Southern Bali’s best beaches are sometimes hidden away – but not too far to get to. Our guest expert rounds up his top beaches to discover in Southern Bali that little bit off of the beaten track.
If ever there was a place worth calling “paradise”, it is most certainly Bali, Indonesia. Fittingly known as the “Island of the Gods,” Bali’s reputation for mysticism and exotic culture is surpassed only by its reputation for natural beauty. Needless to say, Bali is the perfect getaway for travellers searching for a destination that’s as fascinating as it is gorgeous. Beach-goers with the luxury of weeks or even months of traveling time will find no shortage of options in the Island of the Gods – but for those poor souls who have the terrible misfortune of only a few days to explore Bali, all is not lost!
Well within an hour’s drive from the bustling streets of Kuta and Denpasar are a string of kaleidoscopic beaches that still feel light years away from the tourist trail. These 5 world-class beaches in Bali fit the bill of being both close to the action of the island’s capital and astoundingly beautiful.
Padang Padang Beach
Once graced by Julia Roberts for the filming of “Eat, Pray, Love”, Padang Padang Beach is probably best described as “other-worldly”. The monolithic limestone formations littering the beaches here form an almost Martian landscape, especially during low tide when a vast expanse of tidal pools is exposed, making the beach ripe for beach grazing and exploration. As the beach is flanked by towering limestone cliffs, be sure to keep your eye on the returning tide, though. Otherwise, you might risk being trapped by incoming waves on your way back to the sandy portion of the beach!
You will scarcely believe your eyes when you see Bingin Beach. After descending a series of jungle-rimmed stairs – which obscure the view of where you’re heading – you stumble upon what appears to be a hidden tropical world below. Glass-clear water laps at the sands of this relatively small beach that’s isolated from the rest of Bali by a wall of limestone cliffs on every side. Save a charming little Tikki Bar and a few warungs (or food stalls) there is little else to distract you from the serenity that you’re likely to encounter here.
Once known only to a few locals and adventurous expats, Pandawa Beach is now a rising star after a more accessible path to the beach was literally blasted through the limestone mountains by a mining company. Locals seeking to capitalize on the new path – and make it a bit more inviting – have since re-purposed it to include stone carvings of Balinese gods.
After a short jaunt through what relatively bleak surroundings that leave you wondering where you’re headed, the road opens up onto sweeping views of one of the most picturesque beaches in Southern Bali. Unlike many beaches in Bali, the famously large Balinesian waves break quite far from the shore here, making it better for beach-goers hoping for a dip without fear of being clobbered.
There’s more to beaches in Bali than just sand and surf. Though Tannah Lot has those things, too, it’s worth a mention as one of the best and most accessible beach destinations in Bali by virtue of the fact that it has so much more to offer. As one of the top tourist draws on the island, nobody will accuse it of being “off the beaten path.” But, it’s a cultural icon that draws both pilgrims and visitors alike – and it’s well worth a visit.
Built in the 16th century, the temple for which Tannah Lot is made famous is almost impossibly perched atop a jagged rock formation that is incessantly barraged by colossal waves. So intense are the waves that it required expensive renovation in the past to maintain its facade.
While the temple itself is the primary reason to go, the surrounding area is just as stunning. Wander from the temple by foot in either direction and you’ll find yourself quickly alone with the crashing waves. At low tide, there’s a huge tidal plane that you can explore as well, as well as a few small beaches where you can lounge around while still being in sight of the temple.
Nusa Lembongan and Nusa Penida
Perhaps one of the most surprising of the “best kept secrets” in Bali are these two small islands just off the coast of Southern Bali. Technically, it will take you more than an hour to get to either thanks to a necessary boat transfer, but you can access them easily from Sanur Beach (a nice beach in its own right) which is a mere 15-20 minutes from Kuta.
Unlike other beaches in Bali, Nusa Lembongan and Nusa Penida aren’t so much beaches, as they are islands (though you wouldn’t miss out on some fantastic stretches of sand when you’re thre). However, shat makes Nusa Lembongan and Nusa Penida so special is how completely distinct they are from the “mainland” of Bali – both in scenery and culture.
Settled by Muslim sea-traders centuries ago, the islands are mostly inhabited by gentle fisherman and seaweed farmers. Life moves at a snail’s pace here, and you’ll notice the difference as soon as you step foot on land. These islands also boast a curiously distinct weather pattern – which is much more arid and chaparral-like due to being in the rain-shadow of Bali. It’s almost surreal in a sense – even though Bali is still within sight, each island feels as though it is an entirely different country.
As if that isn’t enough, these islands are also host to some of Bali’s best diving and snorkeling. Water visibility often approaches 30-40 meters, and strong ocean currents make it a likely place to see strange and beautiful mega-fauna such as the sunfish (the world’s largest and most bizarre bony fish).
Eager to check some of these places out yourself? Check out some of our Indonesia tour packages and contact us to find out how.