My way of saying goodbye to Asia after having spent nine remarkable months there involved jetting off on one final trip – to Indonesia. Not surprisingly, my first stop was Bali. For months I had been drooling over various Instagram feeds, scrolling through pictures of gorgeous beaches, vegan cafés and yoga poses. In addition to these attractions, I knew I also wanted to escape the Bali bubble and explore the less touristy island of Lombok.
The first two weeks were pure perfection: I met some unforgettable people, enjoyed delicious, cheap food at local warungs, and relished in days where the greatest struggle was making it to the beach in time for sunset. My ideal daytime activity was going off (at times into very crazy traffic) on a scooter in search for the perfect beach.
There are an infinite number of beaches to be found along the coasts of Bali and Lombok, and many have their own, individual character. These are some of the ones that I visited during my time in Indonesia.
Bingin Beach is located along the coast of the Bukit Peninsula, close to Uluwatu. We visited the beach after having stopped by Uluwatu Temple in the morning (beautifully located on a cliff by the sea, a must if you’re near Uluwatu).
The entire beach is lined with cute surf shacks and restaurants, all sporting their own unique décor; ranging from colorful and slightly run down to slick white furnishing. To reach the beach we had to descend the steps of the steep cliffs that the surf shacks are built upon, taking shortcuts through cafés and restaurants wherever necessary.
The beach itself gives you a gorgeous view of the coastline. You can spot additional beaches in the distance, cut off from Bingin Beach by less inviting rocky patches. Below most of the surf shacks and warungs you can also find shelter in the (albeit limited, depending on time of day) shade offered.
We ended our visit at Bingin Beach by having lunch at one of the local warungs above the beach – a bowl of fresh fruit, yoghurt and müsli. Perfectly refreshing!
Not far from Bingin Beach lies Uluwatu Beach, a site infamous for its popularity among surfers. I only visited the beach around sunset, but heard from other travelers that it’s a fantastic spot during the day as well.
At Uluwatu Beach you’ll find Single Fin – one of my absolute favorite places on Bali to watch the sunset. The much talked about bar and restaurant has an inviting, open wooden structure with various levels and seating areas. By sunset the place was filled with people grabbing a cold beer after a day at the beach, or dressed up for a bite to eat and evening cocktails. The place is well worth a visit at sunset to watch the sun sink below the horizon and the many surfers become silhouettes against he deep orange sky.
Another beach along the western coast of the Bukit Peninsula is Dreamland Beach. This spot is notably smaller than some of the other beaches along the western Peninsula coast, but perfect if you’re located a little north of Uluwatu and craving some time in the sun. There is little shade offered, but sunbeds are available to rent for a fee. There is also a café right by the beach, offering the usual treats: fruit juices, banana pancakes and a few other hearty meals.
There doesn’t seem to be a beach on the Bali Peninsula that isn’t frequented by surfers, and Dreamland is no exception. On the day of my visit the heavy current nevertheless appeared to be somewhat of a challenge, and the wild waves certainly ensured that I didn’t take more than a quick dip to cool off.
Echo Beach is located close to Canggu on Bali. Its character is entirely unique, with glittery black sand giving it another kind of beauty than you would expect from a tropical beach. There are several bars with sunbeds and beanbags, making it an ideal sunset watching spot. And, as can be expected, there is an abundance of surfers heading out into the waves.
On top of that, Nalu Bowls is located just up the road, and the beach is walking distance from Old Man’s – a lively after surf spot perfect for sunset drinks.
Gili Trawangan Island
The three small islands located off the coast of Lombok – Gili Trawangan (universally referred to as Gili T), Gili Air and Gili Meno – are pure island bliss. The sand is whiter and the sea is clearer, at least that is how it feels. During my visit I did day trips to and around Gili Air and Gili Meno, but spent most of my time on Gili T.
On the eastern side of Gili T, where most of the accommodations and bars are located, many restaurants offer sunbeds to lounge on during the day. In the evening, head over to the western side of the island to the many sunset bars, enjoy a cold beer seated comfortably on a bean bag or sunbed, and watch the unforgettable sunset that every visitor praises like no other.
Side note: There is a huge and welcoming scuba diving community on Gili T – I would definitely consider coming back here if I decided to pursue my Advanced Open Water certification. Plus the underwater wildlife is fantastic!
When I first arrived on Lombok I stayed at a small homestay south of Senggigi. I arrived in the afternoon and the host at the homestay informed me that there was a beach just a few minutes walk from where I was staying.
Located behind the homes of local villagers, Montong Beach is not likely to be frequented by tourists. With the exception of three young boys and their father playing in the water a distance away, I was alone at the time of my sunset stroll.
It was such a different scene from that of Bali or the Gili Islands: no tourists, no bars, and no noise. It was a gorgeous spot to watch the sunset, with the sun sinking below the silhouette of Gunung Agung in the distance.
On my first day exploring Senggigi I rented a scooter and went off to spend some time on Senggigi Beach. To this day I am still not certain which part of the beach I ended up on, but the water was clear turquoise, the shore was lined with palm trees, and I was happy. My own little paradise.
Kuta Beach (Lombok)
The Kuta Beach of Lombok, located on the island’s southern coast, is a polar opposite to the beach on Bali by the same name. In contrast to the popular tourist spot on Bali, Kuta Beach on Lombok is quiet and you’re likely to find a calm spot to yourself.
That is not to say that young, expectant faces, wanting to sell handmade bracelets, didn’t instantly surround us as soon as we stepped off our scooters. Although the initial pleadings were slightly overwhelming, the girls soon settled down and sat talking to us on the beach. If you want to avoid this experience all together, keep going further up the beach and pick a quieter spot, which is what we did later in the afternoon.
My third week in Indonesia was certainly more active in comparison – involving many temple visits, day trips, yoga sessions, and even a 4am hike to the top of a volcano. More on this soon!