The beaches of Bali are talked about all over the world; the waves, the different colored sands, the sun kissing your skin until you’re a nice shade of red. You may have also heard it is a great surfing destination. All the cool kids are doing it; everyone wants to surf Indonesia! Well, lucky for me, my family and I moved to Bali, Indonesia in 2018 so all the stars have aligned for all of us. Now’s our chance to get to know the beaches and surfing in Bali!
The entire south west side of the island of Bali is great for water sports with lots of beaches along this surf coast. The continuous wind along this side of the island provides ample waves most of the time. Let me introduce you to some of the beaches here:
Jimbaran Beach, Kuta
Jimbaran beach is dotted with resorts. This can be good and bad. One the one hand the beach is kept manicured and cleaned since the resorts take on the responsibility. But one the other, they limit their services to hotel guest only so there are very few lounger chairs and umbrellas to use.
The waves along most of this beach can be too mellow for surfing, but south toward the Jimbaran Beach Club there is a good patch just right for the beginner surfer. The local warungs (eateries) will offer board rentals as well as surfing instruction.
Kuta Beach, Kuta
Kuta has long been known for its hustle and bustle, and the beach is no different. There are boats in the water, and people aplenty as there is a big fancy mall across the street. The beach sand drops off just meters into the water then comes back up to form a more shallow reef along one end, which can create big waves depending on the weather. If you know your way around a board this is great, but if you are a beginning surfer, you might feel in a bit over your head (pun intended).
Batu Bolong Beach, Seminyak
In Seminyak there is Batu Bolong beach. This is a great place to catch some waves, but I find it overcrowded, loud and potentially dirty, depending on the time of year. But, if you want to enjoy some night life, get a few drinks and listen to live music, this is the spot! You can hang out at Old Man’s for an evening after surfing or lounging on the beach.
There are surfboard rentals and surf lessons available, or you can try your hand at kitesurfing. It’s fun to watch the kite surfers catch a wave throwing them high into the air with wild wind gusts lifting their kites. If you are an adrenaline junkie, this just may be the beach for you.
Be sure to watch the flags that will tell you if you can swim or not. Sometimes the tide can be dangerous and they will not let you in the water. Or you go in anyway because you think “hey, I’m a strong swimmer” and the guards blow their whistles and make you get out.
My advice: always listen to them, no matter how many swimming trophies you have at home.
Ku De Ta Beach, Seminyak
Ku De Ta is a beautiful stretch of beach just south of Canguu. Its sands are cleaned almost daily and it isn’t too crowded. You can find more serious surfers in either Kuta or at Batu Bolong, but Ku De Ta Beach is the perfect place for the beginner surfer. It has easy waves and lots of space to practice. However, be aware that the beach is a long stretch without a lot of chairs or boards to rent.
Echo Beach, Canggu
North from Batu Bolong you will find Echo Beach: one of Bali’s most popular surfing spots. This is a small stretch of black sand. It’s about 35 km northwest of Kuta and Seminyak, and a 14 km drive west from Denpasar. It is not necessarily the beach for smaller kids learning to surf because the size of the waves can be intimidating. However it is great for any kids who like to bodysurf and is popular with adult surfers who are learning or trying to improve their surfing abilities.
I like Echo Beach because it is relatively quiet compared to nearby spots. There are definitely people around, make no mistake, but it’s a more manageable number of people. I like to sit in the lounger chairs (50k IDR each) and watch the surfers taking turns conquering a section of waves.
The kids like to play in the sand but remember, since its black sand it can get very hot! Always bring shoes or else you will be yet another crazy person jumping from bean bag chair to bean bag chair trying to save your burning tootsies.
Beach clubs, restaurants, rentals and lessons
There are beach clubs along the lower part of Echo beach which are popular with the young surfers. You can listen to booming music, eat, read, work at the tables and lounging alcoves of La Brisa. If you head north along the boardwalk there are lots of local places to eat (warungs), most of them offering the same sort of menu; Indonesian dishes with splashes of western options. I haven’t had anything that’s amazing yet and it can be a bit more expensive, but it’s sustenance when you need it. Similar to Batu Bolong, a lot of these restaurants advertise surf lessons as well as surfboard rentals.
If you are looking to just get your feet wet (no pun intended) then this is a cheap and quick way to learn a few tricks on the board.
If you want something a bit more formal there are plenty of surf clubs, surf lessons and surf camps available in Canggu. You can find any number of them online. Some people feel more comfortable with an official school instructor, but the cost is going to be higher than one of the local places and the ‘school time’ will be longer, so plan accordingly.
You just need to decide what kind of learner you are and what makes you comfortable. For the beginners, be aware that there is a surfer’s etiquette to follow, especially when it’s crowded in the water. But you easily catch on after watching the other surfers for a bit (and when all else fails, check out YouTube for some How-To videos)
For little kids who like to play in the sand but aren’t keen on surfing, then just a short walk north from Echo Beach is Pererenan Beach. It has mellow waves, lots of level sand for playing and fun rocks to climb. This is usually where you will find first time surfers learning from an instructor. Pererenan Beach isn’t built out for tourists like Echo Beach. There aren’t any food vendors or lounge chairs or shops (yet). It has a more local feel and for now, there aren’t any people there. It’s a great place for a play in the sand. But remember to bring your own towels and sunscreen since there is no protection from the sun available.
Any of these beaches is a great place to soak up the salt water and sea air and try your skills at surfing the waves of Indo. Because one thing all these beaches have is plenty of waves!
On the other side of the island there are beaches along Nusa Dua and Sanur. These places are usually labeled as more “family friendly.” They generally appeal to the older crowd as well as people with kids. With calmer seas on this coastline, most of the water sports will include paddleboarding, kayaking/canoeing and swimming. It has a very relaxed feel and is easily a place where you can lay under an umbrella with a baby all day, every day and be perfectly comfortable.
Sanur Beach tends to have still water and a mellow social vibe. There are beach clubs, restaurants and hotels that line the shores. If you are on this side of the island you may want to try some of the water sports mentioned above, or lounge in the sand. This area can be comfortable and yet is still a completely different feel than the quiet vibe in Nusa Dua. The times I have been to Sanur there are hardly any waves at all, which makes it perfect for little tikes.
Nusa Dua Beach
Nusa Dua beach is lined with hotels and vacationers and still has a bit of oomph to the water swells. I have seen young kids getting their fill of beaches and surfing in Bali as they ride a small wave into the beach. It’s a great way to learn!
The sand on Nusa Dua beach is white, clean and manicured. But only because it is maintained and “owned” by the hotels there. Hotel loungers are for hotel guests. You can use the sand without chairs from the hotel, but if you want a lounger and umbrella you’ll need to find a place that allows non-guests to sit. Those are usually hidden away between hotel cafes.
If you are going with kids be sure to check out The Pirates Bay which is a warung (eatery) and has places for kids to climb and play. Close by you’ll also find Water Blow which is fun to walk to when the tide is coming in.
Food along the beach is at tourist prices but there is a mall through the parking lot that has food options as well. We found the water to be shallow out to the reef where you can snorkel and jump the waves which makes for a nice day out.
Beware that getting to Nusa Dua beach requires a small entrance and parking fee.
Most beaches have local toilets and showers to use at a cost. Usually around 2000 rupiah and 5000 rupiah respectively.
Which is best?
When people ask me what beach they should go to in Bali, I will usually advise them to try them all! You can try snorkeling, diving, surfing, paddle boarding, jet skis, swimming for starters, and then go beyond the beach to river rafting and waterfall jumping! There are so many things in Bali to keep you engaged one minute or relaxed the next.
If you’re coming for the beaches and surfing in Bali, plan to stay for at least a week or more. Hop around the island and try out a few different places as this is not an exhaustive list. Each one has a feel and presence that is unique and ready to be enjoyed.
If you come for the beaches and surfing in Bali you may find there is a lot of trash in the water and on the sand. Give your love back to Bali by helping do a bit of clean up while you are here. Participate in a #trashchallenge to inspire others through social media. As travelers and lovers of the sand it is up to us to help save our beaches.
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