Why visit Balangan Beach
When I first say Balangan beach ten years ago, it struck me as a postcard perfect beach in Bali. The sand was a creamy white and had a pearly texture. The grains were round and rolled off easily my skin. Tall, lanky coconut trees swayed in the balmy ocean breeze. The water was a dazzling turquoise and warm. I saw lines of surfers riding the left-hand barrels on the south shore. I parked my motorbike in a dirt lot and walked down the stone-steps to the beach. I stopped in a warung for a beer and nasi-goreng, paid $2 for it and enjoyed lunch in a straw hut on the beach. That was 2005.
Now in 2015, when I see all the madness and chaos of Kuta/Seminyak, I think back on those happy memories of Balangan beach. Thankfully, I can still return to that scene from 10 years ago. The sarong lady I met 10 years ago still remembers me. Balangan beach is one of the most authentic, least commercially developed beaches in Bali. The water is still as vibrant as when I first visited, the hordes of package tourists are absent and that same warung shack is still on the beach (although it's been reconstructed, the original one burned down).
Travelers looking for a perfect beach with a nice blend of local beach culture are sure not to be disappointed. The only downside is the waste management. There's unsightly piles of plastic bottles and construction rubble on the backsides of the warungs on the beach. Thankfully none of it is on the beach.
Parking at Balangan Beach
Enter Balangan beach from the South End of the beach for free parking. Follow the MertaSari Gang, head towards Coconuts Hummingbird and you'll end up on this dirt parking area. The North End by LaJoya is now a bit more commericalised, the locals charge for parking. This side is kind of the local secret entrance.
The Beach Shacks at Balangan beach (Warungs)
Local entrepreneurs have been selling cold beers and fried rice to visitors since the very first surfers pioneered the dirt trail to this beach. That was before the road, before the water trucks and before electricity, WiFi and Instagram. The beach culture here is mellow and laid-back. Noticeably absent are the big groups of tourists, "transport" hawkers and pushy culture of Kuta. This is the Bali beach of your parent's generation.
These are the warungs on Balangan beach. These beachside shacks offer food, surf lessons, and beautiful viewing platforms to watch the surfers and sea.
The beach shacks are nothing fancy. Most are built out of tin, asbestos sheeting and bamboo. Fresh ice and fish are delivered and placed in the large orange plastic bins every morning. A Balinese mom is the kitchen chef and stokes out tasty chicken curry or spicy nasi goreng. The food and beer is cheap and filling. Sometimes a fire comes and the whole area burns down. It's happened. Once that I can remember.
The plan here is to order a beer. Rent a chair & umbrella and happily watch the waves, surf and surfers for the day. No pressure to buy anything. Come as you are.
Not a lot of rules here. Just simple food, a sandy beach and front-seat ocean views.
The front-side of these shacks open up to the beach. They sit right on the sand and have beautiful ocean views. Great place to grab a beer, and chill for a few hours. There's simpe
The food and drinks at the warungs are always pretty cheap. About $1-2 per item. Juices are fresh and tasty. Hygiene is ok. Food quality is not terribly consistent since most chefs here don't have formal training and sometimes a few items won't be available. I always opt for the Indonesian/Balinese items, items that local chefs can reliably prepare.
Surfing at Balangan
I'm not a surfer. Which is pretty ridiculous considering the time I've spent here. But I've seen some of the most amazing waves here in Balangan. Consistent barrels. If you're looking for a quick surf lesson, visit the Balangan Wave School. Are they good? Some guests think so, some go "meh". You'll most likely be able to stand and catch your first wave by the end of your first lesson. A modest and attainable goal.
Balangan wave school is the leading and most 'official' surf school in the area. You can always speak to some of the locals they might hire you a board and go into the water to give you a quick lesson in catching a Bali wave.
At Balangan Surf School, you can rent a surf-board. Try a long-board if you're just beginning. It's a lot more stable.
The guys at the surf school have a photographer with a tele-photo lens. They'll take photos of you in the surf, come by after your surf, they'll show you the photos on their laptop and buy some photos of you hanging ten.
The Beach, Culture and Swimming
Balangan is a kick back beach. The beach is ok for swimming during low or mid-tide. It does not have a sandy bottom and actually is a bit rocky. There are tide-pools that form at the edge of the sand during low-tide. Our daughter enjoys spending lots of time exploring and checking out the sea animals in the pools.
Moss covered limestone with tide-pools.
Beach chairs and umbrellas are a fun way to spend a day in the sun. Costs begin at around Rp 50,000/visit. Prices are always negotiable.
Wave hunters mix with holiday makers on this chill beach.
Good Video Summary of Balangan Beach
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