If you’re into beaches with blinding white sand and clear aqua water, then Balian is probably not your thing. But if you like consistently good surf, sparkly black sand, and the nasi campur of your dreams, then you’re going to want to pay Balian a little visit.
Located halfway between Kuta and Medewi, Balian still has that old-school Bali surfer vibe that many spots on the island seem to have lost. This river-mouth break is a swell magnet, with a sand and rock bottom. We were there for two days and it was 3-4 foot pretty much the entire time while the rest of the coast was flat. There are plenty of accommodation options and an array of restaurants and bars down on the beach, and you can even hire a board.
The reggae bar on the beach that didn’t actually play any reggae (unless you count a drunk local grabbing the mic to sing No Woman No Cry karaoke style), the two litres of gin, beach bonfires and midnight swims kept us amused at night. And when it was time to lay our heads, we stayed at Kubu Balian Beach Bungalows — a sweet little $35 a night place that had a deck half the size of my entire apartment and a pet duck called Honey.