Beyond the bright lights of Kuta, the boutiques of Seminyak and the bohemian lifestyle of Ubud are some fantastic locales, ripe for exploration. One of my favourite spots is Balangan, an oasis of calm and clear waters, well-known to surfers but still relatively secret among tourists and few make the effort to head down here.
Located about 30mins drive from Denpasar airport, sleepy Balangan Beach consists of a handful of warungs and surf shacks, built up on stilts along the beach. Balangan still has the cliffs, blue skies, rolling waves and laid-back attitude of its sister beach Bingin but on a much smaller scale, making it the perfect getaway for a few days or even a week.
Despite many attempts to convince myself to the contrary, I am not a surfer. So there really wasn't much for me to do at Belangan besides soak up the sun, read (I devoured 3 books in 3 days!), and take in the beautiful sunset every evening. Absolute. Bliss. And just what I needed after a whirlwind couple of weeks.
Every afternoon at around 5pm, I would make my way down to the beach via a field and a grassy track (no steep steps like at Bingin!). For a while I would sit on the beach, taking in the last of the sun's rays and people-watching as the day-trippers gathered up their towels. Then I would move to one of the warungs and grab a pre-dinner snack of spring rolls and a Bintang or Homemade Lemonade, settling in to watch the devoted surfers wait for the perfect wave while the sun set in spectacular fashion behind them. Then I wandered back up to my accommodation for dinner, some more reading and an early night.
The sand at Balangan is something else - perfectly spherical orbs of different colours.
I never usually take holidays like that, always rushing around trying to fit in absolutely everything, but as I get older I'm starting to appreciate these days of just enjoying the moment and relaxing. I've always needed my fair share of alone-time so the quiet solitude of Balangan was just what I needed.
I stayed at the gorgeous Flowerbud Bungalows during my stay, a grouping of wooden thatched cottages surrounded by peaceful gardens. The resort is split into two, with Flowerbud II set further back, and the original Flowerbud boasting larger family-sized cottages, a restaurant and pool. Guests staying at Flowerbud II are welcome to use all the Flowerbud facilities and I parked myself by the swimming pool for a good chunk of my time there.
The bungalows themselves are gorgeous, with a semi-outdoor bathroom and relaxing verandah. Checking out was a very, very difficult experience - I just didn't want to leave!
Balangan is definitely near the top of my list for a return visit, perhaps for a week before I move back to Australia for some much needed R&R.