Bali Beach Tour: Honest Review of Bali's Popular Beaches

Let me start by saying that I have been to Bali several times in the past. While I enjoyed those trips, it was not because of the beaches. I stayed in the Kuta and Sanur areas and they had dark, rocky and coarse sand. The beaches were not exactly idyllic and far from the tropical paradise that I was looking for.

Needless to say, I used to enjoy the hotel pool, nightlife and restaurants more than the actual beaches. This time around, I wanted to see if my opinion of Bali’s beaches could change.

nusa dua

In an effort to get closer to a more beautiful coastline, I decided to stay in the southern peninsula of Bali. The Nusa Dua and Uluwatu area are famous for the beaches so I decided to stay there.

Read my review of the Bali Tropic Resort and Spa where we stayed for the first half of our week in Bali.

pandawa beach

Pandawa Beach Bali
The far end of Pandawa beach looked great in photos but the sand was coarse and it was difficult to walk.

Our first stop was at Pandawa Beach. The entrance to this beach was flanked by gigantic Balinese statues inside huge grottoes that were carved into the cliffside. The beach area was lined with restaurants and small shops where one can easily purchase food and refreshments.

Entry Fee: IDR15,000/pax
Parking: IDR5,000/vehicle
Beach Umbrella with 2 beach beds: IDR50,000

Pandawa Beach Bali
Pandawa Beach looks great in photos.

We had some fun taking photos at the far end of the beach where there were less people and the shoreline was cleaner. However, the sand isn’t as fine as it looks in the pictures. I had a hard time walking around barefoot. There was also a lot of debris on the beach and I had to be really careful. I found broken glass and other sharp objects just lying around.

Garbage on Pandawa Beach
Some debris was lying around Pandawa Beach, Bali


Garbage on Pandawa Beach
Empty plastic containers, glass and rubber could be seen on Pandawa Beach

While the beach here was not as dark as the ones in Kuta, it still wasn’t powdery white. My feet really hurt from walking around and I was afraid of getting a cut. Underwater was no different. While the water was clean, I can easily see rocks and seaweed on the seafloor within a meter from the shoreline.

We ended up just taking photos and chilling on some beach beds under an umbrella instead of swimming. The waves were also pretty strong so kayaking would have been a bit difficult.

Beer Bintang on Pandawa Beach Bali
Nothing beats an ice cold beer on the beach.
Chilling under beach umbrellas at Pandawa Beach Bali
My friend Aurie and I, chilling by the beach at Pandawa.

The place started to get crowded with busloads of tourists. I noticed that most of them were local so it appears that this beach isn’t so popular to foreign guests. If anyone knows why, please tell me in the comments. I found it odd that most of the locals didn’t swim and just stayed fully clothed from head (hijab) to toe. They just sat around chatting with each other. It made me wonder if people come here more for the restaurants versus the actual beach.

Melasti beach

Entrance Fee: IDR5,000
Parking Fee: IDR2,000

After a couple of hours at Pandawa Beach, we headed further along Bali’s southern coast to Melasti Beach. Apparently, this area is a famous location for prenuptial photoshoots. The narrow, winding roads make an interesting backdrop. We saw several vintage vehicles carrying Chinese couples who were fully dolled up for their prenup photos.

I really liked the natural stone cliffs and narrow passages all around the area. The white stone walls gave the area a different vibe to the rest of tropical Bali.

Melasti Beach Bali
The intriguing cliffs of Melasti Beach

The beach area was small and there seemed to be a lot of construction in the area. It seemed like they were building a massive commercial complex by the beach. For now, everything is still under construction so the beach was fairly isolated. I’m not sure what will happen once these residences or establishments open.

There were a few Westerners hanging around by the water apart from the numerous Chinese couples taking photos in the surrounding areas. The sand here was much finer than in Pandawa Beach. I was able to run around without hurting myself. The water was also very clear and the bottom was sandy.

Melasti Beach Bali
The sand in Melasti Beach was fine and the shoreline was clean.
Melasti Beach Bali
We found a lot of tiny crabs on the rocks by the beach!

This beach was a lot better than Pandawa, Kuta, Sanur and Seminyak put together. However, all the construction made it a lot less relaxing than it should be.

It wasn’t remote but it also didn’t offer modern conveniences like umbrellas, beach beds and refreshments at the snap of a finger. I’m not certain if this beach hits the spot for the beach goer who likes it convenient and neither does it hit the spot for true strip-it-down-to nature kinda guys.

blue heaven resort

We were supposed to head down to Padang Padang beach but I found out that it’s a surfing destination. That means there will be strong waves and it won’t be ideal for relaxed swimming. We chose to head to Blue Heaven Resort instead. The infinity pool overlooked Padang Padang beach so I still got to enjoy the same view anyway.

Infinity Pool at Blue Heaven Bali
The refreshing infinity pool at Blue Heaven Resort

Overall, I still wasn’t impressed by the beaches in Bali. The ones at the southern coast were definitely better than Kuta, Sanur and even Canggu ang Jimbaran but I know that some surfers will beg to differ. Please note that I am speaking only for non-surfers here.

I still think that there’s a lot of hype surrounding Bali but I think that’s more merited towards the laidback lifestyle and tropical vibe versus the actual beaches. The hotels here are great and there are a lot of activities on offer. I love the local food here too!

I have yet to visit Nusa Penida so there’s still some hope that my opinion will change. For now, I still think there are many other islands that are better if you’re looking for beautiful beaches and clear azure waters.

Watch the video of our Bali Beach Tour below:

Read Also: Bali Food Review: Bebek Joni Crispy Fried and Traditional Smoked Duck

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