Best Beaches in Bali for Swimming: 11 Unmissable Spots

Sea scape
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Bali is beloved as a surfer’s paradise, home to some of the world’s most iconic breaks and wildest waves, from Ulu’s in the south to Kuta, the beginner surf mecca of Asia. But away from the spots that have the big swells and strong rips, there are also plenty of idyllic beaches where you can splash around, snorkel, and swim in the bath-warm Indian Ocean. Cue this guide to the best beaches in Bali for swimming…

Ranging from the soft powders of Nusa Dua on the eastern side of the Bukit Peninsula to the dolphin-filled seas of Lovina on the less-trodden northern shoreline, this list has oodles to pick from. Some are places that could easily make it into the travel brochures, with rare dashes of Balinese white sand and still waters. Others are rawer affairs, with thumping waves and jagged rock pools filled with strange marine life.

When seeking out the best beaches in Bali for swimming, it’s always super important to match your abilities to the location. Don’t go jumping in somewhere that’s known for big currents if you can’t handle the force of the water. Similarly, always keep your eyes out for surfers and sea creatures – both should be left undisturbed as you travel the stunning shorelines of the Isle of the Gods. Anyway, enough waiting, let’s crack out the board shorts and the sun cream and begin

Jimbaran Bay

Best Beaches in Bali for Swimming
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Nestled between Kuta and Uluwatu in southwest Bali, Jimbaran is a fisherman village turned tourist resort. The bay is a stretch of white sand with calm and alluring waters that are perfect for taking a dip. The beach is lined with restaurants and hotels, and, at its northern end, you’ll find the open-air Kedonganan fish market

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At low tide, you can walk half a mile out to sea without wading above your waist. This makes it perfect for kids to splash around and snorkel. The beach is also well-known for its perfect sunsets and being home to some of the island’s best seafood restaurants. There’s no shortage of places to rent a sun lounger, and the beach is largely clean and well maintained.

The whole place is just a stone’s throw from the international airport, too. That means you could be swimming around Jimbaran in less than 20 minutes after touching down in Bali. Not bad, eh?

Padang Padang Beach

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Although small, measuring just 100 meters from north to south, Padang Padang Beach has risen to prominence since its feature in the motion picture Eat, Pray, Love. The picturesque bay is now an Instagram-worthy spot and boasts crystal clear waters to rival the Maldives, making it one of the best beaches in Bali for swimming. 

Padang Padang is actually one of Bali’s more famous surf spots. But, in the low season (November to March), the waves calm and the swimming areas get great protection from the surrounding rocks. The narrow cave entrance to Padang Padang makes an adventure out of a beach day, and the small caves make for an excellent and romantic explorations when you’re finally in the H2O.

Pandawa Beach 

Pandawa Beach
Photo by Igor Tichonow/Envato Elements

It might often be crowded, but the relatively gentle rollers, the sugary-white sands, and looming cliffs behind make Pandawa one of the most beautiful in all of Bali. Big words, but we think they’re right on the mark.

The key here is the location. The beaches strings along the southern side of the Bukit Peninsula, the southernmost corner of the island. That protects it from the biggest dry-season surf swells that pummel the western shore. In addition, there’s a wide reef shelf that helps to tame the ocean even more, offering a wide paddling area that’s often filled with colorful fish and even sea turtles on a high tide.

There’s plenty of beach warungs and even more lavish beach clubs to enjoy a cold coconut and soak up the sun on the clifftops around Pandawa. A popular activity here is canoe rental and paddle boarding, which can cost as little as $5 per sesh. 

Bias Tugel Beach

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We’re not gonna’ lie: Bias Tugel Beach gets some big, beefy waves when the east swells roll up the Bali Sea. There are occasions when it can be double overhead shore pounders. AKA not the time for swimming.

However, when all that dies down – which it does once in a blue moon – the whole dash of whitish sand is a joy to be at. You dive in off a steep sand shelf into a bay that instantly becomes very deep, and where the waters move back and forth like a breathing giant. Look back at the bay and you’ll see high hills of palm forest and tropical birds flitting through the air. In the other direction, the outline of the great volcano on Lombok can be made out in the heat haze.

Bias Tugel Beach is a walk away from the rambunctious port town of Padangbai on the Bali east coast. If you want to carry on that swimming adventure, a ferry from there can whizz you out to the Gili Islands, where even more in the way of perfect-looking tropical beaches await!

Lovina Beach 

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Located on the island’s northern coast, this beach is bohemian, vibrant, and a little different compared to the more popular south-coast places on this list.

Lovina is known for two things. The first: Volcanic sands, which give the unfolding strands a tint of coffee-brown and shadowy black. The second: Dolphins. At sunrise, pods of these elegant marine creatures glide through the shallow waters, and spectators can watch from local fishing boats and even get in for the chance to swim with the gentle sea giants.

The water at Lovina is usually calmer than in the south, and the beach warungs are complete with Bali’s signature sea of beanbags and twinkling fairy lights, making them the perfect place to watch the sun go down after a dip. Although volcanic, the sand is powdery and clear, with little coral underfoot to make paddling out to swim an enjoyable experience.

Pantai Batu Belig

Pantai Batu Belig
Photo by Joseph Richard Francis

One of the many sections of black- and brown-sand shoreline that makes up the link from Canggu to Seminyak in south Bali, Pantai Batu Belig is probably one of the best for swimmers of the bunch. We say that but you shouldn’t come here expecting uber-calm waters that glisten above coral reefs. It’s just not that sort of beach.

The waves are usually quite strong at Pantai Batu Belig and there’s even some surfers about when the crowds of Canggu get too big. But the swell can be part of the fun for strong swimmers, who paddle out to ride up and down with the oncoming sets. Alternatively, just stick to the shallow whitewash, where bodyboarders often enjoy skimming the secondary swells.

Pantai Batu Belig is close to all the cool hotels and eateries of Canggu’s center, but it also has some cool sunset bars of its own – not least of all the Batubelig Combi, a reggae beer bar made out of an old VW camper.

Amed Beach

Amed bay
Photo by Galyna Andrushko on Envato Elements

Set to the backdrop of majestic Mount Agung volcano, Amed is another black-sand beach with a wild energy, a jaw-dropping setting, and crystal clear waters. The black, sandy shores make swimming and snorkeling a unique experience, with the dark sparkling seafloor changing from coral gardens to patches of rock reef. If you’re lucky enough, you might even spot a turtle swimming with you in the warm shallows – this eastern part of the isle is known for its resident turtle populations.

Amed is far removed from the crowds of Seminyak and Canggu on its stretch of rugged coast some 2.5 hours’ drive from the airport. It’s also well-known for its dive sites, with more than one shipwreck within reach of the volcanic bay. Amed benefits from a lush volcanic landscape with dense jungle, mountain views, and greenery as far as the eye can see. It’s the place to swim if you want all that and not too many other people in the water.

Dreamland Beach

Best Beaches in Bali for Swimming
Photo by twenty20photos/Envato Elements

Taking a trip back down south, Dreamland beach on the west side of the Uluwatu Peninsula remains true to its name as one of the most awe-inspiring locations in Bali. Set beneath a steep limestone cliff a few bays along from the uber-famous Bingin Beach, Dreamland is a hidden gem in Uluwatu, but also one of the best swimming spots in a region where surfing usually reigns supreme.

The white sands are clean and inviting, with just a few sun loungers to rent and not too many crowds in the low season. The water is a bright blue azure that has a relatively steep drop off, so deep swimming is easy even at low tide. The sea bed is also mostly clear of rocks and broken coral, making it easy to get in and out of the gentle waves.

During the main dry season (May-September), you might spot a few surfers and some bigger waves at Dreamland, so be sure to keep your eye out for flying boards and potential rips.

Nusa Dua Beach

Nusa Dua
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Nusa Dua is another resort town in south Bali, with a large enclosed bay, calm waters, and white sand. The strip is much quieter than the nearby areas of Kuta and Seminyak, but this makes it popular with couples and families, not to mention the jet-setter crowd, who flock to this flank of the island in search of luxury hotels. 

There are no currents here thanks to an extensive reef that is visible through the turquoise water. If you’re staying at any of the hotels along the coast, they’ll likely have snorkeling equipment for you to use free of charge, but the water is also great for taking a casual dip and cooling off from the scorching Bali sun.

Check out the Nusa Dua Night Market if you’re bedding down in the area. The bazaar buzzes with life in the evening hours, and you can find all manner of handicrafts, trinkets, cheap clothes, and street food. There are even regular dance performances and religious celebrations held there.

Geger Beach 

Best Beaches in Bali for Swimming
Photo by Igor Tichonow on Envato Elements

At the southern end of Nusa Dua, Geger Beach is a slight kilometer stretch of white sand with an even more tranquil ambiance than Nusa Beach. The bay is unspoiled and serene, with large rock formations creating a Jurassic vibe. 

The small cove is shared by the Bali National Golf Club, the elusive St Regis Hotel, and the Mulia Bali Resort, giving it an upscale feel, although anyone can enter for a small entrance fee of 25 cents. Still, the beach is largely undiscovered and a great spot to escape the crowds.

The southern end of the bay has the calmer waters for those looking to take a dip, and there’s even a reef here if you’re up for a midday snorkeling adventure towards the north end – just ask for the Geger coral garden.

Pantai Melasti 

Best Beaches in Bali for Swimming
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The southernmost tip of Bali, Pantai Melasti, is a bucket-list beach with an impressive and scenic drive down through the limestone cliffs that enclose it. The beach used to be a hidden gem, being largely inaccessible, but the new road makes it easy to access and even more beautiful on the approach. Make sure you stop off at the viewpoint before hitting the beach for sweeping views of Melatic and some of the best panoramas of Uluwatu. 

At low tide, little rock pools form along the shoreline, making the perfect setting for kids to explore and for you to cool off. There are not many water sports on offer, but the calm waters of the Indian Ocean are a playground in themselves. Melasti is always a proper relaxation beach with plenty of places to rent a sun lounger and enjoy a cold Bintang. 

It’s also home to the Minoo Beach club, where you can laze in the infinity pool or chill out in the large ‘Jukung’ boat structure while you watch the tide go out in the bay. Make sure you make the walk to the end of Melasti’s peninsula to say you’ve touched Bali’s southernmost point.

Pasir Putih Beach 

Best Beaches in Bali for Swimming
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Also known as White Sand Beach, Pasir Putih is serene by nature and alluringly secluded compared to Bali’s usual tourist hotspots. The extra effort required to reach this well-hidden gem in east Bali will be worth it, though…

With turquoise waters, fine sand, and calm waves, Pasir Putih is one of the best beaches in Bali for swimming, but it backs that up with a uniquely rustic fishing feel – you’ll often see lines of catamaran boats peppering the sands ready and waiting for the early-morning fishing spree.

Situated just a few hours up the coast from Sanur, it’s far removed from the tourist crowds, sitting on the edge of lush jungle, and slightly extended on its own peninsula. The beach is true to its name, as sugary-white sands are some of the brightest on the isle.

Can you swim at Bali beaches?

As a world-renowned surfing island, you can’t just swim anywhere in Bali, and people should always be aware of dangerous conditions, wild weather, and treacherous waves. The island’s southwest side, extending from Tanah Lot down to Kuta, has often-perilous rip tides and undertows, and swimming is ill-advised, even if you’re confident in the water. Red flags erected on the beach at certain times of day and year indicate when you most certainly shouldn’t take a dip. 

Still, Bali has a lot of great swimming spots, and one of these is Padang Padang, where you’ll find significant surf breaks in the summer but calmer inviting waters in the low season. Although, if the weather is bad, getting into the sea is not recommended. There are also many beaches on the east side with no currents, like Nusa Dua, Geger, Amed, and Pasir Putih, where it’s possible to paddle and swim all year round. However, these waters remain shallow and often reveal huge coral reef shelves that can be great for snorkeling but risky underfoot. Reef shoes are a must.

Where is the clearest water in Bali? 

The clearest water in Bali is in the southeast, south, and southwest, where the waves are calmer, and the sands are golden. The black sands of the north and west can make visibility harder. Also, touristy areas like Canggu, Kuta, and Seminyak have the most pollution, with dirty water, floating plastic, and debris not uncommon. The stronger currents and breaks here also make visibility worse, as the waves throw sand and debris around with them.

Check out Pantai Melastic, Bali’s southernmost tip and one of its most impressive beaches, for crystal-clear water revealing the rock pools and coral below. Dreamland beach also has clear turquoise seas, which are the perfect depth for swimming. There are also some options on the east coast north of Sanur and Padangbai.

Are there sharks in Bali’s waters?

The waters off Indonesia are home to 117 different shark species, and Bali is frequented by a great deal of white tip and black reef sharks, particularly in the depths around the Nusa Dua and Padang Bai reefs. But these varieties pose almost no threat to humans, being timid, non-aggressive, and solitary.

The most dangerous sharks, being great whites, oceanic whitetips, bulls, and tiger sharks, responsible for almost all unprovoked human attacks, cannot be found off Bali’s shores. Bali is one of the safest places in the world to surf, and, so long as you know your limits in different currents and waves, it’s also safe for swimming.

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Esmé is an English literature graduate and freelance writer. Originally from London, Esmé is lucky enough to call Bali home. Her travels have taken her from the far corners of the East to the islands of the Caribbean. When she's not writing, you'll find her lying on a beach somewhere, lost in a crime novel.