Bali Nice Beach

Is Bali Worth A Visit?

I’m not supposed to be in Bali right now. Just one week ago, in fact, I had a booked-and-paid-for flight to Sri Lanka — which, you might remember, is one of my top 7 places I still need to visit. I changed my plans in the 11th hour, to appease a picky Brazilian man who is no longer my boyfriend.

Bali’s reputation varies, depending on who you ask. Party animals from Australia and Europe list Bali as their top destination; “real” travelers check it off their list early in the game, if they come at all. (Until last week, I didn’t think I would.)

But I did in fact deplane at Ngurah Rai International Airport five days ago and, in spite of the how unappealing everything I saw around me during the taxi ride to my all-male, clothing-optional hotel was, made a vow to enjoy Bali to the fullest extent possible.

Unfortunately, enjoying Bali is easier vowed than done.

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My now-ex boyfriend and I arrived in Bali’s Seminyak area rather late Sunday night, so it wasn’t until Monday morning that I got a chance to judge Bali in daylight. While Henrique popped into a local massage parlor, I made a beeline for the beach.

Or at least I tried to.

“Sorry,” said the un-armed guard standing three-quarters of the way down a nondescript dirt road leading in the direction of the ocean. “No beach access.”

I half-laughed. “Why not?”

“Private road,” he replied, without giving further elaboration.

“So how do I get to the beach?”

He pointed northward. “W Hotel.”

I laughed louder, but more cynically. “But I’m not staying at the W Hotel.”

“That’s OK,” he smiled. “You white.”

White skin, it turns out, is something of an all-access pass in Bali: The guard at the W didn’t so much as ask what room I was staying in as I trespassed on to the hotel’s property, nor did any of the dozen or so staff I encountered en route to the sea.

This is a good thing. What currently exists along the shores of Seminyak is not worth going to jail or even paying a fine for — steel-grey sand, bruise-colored water and clear-cut vegetation do not an island paradise make.

The silver lining of my hour-long stroll? Putty-faced people building cheap-looking sandcastles, with construction cranes in the background. Cosmic irony!


Does Bali Have Nice Beaches?

Shockingly, Seminyak is not the worst of Bali’s beaches. That honor goes to Kuta Beach, where Henrique and I watched sunset with Fido, an Indonesian friend of mine I knew from Shanghai.

Nature-wise, Kuta Beach isn’t much more disgusting than Seminyak; it just has larger crowds of largely pale-skinned people, whose palor draws extra attention to the metallic hue of the sand and water.

Not wanting to offend my local friend, Henrique had kept his mouth shut on the beach. But once we were in the Blue Bird taxi on the way back to Spartacvs, he let loose.

“I’m flying to Phuket tomorrow,” he announced. “I fucking hate Bali. I didn’t fly all the way across the world for this!”

I’ll spare you the gory details of the argument that ensued (My defense: I was under the impression that my boyfriend flew “all the way across the world” to be with his boyfriend), except to say that I talked him into staying one more day: Fido had agreed to show us Bali’s most beautiful beaches on Tuesday.

The good news? Bali’s most beautiful beaches, from high-class Nusa Dua, to surfer-infested Padang-Padang beach, are among the most beautiful beaches I’ve ever seen. (Disclaimer: The most beautiful Bali beach I saw, located near the Uluwatu Monkey Temple, sits no less than 1,000 feet beneath a sheer cliff, i.e. totally inaccessible).

The bad news? Bali’s beaches weren’t beautiful enough for Henrique, who was packing the last of his things when I came back into our hotel room Wednesday morning, after having blogged outside to avoid waking him.

“I’m leaving!” He answered, after I asked him what the fuck he was doing.

As the door slammed, I had no idea where Henrique was off to (I have a feeling, based on his earlier outburst, that it was Phuket), or to what extent Bali’s suckitude influenced his decision. But I did know one thing: The only thing worse than coming to Bali with someone you love is being left in Bali by someone who no longer loves you.


The Bali From “Eat, Pray, Love”

Henrique hatched the idea to travel to Bali with me after we watched the abortion known as “Eat, Pray, Love” together, so it is ironic that he peaced out when he did: Wednesday was the day we’d set aside to see Julia Roberts’ Bali.

But I didn’t want to sulk in my hotel room (or, worse, sulk outside amid the stark-white ass cheeks of the mostly-older guests at Spartacvs), so I traveled to Ubud, the Bali portrayed in the film, alone.

My first stop was Ubud’s Monkey Forest. I’m not sure what’s worse: That I saw a monkey playing with an aerosol can; or that most of the others tourists who saw it seemed amused by it. Suffice it to say, it was difficult to tell the difference between tourists and monkeys.

The tourists who visit Bali are the very worst types of tourists in the world:

They viciously argue, without removing their Prada sunglasses, over 20 or 30 cents, without realizing that employees in even Bali’s most posh resorts are lucky to earn this amount in exchange for an hour of extremely hard work

They lament the muddiness of their feet after tromping through the Tegalalang rice terraces that feed thousands of local people, and resent the thought of tipping the young boys and girls who accompany them on their treks so that they don’t accidentally fall 10 (or more) feet down the hillside

They are thankful for, and not devastated by, the destruction of Bali’s natural habitat — it is, after all, so that a higher-end artificial habitat, designed especially for them, might be created

The sad truth is that Bali, at least the Bali you’re likely to see on a short- to medium-length vacation, is a cesspool; it is damaged beyond repair, save for a sudden pandemic that keeps tourists out for a decade or more.

I hear Phuket is better.

About The Author

is the author of 766 posts on Leave Your Daily Hell. Robert founded Leave Your Daily Hell in 2010 so that other travelers would have an entertaining, reliable source of information, advice and inspiration at their fingertips. Want to travel more often? Subscribe to email updates today!


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{ 30 comments… read them below or add one }

MrBiggs May 3, 2015 at 9:32 pm

Lol. I’m a good swimmer. Never would have happened.

MrBiggs May 4, 2015 at 10:08 am

Sorry what I said to you in the other post. I took it down but I guess you saw it before it was taken down. I was wrong for saying that to you.

factgasm June 22, 2015 at 6:35 am

For anyone looking for paradise Lombok is by far the better of the two islands. Bali became famous because its a Hindu island in a largely Muslim archipelago but that’s not a good enough reason to single it out anymore. The Balinese have already severely damaged their own island and not content with that they are now going to build a second airport at the north end of the island.

Robert Schrader June 22, 2015 at 8:02 am

Thanks for your insight!

Patricia Digby August 17, 2015 at 6:33 pm

Bali has beauty but the smells and traffic and pollution and people desperate to make money and street dogs and cats in Ubud were too much for me. I would never go back.

Natalie September 7, 2015 at 7:55 am

I totally agree. The worst. A cess pool is a compliment. and Kuta…absolutely awful. Was so glad to have left. This is from someone who has travelled india, japan, almost all of europe and most of the usa. Awful place.

Robert Schrader September 7, 2015 at 8:25 am

🙁 I wish I could go back in time and see it 30-40 years ago…

Taz September 16, 2015 at 4:43 pm

I always get annoyed by the locals who crawl out to complain about how you didn’t see everyone or meet everyone when you visited their city/town/country. Why not clean up the shitty areas instead of blaming the visitor. The more travel blogs I read I see that no one wants to fix things in their own country and I find that frustrating. We have a Labor Day where I’m from and people get out and clean up beaches, fix roads etc maybe instead of blaming tourists for not liking garbage paved beaches you guys could clean the darn beaches!

Robert Schrader September 21, 2015 at 5:19 pm

Here here!

nasrudin ansori December 29, 2015 at 5:50 pm

Poor of you both. Visiting Bali beaches just only for Kuta, Seminyak and Nusa Dua. You need to explore the whole part of the island. Bali had a lot of nice place to see. I went to Dreamland beach and Pandawa Beach, both of this have a white sand, blue ocean, and not really touristy. Kuta and seminyak is not for seeing white sand beach, you are wrong.

To see a lot of dolphin you can visit Lovina beach, dive? Please visit Menjangan island, trekking ? Please visit Mount Agung, small island where have a lot of highest beach cliff please visit Nusa Penida, and more more nice place in Bali.

I suggest you, dont holiday to the island only in few days. And dont visit the place where so touristy like Kuta Bali, Copacabana Brazil, Sibhuya Cross in Japan etc if you want to see quite and peacefull place . its wrong..


Anas – indonesia

Stephen March 3, 2016 at 6:09 am

I just spent 3 months in Bali traveling Seminyak, Kuta, Ubud and Sanur and I would agree that it is a pile of shit!! I would not recommend anyone to visit this place. I could go on a rant and fill in gapes left out of this post but I wont waste anymore time on that dump. And if you live there and call it home it’s probably because you’re a D-Bag because decent people and travelers don’t want anything to do with that place.

Sorry for your break up but that really did make Bali a dump…it just is a dump.

Travel Lushes March 8, 2016 at 5:43 pm

Hi! I clicked on the link you left on my Huff Post article, because I was so curious to see what your experience was like…and WOW! What a great post! You captured the disappointing truth about Bali so well in your writing. It really was sad to see – and someone told me it’s easy to blame tourists, but in this case, I think it’s well-deserved. Tourists ARE a big part of the problem in Bali. There were nice moments and places, but the bad ones were immensely heartbreaking to see….I couldn’t agree with you more about the Monkey Sanctuary. The tourists annoyed me SO much! They were not following any of the rules!

Robert Schrader March 8, 2016 at 5:45 pm

Great to make your digital acquaintance. Can’t wait to check out more of your writing!

andrew koln March 14, 2016 at 9:45 pm

Take a brief moment
to think of all the billions of dollars that pour into
Bali each year as a result of their tourism business,
and also the millions collected as tax and service charges.
Now ask yourself why are children in certain areas of
Bali malnourished? Why are the roads, schools and hospitals
so under funded? Why is the refuse system so antiquated
and over-stretched to the point of being a major health
hazard? Bali should be an island of plenty for all,
including the Balinese. OK, so some money goes to the
Indonesian Archipelago as a whole, but where does the
real money go?

From Cradle to Grave, the Balinese are robbed

Due to the lack of role models in government
and an effective police force that serves the community,
not their pockets, the Balinese have many problems.
Their teachers often rob them (by taking food from them
and demanding they buy their school books from them
at inflated prices). Their neighbours steal from them
(during hard times, chickens and worse are routinely
stolen for cigarette, etc. money). Their employers steal
from them (by not paying them their fair / legal share
of the service charge they collect from tourists in
their name). Their government steals from them (by grabbing
private and public land, and selling it for individual
ministers personal gain, and by pocketing taxes, etc.).
The police steal from them (big time – the police are
probably the biggest crooks in Indonesia).

It is not just theft, but abuse the Balinese
have to suffer.

They are virtually ignored in matters of health,
they are certainly not taught effective health education.
Men abuse women, wholesale, in and out of marriage,
e.g. low class youths will insult or even stone girls
they want to sleep with but are refused, or sometimes
rape them). If you are a Balinese girl and date a foreigner,
locals will openly call you a prostitute in the street.
And if you are a western woman dating a Balinese man,
you too will be declared a prostitute. Many men routinely
cheat on their wives with other women, including true
prostitutes. Neighbours inflict abuse and even violence
against each other as calling the police is not an option.
Neighboring islanders simply arrive in Bali, cut down
trees on other people’s land, build houses and then
claim the land as their own. Greedy property developers
with the help of corrupt building officials and the
mafia police of Bali build where they should not, and
destroy Bali’s precious heritage.

It is amazing how the Balinese still manage
to smile.

But take a close look. Watch many of the Balinese
faces when they are not aware you are there or watching.
You will see the strain, stress and unhappiness show
itself. The Balinese are naturally gracious people,
but it is surprising they are able to be under such
circumstances. And you will only make their lot worse
if you support, consciously or inadvertently, the fuglies
in Bali. If you support those that steal from and /
or oppress the Balinese, you are guilty of their demise
yourself. Plain and simple.

If you visit Bali, you owe the Balinese.

The Balinese, like you, want a better life
for themselves and their children. That means having
a proper education in a well funded school to help them
leave the tourism poverty trap. That means a public
health service that serves the people, not the politician’s
pockets and which simply adds to the Balinese people’s
problems. Is there any doubt, if you stay at a fugly
hotel or allow the nasty corrupt Balinese police to
get your money (don’t forget, that means money you pay
to a hotel, restaurant or driver – if the police take
it from them, as they do, they are taking from you)
and not do something about it. You are a part of the
problem yourself.

Christina Kottmann March 31, 2016 at 6:38 am

Totally agree. I was in Bali in July 2015 and it was the most depressing location I’ve been to. It didn’t help that I was having existential moments based on being in Bali alone and was somewhat depressed. The monkey forest was crowded, icky, and not very pleasant. After a monkey tried to steal the sunglasses off my head, I was pretty done. The best beach I went to was Echo Beach, the famous surfer spot, since I was staying in Canguu. The Airbnb site was nice, rice paddies all around, and pretty local setting, but it certainly wasn’t the idea of Bali that I’d had in my head or from that infamous film. Basically, I’d also recommend skipping Bali, there are much better spots in Indonesia and around the world. For instance, (and reader you need to promise you won’t destroy this island like Bali has been destroyed) the Belitung Islands were beautiful in my opinion, and much more suited to the intrepid, cultured backpacker or traveler. But don’t make them the new Bali. Just enjoy the pristine beauty that is still found in this part of Indonesia, and avoid yucky Bali.

Robert Schrader April 3, 2016 at 5:58 pm

Here, here!

erdi yanta June 18, 2016 at 9:38 am

bali have different character that you have only this island

Luma Jochims June 23, 2016 at 2:54 pm

Just got back from Bali after 3 weeks and with absolutely no wish to come back at all. Extremely touristic place but ironically with all the characteristics to push tourists away (at least the good ones): very dirty, disorganised, poor communication and service, chaotic, poor cleanliness, lack of authenticity and boring food. I’ve tried the Gili Islands, even worse. Nice landscapes but definitely not worth the 24 hour journey and hassle. Wish I had saved the money and went to a more civilised and authentic place. All my friends got food poisoned and one of them even being sexually harassed by the hotel’s OWNER. That’s the mentality.

Louise June 30, 2016 at 12:46 am

Bali is one of those places of which there are many in the world where the expectation does not match the reality at least on the surface. We are here now for our first visit, a quick getaway from the cold Melbourne winter. Australians don’t go to a Bali for beaches as we have the most beautiful beaches in the world so that is no reason to go to Bali. Australians tend to visit because it’s close, cheap and with guaranteed heat year round. Same as the Brits who go to Spain or Americans that go to Mexico. If you want beautiful, pristine beaches, thousands of miles of them then a couple more hours you would have been in Australia.

Robert Schrader June 30, 2016 at 7:25 am

I appreciate your perspective.

Robert Schrader June 30, 2016 at 7:26 am


Dankrez Blitz July 26, 2016 at 3:43 am

i I visited Bali a week ago. the beach is not the only place that can be enjoyed. unique and exciting culture can become a visitor attraction. For example, the barong dance on a video I uploaded the following:

GusD November 24, 2016 at 5:41 pm

You aren’t paying attention. There’s a difference between tourist trap and complete shit hole

GusD November 24, 2016 at 5:43 pm

I would go further and say it is a shit hole that nobody should visit unless they like wasting money and dealing with corruption and being surrounded by mountains of shit and trash

Robert Schrader December 4, 2016 at 8:55 pm

That’s a nice way to put it 🙂

Phase Nonapp December 24, 2016 at 9:09 am

I hate the place. It really is a vile cesspool. I have been to other parts of the island such as Lovina and Candidasa and they were just depressing mini versions of kuta. Kuta wannabes. Just as dirty and touts still agressively harrassing people. The tourists are really lowest common denominator. They sit there in their artificial high end environments which they pay $500 and up per night for a room, watching the sunset while sipping on cocktails that may be cheap but are weak as piss all while overlooking the filthy cesspool in front of the hotel or bar. It has to be seen to be believed. Never going back. It is literally hell on earth.

Phase Nonapp December 24, 2016 at 9:15 am

What a load of bollocks. It’s a filthy polluted dump. Where is the fucking beauty? Tell me and I’ll go take a look. I have been from one side to the other and every single water way is clogged with garbage and filth. Having to drink from plastic water bottles because the water is polluted only worsens the situation. I ended up staying in my villa a lot because the amount of energy required to go anywhere was too exhausting. The traffic and the touts make life hell to go further than 20 metres. Awful awful place. Warning to anyone wanting to go – just don’t even bother.

Wayan Bagus Nanda Pratama June 3, 2017 at 10:05 pm

i partly agree with you, if you know im from bali and i dont blame your review about beach in bali. i know too much people come to Kuta or Seminyak beach that is not a place to find serenity. people come there because that place is famous, you can find in internet “The best beach in bali is Kuta beach, Seminyak beach, and maybe Nusa Dua beach” so you will be found a awesome photos with the calmness and white sand of course. if you need a calmness without crowds of people or romantic beach, you have to go to unfamous beach like Gunung Payung Beach, Nyang-Nyang Beach, Bias Tugel Beach, At there you can enjoy the beach without crowds of people. So im sorry if my written is bad : ) thank you have a nice day.

Astika Tosa Yogiswara June 4, 2017 at 3:48 am

Poor of you who only enjoyed a little part of Bali. You need to explore the whole part of the island. Bali had a lot of nice place to see. I suggest you, don’t holiday to an island only in a few days. And don’t visit the place where so touristy like Kuta in Bali.
You can try an adventure trip, mountain cycling to feel the nature or maybe you can enjoy Barong and Kecak Dance, then you won’t regret your holiday in Bali.

Astika Tosa Yogiswara June 4, 2017 at 8:54 am

Poor of you who only enjoyed a little part of Bali. I’m from Bali and you need to explore more of the island. Bali had a lot of nice places to see and nature to enjoy. I suggest you, don’t holiday to an island only in a few days. And don’t visit the place that too crowded like Kuta in Bali.
You can try an adventure trip, trekking and mountain cycling to feel the nature or maybe you can watch a Barong and Kecak Dance, then you won’t regret your holiday in Bali.

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