Bali, Indonesia, is a pretty popular stop for most travelers heading to South East Asia. Fairly cheap and with quite developed tourism, it might not be the secluded island paradise it once was years ago, but it is a convenient and beautiful tropical getaway for anyone who wants a quick vacation.
And if you only have time to do just one thing when you’re in Bali, my advice is to head on down to its famous beaches. With beautiful surf and white sandy beaches, here are 3 spots you can check out if you just need a little bit of sun, sand and sea. If you have more time, you should check out this 10-day itinerary covering all of Bali.
Kuta is probably the most famous tourist beach in Bali – it’s less than half an hour from the airport even with traffic, adjacent to Popies Lane (known for its backpacker crowd), and a popular spot for beginner surfers and swimmers alike with its gentle waves.
It is a lovely beach, but it is also a crowded one. If you decide to set up camp here, be prepared to be approached multiple times throughout your suntanning by various touts, whether it’s for umbrellas, massages, ice cream, souvenirs or even tattoos. It’s great if you like that sort of convenience, but less so if you’re just looking for a quiet time. The areas near the Hard Rock Hotel and Beachwalk tend to be the busiest, so consider heading up north towards the Legian end for a quieter option that’s still near amenities. That said, some of the best places to stay in Bali are here.
This stretch of beach is connected to Kuta by Legian, but is a lot less bustling than Kuta, suitable for those looking to have some quiet time. You can choose to just hang out on the beach, though Seminyak is a popular stretch for richer tourists who frequent the beach clubs Kudeta and Potatohead, where you can spend the day hanging out on a daybed with pool access and drinks.
Price-wise, it’s comparable to what you might pay in your typical Western country, so don’t expect local prices here! They are building up more hotels along the beach here, so it could get quite a lot more crowded in the future.
Twenty minutes south of Ngurah Rai airport, this is an area known for high-end hotels and villas – and correspondingly a much quieter stretch than Kuta-Legian-Seminyak. The sand here is whiter, and the surf along Jimbaran Bay is gentler, though there are good surf spots further out towards Uluwatu.
What’s popular on Jimbaran’s beach is the experience of eating barbecued seafood at tables on the beach at nightfall. But be warned – get a table high up on the beach if you eat slowly, because the tide can come in pretty fast, and I spotted lots of tourists having to scuttle off when a larger than expected wave crashed into their tables and chairs!
A little further down the coast is Balangan Beach, which is another one of my favorites.
Other Bali beach tips:
Afternoons on Bali beaches can get HOT – the sun really bakes the sand, so besides sunblock and a hat, make sure you have flip-flops at least or you’re liable to burn the soles of your feet walking on the sand.
Late afternoon is a nice time to walk the beaches as the tide tends to be lower, exposing the unique gradient of the long shallow beaches. Sunsets can also be spectacular if it’s not too cloudy – look out for that last brilliant glow as the sun finally sinks into the horizon.