Wednesday, 19 April 2017

Best of Bali - The Secret Beach Hopping Guide

It's literally almost a year since my last entry, and it's a bittersweet realization for me.

I've always love this space; nowhere else grants me this extent of freedom and yet knowing that my words & experiences might resonate with someone somewhere, thus drawing this tiny dotted lines between the readers and me where we become less alone in this vast entity called life. It is a beautiful knowing.

But why the hiatus then? 

To be honest, I don't know. 
I don't know what I can write about anymore. It seems as if one day monotonousness had quietly seeped through the wall cracks unannounced, and when I finally gotten around to take a good look at my life, it has already left its pungent smear on everything I have. 

I became a boring person. A person without a worthy story or conviction to tell. And the irony is, I actually warned myself about it 2 years ago on the night before my first day of work.

Today I am back here to share a beautiful short trip I had, and in return, to find the peace that only writing here brings me. Thank you for sticking around, whoever & wherever you are.

For a start, TripCanvas here provides a pretty comprehensive list of good beaches to explore and I followed it religiously during my stay there. Apologies for the pretentious 'secret beach' title (I rolled my eye at that as well, trust me), I mean to refer to those that are relatively less commercialized where the natural charms are still pretty much intact. Just don't know how else to describe it without sounding long-winded.

OKAY! So for your information, the beaches we went to were primarily located at the southern tip of Bali, the South Kuta & Jimbaran area. You have two reasons to go there: (1) Most of the beaches at found there, and if you are here, I would assume that's what you're after for; (2) And good news, it's touristy enough to have good hotels & eateries, but still much better than Ubud in general. Note that the following pictures are all taken by me with zero editing so what you see here is really what you'll be gettin and also becos I'm just too lazy to edit them.

So here, in no order of ranking - 

#1 Tegal Wangi Beach

This beach was our first love in Bali. And you know what people say about first love - You just never forget them.

I have lost count how many times we have visited this baby after the first time – we even relocated to a hotel that’s 5 minutes ride away from here, and we drop by at least once per day at sunrise, sunset, mid-day or whenever we liked. The natural potholes are found along the beach, where the incoming waves came massaging and frolicking your body while you enjoy the A-class view. Though there’s only a short stretch of beach, I’d say the ‘natural Jacuzzi’ is enough a reason for you to check out this place.

There were barely any signs when we were there last year end, but a huge hotel was under construction nearby so it should a matter of time before the crowd takes over. Two piece of advice over here: First, go during the low tides so the potholes would still be accessible; Second, the steps down and the rocks nearby are rather sharp, so make sure you have a small torchlight when visiting during sunrise or sunset.

On this note, let me give you a secret tip that we have found out ourselves – If you are going during sunset, stay for a bit longer till the skies turn dark and go check out the rocks at the right end of the beach. Fireflies would be blinking their magic over there.

Verdict: AT LEAST a quick visit on the way to/from the airport. Make sure it's low tide first.  (< This is me trying very hard to suppress my bias)  

#2 Melasti Beach

Another of our all time favorite, which means we've lost count again on the number of times where we looked at each other and went, "Hmm, Melasti?" 

We caught our first Bali sunrise here, and it gave me extra kick to feel the soft golden sun slowly heating up mt skin and the earth around, while thinking that if it was any other Monday, I would probably be on my way to beat the morning train crowd and fighting the weekend hangover.

Also, we had the most epic Nasi Campur in our lives there becos dining literally over a cliff to turquoise waters and golden sun?? That's some James Bond shit there.

One little note: Unfortunately, the gravels there weren't very butt-friendly. So remember to grab a mat or prepared to get some unsightly marks on your peachie.

Verdict: MUST VISIT!!!

#3 Balangan Beach

One morning, we dragged our asses to this place after spending yet another sunrise at Tegal Wangi. Even though the two beaches seem pretty close on the map, but the ride there turned out to be longer than expected due to the small winding roads in between.

The cliff overlooking the beach does offer beautiful scenery, but to be honest we didn't enjoy ourselves very much over there. I know, Bali beaches had spoilt us way too much. If given a chance again, I would choose to go there during lower tides instead,and I suppose it would be quite a decent after-dinner stroll location since the beach stretches out pretty long.

Verdict: Visit ONLY if you were nearby or have extra time to kill

#4 Dreamland Beach

With a fancy name as such (and in English!), you should know that this beach is more or less commercialised by now and by no means a secret beach anymore. The reason why I still include it here is becos the surrounding rows of resort bungalows seemed to have wayyyy passed its glory days, and more like on the brink of becoming the next haunted hot spot.

To be honest, I had zero expectation on my way there, and that was further affirmed when the only way to get to the beach was this litt

le path sandwiched in between rusty stalls and foul algae pond.


It might not be the most beautiful Bali beach that I went to, but it’s HANDS DOWN THE MOST FUN BEACH FOR SURE.

The waves were CRAZY HUGE, reaching to almost 3m just before it crashed against the beach. We went into the waves, and before we realised, we’ve been bodysurfing the waves, tumbling, rolling, flipping violently under the current for a good 2 hours.


The only reason we stopped was becos we were genuinely physically tired after all the bodysurfing and also the merciless Bali sun started beating down as usual by 930am.
Verdict: I know not everyone would understand fun as 2 hours of risking drowning/scrapping your knees & palms/losing half a toenail/having saltwater coming out from both your mouth and nose in 3m waves, but IF that’s your cup of tea saltwater, you SIMPLY CANT miss this place! 

#EXTRA: Pandawan Beach & Nusa Dua Beach 

On the note of secret beach, let me digress for a while and throw in these two very commercialized and well-known beaches over here briefly. Just to you know, to give you more reasons to appreciate the ‘secret beaches’.

Pandawan was the first beach we visited during our trip, becos it was very near our hotel and during my last visit to Bali some years back, I was very mesmerized by its beauty back then. But I knew things couldn’t be more different when we saw dozens of gigantic construction cranes before we even see the beach itself. The entrance fee and the busloads of tourists streaming in endlessly from all directions just added to the list of turn-offs.

Really, the most interesting thing that happened over there was me taking a nap, traumatizing playing with a baby crab, and chancing upon a world record of the most number of paragliders in action.

Nusa Dua Beach, like Dreamland Beach, is surrounded by resorts and hotels. But unlike Dreamland Beach, the hotels there are your legit 5-star chains (e.g. Novotel) and tourists (many) actually stayed there. It was a little confusing navigating through the hotel compound, but the beach turned out pretty decent.

I read online that you could see the seaweed farms in a distance from this beach, but I personally didn’t see any when I was there. We napped on the hotel sandbags and here’s a tip here on how to avoid being stopped by hotel staff - Just sit down and use your phone/talk to each other like you are an ACTUAL hotel guest. Or even better, pretend you two are arguing. No one will ever go out of their way to interrupt a quarrelling couple. Not sure why, but it works every single time, trust me.

We did have a good time drifting in the waves after that tho. The sand was very comfortably soft, and the shallow beach extended out quite far, so you actually get to walk out quite a bit while enjoying some waves pushing you up and down gently.

Apparently having my Pocahontas moment here with these hotel squirrels 

Verdict: Nusa Dua is okay, offers more than just a plain walk along the beach. And the mild bodysurfing might be more acceptable for most. On the other hand, Pandawan? Well, do yourselves a favour, don’t go there. And oh, we also passed by another the highly popular Jimbaran Beach for like a dozen times. We weren’t enticed, barely slowed down even. 

Now back to the interesting stuff.
#5 (SECRET) Beach

This place is a personal serendipity close to heart and I apologize in advance for wanting to keep the location a secret for now. As a clarification, the ENTIRE 20km plus of East Coast of Bali is ALL black sand beach so and there are many turns along the highway where you can turn in to. But this particular segment, it's just so special to me.

So years ago when I visited Bali for the first time, I chanced upon this exact place absolutely randomly while riding back from East Bali. Years later, I came back to East Bali thinking that there's JUST NO WAY I could find back the same beach again. But god is a funny person, and that day, (s)he was extra kind to me. 

We took a GENUINE random turn from the highway and suddenly, everything started to look familiar and I just went 'oh god, no way...." 

Just so you know, I was jumping with joy the first time I came to this place cos it was just so beautiful. But this time, it was the utmost STUNNING sunset of our lives and I was just made speechless by its splendor. And I've got some pictures to prove it.

Looking at this just brought me back to the moment where I just stood there, facing that purely majestic sun with my open mouth.

And you'd think black sand beach must be coarse, but these couldn't be anymore finer.

The sun was exceptionally huge that day, and it put on such a show going down I almost wanted to applaud for having a treat to it. 

We were like busy feeling grateful and wanting to catch the last few rays for a photo when suddenly..

...the sky turned into the most alluring shade of pink and peach I've ever seen till this date...

...and it just kept getting prettier...

...till it took one last shot and gave us the perfect curtain call that we couldn't even dream of

Thank you Bali, thank you.

Like said, all the photos here are unedited/unadjusted, basically just as raw as the moment I pressed on that shutter button. If you think the photos are amazing, just imagine being surrounded 360 degree in it.

Verdict: You have to go. Find a little stretch of the black sand beach and make your own very special memories there.  

#5 Nyang Nyang Beach
 Out of all, Nyang Nyang beach was the hardest to get to. It's not near any town and there's a looooong flight of crooked stairs to overcome before you could get to the beach. Then again, it won't be a secret beach if it's pretty and also super accessible right?

One thing to note, there's a major hotel under construction right before the start of the stairs. A lady would offer to bring you down to the beach for a small fee (we presumed that she must be the wife of a construction worker here, trying to earn some bucks while waiting for her husband to knock off), so just decline politely and go around the hotel and you'd see the stairs there.

You know you are at the right place when you couldn't spot a single soul from miles away.

When the scenery is on point, but you aren't dressed for the beach look.

Yes Nyang Nyang beach is a beau, but it has more magic than that. On the glistering soft beach, there lies two mysterious shipwrecks out of the blue, jarring but even more captivating.

As you can see here, there are genuine shipwrecks and not some lameass commercial mock wrecks. It was a mystifying feeling climbing it and seeing the ocean from there. 

What caused the shipwreck? Who's the crew? What kind of scenery did they witness from my spot? Did anyone get hurt? Where's the rest of the ship? 

Nyang Nyang beach is a secret beach with a secret. 
Go experience that secret before they convert it into a restaurant or god knows what.

Verdict: How many people can claim they have board a shipwreck before? Go there and you'll be one of the lucky few.

#6 Pantai Gunung Payung

On the morning of our departure day, we decided to hop to a new beach and see what we could find there. And as like before, Bali never disappoints.

The way to the beach was a little fancy (I'm sensing a hotel/resort springing up nearby soon), buuuuuuuut there's quite some flights of stairs to reach the beach, so at least the lazy ones won't be coming here too soon.


Saw this peculiar pattern on the sand and was wandering how it was made when my dear boy suddenly jumped off and said 'OMG MUST BE SNAKE!!!'

This place has the CLEAREST water we've seen throughout Bali and it's super swim-friendly.

The scenery was sooo good but all this boy could be concerned with was the snakes. 

Verdict:If you are looking for sun tanning and swimming in solitude, this baby would be just the place you're looking for. Bring your own water and food cos there's no facilities nearby.

That's all folks! Hope this post has just sprinkled some wanderlust glitters onto you. Go create your own Bali stories, good luck.