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It was a weekend spent at Pondok Pisces at Balian Beach that first sold us on Bali. While that was a couple of years back now — in which time Balian has already developed dramatically — this remains an enchanting, and, at times, beautiful, location.

Clearly an up and coming surfing spot, Balian is best regarded for the left hander but there is also a fast right hand break. There is a strong current which makes it very easy to get out the back, but also can make the beach a bit treacherous for swimming — take care swimming here.

From a traveller's perspective, Balian marks the beginning of coastal West Bali. You've passed by Canggu and Tanah Lot and next stop is Medewi which is itself another great surf spot. Expect far fewer creature comforts than South Bali, replaced by open spaces, big skies and a more relaxed, laid back vibe.

As with many of the beaches along this stretch of Bali's coast, Balian is a black sand beach with a lot of pebbles, and, while it isn't all that suitable for swimming there are plenty of vantage points to relax in for a lazy afternoon and take in the view. Paddle (or swim) across the river and you'll have the beach largely to yourself.

Balian is the name of the river which separates the villages of Suraberata on west and Lalang Linggah on the east. You'll hear the area referred to as either Balian or Lalang Linggah, but no one really cares which one you use.

Suraberata is where almost all Balian's hotels and guesthouses are located. A bunch of small signs point in a southerly direction off the main Kuta to Gilimanuk road marking the bumpy road down to the beach which is lined by plenty of accommodation.

Foodwise, many, though not all of the hotels and guesthouses at Balian have there own restaurants and there are also a handful of freestanding cafes to choose from. Should you get bored with the beach area, at night, the market on the main highway comes alive and there a nasi campur with meat will set you back a paltry 7,000 rupiah.

There's also a convenience store, internet cafe and some phone shops around the marketplace should your desires extend beyond local food. The closest ATM we could find is in Tabanan.

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Text and/or map last updated on 11th July, 2013.

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