Snorkelling right off the beach
Published/Last edited or updated: 4th March, 2016
Sapphire waters, palm-tree-fringed horseshoe bay, decent snorkelling directly from the beach — yes, please! One of the best reasons for taking a day out of your transit between Bali and Lombok or the Gilis is to spend an hour or three on lovely little Blue Lagoon Beach. Though indeed very appealing from a distance, be warned that up close it may not be the cleanest ever visited. This beach suffers a rubbish problem (possibly more seasonably bad at some times than others). Please don’t let that put you off, as it’s still very pretty and worth a visit.
Blue Lagoon Beach has a salt and pepper mix of golden and black volcanic sand. At either side of the bay, craggy black lava rocks create small but interesting rock pools to potter around in search of tiny crabs and creatures. Surrounding cliffs are almost hidden by a camouflage of prickly pear cactus. If you’re quicker than the locals, the ripe red fruit of this cactus is edible –it’s sweet and delicious.
Snorkelling is possible right off the beach and equipment can be rented from the beach warungs (50,000 rupiah). Life jackets are available for rent if you’re not a confident swimmer (25,000 rupiah). Most of the year the sea is calm, so it’s a good spot for families. The bay is protected although it can be unpleasant during high winds and rough seas. The snorkelling is good, but not anything to go nuts over — water is clear, and there’s a good array of tropical fish and pretty corals. Travellers we spoke to said they had seen turtles. The pretty reef comes right to the shore but beware in low tide, coral can be quiet close to the surface. The far left side of the bay is the best entry point as there’s a clear channel that will take you to a good section of reef.
Often there’s several jukung boats moored at the edge of the bay bringing snorkellers on day trips from Candi Dasa and Padang Bai. Make sure the boatmen are aware of you in the water if you get close. As with snorkelling anywhere, please don’t stand on the coral!
Two warungs offer a selection of tourists’ favourites like nasi goreng and sandwiches, and of course cold Bintang (large 40,000 rupiah). Occasionally during the year high tides leave very little of the sandy beach, and you may be forced to rent a beach chair perched on the cliff above the sand at one of the warungs (25,000 rupiah per day). In this captive position, you may be offered massages (80,000 rupiah per hour), sarongs and other beach trinkets. Warung Blue Lagoon and Warung Shanti are both open from 07:00 to 18:00.
If you fancy some exploring, from Blue Lagoon Beach carpark a cactus-fringed path leads to the headland (which we have dubbed “Cactus Hill”) with great views overlooking the bay. Be careful and wear good shoes — we’re still removing cactus spines from our feet. Near the top of the headland is a steep trail leading down to the rocks of the adjoining bay. If you venture down, be aware of tides as it may be easy to be trapped.
Blue Lagoon Beach is easily accessible, being just a five-minute walk from the main drag. Head east along Jalan Silayukti and just past Topi Inn, turn left and continue up and around a short steep hill. The road splits — to the left heads to Bloo Lagoon Village, and to the right an entry to the beach parking area. Parking fees are 5,000 rupiah for cars and 2,000 rupiah for motorbikes. An enterprising local has built some showers here and charges 15,000 rupiah ‘per person’ to use (so no saving by showering with a friend!). Just beyond are two paths down to the bay, each leading to one of the two beach warungs.
Sally spent twelve years leading tourists around Indonesia and Malaysia where she collected a lot of stuff. She once carried a 40kg rug overland across Java. Her house has been described as a cross between a museum and a library. Fuelled by coffee, she can often be found riding her bike or petting stray cats. Sally believes travel is the key to world peace.