Kuta beach treeline, Bali, Indonesia. Behind the beach is a sturdy wall, happily separating the beach from the rampant traffic on the road on the other side. And that’s the worst problem along Kuta beach road, Jl Pantai Kuta, the neverending flow of tooting taxis and whining motorbikes. Anyone with low tolerance of road noise should not stay on that road or nearby.
Bali’s best beaches
Map of Bali’s best beaches
Legian’s massive stretch of firm, brown sand is backed by shady trees and a wide range of hotels, bars and restaurants, big and small. It’s superb for walking, watching, relaxing, paddling and (usually) surfing but not ideal for swimming due to rough waters and strong currents.
Generally south Bali is where the best beaches are, including the huge stretches of Kuta and Legian and the newer, classy resorts on the Bukit Peninsula, though note that beach condition and quality depends on the season. During the dry season from April October beaches are at their best, clean and comfortable, but during the wet season west facing beaches become carpeted with debris and seaweed. First class hotels and even some villages groom their beaches regularly.
For guaranteed quieter waters Mengiat/Geger beach in Nusa Dua and Sanur Beach both have offshore reefs that break up waves.
North Bali’s beaches are mostly black volcanic sand, cool and very quiet.
East Bali’s beaches are small, calm and lack sunset excitement but tend to have fine sand and sometimes great snorkeling or diving.
West Bali is little developed and offers few beach destinations so this is the place for adventurers to find their own little paradise, time willing.
When booking a hotel in this area we suggest googling Jl Pantai Kuta and follow it beside the beach until it turns sharp right. You, however, continue straight ahead onto a no-name, car-free street lined with very nice beach resorts. Book one of those if you can afford it! No noise! No cars or bikes to avoid on the way to the beach!
Kuta’s main beach street, Jl Pantai Kuta, with endless traffic, narrow sidewalks and street lights. And if the hotel claims to be on the beach they’re lying!
– for cheapish convenience, sun, sand and nightlife, Kuta. Sand is plentiful, expansive but quite featureless and also you get garbage at the back of the beach and around the streets, endless hawkers, moronic taxi drivers tooting for fares from unresponsive pedestrians (if I want a taxi I’ll just raise my arm, OK?), thousands of little shops selling identical T-shirts (Bintang Bali for visitors with a style by-pass) and ball caps, whining hordes of scooters, oases of US and European chain stores for those who don’t have them in their country already, main streets with narrow sidewalks unlit except by taxi/scooter headlights (yes, local government officials are fiddling while Bali burns and moving their families to Singapore).
– for low-cost convenience, sun, sand and quiet nights head west along the coast from Kuta to Legian for a quiet life or Seminyak for funky bean bag seating, beach DJs and country-western bands in the evenings.
– for upmarket family/romantic beach holidays with easy trips into/around Bali proper, Jimbaran.
– for upmarket romantic beach holidays on pristine, manicured sand try Mengiat and Geger beaches (topless sunbathing permitted) in Nusa Dua. These are accessible to the public via Segara Village or Geger Village and have parking, lifeguards, loungers, parasols and beach cafés.
– for get-away-from-it-all serious surfers and several hundred thousand gawking tourists, Uluwatu is it, on the Bukit Peninsula.
– for scuba divers and quiet, reasonably priced snorkeling vacations, Padang Bai.
– for get-away-from-all Bali hype and development, head for the more relaxed beaches, surf and nature of neighbouring Lembongan (fast boat takes 30 minutes from Sanur), Lombok or the Gili Islands by boat from Sanur!
Kuta the legend lives on, albeit with more traffic, crowds and concrete, less traditional style and tranquility, but still Kuta retains a certain charm, value and convenience – certainly for hard-core party people on a budget who like to slump in the sun during the day on Kuta’s 5 km stretch of sand, struggle into the surf for a cooling splash and buy bracelets from endless vendors.
BTW, if you don’t wish to buy anything don’t say a word to them except “no thank you! ” as they are very hard to lose once engaged in conversation. If you have bought something you can expect every vendor on the beach to appear imminently.
Spectacular sunsets are a feature of Kuta and local bars and cafés offer plenty of comfortable hanging out space for the purpose.
Kuta is a famous surfing destination though waves are rarely huge, but if surf’s up boards can be rented nearby and surfing courses are also available. When swimming stay between the red and yellow flags and beware strong rip currents.
Kuta is home to a great range of excellent, good-value restaurants offering all sorts of cuisine but for really cheap good food don’t hesitate to patronise beach-front stalls.
Kuta is 15 minutes from the airport and the best way to get around the town/beach is walking, biking or the cheapish taxis as the streets can get very congested and parking may be a problem.
For a more luxurious beach life head for Jimbaran or Nusa Dua, for best surf trek to Uluwatu or for real Balinese culture head for the hills to Ubud, you won’t find it in Kuta.