Just Beachy

It’s easy to see why vis­i­tors con­gre­gate in the south, thanks to its stun­ning coast­line lined with top-notch lodg­ings and en­ter­tain­ment op­tions.

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Sun-lovers and surfers alike flock to Bali’s south­ern Bukit Penin­sula to make the most of white-sand beaches, crys­tal-clear wa­ters, dra­matic vis­tas, some of the best waves on the is­land, and its lux­u­ri­ous re­sorts. On the east coast of the Bukit lies Nusa Dua, a tourist en­clave that has been de­vel­oped along one of the best beaches on the is­land. Once a co­conut plan­ta­tion, Nusa Dua is marked by a tran­quil stretch of white sand and off­shore reefs that make the wa­ter per­fect for swim­ming. Well-main­tained fa­cil­i­ties, spec­tac­u­lar views, land­scaped gar­dens, world-class golf fa­cil­i­ties, and a good range of chil­dren’s ac­tiv­i­ties all serve to make Nusa Dua re­sorts pop­u­lar with fam­i­lies and those look­ing for an in­dul­gent get­away. Just north of Nusa Dua is Tan­jung Benoa, a re­laxed beach­side neigh­bor­hood where wa­ter sports are the main draw. Wind­surf­ing, para­sail­ing, wa­ter­ski­ing, and all things aquatic are well served by op­er­a­tors from in­di­vid­ual re­sorts. There is safe swim­ming in Benoa as well, so the re­sorts lin­ing the sand tend to be fam­ily-friendly. Some of the best surf­ing in Bali can be found off the west coast of the Bukit at Uluwatu. The path to the beach is quite well hid­den, and is rarely vis­ited by those not wish­ing to en­gage some chal­leng­ing waves, as the wa­ter is un­suit­able for swim­ming and the beach is rocky. For leisure vis­i­tors, Uluwatu Tem­ple is the vil­lage’s main draw due to its ma­jes­tic po­si­tion, perched atop sheer cliffs above the crash­ing surf. At sun­down the nearby clifftop theater be­comes a pop­u­lar venue for watch­ing the ke­cak dance, which nar­rates a por­tion of the Ra­mayana. On the isth­mus that con­nects the Bukit to the rest of Bali, Jim­baran con­tains some of the is­land’s premier re­sorts, while its white-sand beach is also lined with dozens of great open-air seafood restau­rants. They are rea­son­ably priced, with the catch of the day be­ing brought in straight from the sea. Be sure to start din­ner early in or­der to wit­ness an un­for­get­table sun­set. The bustling vil­lages just north­west of the Bukit are a haven for shop­pers, gour­mands, and night owls alike. Kuta, Le­gian, and Seminyak are dy­namic and busy through­out the day, with a high con­cen­tra­tion of shops, cafés, restau­rants, and bars. This en­ter­tain­ment hub is ideal for walk­ing, bar­gain hunt­ing, and, of course, re­cu­per­at­ing from all of the day’s ac­tiv­i­ties.

Kuta is per­haps best known for its surf­ing, sun­sets, and nightlife. Surf­ing here is accessible to en­thu­si­asts of all skill lev­els, with equip­ment read­ily avail­able for rent on the beach. The shops in Kuta are pre­dom­i­nantly surf-ori­ented, and at­tract a youth­ful crowd. How­ever, vis­i­tors can also find a mul­ti­tude of sou­venir items and hand­i­crafts in road­side stores. Nightspots in Kuta bus­tle with a loyal in­ter­na­tional fol­low­ing, and are pop­u­lar among those look­ing for a re­laxed but fes­tive at­mos­phere. Nearby, Le­gian is fast de­vel­op­ing as a hotspot for its hip ho­tels and gourmet restau­rants and cafés. The ac­ces­si­bil­ity of Kuta and Le­gian, as well as the af­ford­abil­ity of the re­sorts here, makes them a fa­vorite among those look­ing for fun. Fam­i­lies also tend to fa­vor this part of the is­land for its wide va­ri­ety of ac­tiv­i­ties for chil­dren and young peo­ple: paint­ball, horse­back rid­ing, and wa­ter sports are just some of the ex­cit­ing di­ver­sions that can be en­joyed. Best of all are the breath­tak­ing sun­sets that can be seen year-round from the beach. At dusk, crowds gather at beach­side cafés to take in the view be­fore the night’s ac­tiv­i­ties be­gin. For style-con­scious vis­i­tors and lo­cals, Seminyak is the place to see and be seen. The neigh­bor­hood has be­come one of the trendi­est spots on the is­land, with a gamut of spe­cial­ized bou­tiques, in­te­rior decor stores, and up­scale bars and restau­rants. Fur­ther up the coast, Canggu has emerged as a hip­ster-minded lo­cale with cool cafés and ve­gan-friendly eater­ies sprout­ing up amid the rice pad­dies, not to men­tion the strik­ing, bam­boo-built Finn’s Beach Club for sip­ping cock­tails while watch­ing wa­verid­ers on the Ber­awa surf break out front.

The fa­mous cliff-top tem­ple at Uluwatu, a pop­u­lar sight on the Bukit Penin­sula.

Re­lax­ing be­fore sun­set on the beach at Seminyak.

The re­cently opened Finn’s Beach Club in Canggu.

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