This is my second time in Bali so by no means am I an expert. Either way, I want to outline some hopefully useful tips based on my experiences on how to choose your beach in Bali to help maximize your stay.
Somehow everyone who comes to Bali ends up in Kuta at one point or other, whether you want to or not. It’s not my favorite place on the island, but it does have its charm.
Basically, if you like to party and want a place with a lot of activities for adults and kids, then this is likely your place.
The beach is one of the most beautiful on the island and great for people who want to learn how to surf. It’s also 15 minutes from the airport and has lots of markets, tourist information, spas, and restaurants.
Things work well in Kuta, but it does have a price. Everywhere you go, you are a walking dollar sign. So expect to be constantly asked if you want a taxi, a surfboard, food, beach chairs and umbrella, massage, jewelry, and on occasion Valium, pot, and cocaine. It also can be loud and filled with the drunk weekend travelers.
Legian and Seminyak Beach
Both of these beaches lie north of Kuta beach and can feel fairly similar in context. Seminyak is commonly touted as a more bourgeois area with fancier restaurants, boutiques, and nice hotels.
Legian has more of a balanced atmosphere and is a perfect hybrid between Kuta and Seminyak. It’s close enough to the party but not quite as expensive as Seminyak.
The one issue is that locals often use the two names interchangeably. So it can be confusing when trying to go somewhere. The rule of thumb is that anything above the street Jl Arjuna is Seminyak and anything below Jl Melasti is Kuta. However, some of the Kuta trashiness has been creeping up the beach. I wouldn’t be surprised if Legian becomes almost exactly like Kuta in a few more years.
Batu Balong and Echo Beach
These are the true surfer beaches that sit side by side and divided by another beautiful temple. The surf here is more advanced. You won’t see very many beginners in these waters. Echo beach has a funny little slogan: Hard to Find, Hard to Forget. It’s not that hard to find, but it is farther up north away from the more tourist parts. However, the area is rapidly developing.
These two beaches are not as beautiful, since the island’s volcanoes have made these black sand beaches. The epic sunsets over the land formations will make up for that small detail. It is also much quieter and has an array of beautiful (and pricey) villas. You’ll pay a little more here, but with some careful homestay hunting, you can get a decently priced room.
There are a few yoga studios in the area, namely Samadi Bali, which has a farmer’s market every Sunday, and Serenity, which is a full-out sustainable ecolodge. The cafes are delicious and it’s a really mellow area. The two places for nightlife are Old Man’s by the beach and Deus Ex Machina, which is not too far from the beach. It’s the perfect place to catch some waves and watch the epic sunsets.
If you are a surfer, Sanur beach is not for you. There’s no surf due to the wind. Bali, in general, is a windy island, but Sanur gets a lot more. This makes it a great place for windsurfing and kitesurfing and why it is the location for the International Kite Festival.
Sanur is also home to many resorts and several yoga studios, which has become increasingly popular on the island over the past few years. It’s a perfect beach for couples, expats, and people looking for a quieter and still beautiful beach.
There are also many dive spots close by where you can dive with manta mays and even whales depending on the season.