Bali’s beaches are a destination in itself. Even if you erase the food and the shopping, a trip to see the beach is worth the while.
At Bali we have beaches with different personalities. At the south, they are fun, crowded and great for surfing. A few miles farther from these tourist cores and you can find great diving, snorkeling and even more surfing spots. Some places are not accessible to the public, so you have to stay or dine at a hotel/restaurant for access. Some used to be fishing villages. Some had temples standing on top of rock formations. The beaches of the north are serene, less crowded and if you’re lucky (and willing to take a boat tour early in the morning), you can see a school of dolphins.
There is Kuta, which needs no explanation. Even though it is crowded, Kuta is a fun place to visit. There is a vibrant nightlife, plenty of good food and a busy marketplace, all within walking distance.
Just a few miles north, there is Legian, a gold-and-white expanse of sandy beach. Legian means “sweet” and your experience here can be described as such. There are plenty of small shops, art markets and plenty of nightlife destinations. If you are going with kids, the Waterbom Bali is a fun place to visit…it is crowded but, having grown up going to this place, we hold great love for the rides and the butter-roasted corn they sell in abundance there.
Sanur is quieter than the other two, but what makes it popular is its markets at the beach. There are also plenty of silver artists here, so definitely check them out!
Seminyak Beach has a plethora of high-end dining places, boutique shops and sophisticated restaurants. Read more about it here.
The most notable is Jimbaran. We grew up going to this place everytime we visit Bali. You can choose from row after row of freshly-caught fish, crabs and prawns that are still alive and kicking, as well as non-seafood essentials like omelets, tofu and vegetables (all of which are also fresh from the markets). After you make your selection, you will go to a table by the sea and enjoy the view, the company and the sound of crashing waves. When the food comes, it will be an experience unlike any other.
For a full list of seaside dining, visit out previous post.
These beaches are new, so not a lot of tourists go here. It’s a great place where locals love to hang out, though (sometimes, they will ask for a picture with you…don’t be alarmed! People from other parts of Indonesia who visit Bali don’t see a lot of foreigners, so they are merely curious and intrigued).
Pandawa Beach opened in 2012 and is getting more visitors each year. It is, however, still far less crowded than the more popular beaches. It is hidden behind a cliff and has statues erected in niches carved into the cliff walls. You can rent a paddle boat or a surfboard. Note that the swells are unpredictable here, so don’t try unless you’re an advanced surfer.
Padang Padang is one of the most popular surfing spots, but it is not crowded at all. To go to the beach, you have to go down a narrow pathway cutting through the cliff. Oh, and there are monkeys on top of the cliff too! The water is greenish and beautiful, with a lot of seaweed. There are a row of warung serving fresh coconuts and other foods, as well as locals selling sarong, t-shirts and other beach essentials you may be forgetting.
Blue Lagoon beach has only a short strip of white sand. It’s very quiet and a great place to relax. If you go up, there is a resort on top of the cliff. It serves great tea and cake, which you can enjoy with an aerial view of the beach.
Surfing and Diving
We are not surfers or divers, but we know a lot of people who are. Sometimes they take us to the best spots, so while we can’t really tell you what’s so good about it, we can tell you where to go to get started.
For surfing, we hear that Dreamland is the best. It’s also kind of dangerous. We have only been here once but it’s easy to see why it’s so intriguing to surfers…the waves are huge and the currents strong. There is also Padang Padang beach, Pandawa and Uluwatu, which we love not because of the surfing but because of its famous landmark…the chapel on top of a cliff where people get married.
For diving, the most famous is the USS Liberty Wreck in Tulamben, located in the eastern coast of Bali. Diving in Nusa Dua means that you are diving in the most exclusive part of Bali, so while it is beautiful, it may get a little pricey. Amed Beach is also very popular among avid divers. You can also see exotic animals such as Manta Rays in Manta Point and Mola Mola in Crystal Bay. There are a bunch of other places that’s not actuallly in Bali, but you can take a day trip there. This includes Nusa Penida and the Gili Islands.
Lovina Beach in Singaraja is located way up north, so the experience here is very different from what you would encounter in the south. For starters, there are not many tourists. The beaches are less crowded and there is more local food around. You can take an early morning boat tour in Lovina to see dolphins swimming alongside your boat (there is, however, no guarantee. We did it twice when we were kids and only saw a school of dolphins once).
Gilimanuk is our first stop after we leave on a ferry from our grandparents’ village in Java to Bali. In the past, we would find local children standing on whatever surface they can find, be it posts, bridges, or piers. We can throw coins into the water and they will jump to retrieve it (which is both awesome and frightening, but they are experienced swimmers). We would also eat Ayam Betutu on the way to the south, ideally stopping by the side of a rice field to watch children play kites as we eat.
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Alysta Lim & Athena Lim