts but there are also local warungs offering cheap food.
• Pantai Geger: Pantai Geger is located on the eastern side of the Bukit Peninsula. Pantai Geger is ideal for families with young kids, as the beach is protected from waves and is comfortable.
• Pura Tegalwangi: Adding to the ever growing list of ’secret beaches’ we can find in Bali is the secluded white sand beach at Pura Tegalwangi, on the Bukit peninsula. You’ve probably never heard of that temple and it’s certainly not one of the most famous in Bali.
The great thing about the beach, which is adjacent to the temple, is that tourists don’t go there. This is for a couple of reasons including 1) they don’t know its there, 2) there are plenty of other beaches closer to Kuta. So if you are looking for a quiet, unspoiled beach with no one else around the beach at Pura Tegalwangi might work for you.
• Padangbai: Padangbai is a fishing village located on the SE coast approximately 40 miles from Kuta. The snorkeling is quite good and there are locals offering jet skis and other water sports activities.
Padangbai sits at the end of a road running off of the Klungkung-Candi Dasa main road. There are a busy main beach and 2 much quieter beaches.
The first, Blue Lagoon, is accessed by heading to the far left of the main beach and hiking 10 minutes up and over the hill, dropping down onto a white sand beach with a couple of warungs.
This is a good place to snorkel and dive boats come here. You might want to hire a boat to take you snorkeling for safety. The second beach, Biastugal is also called Pantai Kecil (small beach) and is located on the other side of the ferry terminal. You can’t see it from the main beach, and the only way I knew it was there, was by taking the ferry to Lombok, looking back and seeing it.
• Pantai Kecil is accessed by walking through town round the back of the ferry terminal, up the hill and down to the beach.
From downtown, it takes 15 minutes. Here you will find several warungs, a pleasant beach with yellow/white sand and some beach vendors. Pantai Kecil is easily the best beach in Padangbai and the level of harassment isn’t too bad.
•Candi Dasa: Candi Dasa used to have a good beach, but it washed away because the locals destroyed the reef for lime. That is a well-known story. Between Senkidu to the west and Candi Dasa, there is a small section of beach. The main road runs very close to the shore in this part of Bali and it’s easy to stop and take a look.
In the evenings, young Balinese like to park their bikes and chat here, its the local hangout scene. The Lotus Restaurant has a nice little chunk of the beach next to it, a low tide anyway. Lotus Restaurant is right there at the entrance to the Candi Dasa main street.
At the far end of the main street, Forest Rd. curves to the left and heads off into the boonies. If you keep going straight, you will drive down what feels like a quite lane, but one that is lined with small hotels. There is also a sign saying ‘The Beach’, which you follow. The sign directs you through a nice boutique hotel. No problem to walk through and access the beach, which is very nice.
•Pasar Putih: What Pasir Putih offers is an almost pristine white sand beach, with little development, in a tropical setting. Drive East from Kuta towards Sanur. Take the Kusamba Bypass to East Bali. Follow the coastal road past Candi Dasa. When you come to Perasi, slow down and ask locals for ‘Pasir Putih’. Driving time from Kuta: 2.5 hours.
•Lipah Beach Amed: East Bali is probably the closest thing a tourist will get to the ‘real Bali’. To be honest, tourists aren’t looking for the ‘real Bali’ any more than they would want a ‘deserted beach’. We’re looking for postcard landscapes, with elegant locals…and enough creature comforts to keep us happy. East Bali has all these and the Amed area, location of the far SE coast is a very laid back, tranquil area.
Location: East Bali, far south east coast
Traveling time from Kuta: 4 hours
Accommodation: Budget & boutique
Restaurants: Budget / mid range
Nightlife: None to speak of except the occasion joged dance.
Internet access: Yes. Slow.
Closest big town: Amlapura
Closest western location: Candi Dasa
Lipah beach is the most developed beach in the area (although still very peaceful), located around 10km from Culik. There’s accommodation at Hidden Paradise and slightly after this, Coral View. Both places have large, well-furnished bungalows in lush gardens with pools next to the beach.
•Candikusumah: Driving east from Gilimanuk towards Kuta, one will pass through the kecamatan (municipal border) of Malaya. Along with this stretch of road are many small potholes so one is advised to stay alert, as each 20-meter section of the road appears to be made by a different person. On the beach side of the road is a sign indicating the beach at Candikusumah. This is accessed by a narrow lane just 100 meters long. The black sand beach here is nothing to shout about, but might be good for a rest stop or a quick dip in the ocean.
•Pantai Rening: Around 15km east of Candikusumah heading into Negara is a junction sign pointing the way to Cupel. On this corner are various local warungsoffering masakan Muslim (Muslim food) and sate ayam (chicken satay). Take this road south to the first junction and head right to the end. Around 4kms away from the road is Pantai Rening, another sweeping black sand bay. There is a sizable local hotel (Hapel Beach Resort) at the end of the road, with security and what appears to be decent grounds. This place is off of the western tourist radar and might be a change from Medewi for a place to stay on the coast in west Bali.
•Yeh Gangga: Yeh Gangga beach is 10km SW of Tabanan. The attraction of this area is a natural beauty, with rice fields leading down to the beach, volcanoes in the distance and a rugged, empty coastline. Yeh Gangga beach, like many of the beaches on the SW coast, is not suitable for swimming, due to the currents and lack of any emergency services. When its low tide, the beach is quite wide and easy to walk on, there are not many places to buy food/drinks, although Yeh Gangga beach itself has a few very basic places.
Places to stay in Yeh Gangga include Bali Wisata Bungalows and the expensive Waka Gangga. Bibi’s (081 361 0914)is another small place, that is located at Pusat Beach, to the west of Yeh Gangga. This is the simplest and cheapest option. Staying in Yeh Gangga, renting a scooter and slowly exploring the countryside, meeting locals etc. would be a lovely way to go. This area has a touch of East Bali, slow paced and removed from the tourist scene.
•Balian: When people think of surf spots in west Bali, they think of Medewi. The quiet black sand coast at Balian can be a great location for some people.
Balian as a surfing/holiday destination
•Gets some decent swell
•Easy access, close to main road.
•Can be too quiet for some people
•Isn’t the greatest surf spot in Bali
•A limited choice places to stay, eat.
•Nasty busy road back to Kuta.
On my trip to Balian, I stayed with a friend of a friend, in a simple place overlooking the beach. Here is a message board on Wannasurf, with people talking about the good old days at Balian.
Accommodation options in Balian have been increasing in recent years. Here are a few options.
Pondok Pisces Bungalows & Balian Riverside Sanctuary
There is a place called Balian Surf Bungalows, but my browser keeps crashing, every time I try to load their site. So as far as we’re concered, they don’t exist.
How far in Balian?
Balian is 90 minutes from Kuta
How do you get to Balian?
From Kuta you take the Sunset Rd to Kerobokan, head towards Canggu, Tanah Lot, Tabanan, then Gilimanuk. Balian is along the way after Soka Beach.
What’s Balian like?
Balian is a quiet stretch of coast, lined with palm trees, and rice fields/hills behind. Quiet village life, with a dirty great main road going through the middle.
Who is Balian good for?
Balian is good for surfers, people who like a quiet existence, and people who would enjoy an interaction, more in tune with a Balinese village, than a shopping mall.
Who would Balian not be good for?
People who need to be entertained. Attention deficit kids. People who demand a wide choice of places to shop, eat, drink, party.
Best time to come to Balian:
Dry season, April-October.
What should you bring to Balian?
A car to allow you to explore. Books, reading materials. Special snacks you might like, liquor. Cash money.
Dangers and annoyances:
Currents/drowning. Don’t swim by yourself without telling anyone where you are going. The main road is very busy.
Last time I went there was a little shop and a warung, probably more now.
• North Bali Beaches:
Lovina is actually a string of small villages ( Kalisasem & Temukus, Kalibukbuk, Anturan, Tukad Mungga, and Pemaron. Kalibukbuk also has a section known as Banyualit ) that have been dumped under the same name. Along with this coastline is a quiet black sand beach, with the occasional Balinese fishing boat parked on it. The water is warmer on the north coast that down south and there is virtually on the surf, making this a good area for snorkeling.
Located on the NE coast of Bali, this section of the coast has to be one of the quietest. The black sand beach sits close to the road generally, the water is clear and unpolluted and there is the occasional development. The best place to stay in the area is Poinciana Resort in Tejakula / Tembok. The nearest place to go for supplies is Singaraja, around 1 hour.