… and surrounding islands, for surfer girls and other beach babes
I am a member of many Moroccan and International travelers groups on Facebook and have noticed that most of the people aren’t aware of some hidden and gorgeous beaches in Bali.
Bali, the island of Gods, has many things to offer: a deep spiritual experience, mysterious temples, great waves, magnificent nature, lazy sunset picknick spots, awesome local food, trendy spots, wild nightlife, and also a bunch of amazing and beautiful beaches.
I will write a post later, on all the good things to do in Bali, but now I am going to focus on that last point: beaches!
Let’s start with “seasons”, the best time to visit Bali or any tropical destination is during the dry season. For Bali, it would be anytime between May and October, with a high season that coincides with “high surfing season” from June to August.
Bali is 155 km east to west and covers 122 km north to south. We can divide its coastal line into 6 distinct zones:
1. The tourist Trap:
Runs from Seminyak, Legian to Jimbaran. Contains medium to large resort zones, near downtown Kuta. The first place tourists land in their pale bodies to become pink shrimps.
Best for: Families with toddlers and large equipment, honeymooners who want to be on the beach while keeping a foot near shopping places, bars and restaurants, nightlife hardcore, low-budget backpackers.
Bad for: Solo travelers, nature lovers, real surfers.
Pros: Easily reached by foot, long sandy stretches, perfect sunset / beer time spots, large offer of surf schools, friendly locals, large choice of western and local food / drinks venues.
Cons: packed with families and local tourists, many hassling beach vendors that sell anything from massages, sarongs, wood carving, handmade jewelry, beer, … Shorebreak waves with some current that make swimming difficult, many beginner surfers with the risk of having a board on the head.
Seminyak, Legian & Kuta beach
Located in the Bukit, but since it’s very touristic it landed on the Tourist Trap section. Very lovely sandy beach with a view of the airport’s runway, right on a rock jetty. The highlight of this beach are the restaurants where you can choose your fish or seafood and have it grilled on coconut shells. Ambiance gets festive by night with many music groups turning around the tables looking for a tip.
2. The Bukit, a surfers’ paradise:
Extreme south of the island. High lemon stone cliffs with hidden beaches everywhere. World class waves and surfers’ mecca.
Best for: Surfers, adventurous couples, solo travelers, families with older kids backpackers with a medium budget.
Bad for: Complicated for families with toddlers and tourists with wheeled luggage, low-budget travelers.
Pros: Beautiful sandy and reef beaches with a large exploration potential. Feels like a tropical beach with coconut trees and turquoise waters. Large choice of housing: from wooden beach shacks to private villas with infinity pools.Many local and light western food options. Feels protected and secluded. Easy vibe with easy human contact. Mostly visited by a young adult population and surfers.
Cons: Difficult to hard access: parking on top of the cliff with a 15 min walk / hike / stairs to reach the beaches. No high-end restaurants by the beach (but many options a few minutes driving), live nature, live waters, reef. Swimming spots only accessible at certain tides. Pricier food / accommodation options compared to downtown Kuta.
A reef beach lined with wooden coffee shacks that offer small rooms for surfers.
The exception of this side of the Bukit, a large resort compound with golf courses. Turquoise water and golden sand.
Bingin & Impossibles beach
Access after the Kabron restaurant sign, a quick ride will get you to some homestays and a parking lot. You leave your bike/car up the hill and walk down carved stairs in the cliff to find paradise. Bingin wave is fast hollow shallow with perfect barrels, Impossibles as it’s name indicates is fast and short ride. Swimming is possible at high tide, with some natural refreshing pools at low tide.
Padang Padang beach
Access near the bridge between Impossibles going to Uluwatu, small carved staircase between two big rocks with an enchanting vision at the end. Home to one of the most iconic waves in Bali, if not in the world. Only for experienced and professional surfers.
On the road to Uluwatu temple and home to the infamous sunday night party venue “Single Fin”. Again it starts with stairs that go down the cliff with cafés, restaurants and souvenir shops. Home to one of the best waves of Bali and the world. Gets one of the best sunsets of the island. Once you arrive down the “hole” from where surfers can get to the waves, you can crawl your way out (at mid-low tide) to a beautiful beach protected by high lemonstone cliffs.
Green bowl beach
A real secret spot with hard access at the extreme south face of the island: small bumpy road in the middle of nowhere, 300+ steep stairs down the cliffs and aggressive monkeys that would steal anything edible from your backpack. If surfing, beware of sharks, rays and sea urchins.
3. Black sand hipster beaches:
Stretch north of Seminyak area: from Canggu to Medewi with black volcanic sand. Famous for its mustached / bearded / long-haired hipsters, Deus Ex-Machina fanatics, easy-going surfers, posing surfers, trendy yoga / organic food places, expats villas.
Best for: Group of friends who want to combine beach days with long nights in chill live music bars, bodyboarders, expats lovers.
Bad for: Thrill-seeking surfers, introverts surfers, low-budget travelers, people looking for a full immersion in the Balinese culture.
Pros: Nice restaurants with good food, live music and chilly vibes, nice sunset picnic and drinking spots, some medium to low-budget local food and housing options.
Cons: Many expats, crowded waves, wind sensitive surfing spots, no world-class waves, not the real surfing population, feet burning black sand, some water pollution, some rocks.
Old man’s beach
Good surfing spot for beginners. Famous for its open-aired “Old Man” restaurant / bar with live music on thursdays.
Canggu Echo beach
Multiple cafés overlook the waves and offer good options for breakfast, snack and lunch. Some fish barbecue is available on Sundays.
4. The fancy east-side:
Home to large all-inclusive, super expensive resorts, golden sandy man-made beaches, Japanese and Russian packed.
Good for: the knees and Rawson tourists all-inclusive honeymooners families with enough budget no mobility people.
Bad for: Everyone else.
Pros: Very modern resort side well-equipped beaches, many nautical activities, good swimming spots protected by a distant coral barrier.
Cons: Very expensive, secluded all-inclusive offers, very different from the other side of the island.
Nusa Dua beaches
Small hotels and souvenir market overlooking a bay with multiple speed boat that sail to the outer islands: Nusa Lembongan, Gili, and Lombok.
Serangan or Turtle island beach
The exception is East Bali, Turtle Island in a natural reserve with a magnificent beach and waves that break better in low season Bali.
5. The outer islands:
Nusa Lembongan, Nusa Ceningan, and Nusa Penida are located 30-45 min by speed boat from east Bali. They are quickly becoming an important tourists destination, mainly for their less-crowded surf and also for their high snorkeling and diving potential.
Quieter and less party-oriented than their sisters the Gilis, they offer anything from beach-shake accommodation to luxury villas and boutique hotels. Almost all the accommodation have their own restaurants and if you venture inside the islands on your rental motorbike (no car allowed) you’ll find more food options.
Good for: A 3-day break from the hassling and bustling Bali, families, surfers, snorkeling and diving lovers, honeymooners seeking quiet time.
Bad for: Party lovers, large groups of friends, shopping lovers,
Pros: Amazing blue waters, great snorkeling and diving spots, good surf spots, relaxing vibe, easy access from Bali,
Cons: Swimming and surfing are impossible at low tide (beware of the tides timing when booking your trip), many fishing / tourists boats on the way.
Nusa Lembongan beaches
6. The no-waves zones:
Nice beaches, mostly located near villages with friendly locals and no tourists, easy vibe, full immersion in the old Balinese culture.
Good for: Nature and snorkeling lovers, adventurers, slow travelers, backpackers, travelers who want a break from the crazy southern traffic.
Bad for: Party and nightlife lovers, fancy tourists.
Pros: Cheap accommodation and food, empty beaches, snorkeling spots, original Balinese vibe before the tourists’ rush.
Cons: Mostly local food options, small choice of fancy western restaurants, no waves.
Blue Lagoon beach