Balian Beach was the place we first really fell in love with Bali. The black sand beach is set at the mouth of the same-named river. It’s a big river and the combination of large surf, strong currents and the volume of water pouring out of the river — especially in wet season — doesn’t make for a good swimming beach, BUT if you’re a surfer, Balian is close to a must see.
A bunch of cafes up on the headland overlook the beach. They’re not flash, so don’t expect any double shot decaf soy milk lattes, but the views are unbeatable and the staff tend to be a friendly lot. Some shacks down on the sand will suit those who prefer to dig their toes in their sand.
Just about all the (quickly growing) accommodation at Balian beach is on the west side of the river and that’s where you’ll most likely spend most of your time, but if you’re surfed out (or don’t surf at all) wade across the river to the east side. That stretch of beach is really pleasant and ideal for aimless wandering — it’s also a bit better for swimming.
This is an out of the way location. Bank on at least two hours’ drive from Kuta, more if the traffic packs it in, so it makes for a long day trip. Either work it into an around-the-island jaunt, or plan at least an overnight stay. The traffic (or rather quality of driving) can be quite hair-raising, so keep your wits about you if you’re self-driving. The village on the main road is called Lalang Linggah and the turn off to the beach from the main road is almost immediately after a fairly tight bend and not well signposted (save for a bunch of guesthouse signs), so keep your eyes peeled.
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