1. Balangan Beach
When the neighboring Dreamland beach got taken over by bulldozers and chain resorts, the surfers drifted over to Balangan.
The long stretch of white sand is flanked by rocky cliffs while the shore is lined by an assortment of warungs (local cafes) serving plates of instants noodles and ice-cold Beers, and cheap non-air conditioned huts.
The agenda at Balangan is simple: surf (if you can), go swimming when it is high tide, build intricate sandcastles -- the sand here is exceptional for doing so -- and laze about in a hammock watching the surfers, young and old, catch the waves.
Reef shoes are highly recommended as the beach has a sharp rocky base and some of it covered in slippery green moss.
For the virgin surfers, there are surf schools and numerous freelance instructors who’ll be willing to take you out for a price.
2. Geger Beach
You won't get pounded by the waves at Geger Beach.
For sun seekers dismayed by some of Bali’s rougher waters, this is a beach you can actually swim in. Situated close to the Nusa Dua golf course, the sparkling green-blue water here remains relatively calm with gentle rolling waves. The sand is thick and soft, packed hard so you can play a game of volleyball or go for a leisurely beach run.
A string of restaurants make this a popular Sunday brunch spot, especially with the local expats and their young ones. There are touts hawking their wares but they’re relatively tame compared to other beaches and deck chairs can be rented from about 20,000 rupiah (US$2) a day. Go at the right time of the day and you’ll see seaweed farmers working between the area from Geger Cafe to Geger Temple.
Another big plus? This is one of the few beaches where topless sunbathing is allowed
3. Bias Tugal
Referred to as Pantai Kecil (Little Beach), this spot is often deserted, except for the odd adventurous tourist and a couple of the warung vendors.
Tucked away near Padang Bai, the beauty of this beach is that it is hidden, accessible only after a 500 meter trek down a rocky path.
What greets you at the end of your mini-hike is a glorious body of water in varying shades of blue and turquoise fringed by a strip of fine white sand and swaying coconut trees.
The current here can be strong, for the non-experienced swimmers, make do with playing in the waves and soaking up the sun in relative solitude as you watch the boats entering and leaving Padang Bai for Lombok and the Gili Islands.
This strip of beach situated on the southern most point of Bali is quite possibly the island’s prettiest.
The only catch is that it'll cost you to enjoy this little slice of paradise.
If you’re not staying at either the Karma Kandara resort or the neighboring Banyan Tree resort, the best way to access it is to spend a day at the popular Nammos Beach Club.
The entry fee of 250,000 rupiah (US$27) (fully redeemable for food and beverage) is a little cheeky, but the view from the inclinator that brings you 150 meters down the cliff-face to the beach is almost worth the fee alone.
Here, the sand is fine and delicate, the water, an intense azure color -- not too dissimilar from the Mediterranean -- and the waves roll in hard and evenly, forming pretty white patterns on the shoreline.
The best time to swim is before lunch when it is low tide and you can frolic at ease.
Later in the day, the waves become stronger, and the currents will sweep you across to the other beach, should you prefer a little more privacy and don’t mind the lack of deck chairs.
Warning: do not laugh off the yellow Wet Floor signs placed on the rocks, they’re placed there for good reason.
Go on a Monday when Nammos Beach Club screens a movie from 6:15 p.m., and if you really want to splurge, the Karma Kandara spa has a on-site beach sala.
Amed: A quieter, less touristy bit of Bali.
Situated about two hours drive from Ngurah Rai International Airport is Amed, where the sand is of the coarse black volcanic variety.
Instead of surfers and surf boards ott on the water, the beach is lined with traditional outrigger fishing boats.
Those who venture up to Amed are usually keen to get in some quality diving as there are a number of wrecks located at nearby Lipah Beach and Tulamben.
For snorkelers, the coral and underwater life in Amed is abundant.