After landing in Bali, our first night was spent in Kuta; depending on your age and sensibilities Kuta has different meanings to different people. To us it was too busy, there was chaotic traffic and a mediocre beach, we couldn’t wait to get away.
Our plan was to head somewhere a little off the tourist trail and settle gently into Bali life. The wild surfing beaches of Uluwatu attracted us even though we don’t surf. We wanted to experience the dramatic cliff tops of Bali and see with our own eyes the legendary perfect waves.
We found a great one bed room villa to rent on airbnb: it was just opposite to the gravel road to Padang Padang Beach, also known as Thomas Beach, it was a great spot to settle into Bali’s beach life.
Below is a quick overview of the beaches we explored in the area, all of them were reached by motorbike. We would recommend hiring a motorbike it’s an easy affordable way ($4 per day) to explore the area, just ensure you drive carefully and rent helmets.
1. Padang Padang Beach (Thomas Beach)
To get to the beach you have to walk down 172 steps to the beach, I know this doesn’t sound ideal for families with young kids, but if you have a sling or baby carrier it’s doable also if like us, you like a bit of adventure and are prepared to carry the kids up and down the steps, its fine. Once down the steps you are rewarded with splendid little beach that isn’t too crowded.
There are handful of restaurants and usual sun bed to rent. It’s a great beach for kids especially at low tide as small tidal pools form making natural swimming pools.
2. Suluban Beach and the Famous Uluwatu Surf Break
This is such an unusual beach, as to get to it you have to walk down the steps, past warungs, surf shops and restaurants until you are at the foot of the cliff; then you walk through a sandy cave around to your left and through ankle deep water to reach a small sandy beach; where you can sunbath and watch the pro surfers to there thing.We had a lot of fun here, the girls were very excited to walk through the cave and there was even a boat wreck washed up on the beach. Word of warning though, it’s best to only walk round to this beach when the tide is going out which will ensure an easy passage back through the cave.
3. Nyang Nyang Beach
Is a pristine 1.5 Kilometre beach and one of Bali’s least visited beaches. This is partly due to the long trek down to beach. Which we only realized once we were half way down and had to carry Bella and Maya most of the way.
The walk down is a gravel road but is very steep and uneven in parts, so best to use trainers of sandals and not flip flops. We had great fun just playing on the beach watching the huge waves crash on to the shoreline. Make sure you take enough food and water as there are no vendors.
This beach isn’t ideal for kids, but if your feeling adventurous and want to get away from the crowds, head here.
4. Padang Padang Beach
A great little beach for families, our advice is to get down there earlier to avoid the crowds. It’s very popular with day trippers and there isn’t much space for lying down. But if like us you spend most of the time in the water it’s perfect it is also about the only beach with a very sandy bottom. This is also a good surf break which is set back off the shoreline is great for learning. It costs 10k per adult to enter the beach plus 2k for motorbike parking.
5. Dreamland Beach
Is very picturesque but a shame there is so much rubbish also the development of restaurants is a haphazard which spoils this picturesque beach. Beware as this beach is quite dangerous to swim at. The waves get quite big and dump on the shoreline. However if you want to surf it has a good break for beginners, surfers just need to swim out to the break which is set back off the beach.
6. Bingin Beach
This is a great little beach which is safe to swim at if you stick to the left hand side at high tide, also it’s best to wear shoes in the water to avoid getting cuts on your feet from the reef. There are quite a few upmarket hotels and villas over looking the beach, but what’s nice is that it still has a very rustic feel and there are no sun beds. This beach is only for advanced surfers as it is a reef break.
7. Nusa Dua – Pandawa Beach
Although the entrance to the beach is ugly as they are building a mega resort, it does have a more local feel to it which is great to see and mix with Indonesian families. The best aspect of the beach is the huge calm tidal pool that is very shallow, perfect for the kids. Kayaks are for hire so you can paddle right out to where the waves are breaking against the reef.
The south end of the beach is the prettiest with caves and a small bay, ideal for swimming as it isn’t too rocky. We discovered this part of the beach was famous for farming and cooking seaweed.
Head to our friend Komang’s bar at the south end of the beach it’s called Pandawa Breeze. Komangs is a friendly guy who will let you have a sun bed for free if you buy a couple of drinks, he even has bucket and spades for the kids.
We had a fun time exploring these South Bali beaches as a family, the whole area has a friendly, calm atmosphere. Next time we visit Marco and I are going to take up surfing and enjoy those wonderful surf breaks properly.
- Visit the Uluwatu temple at Sunset
- Watch the Uluwatu surf break at sunset whilst drinking a cold beer. Even if you aren’t a surfer this such a brilliant experience even the girls were mesmerized.
- Suka Espresso – delicious food, lots of veggie options and great smoothies and blends. Our Favourite was the Green Machine.
- Check out the numerous small villas for rent on aibnb a lot of them include breakfast and have swimming pools which are ideal for families. You can get $30 off your first booking when you use our link www.airbnb.com/c/mallegri1 to book – Check also booking.com for more options
Look out for
- Be careful when changing money in Bali in general: make sure you count the notes a few times and don’t allow the person to touch the money while you are counting it. We suggest only changing 50 dollars to start with to gauge whether the person is honest and ask for 100k notes, which are easy to count
To have a better idea of all the beaches we have been writing about, check our latest video out below, and subscribe to our channel if you haven’t done it yet.