The ‘Island of the Gods’ is known for the beauty of its ancient temples, breathtaking views over rice terraces, white sand beaches, and warm tradition of hospitality. There is something for everyone on Bali beach holidays, from romantic sunsets and lively beachside bars, to family fun and yoga retreats.
Part of the Indonesian archipelago, the island of Bali has a wide array of landscapes. The mighty volcanoes in the east, the lush forests and lakes of the central highlands, and the wildlife-rich national park in the far west are all surrounded by the turquoise waters of the Bali Sea. The only difficulty is deciding where to stay in Bali.
The best beaches in Bali
Countless stunning beaches adorn the coastline so enjoying the tropical waters and relaxing on smooth sands are sure to be important parts of your Bali holidays. You are certainly spoilt for choice when it comes to selecting a Bali beach.
I have already written about exclusive Nusa Dua and sophisticated Seminyak, as well as the striking black volcanic sands of Lovina on the north coast. But here are some more options for planning your Bali beach holidays:
Tranquil coastal resort of Candidasa
Candidasa is a quiet seaside resort on the north-east coast of Bali that feels far away from the more crowded south, and the rest of the world. With smaller, boutique hotels and a beautiful beach area that is surrounded by traditional villages and lush rice fields, this is the place to escape the stress of everyday life at peaceful and authentic Bali resorts.
This gorgeous and unspoilt part of Bali offers a chance to truly unwind on the beach and explore the serene rural landscape. Take a bike ride into central ‘Candi’ for a simple Indonesian meal at one of the local warungs. Candidasa holidays are sure to leave you feeling relaxed, rejuvenated and with a deep appreciation of the local Balinese culture.
If you want to be a bit more active, there are trekking opportunities in the nearby hills, where you can visit local villages, and Candidasa is close to a number of top dive sites. Book a diving trip with one of the local operators to enjoy the tropical underwater wonderland. You can snorkel right off the beach at Candi because there is a seawall and reef along the coast. There is superb snorkeling a short boat ride away at Gili Biaha, Gili Tepekong and Gili Mimpang, three rock islands offshore with excellent visibility and the chance to see a number of shark species and giant sunfish. For inexperienced snorkelers, ask the boatman to take you to Padang Bai or Virgin Beach.
Candidasa is a perfect Bali beach to use as a base for exploring eastern Bali’s historical sites, such as the Taman Ujung water palace and the Tirta Gangga royal water gardens.
- Wander through the traditional market of Amlapura, the regional capital, to see Balinese people going about their daily life.
- Visit the village of Tenganan, just a few minutes’ drive from Candi, to see the traditional art of the Bali Aga (original Balinese) community.
- There is superb snorkeling in this region, both right from the beach in Candidasa and a short boat ride away.
- Tirtagangga Water Palace was built by the last Raja and is a beautiful place to explore with its complex of temples and gardens.
Eating out in Candidasa
The Garpu Restaurant and Bar in Candidasa serves fresh seafood galore, as well as international cuisine, in a beautiful oceanfront setting. It is attached to the Rama Candidasa Dive & Spa Resort.
When to visit
The Perang Pandan War Dance Ceremony is a centuries-old tradition and popular cultural event in eastern Bali. This coming-of-age ceremony in Tengangan Village sees colourfully-garbed male villagers engaging in mock duels, accompanied by enthusiastic cheering from the spectators.
The irresistible Gili islands archipelago
Swaying palm trees fringe the coral sand shores of Gili Trawangan, Gili Air and Gili Meno. Each of the Gili islands has its own individual character but all are surrounded by the warm waters and colourful coral reefs of the tropical Bali Sea.
Get ready for some serious relaxation on beautiful Gili Air, or choose the livelier nightlife on Gili Trawangan. If you really want to get away from it all, rustic Gili Meno is the Gili islands holiday for you. White sands or coral reefs, beach bars or the quiet life; Gili Islands holidays offer visitors the perfect island paradise.
This group of three tiny islands off the north-west coast of Lombok Island in Indonesia has been a magnet for beach lovers for many years, while still remaining one of Indonesia’s hidden gems. No motorised vehicles are allowed, ensuring a serene escape and enhancing the Bohemian vibe (small Cidomo horse-drawn carts are useful for baggage transfer). Jump on a bicycle and pedal from beach cafe to snorkeling cove to sunset viewpoint.
Gili Trawangan is the party island and hosts regular Full Moon Parties, with fire-dancing shows and fireworks on the beach to go with the DJ sets and colourfully-costumed partygoers.
You will find some of the best diving and snorkeling in the region here on the Gili Islands, with rich biodiversity across a range of dive sites. Shark Point is a must dive if you love exploring the underwater wonderland. The gently sloping reef features reef sharks and large green turtles, amongst a plethora of colourful sealife. At the end of a day snorkeling, diving, or relaxing on the beach, pull up a beanbag and a cocktail ahead of yet another, kaleidoscopic Gili Islands sunset.
Gili Islands highlights
- The stunning white sands of the beach paradise that is the Gili Islands attract beach lovers from all over the world.
- Go snorkeling in the clear, tropical waters off the Gili Islands and prepare to be amazed by the colourful life of the coral reef.
- These Indonesian islands boast year-round good conditions for diving, suitable for even beginner divers.
- Watch incredible sunsets with mountainous Bali island as a backdrop, from the west side of the islands, particularly Gili Trawangan.
The Bali to Gili Islands fast ferry takes only one hour and fifteen minutes from Sanur, while you can be relaxing on the sparkling white sands within 15-20 minutes from Lombok.
Sumptuous Jimbaran Bay
The golden sands and calm, gentle waters of Jimbaran Bay make this secluded resort area in Bali popular with sunseekers and sunset watchers. Once a sleepy fishing village, Jimbaran is now home to some simply outstanding five star beach hotels – some of the best resorts in Bali – where the perfect paradise beach holiday is yours to be enjoyed.
Some have dubbed this area the ‘Beverley Hills of Bali’ and here on the south-west coast of the island, exclusive celebrity haunts are hidden away under the canopy of coconut palm groves. Development here has not overtaken the local community and you can visit colourful markets and villages. All this despite Jimbaran Bay being only a short taxi ride from both the airport and the lively nightlife of Kuta Beach. Jimbaran Bay is perfect for families with its safe, calm water for swimming and amazing resorts that cater for the whole family.
After a day spent soaking up the sun on the white sand beach and swimming in the crystal clear water, choose your favourite seafood restaurant with tables right on the sand and watch the sunset with cocktail in hand. Jimbaran Bay is a very laid back resort area offering a tranquil escape from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. Its reputation for seafood is especially high, as the former fish market has developed into an open-air, beachside lineup of nearly 40 restaurants .
Jimbaran Bay highlights
- Visit the cliff-edge temple of Uluwatu, set high above the sea, for the amazing Kecak Fire Dance ceremony.
- The limestone cliffs of this spectacular coastline conceal Suluban Beach, accessed via gaps in the rocks and stone steps.
- One of the most popular shopping options in Jimbaran Bay is Jenggala Keramik for its unique ceramics products and fun workshops.
- Bigger than the Statue of Liberty, the Garuda Wisnu Kencana statue is inspired by Hindu mythology and part of a cultural park.
- Get up early one day and explore the colourful fish market, it’s a photographer’s dream.
Eating out in Jimbaran Bay
Make sure you spend at least one of your evenings in Jimbaran Bay at Rock Bar Bali, part of the Ayana resort and one of the world’s most gorgeous venues for cocktails and sunset views.
Spectacular sunsets and sandy shores in Legian
Legian means sweet in Balinese and this popular resort area is well-known for its gorgeous beach, and legendary party atmosphere. Legian holidays perfectly combine relaxation with easy access to outstanding shopping and nightlife.
Legian is a paradise for glamorous partygoers, as well as strolling shoppers, and those who just want to spend time on the beach with a good book in one hand and a cold drink in the other. On the coast just south of Seminyak, Legian is one of the best places to stay in Bali for those who want to be immersed in beach life within hours of touching down at Denpasar airport.
The pedestrianised walkway that runs between the beach and the hotels is ideal for an early evening stroll and you will find all of your holiday souvenirs and beach-style clothing at the many local shops and stalls.
There are so many cool beach bars, from which you can watch Legian’s famous sunset, lounging in a beanbag with your toes in the soft sand. There is also an extensive choice of restaurants with sensational beach views serving delicious Indonesian, Balinese and western food.
- The extravagant nightlife of Legian Bali attracts glamorous party goers from all over the world.
- Legian Beach is a favourite sunset spot in southern Bali, with stunning colours and a relaxed party atmosphere.
- Hit the shops at the Beach Walk Mall in nearby Kuta, with award-winning architecture and a relaxing atmosphere.
- Thrill seekers and families love the Waterbom Park, from Asia’s steepest waterslide to acres of lush, landscaped gardens.
Eating out in Legian
In Legian, dine at La Planca, a beachfront restaurant that promises to impress your senses with its original architecture and tasty menu with a Spanish focus.
Bali how it used to be in Sanur
The seaside village of Sanur was Bali’s first ever tourist resort and its long stretch of palm-fringed beach has been welcoming visitors for decades with a special blend of tropical beauty and traditional hospitality. The shallow, sheltered waters of Sanur beach are perfect for families, while the stunning beachfront promenade is favoured by romantic couples.
Sanur developed from seaside village to beach resort naturally, with traditional, family-run hotels and a Balinese sense of laid back comfort. The beach promenade walk is also good for cycling or running, providing a perfect way to view sunrise while getting some holiday exercise.The long strip of golden sand is reef protected, creating fabulous lagoons for safe swimming, snorkeling and paddleboarding. Further out past the breakwater is where surfers catch good waves.
The pristine beach is a lovely foreground for sunrise and sunset and Sanur is well known for its long promenade path, great for walking, cycling or jogging with beautiful views. Balinese Bales (palm-frond thatched pavilions) are set up along the shore, just waiting for you to spend the heat of the day in the shade with a good book. There are plenty of beach cafes and souvenir stalls for shopping and snack breaks. For a relaxed and enjoyable evening you’ll find a good selection of restaurants and bars for dinner and a few cocktails but that’s as far as the nightlife goes, which is how they like it in Sanur.
Sanur holidays are perfect if you are planning to visit other islands such as the Gili Islands and Lombok because ferries leave from the port here.
- Sanur beach is renowned for its beautiful sunrise, whether you view it from the beach or from a trendy cafe.
- Discover Bali’s incredible underwater world on a Seawalker Tour – explore the ocean floor without any diving experience necessary.
- Wander through the Sanur night market for a sensory experience amid smoking grills and colourful wares.
- Visit the Le Mayeur Museum to see the amazing work of Belgian artist and longtime Sanur resident Adrien-Jean Le Mayeur, as well as his extensive collection of traditional Balinese art and artefacts.
- Visit the Bali Orchid Garden near Sanur to enjoy landscaped tropical gardens where Bali’s exquisite orchid species are conserved.
When to go
The Bali Kite Festival is held just north of Sanur in Padanggalak between July and August whenever the winds are favourable. Kite flyers from all over Bali come to compete and their traditional Balinese kites soar over the landscape, their wingspans often up to 10 metres.
White sands and watersports in Tanjung Benoa
On the eastern coast of Bali’s southern peninsula, a long white stretch of sandy beach lapped by gentle waves draws people seeking the perfect tropical holiday. Tanjung Benoa’s velvety sands and swaying coconut palms fringe a lineup of all inclusive resorts that cater to holiday dreams, with just as much relaxation and action as you could wish.
People choose Tanjung Benoa holidays because it is not nearly as busy here as in the Kuta area, while being a bit more lively than exclusive Nusa Dua. Take long walks on pristine beaches absorbing the coastline’s beautiful seascapes. After a fun day on the beach, book some pampering sessions in the spa and enjoy the picturesque drinking and dining options at your Tanjung Benoa beach resort.
This is Bali’s premier watersports playground and there are many operators along the coast, offering all sorts of fun activities. Catch a breathtaking view of the peninsula while parasailing or try out the latest thing – water jetpacks. Tanjung Benoa’s lush coral gardens are home to teeming tropical sealife, so of course there are excellent scuba diving schools here. For the less confident, try underwater scooters or sea-walking adventures to explore the undersea world.
When you want a change of scene from resort life, there are a few local sights, restaurants and markets to explore. Spend a morning temple hopping to see the elegance of Balinese architecture and understand how shrines and temples are an important part of local communities. The Pura Dalem Ning Lan Taman Beji is a majestic sandstone temple complex with ornate decoration, while the nearby Caow Eng Bio Chinese Temple provides a colourful contrast.
Tanjung Benoa highlights
- The long white sandy beach of Tanjung Benoa, Bali, is fringed by palm trees and perfect for relaxing holidays in Bali.
- Throw yourself into the many water sports available on this stretch of Bali coastline – from surfing and jet skiing to parasailing.
- Wander through the serene precinct of Taman Beji Temple, one of Bali’s most holy, in its waterside setting built from coral bricks.
- Sign up for a Balinese cooking course at Bimbu Bali, one of the first cooking schools on the island, to gain cultural insight through food.
- Benoa has a calm, sheltered beach so it is great for families with children.
- Tanjung Benoa is located just along the coast from Nusa Dua so you have easy access to the amazing Bali Collection shopping centre with its huge variety of restaurants and branded shops.