Monday, June 1, 2009

Bali's Best Beaches - the Bukit Peninsula and Others

LAST VISITED JUNE 2017

STOP PRESS - JUNE 2017: A NEW BEST BEACH - ATUH BEACH, NUSA PENIDA



It has taken over 20 visits since 1975 for me to get to NUSA PENIIDA, the high island off Bali's east coast. Shoulda gone sooner - it's drop dead gorgeous, has some spectacular coastal and other scenery and is way quieter than mainland Bali or Nusas Lembongan/Ceningan. Quieter, but there is a good range of places to stay and plenty of tourist services.


PENIDA is very close to LEMBONGAN and CENINGAN. MAINLAND BALI is just out of frame to the top-left - SAMPALAN, the main town is just 16km from the busy main island port of PADANGBAI.
ATUH BCH is about as far east on Penida as you can get - it's 20km by road from SAMPALAN.


There are 2 main access roads into ATUH. The northern (white) route is a mere 1km shorter from SAMPALAN. It leaves the very well surfaced if a bit narrow main road first (well sign-posted) and follows a series of narrower but still well surfaced country lanes thru a couple of villages (any turns are well sign-posted - I didn't have a mapping device to follow but apparently they do a good job if you punch in "ATUH BEACH) which only deteriorates in the last 300m to the parking area high on the northern headland.
Part of northern parking area - had about 8 vans and 20 motos in total. No parking fee but it wouldn't surprise me if there normally is - most PENIDA attractions had a nominal under US50cents fee.
It is possible to take bikes a bit further down the track but it is super rough - only for experts.


Overview from near the northern parking area. Check the steep concrete steps up the opposite headland - they lead to the southern parking area just out of shot top right.

The access track from the northern parking area is about 500m long. The second half is narrrow, super steep and super rough - much rougher than the southern stairway in the above shot.
Beach from half way down
Mid-bay back floater

The side road to the SOUTHERN PARKING AREA is also well signposted on the main road a little further south. But I didn't take this and can't comment on subsequent signage or road surface. The fact that GOOGLE MAPS gives this slightly longer route from SAMPALAN a slightly shorter total travel time suggests the surface can't be too bad. Punch ATUH BEACH PARKING into your navigation device to get route directions.


The access track from the southern parking area is nicely paved and not steep for this first section. Dudes front right are collecting access money. Apparently villages both sides of the beach claim ownership. Southern village has spent big time on access - deserves any entrance fee.
Below this point the track steepens to a high warung seen by click-expanding the shot 3 above this - after which it drops VERY steeply down a set of concrete stairs to the beach.

Details of north and south approaches. I forgot a linear scale - it is 500m in a straight line between the placemarkers for STH PARKING and NORTH PARKING.


People start the descent of the southern stairway


Stairs are well formed but the main problem for people with worn out knees like me is that the risers are often TWICE the height of conventional stairs. And did I mention the steepness?




For such an isolated spot there was a surprising number of visitors on the beach. Unusually lots were young Americans in that gap year (post college) age group. US citizens are not all that common in Bali (come a poor 5th after Aussies, Chinese, Euros, Japanese) and they don't tend to show up in out of the way places disproportionately - Euros win here, particularly the French. Maybe some US TV outfit has just done a special on PENIDA.
 Locals have set up several warungs with food and drink. Sun-lounges/umbrellas and bean bags can be rented.
Note NUSA BATUPADASAN offshore in central pic. Sand was a pretty clean white/yellow but pic immediately above indicates it gets a bit messy towards the back of the beach.
I visited mid tide - high water marks indicated not a lot of sand at top of the tide.

SNORKELING? I didn't notice any snorkelers or warungs hiring out gear. However my experience of tropical places like this is that there are always interesting fringing coral and plenty of fish along the rocks of headlands and islands. Once again I was too lazy to check it out,


When swimming I noticed a gentle sideways current as shown. No doubt this feeds into a rip current along the long northern headland but I couldn't be bothered to confirm this. The side drag was easy to swim side-ways out of. Judging by the size of the swell, so would the rip current (note: SWIM TO THE SIDE - NOT AGAINST). I mention this on a need to know basis - keep an eye on your kids although most kids and other swimmers will stay close to the sand were there seemed to be no currents. In relative terms these were benign currents because wave size in the bay is kept down by the protection of NUSA BATAPADASAN. Super popular beaches like BONDI and MANLY in Australia often have big, nasty rips - surfers use them to get 'out the back' to the wave take-off zone.
Check the swell coming thru the narrow gap between NUSA BATUPADASAN and the southern headland - this is because the prevailing dry season swell aligns with this opening. However there was the occasional wave working thru the big long gap between NP and the northern headland. None of the waves were good for body-surfing the day I visited even though swell in the open ocean was pretty impressive that day.


JOGGLO BUNGALOW on the tip of the southern headland. This place is available for holiday rental - check AGODA and TRIPADVISOR. The price seems a little steep.

JOGGLO top left - stair top warung blue roof right. Parking area out of frame right.


Coastline immediately south of JOGGLO. Beach is the inaccessible VOLCOM. Those awesome cliffs run some 30km along the east, south and west coasts of PENIDA.




THE BUKIT PENINSULA

BALANGANBest beach on Bali? Well on the MAINLAND at least, in my humble opinion. This is BALANGAN, the closest of the Bukit beaches to Kuta and the airport. More info and pix down page.

The Bukit Peninsula is that higher limestone plateau you see when looking south from the Tuban-Kuta-Legian-Seminyak beach strip. Long a haunt of surfers, the fact it has arguably the best beaches on MAINLAND Bali and some spectacular cliff and coastal scenery means it’s becoming increasingly popular with both the backpacker set and midrange/high-end travellers.
Backpackers are taking advantage of cheap beach accommodation set up for surfers while a building boom has seen a growing number of flasher places for the fiscally enhanced.



Part of the Bukit coastline west from DREAMLAND NORTH. Super busy DREAMLAND MAIN with its huge new club structure, deck chairs and beach umbrellas (see below) is just around that rock near-left. If you don’t like crowds, the beach in the foreground is a few steps away. BINGIN where I based myself in 2010is the collection of seaside buildings spreading up the cliff in the near background.Right up the end of the peninsula is the famed surfing and Buddhist temple location of ULUWATU. The neat little beach at PADANG PADANG is tucked in about half way between Ulu and Bingin.The nicest beach of the lot, BALANGAN, is about 2km behind the camera (CLICK TO EXPAND IMAGES).

THE BUKIT BEACHES ARE SOUTH OF AIRPORT-JIMBARAN
ULU-PADANG is between ULUWATU AND PADANG PADANG. Someone can't spell DREAMLAND or Jimbaran (hur hur, sorry) - image Google Earth


DREAMLAND
Dreamland (aka New Kuta Beach) pretty early and not yet crowded with daytrippers. This used to be the pick of the Bukit - a gorgeous beach behind which were lots of neat elcheapo losmen built for surfer-dudes to catch some shuteye plus some laid back warungs where you could sink a Bintang or 5 checking the surf. How things change - have a look at the shot two down of the monster seaside club-retail structure which has replaced them. BTW, this was unfinished in my May 09 visit, although some guests were swanking it out in the horizon pool overlooking the beach. 


August 2012 shot of roof pool.


The completed Klapa beach club in August 2010. The architect should be shot. Nevertheless the place seems to attract the cool international and local set. I felt out of place even down on the front terrace at the good value beach-view warung.

But if your thing is sun-lounges, beach-umbies and a host of beautiful people to spec out, Dream Beach may be just the thing. Certainly the sand and water are way cleaner than the Kuta strip. The warung back of sand is a good place to spend time and I'm impressed with just how modest its food and drink prices are for an area which has headed way upmarket.

Umbrellas on patio above sand are part of budget warung - plenty more seating under roofed area. Prices are not much more than the bottom budget surfer warungs at adjacent Balangan. Note the life guard tower far left of patio.


Construction at Dreamland 2016 - new since my 2015 pass-by. These places are parallel to the entrance road to the beach carpark but on a new road on the other side of the creek which runs down to the beach.
There has been lots of similar construction going on for the past 4 years up the top on the major road. A lot seems to be golf condos. Worrying, very few seem to be finished. I saw one unfinished joint showing prospective customers around 4 years ago - yet it seems the place is still under construction. Maybe the developers are underfinanced and are using funds from early sales to finish the building. Seems like a bit of a ponzi scheme. And a potential disaster should the real estate market turn bad.


JUNE 2017 - this section pretty much completed but work continuing on other sections. I get the impression developers finance further work from sales of completed units. Dodgy, should a property downturn occur. Did anyone say PONZI?

NEW DEVELOPMENT BEHIND NORTH DREAMLAND 2017
By moving north-east of the KLAPA CLUB structure (you may have to go up onto the concourse at full tide) you come to the much less crowded NORTH DREAMLAND (see pic below). For years I've been wondering when some-one would develop the abandoned limestone quarry behind the beach. Finally JUNE 2017 saw the above.

The less crowded section of Dreamland, north-east of the main area. Note that most of this part has some rock just off the sand at low tide whereas the main area is mainly clear.



BINGIN
 You can walk between Dreamland and Bingin along the beach at low tide - at high water the headland tracks are not too hard to navigate - just walk up past the two dudes with the motorcycle food cart in the shot three above this and follow the tracks. The above shot is maybe half-tide.



Some of the places at Bingin have stepped up from the basic surfer digs. Actually some of the best views are from joints out of sight built on the top of the cliff. Google for Kembang-Kuning Ocean View Bungalows (flash packer - note 300k was the price they gave me in May 09) and Mick’s Place (midrange) As you can see, the beach here is nothing to get excited about and with a pretty rocky entry to the water. Pretty nice swimming around in the relatively calm lagoon between the reef and the shore though.
If you can’t hack multiple steep steep steps, pick some other place.

August 2012 change - lots more sand at Bingin: the most I've seen in 4 visits. Admittedly low tide, but so is the shot above this.


No shortage of sand June 2016. As a matter of fact every yearly visit since 2012 has seen a good supply of sand down here.


2017 FIRE!
Early 2017 saw a fire break out at BINGIN. Australian press reports had the whole hillside burnt out but reality saw damage confined it to a few properties towards the western end of the beach. Fortunately these are newer places with a lot of concrete - if the fire was in the older, closer spaced and mainly wooden-constructed area to the left it could have been a lot worse.


Tired of checking surfer boy-friend kiss the coral on BINGIN's reef, GIDGET checks her 'phone instead.


CHOCKY'S
CHOCKY’S , my digs at Bingin first visit in 2010. Nice surfer hangout. That upstairs loft is the one basic double room. There are 3 singles behind a higher veranda partly obscured in this shot by the building to the right. The railed area above the posters is the front of the restaurant - pretty neat views from both here and the higher veranda area. Access to the loft room and basic singles’ balcony is by ladder. Below the restaurant are 2 family rooms, flash-packer level with their own bathrooms. The other rooms share a big bathroom area which was kept pretty clean on the restaurant level.
My basic single had just enough room, was super clean, the bed was comfy with a pretty thick foam mattress, mozzie net in good condition, fan quiet. Electricity 24 hours.
I paid 80K rupiah (about $us8 at the time) - current room pricing can be seen on the website.
At high tide the waves smack into the lower front of the building - actu
ally wavelets because when the swell is big (often) the reef dissipates most of its size. Can sound pretty busy at night.
Chocky provides an airport pickup service which if you are coming in at night like I did is essential - Bingin is down some obscure side roads, which stop about 200m from the buildings - and finding the right lanes from there and the correct set of steps to descend would be impossible for newcomers. Chocky charged me 160K compared to an airport taxi to anywhere on the Bukit for 120K, but took me back to Kuta for no extra at the end of the stay.
If you are going to come up by hire-motorcycle from Kuta, check Google Earth first and draw yourself a map. But make sure it’s daylight, and watch out for cops ch
ecking for Indo or International Driving Licences endorsed for motorcycles.


For surfers, Chocky’s has one of the prime positions in Bingin because the reef break is directly out front. This is a super fast left hander breaking into about 15cm of water at low tide - plenty of coral-scraped bodies on show in this neck of the woods. If you expand this shot you will see some kamikaze merchant tucked into the edge of the white water on the shoulder to the right.
Chocky spent a lot of time with a huge-lens digital SLR propped over the railing, snapping pix. Late afternoon usually saw a lively bunch of surfer dudes and babes from all over Bingin checking shots of themselves on his laptop, which he will burn onto disc for a suitable fee.
Restaurant food was pretty nice, prices a bit higher than average but supplies have to be hauled down those dang steps (and rubbish back up!). This is maybe w
hy small bottles of Bintang (heavy in crates) was 20k v the more normal 15. Service was normally pretty good although brekka never kicked off before 0830. There are plenty of other restaurants in the area.

Chocky was still snapping away in August 2012.
Distant Dreamland from the clifftop at Bingin - an easy walk at lowest tide. Once again, some nice flashpacker and midrange places on the clifftop.




PADANG PADANG
Padang Padang is a neat little beach cut into the plateau. Another very good reef-break out front, but for experienced surfers. There is no accommodation right on the beach but you can see one of the growing bunch of midrange/top end places which have appeared on the Bukit on the cliff top behind. There is also a bunch of budget and flash packer places on the coast road about 300m inland from the beach plus a bit of a small village shopping area.

Once again you are looking at a decent set of stairs to get up to road level (check road bridge top-centre) but not as challenging as Bingin. Some nice shade areas side and back of beach. I dunno about those life-saver flags.


You pass all types on the stairs. Monkeys non-aggressive.
Gets a bit tight further up. Did I mention STEEP?
There is a beach entry charge top of the stairs - less than US50cents. For this reason the twin staircase from the western side of the bridge is now blocked.
There is quite a big parking area across the other side of the main road on the eastern side of the bridge.


Beach gets quite crowded and not just with surfing-related people. Behind camera both sides of the narrow beach are food and clothing stalls plus a couple of places you can buy a cheap beer. my favourite places! There is a WC out of pic background right: another top of stairs
Check tide chart before visit - this is mid tide but high tide 2 days before saw very little sand above water (admittedly on a full moon highest high of the month).


Not much swell my 3 days in JUNE 2017 - ideal to practice stand-up paddle board skills.

After more than 20 BALI visits starting in 1975, I finally got around to staying at PADANG PADANG - at PADANG PADANG SURF VILLAS (not a villa but quite a good upstairs room) run by Cameron and his Indo family. Cameron moonlights as a surfing instructor - had a couple of Kiwi (NEW ZILLLUNDERS) mature age dudes under his tutelage. PPSV an okay lower midrange place - can recommend. Maybe a 10 minute walk to the beach.


SURF VILLAS didn't have a restaurant (although they had a kitchen where you could go crazy on the food preparation if the mood occurs. LADY T and I reckon only mugs and cheapskates (how can I say the latter? - I'm a cheapskate from WAY back) cook their own stuff in SE ASIA. So we went 5-10 minutes downtown to eat. Above is LABUHAN SAIT SURF INDO INN which seemed to have good food at the best deals in town - to the point where they kept the opposition honest: THE BROTHERS' VILLA PADANG PADANG was directly over the road - their classsier restaurant prices were pretty good and way under BROTHTERS' BALANGAN.
SURF INN also has bungalows and a pool - might be worth checking on the booking sites.


ULUWATU
Uluwatu. There’s a dozen or so warungs plus surf shops in the area of the camera with great views of this world famous big wave break - not so big in this shot, the swell having a rest-day.
You pay extra for your Bintang if you want to hang in the joint front left…..


…..but no extra if you are quick enough to grab this neat little platform.
There is a neat little beach at the foot of the cliff at Ulu - actually there isn’t too much sand left at high tide. This is where the surfers enter the water.


I went down to the surf-entrance area low tide - you can see it is just the place for rock pool fossikers.

CLIFFSIDE WARUNGS
I love visiting ULLU to sit in the cliffside warungs with a beer or maybe a meal. Intense competition means prices are not much higher than the most budget joints in KUTA.

SINGLE FIN
The very top warung (bar-restaurant) on the ULU cliffside is SINGLE FIN. This place has become a bit of a SCENE in recent years - people come up from KUTA to have a drink or maybe a meal here. In JUNE 2017 I found SUNDAY NIGHT was party night (apparently Wed night also has a party but is less crowded). When I moved past from lower down the cliff at around 1830 Sunday heaps of people in night-club type gear were arriving - seems the club-set from KUTA come up to play on Sundays. Not bad for a place started by surfers for post-surfing beers/eats.


Outlook from SINGLE FIN 2016


SIGLE FIN top two levels (there is an overflow deck under the top deck) tends to pack them in. But here's the thing - go down 3 levels and prices tend to halve. Outlook maybe not quite as good but still pretty awesome.
I breakfasted every morning at that place with the white umbrellas far right half way down pic and grabbed a beer or four at SALIN WARUNG bottom-centre.


Good food at very competitive prices plus great view tended to pack them in at SALIN.


Outlook from SALIN

Ulu always had a good range of budget surfer losmen, but now has a selection of flasher places. Actually in 2017 I found it impossible to find budget accommodation close to the cliff-top. Google Blue Point Bay Villas for top-end cliff side overlooking the surf zone. 


Cool cliff-side rim pool at BLUE POINT. That's part of SINGLE FIN's top deck background.


AYODHYA
Ticking another MUST STAY box in JUNE 2017, LADY T and I spent a few nights at AYODHYA ULUWATU. This is an okay lower midrange place directly across the road from BLUE POINT and only 3 minutes from the top cliff warungs. Has a nice pool and some oblique sea views from balconies.
 WARNING - SUNDAY NIGHT is PARTY NIGHT - not excessively loud music from warung out the front, ends midnight but it's also PARTY NIGHT AT SINGLE FIN which tends to kick on until around 0200 - got a lot of noise from passing revelers many of whom tended to call in at AYODHYA's warung and kick on until around 0300. I've had way worse nights adjacent party spots in THAILAND and THE GILIS, but if you are noise adverse maybe don't book Sunday nights.


ULU-PADANG
Roughly midway between Uluwatu and Padang Padang is this beach (actually I’ve seen it referred to as Ulu-Padang) where Thomas Homestay has set up a neat little budget/flash packer place. This is part of the view from the restaurant, you can actually see about twice as much beach - the rooms' balconies have a similar outlook. The place has a large really nice tiled floor room with a big-screen TV for 200k (2012) - the smaller more basic rooms were 100k. ph 081 33775 6030Apparently the surf works okay here when the swell is up, and a wax-head with the usual motorcycle and sidewinder board-rack can reach even the most distant Bukit break, Balangan, in less than 15 minutes. For those on foot I walked from Ulu in less than 20 minutes and it took me just over 15 to then hoof it to Padang Padang.


Google Earth image - that's PADANG PADANG's wedge of beach top right.


Outlook from Thomas Homestay - beachside ART HOMESTAY at left, GEDE HOMESTAY to its right. GEDE had rooms at 300k in JUNE 2017 (abt $US 23) - that settles my BUKIT digs when I visit in 2018.


From GEDE's bar/restaurant - stand up paddle boarder returns to beach.


Beach from the eastern end - rock only found on about a quarter of the beach. Very high tide in this shot limited beach width. Only 3 sunbathers at 1100.

BREAKING NEWS 2017 -IS THIS THE REAL PADANG PADANG? Latest visit I noticed a sign at the western (ULU side) entrance track to the above beach reading PADANG PADANG BEACH. Further east at what we have always considered PADANG PADANG, the locals are talking about LABUAN SAIT BEACH. I also notice GOOGLE MAPS agrees on both names. So maybe my made up name of ULU-PADANG needs correcting.


BALANGAN
Balangan - with the overdevelopment of Dreamland, probably the nicest beach on the Bukit AND mainland Bali (not as nice as DREAM BEACH on NUSA LEMBONGAN and particularly ARTUH on PENIDA though). Note that there is a rocky bottom off the sand at lowest tide in most places although a couple of little sub-beaches appear against the left headland as the tide drops with sand out into the water. There are also some nice pools to fossick and splash around in this near headland area as the tide drops. A good selection of budget losmen and laid back warungs lining the beach. This seemed to be the beach attracting most backpacker types although Padang Padang had its share. If you are feeling flush google La Joya for a flash place back behind the beach. For lower-midrange check for Balangan Sea View and Balangan Flowerbud.
Interestingly, on a day Bingin and Impossibles seemed to have lost swell, it wa
s still quite good here. Once again a super-fast left hander. Goofy-footers’ paradise!

I walked across from Dreamland via the headland golf course - with a fat security turkey blowing his whistle at me. I just gave a cheesy and waved. You can walk around via the road - check the map down page a bit. At lowest tide you can walk the water’s edge from Dreamland. I found this pretty easy and although it was a very low full moon super low tide there were still a few puddles to jump. Actually I read on a surfer site you can walk all the way from Uluwatu at low tide - but from what I saw I think this may be confined to those twice monthly (full moon/no moon) lowest low tides.
Notice the area behind the beach is much lower than further west towards Bingin -Padang Padang - Uluwatu. The Bukit plateau is tilted upwards both towards the west and particularly the south. There are some awesome cliffs on the far southern side - and a few very upmarket hotels have perched themselves up top - google Bali Cliff Hotel.

Balangan at low tide. Some don't like exposed rock but many enjoy checking out the pools. Some nice sandy-bottomed ones in this area.

Tide has dropped a little more.

This is an August 2012 shot further along the beach away from the better pools in the western corner - I'm now starting to think that if you want off-the-sand swimming and hit the beach around low tide you may not think Balangan is mainland Bali's best beach. You would probably be better at nearby Dreamland or Padang Padang. Before you consider a day visit, better Google Bali tide times. If you are staying multi days, remember that low tide/high tide get an hour later each day so what may not be a good situation when you first arrive could be fine say 3 days later.


Looks sweet at higher tide levels - another 2012 shot. Remember it is about 6.25 hours between low and high tide so if the tide is too low when you first arrive on any day it could be fine a few hours later. Or vice versa. This was taken the same morning as the previous shot - about 1130 compared with the previous shot's 1630 from memory. Nice shot to click-expand.

Besides surfers and backpackers, Balangan is beginning to attract midrange travellers. Wax-heads shoud drag their eyes away from on-beach distractions to the point break. Balangan was running 6'-8' this day and VERY fast.


New viewpoint on eastern headland 2016

View south not bad either




STAYING AT DREAMLAND AUGUST 2010
I wanted to show Lady Tezza the Bukit and looked into some of the midrange places behind Balangan Beach. But when checking Agoda for alternative Bukit accommodation I found the New Kuta Condotel which Google Earth showed was a few hundred meters from Dreamland itself.

Dreamland's New Kuta Condotel from the adjacent golf course. Seemed to me to be a 3.5-4 star property in facilities and service at prices similar to 2 star in Kuta itself ($us70 high season 2010 - these cheapest rooms more like 2.5 star but very nice). Maybe discounting to attract customers - running at 50% capacity in August, mainly young Euro surfer couples and Chinese tour groups - also some Euro student groups. Restaurant prices way lower than western levels and free brekka buffet was a killer. Place runs 3 free shuttles down to Kuta each day and 2 to Nusa Dua, so you are not isolated to the Bukit. Free bicycles but not great - I walked most places.

Outlook from the wi-fi lounge in back of the Condotel lobby. Pyramid in background is top of the new beach club structure on Dreamland Beach.

The Condotel was a central point for good access to the nearby beaches. The stroll down to Dreamland took less than 10 minutes.
Balangan was about 20 - turn right out of the hotel and follow the curved divided road for 10 minutes to the big new hotel on the left - take the lane immediately past this - a short distance down this you will come to a security gate and be waved thru** if you say you are going to Balangan - follow the lane to the edge of the headland where you will see short paths leading down to the far south end of the beach. If you have wheeled transport there are several access roads a fair bit further past this first access lane. This isn't a bad pic to expand (click).
** not any more baby - in May 2015 I found 3 security guards and a dog at the gates which were locked. I was coming from the Balangan side and had already had a hell of a time clearing the cliff path up from the beach of thorn-studded vines deliberately placed there to discourage users. Looks like someone has big plans for this area - 3 guards and a dog seems overkill to me but maybe there are land-grabbers/squatters active in Bali. The guards let me climb over the gate but said don't come back - on return I cut across the golf course above that white quarry area on the headland which has numerous NO TRESSPASS signs. You can wade around the headland but only at lowest tide - even then it can be a wet experience if the swell is up. Alternatively there are some dirt tracks in back of Balangan beach which eventually link to the new roads around the golf course-Dreamland area but taking them will triple your walking time. Check Google maps. Actually if you want a road route for your moto Google Maps will find a route slightly longer again.

To get to Bingin, go down Dreamland and clamber up the western headland on the paths the surfers take - follow their motorcyle tracks but don't take the new tarred road past where if veers inland - follow the paths closer to the sea**. The hardest part is the haul down the mega-steps when you reach the top of Bingin. From the Klapa at Dreamland you are looking at maybe 25 minutes. Alternatively it takes about 5 minutes to walk along the shore from Dreamland to Bingin when the tide drops.
**not any more baby part 2 - in May 2015 I found several new developments in this area had thrown walls across the way. I climbed them going (at 2m. not all that easy for a geezer like me) - coming back I went the long way, sticking to the roads. Once again this more than doubles the walking time. Print yerself a Google map - I got pretty confused and I thought I knew this area reasonably well.
As said just above at lowest tide you can walk along the foot of the cliffs between Dreamland and Bingin reasonably easily.


STAYING AT BALANGAN 
There has always been a number of dirt cheap very basic  surfers' rooms behind some of the beachfront's many budget restaurants.....

....In May 2015 I noticed one of them had gone upmarket a bit with a pool - the lady suggested abt $us25 which is considerably lower than the places with pools behind the beach - google NERNI WARUNG


Also new to me in 2015 was the motel-like Balangan Paradise Hostel. This is immediately past the top of the steps from the northern end of Balangan beach - you can be on the sand within 2 minutes. It does feature on booking sites like Agoda but I reckon you would need to book early - place looked real popular with surfer dudes. I think those bales on the roof would have magic elevated views of the beach and point-break.

A bit further back from the beach than Paradise and more central....
....is a small enclave of flashpacker/lower midrange resorts (names will be clearer if you click-expand). All within 5 minutes of the beach, they are immensely popular - I could only find one with a vacancy despite looking 6 months ahead of May 2015....

MAY 2015 - BROTHERS'
....which was BROTHERS' BUNGALOWS and turned out to be a pretty nice place. I have a full report with plenty of info and pix/maps on THIS PAGE

AUGUST 2012 - BALANGAN GARDEN
I was pretty keen on spending some time at Balangan on that visit to Bali. I was a bit surprised at how expensive the non-basic surfer/backpacker places were and how hard it was to find a vacancy on the booking sites despite looking some months ahead. I finally found a room at Balangan Garden but this overpriced place wasn't all that great. I got Lady Tezza to do a trip report (SCROLL DOWN THAT PAGE)_ which is good value because she looks for other things in a beach and is not afraid to stir the pot. Plus there's a bunch of the new pix etc which could help your future visit.

JUNE 2016 - FLOWEBUD

Latest Balangan visit saw us stay at FLOWER BUD 2 which is virtually next door to BROTHERS of 2015. Very similar but maybe slightly better. Once again we had to book well ahead to ensure a place.

Be careful when booking Balangan accommodation. By May2015 there was a bunch of new resorts and villas in the area - but some calling themselves Balangan resorts etc  were 5+km up the long access road which runs from the height of the Bukit plateau to the beach. Check the location maps on booking sites - and check more than one map (Agoda's maps have mislead me at least 3 times in various areas in the past). 
UPDATE - even more new joints a long way from the beach in 2016/17.


Not all new places are badly located - these villas are within 10 minutes walk of the beach.


FEB 2012 - travelfish now has a very good site on Bukit accommodation from budget thru flashpacker into lower midrange.


Most common form of tourist transport on the BUKIT.



OTHER BALI BEACHES

DREAM BEACH
UNTIL I SAW ATUH ON PENIDA I THOUGHT BALI'S BEST BEACH WAS DREAM BEACH on the offshore island of NUSA LEMBONGAN. It is away from other areas near the south-west corner of the island, maybe 3km from Lembongan village and is probably only 200m across, book-ended by high headlands with one rather nice flash-packer bungalow/restaurant place overlooking the bay (UPDATE 2017 - there are now at least 3 other lower midrange - midrange places to stay aound this beach).
The sand is clean and white. One caveat - this place tends to pick up a lot of swell so the surf can be quite tricky. There is a permanent rip current on the left side of the bay (facing the sea) - anywhere past halfway across should be avoided otherwise you may find yourself disappearing towards the distant fringing reef and the bigger waves at a rapid rate of knots. Remember, if caught in a rip current swim SIDEWAYS out of the rip - in this case towards the right hand side of the beach.

Sweet beach but often tricky surf at Lembongan's Dream Beach


July 2012 shot. Dream Beach seems to have been discovered by the day-trippers from other areas on Lembongan. Carpark full of motorcycles, restaurant busy. Resort now has snazzy 2 level rim pool -  seemingly plenty of guests. Surf as tricky as ever - this is a bit of a lull.

When the tide is full and the swash of a big swell is coming a long way up the beach there is not a lot of dry sand left on Dream Beach. If you click expand you may be able to see sunbathers in a small pocket of dry sand just behind the sunlounges at left. There is a similar pocket back left of beach.

MUSHROOM BAY
MUSHROOM BAY on Lembongan is also a pretty nice beach. This one is backed by a variety of midrange and top-end accommodation and some restaurants with good views. More budget digs and eats can be found up the main road away from beach central. It can get pretty busy from about 1100 thru to 1400 with daytrippers from Bali, but is very relaxed at other times. The bay is sheltered by a fringing reef so dangerous surf is not a factor.

More info/shots of Mushroom Bay and Dream Beach can be seen on this page.

SANUR BEACH
I rate SANUR BEACH as mainland Bali’s 3rd best after Balangan and Dreamland, although other people may prefer one of the beaches mentioned later.
Sanur has some very nice sections of sand, particularly now that extensive but not intrusive groyne development has finished which seems to have achieved the aim of building up the beach. Sanur is a 5km long curved beach along which runs a nice walking/cycling path, backed by hotels, restaurants, some beach markets etc. Much nicer and lower key than Kuta. However an offshore reef means sheltered water, no surf, and some parts of the lagoon get real shallow at low tide, okay for low-key snorkelling at higher tides.
For nice sand I particularly recommend the area around the Bali Hyatt (central); Bali Beach Hotels (south end) and since beach groynes were put in to control beach-drift of sand I am impressed by the sand build-up in my favourite mid-north region around Gazebo Hotel - Griya Santrian (not Puri Santrian)- MAP

This is NOT the nicest section of Sanur Beach - just south of the little harbour in North Sanur. The beach widens and improves from the Inna Grand Bali Beach hotel in background. But for you local-culture fiends, this section is very popular with Balinese families because of good parking near the harbour. Note early Sunday morning seems to be THE time for the family to hit the beach - this was shot at 0730. The Nusa Lembongan and Nusa Penida ferries are in middle-ground - the harbour gets bumpy in any big swell so the boats get moved up a bit behind the protection of the reef.

This is shot from the 10th floor of the INNA GRAND BALI BEACH HOTEL and shows SINDHU BEACH - the first section of the better part of Sanur beach. SINDHU ends at the corner in background but the beach is pretty nice around far corner for another 3-4km. Offshore reef means sheltered water - gets shallow in parts at low tide but there is always some water. Good spot for watersports - so-so snorkelling for non-fanatics (although I saw some snorkel boats working the reef drop-off on the OCEAN SIDE which could be better). Good surf for experts at times along the ocean side of reef in several spots. INNA GRAND is a pretty sweet hotel with a big variety of rooms and bungalows in mega-spacious grounds - prices drop dramatically after Sept 1 which allowed us to spend a few days in the Garden Wing on the 2010 and 2012 visits. I[ve also stayed twice at the INNA SINDU BEACH HOTEL beachfront about half way along this strip and can recommend it.

NUSA DUA/TANJUNG BENOA
The NUSA DUA/TANJUNG BENOA strip has some nice sand areas, but unlike Sanur, I find the groyne development along much of here a bit intrusive. There are certainly some very nice international style properties to stay in this area. However not all Nusa Dua's beaches are between groynes - some of the best resorts are behind what I call Nusa Dua North and Nusa Dua South beaches. These longish beaches are definitely not groyne beaches (a groyne is a transverse to the beach breakwater aimed at trapping beach driftng sand to cut beach erosion/build beaches).

Nusa Dua North - sweet. Nusa Dua South is similar but longer.

GEGER BEACH
Geger Beach (see below) can be argued to be a Nusa Dua beach, being a continuation of Nusa Dua South. Some sources say it is Bali's best beach. Well, maybe back in the day - but it is not too bad these days either.

Now here's one I didn't know about until a few years ago. In August 2012 Trip Adviser ran a feature on 10 of the world's unforgettable beaches. Bali made it with PANTAI GEGER. This beach is part of the western end of the Nusa Dua strip where it starts to wrap around the south-eastern coast of the Bukit peninsula - I'm not sure if you would rate it a Nusa Dua or Bukit beach. Note that recent Trip Adviser reviewers say the beach is being encroached on by the new and huge Mulia Resort and is a construction zone. When finished apparently there will only be about 75m of free beach squeezed between the Mulia and the St Regis. I wish this report had come earlier - a week before it arrived in my email I was only 5km away on Balangan - cruising over and checking it would have been a doddle. Not having been there, I had to swipe this image from Trip Adviser.


UPDATE JUNE 2013 - I managed to stay a few days at a nearby hotel and check Geger out. To clarify things, it definitely is a Nusa Dua beach - actually an extension of the rather nice Nusa Dua south beach which starts at the far corner in the above shot (that corner is highlighted in the Trip Advisor shot above this). And even though the Mulia Resort and Spa takes up maybe 60% of Geger's southern half's beachfront the public is free to walk the whole beach.

There is a bunch of inexpensive restaurants where the road on the far side of the Mulia reaches the beach - each has sun lounges, umgrellas etc available. Note Mt Agung in background - telephoto makes it appear a bit close: better perspective is in the shot above this one.

So is Geger Beach Bali”s best? It is a fine stretch of sand protected by an offshore reef with water that appears not to get too shallow at low tide. But the part domination by the huge Mulia seems to have taken some of its former quaintness away. I prefer not too distant Balangan and Dreamland.

JIMBARAN
JIMBARAN immediately south of the airport has its fans and is a definite step up from Kuta. Some nice places to stay and the area is highly rated for good seafood restaurants. I rate the 800m long beach itself a grade under Sanur. In May 2014 I managed to revisit Jimbarin and stay a few nights - gone is the occasional fishing junk and flotsam: locals seem to be manicuring the beach much more now with more resorts and a rush of visitors to dine at the many beachside fish restaurants while checking the sunset.

Sun's gone but not the crowds - about 30 seafood restaurants line the beach at north Jimbarin. Another half dozen mid beach. Sunset is an event with people coming from all over south Bali to check it out.


The beach is widest in the north in front of the restaurants. Not bad central beach but gets pretty skinny high tide in the last 20% - at least in May 2014, but maybe the recently finished wet season was a rough one with more than usual storm wave erosion. Beaches can recover fairly quickly once fine weather dominates. 

BIAS TUGAL
There is a pretty nice white sand beach just south of the harbour bay at PADANGBAI on Bali’s east coast called Bias Tugal aka WHITE SAND BEACH. Maybe 200m long, book-ended by headlands and backed by a steep rain-forested hill - a major part of which had been cleared in May 09 for a mega Korean owned hotel. There are a few small warungs on the beach, and the ladies running them told me a the time of this 2009 visit the hotel does not have title to the beach.

Only part of the new mega-resort can be seen in this shot. Good news from my latest August 2010 visit is that the resort is in limbo - apparently the developers did not get the correct permits. Same is true for another upmarket resort on a headland maybe 400m to the left of shot. Pathway to beach from road heading up hill south of town now well sign-posted.

UPDATE JUNE 2017 - my call in that visit saw the beach largely unchanged - maybe one or two extra warungs. Only problem - I got bit by a dog! Note this is not a dog regularly hangs around the beach and the warung ladies were great treating me. BIG MOAN - subsequent rabies treatment cost me a bomb and lotsa time. Ono of the hazards of travel I guess.

More pix of other Padangbai areas can be seen on this page.
Padangbai's town beach is not bad towards the left (north) end of the bay. The beach across the other side of the steep northern headland at BLUE LAGOON is very skimpy, maybe absent at higher tides of the month. Nice snorkelling here however.


CANDIDASA
- is maybe 10km further north of Padangbai as the crow flies - the TOWN BEACH here is non existent at high tide and stones at low tide. Lots of concrete break-walls and groynes here and south west to cut wave erosion.
There is a WHITE SAND BEACH about 6km further north which is a popular daytrip call-in, although I was underwhelmed by a lot of natural beach flotsam, some overkeen warung owners trying to drum up business and more yellow than white sand.
Just south west of town centre is a range of midrange places accessed by lanes off the coastal highway which have no beach at high tide but patches of white/yellow sand at lower levels.
(Candi Beach shots this page)


THE NORTH EAST COAST BEACHES
- on the coastal strips around AMED and LOVINA are black sand. Nevertheless the series of little bays which make up the Amed strip are very scenic and relaxing. Lovina had a rep for Kuta type hassle in the old days but was pretty relaxed last time I 2 times I visited. Pix of Lovina beaches can be seen on this page.


PEMUTERAN AND AROUND

I hadn't visited THE NORTH-WEST COASTAL AREA of Bali on earlier trips but was told not all the beaches are black sand, and are comparatively deserted and laid back with a few nice budget places to stay. In AUGUST 2012 I got to Pemuteran and Menjangan island in the north west. The main beach at Pemuteran is black sand but a short distance west colour turns yellow and seems to stay that way. However I did not see any beaches to rave about to although a good look around the Prapat Agung Peninsula of the north-west National Park would probably turn up a gem or two. The coastal track is about 30km long here and I didn't have the time to do it. Menjangan Island seemed to have some okay sections of sand but approaching from the ocean seemed tricky because the fringing reef appears to go right to the shore. Anyway, your time is better spent snorkeling in this outstanding for Bali coral and fish location.


WEST COAST BEACHES
I've stayed at the west coast surfing spots of Canggu and Medewi. Beaches were tan-grey and nothing to write home to mum about. But the surfing can be good, the water clean particularly at more northern Medewi and there are no crowds.

KUTA
Kuta beach was gorgeous way back when I first visited as a surfer-grommet. Good waves, lovely clean white sand, backed by a line of palms, behind which were mainly grazing water buffalo and cash-cropping. The beach was pretty deserted apart from a handful of surfer dudes and naked hippy-chicks sunning and frolicking in the shore-break. I spent my teens pining for a hippy-chick girlfriend to take to the beach. Didn't happen (sigh).

ALL YOU DESPERATE DANS EXPECTING A GRATUITOUS SHOT OF A NAKED HIPPY CHICK AT THIS POINT ARE OUT OF LUCK - THIS IS A FAMILY SHOW DUDES.

Kuta these days? Ummm - well the surf is still often pretty good.
The sand has a definite tint of grey. It’s lined with beach chairs, usually crowded, has heaps of places selling drinks, snacks, surfboard hire, and is backed by a super busy road the other side of which are a host of hotels, restaurants and other businesses.
The palms are gone, but many areas have shade-trees in back which is nice. The crack-down on hawkers seemed to have been relaxed on my last few visits with heaps of ladies wanting to give massages, guys with the usual watches/paintings/wood carvings, girls with fruit and snacks or sarongs/bikinis/board-shorts.
Unfortunately the water aint pristine any more - with a fair few plastic bags etc. In wet season the wind is onshore and so a lot of natural and man-made flotsam and jetsam can be washed onto the sand - if you book a wet season Bali holiday go to SANUR on the lee side for nicer beach conditions.
The surf is still often very good but watch for rip-currents. There are Aussie-trained surf-lifesavers but not enough for a pretty long strip of beach.

You can walk north for several km and in previous recent trips I’ve always hired a bicycle and fanged along at lower tide checking the scene. Some very nice girls, only semi-naked these days, so the scene is okay. For you ladies, the surfer-dudes and Bali beach boys can cut it.
Actually if the tide is right you can go 10+km all the way to Canggu, although you may have to ford some streams in wet and early dry seasons.

Not exactly Kuta - my camera's card was full by the time I got there in 2009. Instead this is a beach on a small island near Sarpe in East Sumbawa a few weeks before. I had to spend a day in Sarpe - 7am to 7pm - waiting for the ferry to Labuanbajo in East Flores. Sarpe pier area is a God-forsaken hole so 5 of us hired this boat for $3 each and spent much of the day on this and another deserted beach. This one in particular had fairly good coral. No palms in back here - parts of eastern Sumbawa are almost semi arid.

My camera's card was okay on a later 2010 trip - as you can see Kuta would not make the list of the world's top 1000 beaches these days. It did when I first saw it.


I really like the scene in back of the beach where beach boys are selling beer, renting out surf-craft etc

Sunset packs them in


Beach boys tuning backpacker babes June 2016.


Kuta beach hawkers zero in on family - "hair braiding" is particularly popular. These ladies can do anything - "massage, cut your hair, manicure, pedicure ----?" They are particularly fascinated by my ear hair - "trim your garden?" They sell local clothing, jewelry and lotsa other trinkets. Some have fruit. One lady could do you a hamburger on the spot.
Good value to watch.


Board-renters practice the moves


HEADING NORTH ALONG THE BEACH FROM KUTA

This is the sequence of locations heading north along the beach from Kuta. It is possible to walk (and bicycle when the tide is down) all the way to Canggu in dry season - in wet season the 5 or so streams you cross could become tricky (inches deep only in dry season, may disappear completely).


The Kuta/Legian border is usually regarded as opposite this gate at the beach end of Melasti St.** This is about 25 minutes walk along the beach north of where you access opposite Poppies Lane, Kuta central.
**although inland from the beach, the booking sites are calling places along Legian Street almost as far south as Poppies Lane, Legian resorts. I suppose it is the name of the street.

These days Legian is very similar to Kuta. Maybe slightly fewer people and the sand is a bit darker, but the same guys hiring out beach lounges, umbrellas, surf boards and selling ice cold beer, the same sunset scene etc.

Seminyak is thought to start at the small rivulet just north of the conspicuous Double Six luxury resort. The next section of beach, what may be considered south Seminyak, is fairly busy and had some great sunset on beach bars with live music.


After a km or so, in the mid-seminyak area the beach gets less crowded, starts to narrow and the sand gets darker. In parts of Seminyak it is quite narrow and darkish in places. Some very flash newer hotels up here.

North Seminyak in 2012 maybe 5km from Kuta's main section of beach - not too narrow in this section although this is low tide. August peak season yet not exactly crowded. The central part of Seminyak beach had more people but way fewer than down at Kuta-Legian.


You will know you are at Canggu when you see these fishing boats, the first along the beach from Kuta....


....kite surfers, increased numbers of board surfers, and the rocks. This is maybe 2hrs relaxed walking north of Kuta opposite Poppie's lane.


 South of Kuta main the beach is divided by break-walls and groynes into shortish sections. Most of this area is known as Tuban. It has always been possible to walk all the way to the airport thru the Tuban area and there is now a very good paved path which runs all the way in back of the beach - see pix on the main Bali page.


Beach-side paved path finishes at groyne mid shot. You can walk a block or so inland from there to the main road and then to the airport, but it would be at least a km from the terminal, maybe more.

There are some nice pockets of sand along here, some laid back beach bars and restaurants and quite a few good places to stay - pretty flash in the near-Kuta area. The water is calmer, protected by Kuta Reef offshore which is a fairly hot surfing spot for experienced riders. Best accessed by hiring one of the local boaties - it’s a looong paddle.


So is Kuta Beach a waste of time? I don’t think so. It has good surf, great people watching and magic sunsets.
On a recent trip I had half a day before my flight. I got a Perama bus from Padangbai to Kuta, wandered down to the beach, walked up to Legian checking the scene, had a nice swim-surf-some sun, walked back down to Kuta beach central and bought a beer off one of the hundreds of guys selling same up under the trees.

When you do this you are their best friend for life. Out comes the plastic chair, placed in prime shade-spot under the trees. 

I sat there, checked the passing parade of beautiful and not-so people......

....the ever so keen tourists trying to learn to surf in 1 or 2 lessons (impossible) at one of the many surf-schools....

....the Balinese beach boys cracking-on to backpacker-babes and vice-versa....

Who's tuning who? (Or is that whom?)

... fended off the massage girls and sarong sellers, bought me a delicious peeled pineapple and a choc-ice from a nice passing lady - and several beers later headed for the airport in a real good mood. Which was just as well, knowing Bali airport.

If you want some out of the way beaches with few crowds etc this site is very good.

If you click this June 2013 shot to expand it you will see around 100 people with boards and rash-vests in the surf - virtually all of them are surf school pupils. Crikey, I've never seen a crowd like this - and early June is still shoulder season. Kelly Slater has a lot to answer for.

Why surf-school teachers' voices sometimes go squeaky - image TransWorld Surf


If you see mistakes or have extra info, please post it below.
If you have any questions, please ask them on THE FORUM which can be clicked on three-quarters down the INDEX page - I don't get a chance to check individual pages often.


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If you are considering BALI BEACHES perhaps you might be interested in EAST BALI, THE MAIN BALI PAGE and the nearby GILI ISLANDS and LOMBOK pages which can all be accessed via THE INDEX
Budget SERAYA and KANAWA islands in West Flores are also very sweet and have a page.
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14 comments:

Peter said...

In April, I visited Nikki Beach Koh Samui Bunglow Resort and found it very attractive. The rooms, service and almost everything were lovely there. I went there with my family and believe me, I never felt alone while staying in that resort. The environment was so lovely and everything was just like what I expected from a good resort. Now I heard a news that Nikki Beach is arranging the best new year party hosted ever till date in Thailand Beach Resort at there own resort. This grand new year party starring blonde girl from London DJ RO-Z for their musical event on new year eve. I am planning to go over there and spend some quality time there. I am looking forward for this lovely trip once again. I think as usual, this time they will rock the Thailand Beach resort with ease. They have lots of verities in their New Year menu to make the visitors satisfied. In the Gala dinner schedule, the want to provide Shrimp and Lobster Cappuccino, Citrus Marinated Sea Scallops, Baby Organic Greens and many more in the vegetarian section. In the non vegetarian section they are coming with their new menu like Center Cut Grain feed Beef Tenderloin, Pan Roasted Snow fish Fillet and many more. But the hidden gem is their exclusive own menu is Nikki’s Chocoholic Temptation Plate which is made of Chocolate dipped strawberry, warm chocolate lava cake, chocolate milkshake and vanilla ice-cream. In the drink section they are different category like Rum, Vodka, Tequila, Gin, Whisky and above all Champagne. There are many brands in every category under their sleeve to give the visitors entire satisfaction.

Chai said...

Great page, thanks. Lots of the surf beaches were mentioned as advanced breaks for experts. Just wondering which beach is good for beginners and intermediates with a safe sandy bottom and not too much rip ?

Obviously, Kuta is one option but I was wondering if there are others. Thanks in advance.

tezza said...

Missed Chai's question - I check THE FORUM most days but not the individual pages, too many of them.

Probably too late for Chai but for people with a similar ask, the Kuta-Legian-Seminyak beach break for sure.

m said...

Hey!! Great website and blog! Am an intermediate surfer, taking my family to Bali in July. Was wondering if you had any advice on places to stay for young kids, wife and waves which wont cost dad life and limb at the peak of the swell season. But also keep fam happy. Thanks man. Again ... great site.

tezza said...

Just saw your comment m - Balangan seemed pretty popular with surfing families. And the Kuta strip has something for everyone.

Renee said...

My husband and 2 boys in their early teens are going to Bali. We have never been before and I am looking to stay somewhere quiet a good beach for the kids and prepared to pay say $1500-$2000 for 7 nights. I am also Looking to buy Indonesian silk. Any ideas on where to stay and to buy the silk?

Asia Bali Tour said...

Yes that's right Peninsula Beach is the best beach and amazing view, perfect for do beach activities such as swimming, sunbath and surfing. Great post and you have nice blog too
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Asia Bali Tour said...

Yes that's right Peninsula Beach is the best beach and amazing view, perfect for do beach activities such as swimming, sunbath and surfing. Great post and you have nice blog too
Bali Tour, Bali Driver

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