Bali has won the hearts of millions of people over decades as an ultimate beach and surf paradise. But there is a downside to all that fame and glory the island has received by the international community, one that plagues many first-time Bali travelers; the most popular beaches are crowded, dirty, loud, and lined with overpriced and underwhelming shops and restaurants. While you are there trying to enjoy a relaxing vacation by the beach, locals will swarm over you with souvenirs, jewelry, refreshments, and any service they can sell: reflexology, body massage, hair-braiding, mani-pedi, the list goes on. And the locals won’t stop coming until you agree to buy something. Unfortunately, if you do buy something, then the others will still come to you knowing that you have money and are willing to spend it.
If I were in Bali for vacation, those beaches would not be my ideal location to spend my tropical getaway in (whose airplane ticket alone costed me a big dent in my savings). This is why I never suggest going to places that are popular among tourists, ever. Why set yourself up for disappointment?
So I offer you a beach that lives up to Bali’s praise: Pantai Pasir Putih in Bahasa Indonesia, or White Sand Beach. It is breathtaking, serene, and affordable. However, it is far, obscure, and requires a bit more effort to get there. Located a few kilometers north of Candidasa in the eastern coast of Bali (about an hour away from northern Sanur and two hours away from Ubud), the beach is relatively unknown—the majority of visitors are the handful of guests from few hotels and inns at Candidasa who are already familiar with Bali. So if you’re looking to explore the unusual parts of Bali and leave from here with a memorable beach experience, I highly recommend White Sand Beach for a whole day event. You can rent snorkelling gear, kayaks, and other equipment. Or you can just choose to tan, relax, and let the sea breeze carry you away. And not to worry, if you want a massage, there are still locals around who would be glad to offer you their services; but instead of tens or hundreds of them, there will only be several of them roaming the beach—a blessing in this island that typically you’d have to pay loads of money for at a resort.
How to get there:
There is really only one main road that travels up and down the eastern coast of Bali. Stay on this course and pass the accommodations at Jalan Raya Candidasa. About approximately 5 km north of Candidasa, there will be signs (both on the left and right side of the road) that say “White Sand Beach” with an arrow that points down a small alley way. Turn into this alley, and just keep going straight until you hit some village security guards. The will charge a beach fee, something really cheap because it was IDR 4,000 (fifty cents USD) per motorbike when I went.
At this security post there will typically be some ambitious food kiosk owners who will coax you to follow him to his restaurant. You can choose to say no, but it might be a good idea to strike a deal with him before heading down to the beach (ie. “Free beach chairs if I eat at your restaurant!”).
Then you travel down an intolerable unpaved road, but you will forget all about it once you catch a glimpse of the blue expanse ahead.
Best times to visit:
All the time. Even during peak season weekends, it still feels untouched.
So many food kiosks! How to choose?
If no owner greets you up top at the security point, then strike a similar deal as above with one with whom you feel comfortable at the beach. They all run food kiosks that serve the usual Indonesian dishes (fried rice, fried noodles, satay, etc.), Western dishes (sandwiches, french fries), and some seafood. None of them stands out from a culinary point of view, so pick what you like!