The 10 Best Beaches in Bali
One of the main reasons Bali is so popular with visitors is its huge range of breath-taking beaches. This tropical island has everything from quiet coves to sweeping surf beaches, and black sand-filled bays to bustling resorts with long stretches of golden sands. If you want to do more than laze in a sun lounger — whether it’s partying in a beach club, snorkelling among colourful coral, or sampling delicious fresh seafood — there’s a shoreline to suit every taste.
Here are our picks of the best beaches in Bali.
The attractive resort of Sanur, on Bali’s south coast, features a 5-kilometre stretch of pale sand backed by plush hotels. The beach is a pleasant place to spend the day as there's usually a welcome cooling breeze, plus the sea is fairly calm here, so it's great for swimmers, and there’s an offshore coral reef where you can go snorkelling. The southern end of Sanur Beach has an excellent choice of warungs (small, independent restaurants), where you can grab breakfasts and freshly squeezed juices, and sample some local seafood for lunch and dinner. Head north along the promenade for a kilometre, past a selection of more upmarket eateries, and you'll reach Karang Beach, where two gazebos that stand on a manmade island become stunning silhouettes when the morning sky turns into a riot of sunrise colours.
Bali’s most popular resort, Kuta, is hardly relaxing, but if you're looking for plenty of attractions and don't mind crowds, it has everything you'll need. Kuta's long sandy beach offers swimming, sunbathing, sailing, paragliding, banana-boat trips, and much more. You can even get a traditional Balinese massage on the beach. Kuta is also a great place to learn to surf, because the waves are not as high as in other surfing spots. The beach faces west, so remember to head there in late afternoon because the sunsets are stunning. But if the sun's not shining, there are plenty of rainy-season attractions, such as markets, shops, malls, cinemas, and spas. Kuta also has famous nightlife, which includes countless pubs, restaurants, bars, live music venues, nightclubs, and more. And accommodation-wise, the resort offers everything from backpacker hostels to luxury hotels.
Also known as White Sand Beach and Virgin Beach, Pasir Putih, just east of Candidasa, is one of southeast Bali's finest stretches of sand, and is the perfect antidote to the packed beaches found further west. Pasir Putih in set in a small, pretty bay backed by tree-covered hills. The calm waters are great for swimming, diving, and snorkelling, and you can also hire a sun lounger and umbrella — and even get a beachside massage — if you just want to take it easy. The fleet of fishing boats at one end of the beach hints that there's some great local seafood to be had, and you can order it freshly cooked at the seafront warungs. The beach doesn't tend to get crowded as it's a little off the beaten track; you reach it via backroads, so you'll need to drive or arrange transport — there's a car park close to the beach.
Nusa Dua, on the east coast of Bali's southern Bukit Peninsula, is home to around five kilometres of beautiful, well-maintained golden sands backed by palm trees and luxury resorts. There's plenty of space, and although the beach is close to civilisation, it still maintains a relaxed atmosphere. One of the best stretches is Geger Beach, at the southern end of Nusa Dua. It has tranquil waters that are safe for swimming, so it's a good place for families — in fact, the water in the area is so calm that it is used for seaweed farming. There are sunbeds to hire, and plenty of restaurants and cafés in the area.
Seminyak is one of Bali's best beaches if you want to spend the day swimming and sunbathing, but want options when evening falls. Situated on the south coast of Bali, it's a buzzing, long stretch of golden sand backed by restaurants and bars, some of which have oversized bean bags that spill out onto the beach. The calm waters are great for novice surfers and the Instagram-worthy sunsets are among the best in Bali. More chilled out and refined than Kuta, Seminyak is one of the best areas for beach clubs — it's home to a number of them, including the famous Potato Head Beach Club — so once dusk has fallen, stick around for live music, DJs, cocktails, and dancing on the beach.
The beaches of southern Bali may get most of the attention, but the north of the island also has some gems that are well worth a visit. One of many beaches in northern Bali to contain black volcanic sand, Lovina offers calm seas and a photogenic shoreline — head east of the main beach and you'll find brightly painted fishing boats lined up ready for you to take that perfect snap. Lovina Beach is perhaps most famous for its dolphins — you can even spot these fantastic mammals from the shore. And make sure you're on the beach in time for sunset; the sky fills with a multitude of colours, and you can often see the distant silhouettes of volcanoes on the neighbouring island of Java to the west.
Karma Kandara Beach
Nestled in a pretty cove backed by tree-covered cliffs close to the southernmost point of Bali, this private beach is a magnet for celebrities — in fact, this part of the island is nicknamed Billionaire's Row. You can rub shoulders with them by getting a day pass for this tropical oasis, where you can grab a sunbed and umbrella for the afternoon, and order food and cocktails from the thatched-roof bar. When you need to cool down, simply make your way across the gently shelving golden sand and step into the blue Indian Ocean. There’s Wi-Fi at the beach if you feel you absolutely have to contact with the outside world. If you do want to stay longer than a day, the clifftop Karma Kandara Resort has a selection of villas with pools. There's also a restaurant, a spa, and an infinity pool, plus a cable car down to the beach.
Balian Beach in Tabanan, in the west of the island, is one of the best beaches for surfing in Bali, although it's a bit too choppy if you just want to swim. This attractive black-sand beach is also home to restaurants, cafés, and bars, plus there are places to hire surfboards and a surf camp if you want to learn to surf or improve your skills. Nearby accommodation includes homestays, yoga retreats, beach bungalows, and small hotels — it's worth spending some time here for the sunrises and sunsets alone. It's also a chilled-out place that's a world away from the beaches of southern Bali, so you can go for quiet walks or just relax with a book. The surrounding area is something of a rural backwater with rice terraces and plantations, so it's more like the Bali that the island's first tourists would have discovered.
With black volcanic sands and a backdrop of equally dark, rugged mountains, Pemuteran Beach is a beautiful spot for some relaxation. This part of northwest Bali is not particularly touristy, and the beach is relatively secluded, so you're unlikely to have crowds of people disturbing you. Pemuteran is a great beach for scuba diving and snorkelling; there's a large shallow reef beneath the clear waters, and you might see turtles, moray eels, and giant clams, and whale sharks have been spotted here, too. There are several dive centres in the nearby village. The reef also ensures that the waters are calm, so it's a great place for swimming and suitable for all ages. You can rent sun loungers on the beach, while there are plenty of resorts and restaurants set back from the shore.
For a more relaxed experience than you'd get at Kuta or Seminyak, but without the need to leave civilisation behind, head to this multi-faceted stretch of coastline south of Denpasar Airport. Jimbaran beach has four kilometres of sandy shoreline, with a reef protecting it, so it's ideal for swimming. The sunsets here are beautiful, and you can watch the silhouettes of planes taking off and landing. Jimbaran has plenty of cafés and bars, as well as restaurants serving the fresh seafood the area is famous for, including snapper, clams, and lobster. Away from the beach there are luxurious resorts and modern shopping complexes, as well as markets and stores selling traditional crafts. At the southern end of the bay, where the Bukit Peninsula begins, you’ll find a more rugged stretch of coast. The hidden gem of Tegal Wangi Beach has a series of Jacuzzi-size natural tidal pools where you can enjoy your own personal soak while watching the ocean.
Krystina Rees, Anne-Sophie Thivolle, Ceri Garnett, Cat Jordan, and Nick Elvin contributed to this post.