Virgin Beach, White Sand Beach, Pantai Pasir Putih, and Bias Putih are all names for the same lovely stretch of white(ish) sand within easy reach from Candi Dasa, itself having no real beach to speak of. We are calling it Virgin Beach, as that’s what’s on the brand-spanking-new official sign erected when we visited in early 2016 — it saves confusion, as there’s at least one Pantai Pasir Putih (White Sand Beach) on every island of Indonesia. Additionally, white is a misnomer — and virgins come in a wider colour range.
Virgin Beach stretches for about 700 metres around an attractive turquoise cove bookended with rocky cliffs and fringed with tropical forest. The not-so-white sand is fine and squeaky and a joy to walk on. Out to sea, on the southern end of the beach, Pulau Kuan sits whale-like on the horizon.
There has been a fair bit of development here over the years, but Virgin Beach hasn’t lost its charm — what was once a truly virgin beach now is home to a small village of beach warungs, each with a bunch of deck chairs and umbrellas to entice you to linger — but who needs enticing? With fresh fish and cold beer, the only difficulty is choosing which one.
The warm lapping waves are a delight to swim in. Check the season as the millpond we saw can harbour two-metre waves at times. Mostly, it’s something in between. The gentle waves are ideal for bodyboarding which can be rented for 50,000 rupiah. Unfortunately, as with most beaches in Bali, there are times when the waves can sully the pristine environment washing plastic ashore. When we visited it wasn’t too bad, and the warung owners make an effort to keep it clean.
The blue sea holds a rich abundance of underwater life and good snorkelling is possible in the clear waters directly from the beach. Snorkelling equipment can be rented from the numerous warungs for 20,000 rupiah for a mask and snorkel, and another 20,000 rupiah for fins. Fishing boats will to take you further out for 300,000 rupiah. We were lucky to spot a pod of passing dolphins on our visit.
The southern end of the beach is the fishermen’s domain. Smiley-faced jukung boats, with their bulging eyes that hold the power to ward off evil and enable night vision, line the sand at high water mark. Nets dry in the bright sunshine. Delicious smells waft from the tiny darkened fishermen’s warung. Some good photo opportunities lie here. Further south again, the cliffside hill has a small steep track — probably leading to rewarding views for the energetic.
For now, there are no big hotel developments nearby and nothing but sea, sand and trees visible from the beach, so enjoy the deserted island ambience. Pull up a sun-lounge (20,000 rupiah), open a cold Bintang (small 25,000 rupiah/large 40,000 rupiah — delivery fee to your sun-lounge included) and indulge in a soothing massage (one hour, 100,000 rupiah). Several of the warungs have showers and clean bathrooms for their patrons too.
How to get there
The best and most enjoyable way to get to Virgin Beach is by boat from Candi Dasa. Fishermen will get you there, and add in a bit of snorkelling, for 450,000 rupiah for two people, prices negotiable for more. Perama (T: (0363) 41 114; www.peramatour.com) has a daily snorkelling boat trip which visits Virgin Beach departing at 08:00 and 09:00 for 75,000 rupiah per person.
By road from the south, Virgin Beach is tucked away, over the hill from Bugbug. Coming from Candi Dasa, watch out for a band of wild monkeys near the entrance to Pura Gumang. There are some tremendous views as you come over the hill — pull up at one of the lookouts to savour them. The turnoff to Virgin Beach is signposted on Jalan Raya Bugbug about seven kilometres from Candi Dasa. From there it’s one and a half kilometres along a paved road, edged with rice paddies and flower fields, to a ticket booth that collects 10,000 rupiah per person entry fee. The okay road then becomes a crap road — is that what you pay for? The car park is a 500 metres from the beach, and it’s a steep rocky road downhill to get there (and a seemingly steeper rockier road uphill back). Not great with little kids or older folk. Ojeks are on hand to drop you for 10,000 rupiah. If you’ve arrived by ojek, your own driver can take you all the way down. If you’re on a motorbike and you’re a bit of a novice, leave it near the top and walk down.
Bemos pass the turnoff, but it’s easier and works out less expensive to get an ojek from Candi Dasa for the return trip (50,000 rupiah return). Perama runs a daily shuttle bus to Virgin Beach (minimum two people) for 35,000 rupiah each one way. It departs Candi Dasa at 09:30, 14:00, 17:00; returns at 10:00, 14:30, 17:30.
By Sally Arnold
Last updated on 3rd March, 2016.