Bali is famous for being a vacation destination for sunseekers and funseekers. At the same time it is an island four soul searching and meditation. Tourism has been the source of income for locals and international investors for decades now. Beach hotels and resorts are numerous, as well as accommodation for every price level close to beautiful beaches.
As many wish to visit Bali for its beautiful beaches, we will provide a short review on five of the beaches in southern part of the island. There are several others in the western and northern part of the island, apparently ones not so crowded or almost untouched ones to discover.
We visited Bali for the first time in May 2017 during our round-the-world journey. For us it was about family vacationing and relaxing together. We stayed in an AirB&B rental house about 3 km from the closest beach, Nusa Dua and about 5 km from Jimbaran beach. In Sanur we stayed in a little garden hotel about 500m from the beach. The Blue Lagoon and Dreamland beach were daytrip destinations to us. One beach we certainly wanted to avoid was Kuta Beach as we had heard and read quite many bad reviews about it. Plus we wanted to avoin worst party places as we were not up for partying ourselves.
One thing about most of the beaches in Bali is that there almost for certain are restaurants that rent sunbeds with towels and provide showers and toilets (besides providing drinks and food of course). So if you stay a little distance from the beach you don’t have to carry towels etc with you and you get to shower off the sea water if you are willing to pay about 3 to 10 euros per bed per day. We usually paid around ten for two with towels and access to toilet plus showers.
Another thing you might want to consider is the time of month as full moon causes quite big tidal changes. One day a beautiful beach great for swimming and the next day may be such low tide you cannot swim at all. Low tide brings terrible smell from the sea bottom and too high a tide can mean impossible snorkeling conditions in otherwise perfect spots. Tide difference here is usually12 hours. Currents can be fierce in some beaches as well as waves too heavy for the small swimmers.
Thirdly, there almost for sure will be quite much rubbish in any beach you visit in Bali. Even though mostly visited beaches and especially those in front of the five star resorts will be cleaned throughout the day, waves will still bring lots of trash to shore. This is rather annoying for snorkelers, but to swimmers too. And the worse is of course issue of sustaibalibity and maltreating nature.
Five beaches in review:
Nusa Dua beach
Nusa Dua beach was once a tiny fisherman village, until hotels and resorts were built ever since 1990s. Today it is filled with some fancy five star resorts and still you see cranes on constructions sites at the other end of the beach where new resorts are being built. It has quite a long beach infront of these resorts, but is accessible to anyone. In between are a few warungs or local restaurants and cafes. Some hotels have bars on the beach that serve other customers too. There is another smaller public beach bay area just next to the hotel “zone”, filled with restaurants and cafes as well as a small waterpark and pool area too. In between these too is a little peninsula with a temple and a natural waterhole as an attraction. Go during high tide if interested.
Nusa Dua beach was one of the best for swimming in our opinion. Shallow bay areas make the water very calm, turquoise and appealing, especially since there was hardly any rubbish visible on the beach or water. Cleaners were doing their job all day long, but still we were a bit surprised to see so little rubbish. When we went there there a second time, the tide was so lo that it was impossible to swim and you could definitely see there sadly was rubbish on the sea bottom. Still, this beach is great for smaller swimmers.
Besides big resorts there is a huge shopping mall complex called the Bali Collection, filled with restaurants, shops, spas and cafes. This is a popular area to go hang out at night too after a day by the pool or the beach. Prices are of course a bit more expensive and there’s really nothing local except the service personnel. The same with Nusa Dua beach area itself: you have to go further away from the beach area to see any local living conditions. And one hint: apparently there is another beach close by called Nusa Cedang, which still is more of those beches that you may get all to yourself if lucky…
this beach is a few kilometres long beach just south of the airport in Denpasar. That means it is the beach just south of Kuta beach too. There are a few bigger hotels just on the beach at the southe end of this beach, but otherwise local seafood and beach restaurants. There is really no boardwalk or shopping street that would be nice to walk on. The restaurants are on the beach side, but a few great ones to have dinner on the beach watching the beautiful sunset. Especially seafood is good here. You can watch local fisherman go out to the sea during the day with their colorful boats and enjoy their catch at night.
Jimbaran beach was surprisingly good. Long beach with shallow beach to walk on. It was much cleaner than we expected. Not much coming from the sea either. Waves were not too big at all, even though some surfers were trying to catch some. No strong currents either on this bay area. One funny entertaining thing is to watch the rather busy airport in action: planes descending and taking off the runway that starts right from the sea it seems!
Quite close to Denpasar, about a 30 min drive from the airport is the beach village of Sanur. On this beach the first hotel in Bali was built in the 1960s. Ever since it has grown, but not to too big. Sanur was in our opinion one of the nicest, prettiest and most comfortable beach area in Bali with many amenities available. It has a great and clean boardwalk along the quite long beach. You can watch local fishermen go out to the sea or just stroll on the boardwalk and stop for a drink or meal in one of the restaurants and little booths.
I don’t know if this beach is packed with partying people during the busiest months (packed, but I doubt the partying type), however, in May it was nearly empty! That resulted to all the service sellers and such to be quite aggressive on us. Not too agressive though since I ended up getting all kinds of feet treatments… For a ridiculously little amount of money (prices negotiable, they really needed customers!)
Similar to other beaches, here too you can rent sunbeds on the beach. If you rent them from a hotel on the beach you get to use their swimming pool too, which is quite convenient with kids! Especially when this beach was difficult with the small swimmers as the sand to reach water was way too soft. It was very hard for even an adult to get to and from thr water thru that soft sand which made you sink. There were big chunksof seashells and rocks with which you can easily get nasty cuts to your feet. Otherwise the beach was very nice and quite clean! Not a beach for snorkeling and did not see any other water sport activities either, but great for relaxing, strolling and lazying on sunbeds.
This beach was one advertized as one of the daytrip destinations for being a dream beach like the name prevails. I would not consider it a beach from the dreams but it was pretty. And definitely a good one for those who surf! My preassumption was a turquoise bay like area where you could snorkel and be almost all by yourself. I was completely wrong. It has some very high tides and excellent for surfing apparently. The best thing on the beach was to admire surfers from shore and watch them ride the waves so beautifully. Going into the water ourselves was a bit hard due to those waves, especially our junior had a little hard time and he really likes waves. Otherwise good sand and bottom and quite clean for being so crowded and with heavy waves.
Dreamland beach is very far from everything else but one or two hotels for now and a couple more to be built. For real it is only maybe 10 km from Jimbaran beach (which is only about 5km from Kuta beach), however, it seemed so far from everything else but these few new establishments. Even going there was a bit strange: our driver took us to a parking lot and stayed there for the few hourse we wanted to spend at the beach. From there we jumped on a free shuttle bus that drove us maybe 500 meters to a staircase that lead us to the beach. So no car access here. Only one restaurant (monopoly, but decent prices) and very basic or tolerable toilet and showers charged separately. The same with sunbed rentals. And once you rent a bed you get constant selling of eg massage services. Selling of services was very aggressive, even rude at times. A few shops selling clothes and souvenirs on the way to shuttle bus.
Sunset here too was absolutely gorgeous.
Blue Lagoon beach
This one is said to be one of the best for snorkeling. On low tide and calm seas may be so. There still will be a lot of rubbish. Blue Lagoon beach is a very small beach on a bay called the Blue Lagoon. To reach it you go thru larger Padangbai, from where boats to Gili islands and Lombok leave. Also snorkeling trips leave from here to the blue lagoon. But if you have your own ear, you can go snorkeling from the beach too. On rough seas waves may be make it very hard to get back to shore, but lots of colorful fish and coral to see still. Among the rubbish.
During high tide snorkeling trips (2h) take you to the next bay from the Blue Lagoon. Hopefully not all, but the one snorkeling tour we went on seemed quite risky. As the sea was getting rougher, they still took the boat out but with really no safety considerations. One driver only in the boat did not even check how good swimmers his customers were, so if anything should have happened while in water, he wouldn’t have been able to do anything. Luckily not, but the safety measures were nonexistent.
On the beach there is only one restaurant, so renting sunbeds or using toilets or showers are all charged separately. Service was unbelievably rude as was quite the same in Padangbai restaurants or cafes too. We did manage to find one restaurant with smiling waitresses, so went in and found the best satay chicken ever!
All in all, surely the lagoon looked like a paradise when the beach was just cleaned. After a few high waves it was filled with trash again. It was a disappointment as it was so dirty and push selling for tourists together with irresponsible boating. One nice thing about it was that there is a larger Hindu temple in between of Blue Lagoon and Padangbai, so there are quite good chances to see some ceremonies taking place even in the bay area.
Visiting five beaches on the island of Bali gives you a pretty good understanding of what they are like, in my opinion. Surely they are mostly very beautiful and pittoresque as the water is blue, sand looks nice in the sun and nature here so close to the Equator is so green and lushious. Surfers and sunseekers surely will love this island, but for perfect snorkeling experience you may want to find another island such as the Gili islands just off he coast of neighbouring island of Lombok (we hear!). The same if you’re looking for deserted islands on remote destinations with alabaster white sand and clear as well as clean turquoise water. Otherwise Bali offers fairly nice beaches together with cultural and beautiful nature experience.
Read more about Bali mythology and Hinduism here (coming soon!)