Balian Beach doesn’t seem real. I thought all the crowd-free, beachfront paradises died a slow and painful death a long time ago. If 6 million people come annually to this tiny island to carve out their own slice of paradise what could possibly be spared from the blight of overtourism?
The answer, I learned, was Balian Beach. A remote little beach village midway up the island’s west coast with the simple draw of rippable waves and relaxed vibes.
Ok, it’s not quite the pristine, undeveloped white sand beach of the Bali of the 1950’s, but on one of the world’s most overtouristed islands this little beach town is about the closest thing you’ll find to paradise. This means, no touts, a few warungs, and a maximum of 2 instagram swings!
If this sounds like your style of paradise, it’s time to read on and see if Balian Beach is the place for you. However, I’m warning you now, the vast majority of you are likely to find Balian too sleepy, the restaurant selection too limited, and the entire place maybe just a little bit boring… However, for the select few that perk up with this disclaimer, Balian Beach might just be the closest thing you find to paradise on an island that too often resembles paradise lost.
Let’s dive in!
How to get to Balian Beach?
Balian Beach lies on the west coast of Bali, just off the busy road connecting southern Bali with the ferry to Java. Likely the least pleasant part of your journey will be enduring the nail biting experience of sharing the road with the plethora of large trucks making the long trek from/to Jakarta. Timing to get here (like many spots on the island) is very traffic dependent, but count on a minimum of:
Ubud to Balian Beach – 2 hours
Ngurah Rai Airport to Balian – 2 hours
Canggu to Balian Beach – 1 ¼ hours
Grab is your best bet for a quick and easy ride from virtually anywhere on the Island. Even if you have a driver you’ve been using on your trip, check with grab for a quote when planning your trip to Balian Beach to make sure your price is on point.
If you’re very comfortable driving yourself, take your scooter/motorbike, but as mentioned above this road is likely to be one of the more sketchy ones you’ve been on in Bali. Don’t forget your International drivers permit, as tourists without these are frequently easy pickings for police.
Where should you stay at Balian Beach?
Balian beach is a small village, not flush with accommodation. There is a collection of homestays, a few small hotels, and some rental villas available.
Your best bet is to stay at Yama Balian. This gorgeous mini-resort offers a small number of impeccably designed bungalows nestled right along the peaceful Balian river and is an easy five-minute walk to the beach. There is on-site yoga and a delicious little restaurant that offers service to your bungalow balcony. This was one of our best stays in all of Bali!
If you’re looking for a larger, villa style place to stay check out this epic spot on VRBO , which is better suited to families and groups.
If you’re looking for something more economical, there are also several homestays and basic hotels in the area with Istana Balian earning the best reviews.
What are the best things to do at Balian Beach?
If you’re expecting a plethora of activities, restaurants, or nightlife, stop reading this post. This little village is far off the Banana Pancake Trail. If you’re someone who gets bored easily (especially non-surfers), Balian Beach is also not the place for you.
If you don’t mind shifting down a gear, these are the best things to do in Balian Beach :
Balian Beach is best known as a surf destination and the vast majority of visitors come here for waves. Balian is a beach/rock break that is formed by the Balian River draining into the ocean and can serve up some epic surf. According to Surfline Balian is described as “not the ultra-perfect green barrels that most surfers come to Bali for, Balian is still a swell magnet, and a place that will have decent surf when everywhere else is flat. ”
Can beginners surf at Balian Beach?
While it is possible for beginners to surf at Balian Beach, it doesn’t have the draw for beginners that Kuta or Canggu do. At Balian, the bottom is rocky and you won’t find myriad board rentals spread out along the beach. That said, if you’re eager to learn, it’s definitely possible to do so here. The lone board board repairman, Roni (see below), offers lessons as well as rentals. How’s that for options!
The lineup at Balian Beach is well defined, so make sure you brush up on your surf etiquette and know your place if you’re still leveling up from kook status.
Where to rent a surfboard at Balian Beach?
There are a couple places to rent surfboards in Balian Beach:
Roni Surf Board – Roni offers a limited selection of rentals, board repair, and guiding/lessons. The one stop shop in Balian, located essentially in the front yard of Roni’s house…. 🤙
Rama Balian Surf & Coffee Shop – Grab a surfboard and a coffee. This new spot opened after my most recent visit, but has earned great reviews for both their board rentals and coffee.
Can I take surf lessons at Balian Beach?
Yes, Roni, from Roni’s Surf Board the one stop shop for everything surf related in Balian, he also offers lessons to new surfers.
Are there sharks at Balian Beach?
Balian Beach is one of few places on Bali that has a sharky history. While these incidents are immeasurably rare, Balian does have a record of a couple bull shark attacks on surfers. The Balian River empties right by the beach, creating an excellent surf break and often very murky water. During periods of heavy rainfall the water gets even murkier, which has led to a couple incidents of what was likely mistaken identity. During my time in Balian, I spoke with a couple locals wh theorized that heavy rains pushes an abundance of smaller fish down river, which subsequently draws in the sharks in to feed. Following this theory, they proceeded to tell me that they avoid surfing here following heavy rains, not due to concern for bull sharks, but due to the immense amount of pollution that is washed down the Balian river.
On the note of Sharks, don't forget this!
Did all this shark talk get you scared? You should be, but not of sharks! You should be scared of forgetting proper travel insurance. Between surfing or driving on dangerous roads, medical emergencies happen and you need to be prepared! A friend of our was medevaced to Bangkok from Cambodia and spent several weeks in the hospital there to the tune of $750,000. Fortunately, she had travel insurance!
Check out World Nomads* for a quote. Their coverage includes medical emergencies, luggage & gear and trip cancellation. Hopefully, you never need to make a claim, but if you do you’ll be beyond happy you were prepared.
Discover miles of deserted beaches
Aside from surfing, the Balian area treats visitors to a couple of Bali’s most unspoiled beaches. If you’re lucky and don’t mind a bit of an adventure, you may even find yourself with miles of beach entirely to yourself.
Balian beach itself is a nice stretch of black sand beach enclosed by cliffs farther to the north. The beach is seldom busy and is a nice spot to relax while watching the surfers catch a few waves. It’s the easiest access from the little village of Balian and will likely be your go to if your looking for some quality beach time without too much of an adventure.
North of Balian beach lies one of Bali’s most remarkable sights, miles upon miles of untouched beach. No development, no touts, and on many days, no people. To find this remarkable spot head north and up the hill, passing Deki’s warung and towards the Gajah Mina Beach resort. From here, you’ll follow the coastline on a bit of a hike through several patches of forest until reaching the road from Jalan Batu Mejan and the entrance to this sublime stretch of sand. The beach stretches on for miles without a restaurant, hotel, or tourist in sight. Whether you’re planning an epic run on the beach or looking to lay out for hours with your favorite book, this is likely the closest thing you’ll find to paradise on modern Bali.
Check out the viewpoint, cove, and bat caves
North of Balian Beach towards the Secret Bay restaurant and Gajah Mina Beach Resort lies a beautiful cove that’s great to explore at low tide. After descending a set of slippery stairs, you’ll find yourself surrounded by incredible cliffs on all sides. This is a gorgeous spot and worth the short walk from Balian Beach. Along the northern set of cliffs lies a series of caves that are bursting with bats. If your eyes don’t notice them, your nose certainly will, the scent of bat guano can be completely overpowering here.
When you’re done checking out the cove make your way safely back up the slippery stairs and check out the viewpoint from the cliffs above. The view up here is breathtaking, but once again, so is the smell of Bat guano. The viewpoint, cove and caves are a convenient stop on the way to check out Mejan Beach.
Aside from surfing and beaching, there isn’t a ton to do in Balian beach. This makes it a perfect place to kick back and relax. Ride some morning waves, settle into a book, sleep the afternoon away at the beach, have a leisurely riverside lunch, or start writing that novel you haven’t gotten around to, whatever relaxation looks like Balian is the place for it. The great thing about Balian is its ultra laid back pace. A younger version of me would have found a place like Balian boring AF, but now the pace here is sublime.
Catch the sunset and watch the rippers from Deki’s Warung
Deki’s Warung is a no frills little warung situated just up the hill to the north of the entrance to Balian Beach, that serves up a few traditional eats and cold Bintang. The food is ok, but it’s a stunning view of the surf and sunset that you come here for. Grab a cold brew and watch the sun go down for an epic way to wind down everyday.
Practice your yoga
Wow! We almost made it through an entire post about Bali post without mentioning the Y word. For better or for worse, Yoga is now synonymous with Bali and Balian beach is no exception! Sure, it’s not drowning in studios like Ubud, but if you’re looking to work on your practice Balian beach has several great options.
Yoga at Yama Balian
The charming hotel and my favorite place to stay in Balian Beach, Yama Balian offers daily yoga classes in their cozy riverside shala. This intimate yoga experience is a wonderful way to deepen your practice next to the healing waters of the Balian river.
Balian Spirit Yoga
Balian Spirit Yoga offers daily classes at 8:30am and 4pm and the teacher Nicky receives glowing reviews. He also offers annual 5-day retreats for those looking to explore their practice further.
Balian Yoga Retreats
Balian Yoga Retreats offers all inclusive retreats that include yoga, movement and ayurvedic medicine. Retreats are offered in multiple durations up to a week long.
Where to eat at Balian Beach?
Balian Beach isn’t brimming with cushy restaurants, but there are several great spots with qualify offerings of western classics and traditional balinese food. If you’re staying at Balian for more than a day, you’ll likely become a regular at all of them.
Tekor Bali is your stop for traditional Balinese food. The staff at Tekor are wonderful and the flavors don’t disappoint. This is best bang for your buck in Balian. My wife was thrilled when I treated her to $16USD birthday meal here. Lucky girl!
Casa Balian Cafe
Directly across from Tekor, Casa Balian Cafe serves up great dishes including the western favorites (pizza and burgers), smoothie bowls, and all the Balinese classics. They also offer a choice of Bali’s craft beers if your palette is getting bored of Bintang.
In my experience, beachside dining often equates to the worst food. When you have a view, people will come regardless, so you can get away with worse food and service. Unfortunately, Pondok Pitaya lwas no exception to this rule. We went here for beachside appetizers once and never returned. If you’re looking for a nice spot to watch the sunset, head to Deki’s Warung instead.
For the most romantic setting in Balian, head to the restaurant within the Yama Balian resort. Situated directly adjacent to the Balian river and hotel pool, this restaurant serves up a delicious assortment of fusion options with great plant-based choices as well.
As mentioned prior, Deki’s is great no-frills spot for a sunset beer and some basic food..
Final Thoughts on Balian Beach
If you’re looking for a relaxing, low-key beach hideaway that harks back to a Bali of old, Balian beach might just be your perfect slice of paradise. Catch some waves, work on your yoga, and find your own private peice of beach to waste the day away on. If this kind of spot sounds like a dream, you better hurry, change comes quickly in Bali, so savor this little slice of paradise while it lasts.
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