Balian Beach is one of the most relaxing destinations on Bali and was one of my favorite Bali villages. My girlfriend and I visited Balian in September of 2011 and were pleasantly surprised by it’s small-village charm.”Balian” means “sacred” in the local vernacular and is the perfect place to “get off the grid” for a few days.
Although Balian is on the same island as the bustling Kuta, it feels world’s away. Travelers in Kuta are bombarded by street vendors selling Bintang shirts and fake Nike shoes, in Balian your biggest worry will be… well, there aren’t really any worries in Balian.
Balian Beach – How to get there
Road conditions in Bali are notoriously hazardous and I recommend hiring a shuttle or taxi for the 1.5 hour drive from Kuta to Balian. A licensed bluebird taxi, driven by a friendly local named Ketut, took us from Kuta to Balian for $40 USD or about 390,000 IDR.
The winding road and potholes can make for a rough ride, so consider taking some motrin before the trip. (My girlfriend got motion sickness on the drive). Balian is a half-mile (800 meters) south of Lalang-Linggah, which is on the main road 6 miles (10km) west of Antosari.
Things to do in Balian
Although Balian is a relatively small village, there are plenty of fun things to do.
- Walk along the beach and watch the local fisherman cast their nets near the river mouth at low tide.
- Relax at the ocean-side pool at Pondok Pitaya. Enjoy a few cocktails while watching the surfers on the waves in front of the hotel.
- Participate in a yoga session at the Shankari Retreat.
- Explore the nearby palm groves and rice paddys.
- Make a pilgrimage to one of Bali’s lesser-known temples: Pura Rambut Siwi.
- Surf… there are no shortage of waves in Balian. You can also take a day trip to Medewi, on of the longest left hand waves in the world.
- Attend a mekepung, one of West Bali’s infamous bull races.
- Chill, relax, read that novel you’ve been meaning to finish, take photographs of the picturesque Balian coastline.
Accommodations in Balian
Everything from a private villa to a resort to a classic Bali home stay can be found in Balian. When I was in Balian I noticed that several small home stays were being built on the road leading into the village, so there are certainly many places to stay.
Balian Beach House ($$$) – I stayed at this beautiful two-story home with my girlfriend. The Balian Beach House is located right on the main road (and only road in Balian) and is walking distance from the beach [see map below]. The upstairs room has an amazing view of the ocean and the surrounding Balinese landscape. The downstairs room, which is adjacent to the dining room, has a bunk bed and twin bed. The dining room opens up to a small deck near the front of the house. It’s a perfect place to eat lunch, drink a bintang and forget all of your worries.
A friendly Australian ex-pat named Michael runs the place and is super helpful. Michael, who has been living in Balian for over 10 years and speaks fluent Bahasa Indonesia, told me about all of the fun things to do in the area. The rate for 2 people is $80 USD per night, or $500 USD per week and includes laundry and maid service. More information can be found here.
The Balian Beach House
Pondok Pitaya ($$) – Located right on the beach, Pondok Pitaya’s pool and bar were one of my favorite hangout spots in Balian. There are a variety of rooms ranging from $10-50 USD. Large groups can rent a private bungalow while solo travelers can hunker down in a dorm room with a fan.
Made’s Home Stay ($) – If you’re looking for an affordable, traditional Balinese homestay, this is the place for you. The beds are clean, but the mattresses is hard. Expect a western toilet and cold showers. Made and his wife live in a small hut near the entrance of the property. Made’s wife cooks delicious banana pancakes for breakfast every morning, which is included in the nightly rate of $15 USD. [telephone: 0361 0812 399 353]
Surfing Balian Beach
This area of Bali has a lot fewer surfers than the Kuta area or the Bukit Peninsula, and therefore, you can find yourself getting a lot more waves.
Balian owes it’s A-frame waves to the river that empties into the ocean here. Over thousands of years, the runoff from the river has eroded the bottom and created a deep channel that allows for an easy paddle.
The break picks up a lot of swell and offers a gentle left, the right is a bit shorter and less powerful. Like Medewi to the north, Balian can be described as a long boarding wave because it never seems to get top-to-bottom.
Unfortunately, the river that creates Balian’s perfectly shaped waves also pollutes the lineup after a heavy rain. Do not surf after a heavy rain or when the water is exceptionally murky. Bull sharks patrol the river mouth waiting for debris and food to flow into the ocean.
Yoga is favorite activity of Balian visitors, and yogis travel from all over the world to visit the Shankari’s Bali Retreat. Located on the main road just outside of town and adjacent to the sacred Tukad Balian (Balian River), the retreat the beautifully crafted idea of an Australian ex-pat.
Enjoy a post-surfing yoga session while listening to the trickling of the nearby river and inhaling the sweet smell of Balinese incents. Like-minded individuals spending weeks, or even months here, will tell you about their spiritual journey.