Bali beaches are a quintessential part of what makes this island such a breathtaking destination. No matter where you stay, this postcard-perfect Indonesian island has aquamarine waters, milk-white sands and tropical-treat weather in abundance; and beyond the beaches, vivid green rice paddies, jungle, forests, farms, nightlife hangouts and plenty of things to do await (plus world-class hotels). If, like the visiting yogis, you’ve come here seeking Nirvana, you might well find it.
Best Bali beaches
Where is it? Ungasan
What is it? Blue Point Beach, otherwise known as Suluban Beach, is hidden away behind rugged limestone formations in Pecatu, near Uluwatu. Admittedly, getting here is something of an oceanic obstacle course – you’ll access the sand via steps and log ramps that traverse slim slits in the rocks – but that just makes the eventual dip in those waters more satisfying.
Why go? You’ve probably never been to a hard-to-find Balinese cave-beach before; change that here. Thanks to its vigorous waves, Blue Point is well suited to surf sessions (less so to swimming and sunbathing); it’s also a popular spot for camping and sunset bonfires.
Where is it? Kuta
What is it? Balangan Beach is easily reached from Kuta, with many local hotels offering a handy shuttle service. It’s also just a kilometre away from another Balinese beach icon: Dreamland. When you arrive, refresh yourself with an ice-cream and/or ice-cold beer from one of the beachside warungs.
Why go? Boasting more natural beauty than your average Brazilian supermodel on a good day, Balangan has an eye-popping, half-kilometre stretch of caramel-coloured sand, shielded by a greenery-clad limestone cliff that snakes into the water like a lounging crocodile.
Where is it? Seminyak
What is it? One for the hedonists, this sparkling, five-kilometre stretch of golden sand in Seminyak is scattered with buzzy beachfront bars, boutiques, restaurants, five-star stays and adventure-promising watersports companies – all of which attract an upscale crowd.
Why go? Extending from the outskirts of Kuta all the way up to the coastal corners of Canggu, Seminyak Beach offers plenty of choice when it comes to sun loungers and sunset spots. During the day, it’s a sceney surfer’s paradise.
Where is it? Nusa Dua
What is it? Touted by some as southern Bali’s most beautiful beach – quite the title, given the competition – Geger is deliciously secluded, just the right level of quiet, and home to calm, safe waters.
Why go? This beach is perfect for swimmers, families and slower-paced oceanic adventures; if you want to try your hand (or legs) at watersports, you’re also in the right place. Keen golfers could tie in a visit to the Nusa Dua Golf Course. Nudity-loving sunbathers, take note: you can peel off your bikini top here.
Where is it? Kuta
What is it? Kuta needs no introduction, but here’s one anyway: Bali’s most famous/infamous tourist hotspot pulls in the crowds and continues to redevelop its beachfront with wild abandon. Discerning travellers could jet into the Ngurah Rai International Airport in Tuban and – having conquered passports and security – be on Kuta Beach in mere minutes.
Why go? Everything’s here for the taking: swimming, sunbathing, surfing, sailing, beachside drinking and dining, paragliding, partying and more...
Where is it? Tabanan
What is it? Whether you prefer spending your evenings stretched our on warm sands or creating your own adventure escape, Yeh Gangga Beach is a special slice of Bali beauty. Situated around 12 kilometres west of Tanah Lot, in Central Bali’s Tabanan regency the waters are energetic if slightly unruly, which means its great for those with a penchant for watersports like surfing – and it's wonderful for snapping pics of, too.
Why go? Head to this hotspot for sand-side adventures: go horse-riding or hire ATVs. It’s also a great beach for people-spotting, since the locals love playing football and relaxing here in the late afternoon. Join them.
Where is it? Karangasem
What is it? Considered to be one of Bali’s hidden beaches (although admittedly, the secret’s out now) Pasir Putih’s promising nicknames include ‘Virgin Beach’, ‘Hidden Beach’ and ‘White Sand Beach’. It’s four-and-a-half kilometres east of Candidasa, accessed via the Jalan Raya Candidasa-Bugbug road.
Why go? The rocky kilometre-long path that starts in Perasi village leads down to marbled white-and-black sand, craggy boulders and calm waters. Pasir Putih is an ideal beach for dips and dives; if you’re hungry or thirsty, pause for a beachfront pit-stop at a warung.
Where is it? Tabanan
What is it? Balian Beach exerts a catnip call on surfers, who flock here for the rugged waves. The waters of this black-sand beach are a little too rambunctious for swimming, but Balian is quiet and fringed with greenery, making for peaceful nature walks.
Why go? This is a sociable, busy beach. Restaurants, cafés and watersports shacks line the waterfront; hire a surfboard and sign up to a surf camp to perfect your skills and meet fellow wave-addicts.
Where is it? Gerokgak
What is it? Underrated, understated Pemuteran is in the north-west of the island, in an area that’s usually overlooked by tourists – and all the better for it. The village is backdropped by jagged mountain ranges; the beach is secluded and scenic.
Why go? Pemuteran is known as a prime spot for scuba diving, but thanks to its peacefulness and photogenic good looks, it also over-delivers on R&R.
Where is it? Uluwatu
What is it? As nicknames go, ‘Billionaire’s Row’ doesn’t sound too shabby. That’s the moniker given to the patch of Bali’s Bukit Peninsula where you’ll find the ravishingly beautiful (and achingly hip) resort of Karma Kandara, home to a celebrity-seducing beach. If money’s no object, bed down at the resort; otherwise, guests can buy a day pass to the beach club and lap up the luxury with an on-loan sun lounger and umbrella.
Why go? To spot visiting off-duty A-listers, naturally. Plus, it's a total tropical haven.
Where is it? Karangasem
What is it? This small and knee-weakeningly lovely beach is set in the quiet village of Padangbai, in East Bali. You’ll do a short trek from the main road past the cape to get to the beach, but it won’t be in vain. Buy drinks and snacks from one of the local vendors and rent snorkels and fins to explore underwater (the eastern end of the reef is ripe for for prime sealife-spotting).
Why go? The journey here is richly rewarded by powder-soft sands, rock pools and azure waves.