Some say that Bali is a magical island, and indeed, whoever has paid a visit would likely feel an urge to return. It is not just the coastline what makes the tiny Indonesian isle so attractive albeit its beaches are undoubtedly divine. Perhaps, without them, Bali would have never been awarded the world`s best island and the most popular tourist destination on Earth.
KUTA (SURFING, NIGHTLIFE & SHOPPING)
The infamous Kuta; who would not have heard about it? The controversial backpacker`s area and the centre of trashy nightlife. Often compared to Phuket, Kuta has earned a reputation of being the party hotspot of Indonesia.
The seaside resort of Kuta is packed with inexpensive guesthouses, souvenir shops, hawkers, street food stalls, markets, warungs and young lads and lasses ready to ‘rock the night’. Free drinks at the Sky Garden are on every-night-menu and loud Aussie steakhouses broadcast rugby and footie 24/7, while the main beach teams with the beginner surfers and young travellers.
Not exactly clean, yet somehow captivating – this is Kuta, a place where the Bali tale begins. Sky Garden (4-level nightclub, strip club, many bars, VIP club), Beach Walk Mall (trendy shops, designer brands), markets, shopping, warungs and beachfront bars – these are definitely the highlights of Kuta.
Kuta is an ideal spot to try the local cuisine. There are myriads cheap ‘warungs’ (small local taverns) that designed their menus for the Westerners to make their normally very spicy dishes ‘milder’, so they are edible even for any tourist. Also, the menus have typically attached pictures of the meals and most of them are written in English.
LEGIAN & SEMINYAK (FINE DINING & BEACH CLUBS)
As an extension to Kuta, Legian and Seminyak are other beachfront resorts that provide endless entertainment and friendly hospitality. Walking from Kuta to Semyniak, it would be around 5 kilometres of a pleasant stroll along the beach from one side, while from the other one, a road is dotted with fancy hotels, resorts, shopping malls and fine dining restaurants.
No backpackers, but rich tourists occupy these areas. Expensive hotels, beachfront restaurants, & clubs and elite parties – this is Seminyak. The Gay Street and Potato Head Beach Club are some of the major attractions.
North of Seminyak, the Echo Beach is increasingly popular and known as a tranquil gem of the ‘busiest’ part of Bali. Not far from Canggu – a recent real estate gem for the Western investors – the Echo Beach is a great surfing spot, nice place to unwind even for families. Not much affected by tourism (yet), this is rather an ’alternative’ part with lovely beach taverns and a nice community of the Western temporary residents.
SANUR (FAMILY FRIENDLY)
The earliest beach location of Bali is particularly popular with families and purpose-built attraction lovers. Sanur is a complete opposite of Kuta; in terms of character and geographical position. Yet somehow they both are same busy.
Sanur Beach is a long stretch of sand that offers shallow, calm waters and safe swimming. There are holiday resorts, luxurious hotels, restaurants, swimming beaches, calm waters, pretty sunsets and charming waterfront promenades. Whether it is yoga, paddle boarding, swimming, museums or markets – there is something for everybody.
Visit the Bali Zoo (Safari & Marine Park) and experience some of the most unique and extraordinary wildlife encounter topped up with waterpark, fun zone, theatre and restaurants.
NUSA DUA (ROMANCE & LUXURY)
Nusa Dua is a big Bali Tourism Development Corporation area. ‘Two Islands’ as the locals translate it, this artificially created paradise of Bali where you really do not need to worry about anything. Opulence, security and indulgence are what characterises Nusa Dua. This ‘resort enclave’ is defined by luxury at its best; massage and spa, fine dining, wedding functions and other high-class services.
Further south, Mengiat, Sawangan and Geger Beaches attract with their soft sands and in the north Benoa earned its fame for being the gateway to the paradisiacal islands of Nusa Penida and Nusa Lembongan. Nusa Dua is a perfect all-inclusive holiday, wedding hotspot and honeymoon destination where you choose if to dress up or stay barefoot.
If you get bored of doing nothing, hire a scooter and drive to the nearby Green Bowl Beach. The limestone cliffs and wild forested hills with might Indian ocean waves create an incredible effect. Besides, the secluded beach is only accessible via climbing down 328 steep steps and you will have to go back up the same way.
Formerly a tiny fishing village, Jimbaran has grown into a popular resort town dotted with world class beach resorts and hotels. Especially, on the ridges of high ground above Jimbaran Bay where the so-called “Beverly Hills of Bali” was born.
Delightfully calm ambience, peaceful beaches, white stretches, safe swimming, private villas, spas and seaside restaurants filled with tourists who relish the magnificent sunsets and fresh grilled seafood is what to encounter in Jimbaran Bay.
Although increasingly visited by the Western tourists Jimbaran is still fairly traditional location with lots of temples and sacred sites. It is an ideal spot for beginner surfers and those who look for seclusion and relax with a bit of sophistication.
Stop by at Tegal Wangi, with its high cliffs, verdant slopes, crystal-clear turquoise waters and white sand decoration, surely will impress anyone. Ayana Beach Resort is one of the most spectacular ones in the area.
ULUWATU (WORLD-CLASS SURF & SUPERB HOLIDAY RESORTS)
Fans of surfing, beach and fun will definitely get their satisfaction in Uluwatu. Rough ocean, golden sands and rugged, temple-topped cliffs design a phenomenal sight. Driving a scooter to the south of Bali is the best way to explore the region; some breathtaking images come into view around every corner.
Nyang Nyang Beach, Uluwatu Beach, Padang Padang beach, Dreamland Beach and Balangan Beach are the most spectacular ones, visited mainly by surfers, looking for a good wave. Uluwatu is famous for a dramatic cliff-top temple, monkeys and ‘kecak’ dance performances as well as seaside pool lounges with great views.
DID YOU KNOW?
Padang-Padang Beach was one of the filming locations of the ‘Eat Pray & Love’ movie.
LOVINA (RELAX & DOLPHIN WATCHING)
Lovina Beach is a coastal area on the north-western side of the island of Bali, near Singaraja. The area contains numerous small fishermen villages and it is rather authentic than touristy. Therefore, do not expect a big vibe if visiting the north of Bali.
However, Lovina has become known for dolphins who like to come to the shores. There are numerous dolphin watching tour operators, inexpensive guesthouses and restaurants.
Lovina is a good holiday spot for those in need of tranquillity and relax. Remember to spoil yourself with a traditional Balinese massage right on your beach chair, while enjoying the magnificent sunset.
Stop by at the sacred hot springs ‘Air Panas’ of Banjar that is set in the midst of the jungle in a beautifully landscaped tropical garden, close to Lovina Beach. There are 3 public pools and a private pool and they have been serving the local people for centuries and help to heal illness. The sulphuric water is of volcanic origin and has an agreeable warm temperature of 37 degrees Celcius, ideal for people suffering from rheumatic diseases.
PADANGBAI (SNORKELLING & CHILL-OUT)
Padangbai is a small fishermen town, popular with all travellers heading to Lombok or the paradisiacal Gili Islands. It has got a very pleasant atmosphere and nice taverns offering tasty local food and enjoyable environment. Take a short walk to the Blue Lagoon, where you can snorkel or just chill.
On the way to Padangbai, you will pass by Candidasa – coastal town, also known as a “temple town”. There are 2 beaches worth of a visit: Secret Beach and Virgin Beach are famous for their sugar-white sand and filming locations of the movie “Eat, Pray & Love”.
The nearby Ujung Water Palace is not to be skipped either. It is an old Royal Palace complex built on several pools and ponds, set amidst beautiful gardens.
AMED (UNDERWATER WORLD)
It is no secret that Bali is a “dreamland”. In fact, it is not just on the land. The island`s bountiful sea-life offers a great environment for diver and snorkelers. Particularly, Amed is a place of an amazing biodiversity and marine life.
Known for Mount Agung, black sands and wreck diving, Amed is a spectacular vacation spot. The Japanese shipwreck in Lipah Bay that provides a territory inhabited by assorted corals, sponges, stingrays and different fish schools. While snorkelers will enjoy the fabulous coral gardens full of colourful fish, scuba divers might be lucky enough to spot rare nudibranchs, pygmy seahorses, majestic mantas and reef sharks.
DID YOU KNOW?
The emerald waters of Tulamben hide lots of secrets, including the submerged Sleeping Buddha at the Suci`s Place (located off the Matahari Tulamben Resort).
The most idyllic beaches are said to be in the nearby offshore islands of Nusa Penida-Lembongan-Ceningan (access from Nusa Dua) as well as the celebrated Gili Islands (access from Padangbai). Both archipelagos are in a short distance from Bali and easily accessible by both local ferry or private speedboat.
WHEN TO TRAVEL
The best time to visit Bali is between May-October, in the dry season. Especially, fans of beach, diving and snorkelling will enjoy the clear, calm waters and bright skies in these months. The peak season is June-September, the prices go up and hotels fully booked.
HOW TO GET THERE
Fly to Denpasar.
For all international flights visit www.skyscanner.com or www.momondo.com
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