It’s easy to lump the entire island of Bali as a single surfing hub. Parts of the island have been well-worn by hordes of tourists who’ve left choked rice-paddies and littered beaches in their wake.
But once the traffic eases up, the atmosphere quickly reverts to its traditional, easy flowing, and mystical energy. Whether you’re in to ride the waves, capture the amazing scenery on camera, or reconnect with nature, it’s all here in Bali — you just have to know where to look. We’ve done our research so you wouldn’t have to: here are the 10 most beautiful beaches in Bali.
It sits in the quiet, north-west end of Bali, far away from many beach hawkers. A fleet of colorful, traditional fishing boats the locals have used for generations sits docked on the beach. In recent years, the villagers have transformed themselves from simple fishers to guardians of the waters.
Pemuteran Beach is home to the largest Biorock reef project in the world. Its pilot coral nursery project comprises of sunken metal structures charged low electrical currents that stimulate coral growth. Not too long ago, the beach was little more than the spoils of cyanide fishing. Now, it’s become a model for community-driven travel and development.
There is much less sunbathing and much more scuba diving here. You may contribute to the conservation efforts by ‘Adopting a Coral’ by planting a small wire structure in your name, which will eventually be covered in coral growth. After your visit, the management will periodically send divers to photograph the corals and e-mail the pictures to you, so you can watch your coral grow.
To less discerning travellers, one Bali beach is just as good as the other. But the small coastal town of Canggu continues to rise above the Balinese waves. The town has long been Southeast Asia’s secret surfing hub away from the mayhem of the city, where locals and visitors alike adhere to the unspoken rules of simplicity, quiet, and meditation.
Older generations may continue to call Echo Beach ‘Pantai Batu Mejan’, after the Balinese Hindu sea temple by the cliffside. The waters, however, are familiar to everyone and are legendary in their own right. Be warned: only advanced surfers dare to ride the waves.
As early as dawn, surfers paddle out into the ocean. It’s easy to see why surfers refuse to swim back to shore until the sun sets. It’s at the top of the waves that surfers are able to drink in the incredible landscapes of long, uninterrupted stretches of sand.
It’s the mellow, bohemian atmosphere that continues to draw people to Echo Beach. Whether you spend the day riding the tide or just lounge on the beach with a cold Bintang beer, visitors leave Canggu eager to advance their surfing levels so they may surf the waters on their next visit.
Surfing’s not your thing? Here’s a list of other adrenaline pumping Bali activities for your weekend getaway!
A visit to Pantai Soka starts not at the beach, but at the river. As the main road from Denpasar to Gilimanuk dips down to the coast and veer West, you will notice a narrow river. At the mouth, there is a small limestone island swallowed by lush vegetation. As the river waves crash about, you will catch a breathtaking glimpse of the beach.
From the river mouth, you will have to make your way to the beach on foot. The walk is well worth it as you are greeted with a view of steep cliffs and several volcanic rock pools.
Keep walking towards east alongside the cliffs until you stumble upon a cave. It’s hard to miss; Goa Bulung, as the natives call it, is inhabited by hundreds of swallow birds.
A certain population of Bali visitors come in search of some form of spiritual connection. It’s difficult to not feel more connected with the universe when you find yourself in an ancient temple atop a cliff and overlooking the Indian Ocean. Rambut Siwi has been blessed by the gods with incredible, uninterrupted stretches of black volcanic sand, flowering frangipani, and cempaka trees.
The temple pays tribute to Nanghyang Birartha, the wandering 16th Century Javanese Sage. On his way to an audience with the King of Bali, he heard of a village suffering from a horrible plague. He cured the villagers, who begged him to stay as their guardian. He left them a lock of his hair (rambut) for protection (siwi), which is now stored in one of the temple’s holy shrines.
Along the black sand beach are several cave temples. One is said to house a sacred spring.
Green Bowl Beach
The main residents on this beach are bats.
Much fewer people is frequenting Green Bowl Beach ever since the demolishment of the Bali Cliff Resort. Even less choose to navigate through the twists and turns of a handful of tiny roads before descending hundreds of stone steps. Despite so, the beach is still far from being an abandoned swampland.
The nickname ‘Green Bowl‘ comes from the algae-covered rocks revealed at low tide, which transform the beach into a hidden tropical paradise. Because it requires a great deal of effort to make it to the beach, much of the natural beauty has flourished.
Despite their nocturnal nature, it’s easy to spot a colony of bats in any of the beachside caves. They remain deeply asleep until sunset. Choose when to snap a picture with them based on your level of bravery!
Yeh Leh (Boulder Beach)
Yeh Leh beach is unknown even to many Bali residents, save for the local fishermen. Thousands of boulders are scattered about on the western end of the beach, a stark contrast to the sandy eastern end.
There are very few clues about the rocks’ origins; the more superstitious locals say they were purposely placed there. The low tide reveals smooth boulders washed clean by the waves, and the sunset casts the shallow corals and exotic marine life in a warm glow. The image is truly breathtaking and moving.
“Lovina” has no translation. The name is clever word play on ‘love’ and ‘Indonesia’ by the late author and Buleleng noble, Anak Agung Panji Tisna. Don’t be like most first-time Bali travellers who leave Lovina after one night and miss the sunrises which have been described as ‘gently exciting.’
Lovina’s calm ocean waves make it a natural route for dolphins. The schools of these friendly critters have become so recognizable with Lovina that a dolphin statue at the foot of the beach stands as its official landmark. At dawn, brightly painted outrigger canoes take travellers out into the open ocean right as the dolphins break the surface. Capturing the sight on camera is nearly impossible because of the quick precision needed; it’s best to just enjoy the sight.
At night, the local villagers use the same colorful canoes to go fishing. With only their boats as the light and color in the water, it’s much easier to catch fish. Enjoy the extra time in Lovina by basking in the silhouette’s of the Java volcanoes out in the horizon.
If a beach trip doesn’t satisfy your adrenaline needs, head for Teluk Brambun. This particular beach is a natural habitat to all sorts of endemic plants and animals, with its dry savannas, lowland forests, and a coral reef which locals swear can rival the Great Barrier Reef.
Just offshore is Menjangan Island, West Bali National Park. There are over 580 square kilometers of protected land that swathe the peninsula. If you’re lucky, you may be able to convince the rangers to let you camp here. This will give you more time to spot all the monitor lizards, black monkeys, and the now near-extinct Bali Starling bird.
Stretches of long extinct volcanoes carve out a unique silhouette. Mount Patas (1, 412 meters) and Mount Merbuk (1,388) jut out impressively against the sea, giving your pictures an unmistakeable view.
Pantai Pandawa is another one of the more hidden Bali beaches. It’s a small and quiet coastal stretch, hidden behind large carved limestone cliffs which frame the incredible blue hues where the Bali sky kisses the Indian Ocean.
A fork in the road will lead you to choose between the eastern and the western ends of Pandawa Beach. The east is filled with small stalls selling locally made snacks an refreshments with parasols lining the coast. Traces of old road construction have left parts rough and jagged.
You will find the clean, long stretches of sand in the west. On clear days with mild winds, you can paddle out for a swim. If you’re up for the challenge, catch the waves and do what all Balinese do: surf. You’ll be riding the tide of the southern Indian Ocean currents which tend to whirl in unpredictable directions.
Melasti Beach, Tanah Lot
The name comes from the Melasti Ceremony, a massive purification ritual requiring the Balinese Hindu to parade their sacred images to the sea. It is a tradition unique to Bali, and is held three days before the Silent Day (or ‘Nyepi Day). It hopes to cleanse the human body (Bhunawana Alit) and the entire earth (Bhuwana Agung) from the evil spirits.
Melasti Beach sits less than a kilometer from the famous Tanah Lot, one of the seven sea temples built to worship the Balinese sea gods. What sets Melasti Beach apart from other beaches by sea temples is the spectacular cliffside waterfall.
Few other places in Southeast Asia offer such incredibly moving horizons as Bali. Whether you’re in any of these Bali beaches for just the weekend or the entire summer, we guarantee that leaving will be bittersweet. Ease up on trying to capture every single moment and put the phone down; just sit on the sand or socks and watch the sun disappear into the ocean.
Looking for a place for your Bali weekend getaway? Check out our list on 8 best Bali villas under S$150.