The best of Bali is that it has a bit of everything, but the bad thing is that none of it is comparable to the best places in Southeast Asia. So the legends are false: Bali has beautiful beaches, but not spectacular ones. Have you ever searched in internet “best beaches in the world”? Half of the results will be in the Caribbean (Yucatan, Cuba, Turks and Caicos, Bahamas …), then Seychelles and Maldives, several in the Mediterranean (Balearic Islands, Greek Islands …), some Atlantic spots (Brazil, Cape Green…), French Polynesia and in Southeast Asia the Andaman Sea in Thailand and Palawan in the Philippines. The beaches in Bali are not even among the most acclaimed ones in Southeast Asia. There are two reasons: they are not as spectacular per se, and if any of them was back in its day, now they are so turistic that the charm has been lost.
Still, do not be discouraged, they are better than anyones most people have ever seen. The most popular beaches are in the south of the island, so it has become the most touristy area, and visiting the beach means visiting the village where it is. One warning, is not normal how much the sun burns here.
BEACHES I VISITED
- Sanur. I found it a good first contact. The beach is nice and wide. Very touristy, but still a relatively quiet area. There are all kinds of restaurants, from beach bars to other modern fashion-minimalist with all kinds of cuisine.
- Kuta and Seminyak are two adjacent coastal towns. Perhaps is the best beach on the island, and that is why is the most developed and overpopulated. Phuket style, it has completely sold its soul to tourism and in my opinion, unfortunately, is no longer worth going. However, all those whose ideal vacation is Torremolinos or Benidorm would love it.
- Jimbaran. This area has a good balance between beach without too many tourists and excellent restaurants and services. I spent my last 5 days in this area.
- Padang Padang. We chose to go here instead of Dreamland and I think we picked wrong. It is a beautiful cove, reminiscent of Ibiza, and that’s good and evil: is lovely but too small.
- Nusa Lembongan. We had read that it was nice and much closer than Gili islands. I think it was another mistake. Nusa Lembongan is fine for snorkeling, but not for lazing on the beach, since the ones that are not rocky, they are usually used for mooring boats. Still, they are beautiful.
BEACHES I DID NOT VISITED (AND SHOULD HAVE)
- Dreamland. As the name says, this white sand and turquoise water beach is a dream, or it used to be before beach umbrellas and chaise-longues for hire. Still, at low tide, the beach is wide enough to enjoy it, and perhaps the closest thing to a heavenly beach in Bali. At high tide, the beach almost disappears and is reduced to the area of the umbrellas.
- Nusa Dua. Wonders have been said of this area, but it is the domain of all-inclusive resorts: most of the beaches are private, they belong to hotels. Since we were backpacking, we could not go, but for those who stay in one of them, is probably the best area of the island.
- Other recommended ones: Balangan and Geger.