Friday, June 21, 2013

Geger Beach, Nusa Dua and Tanjung Benoa.


Last visited May 2014

Safe swimming area adjacent the Ayodya Resort far end of Nusa Dua south beach. This turns into Geger Beach past the corner mid distance. The strip of sand far distance is a separate beach below the very expensive Nikko Bali resort on the Bukit plateau..
Actually the Nusa Dua south-Geger area is pretty safe swimming-wise being protected from bigger waves by a fringing reef you may better see if you click-expand image. Nevertheless there was a bit of a tidal side drag out near that boat when I went for a swim, so the hotel is maybe not wasting its money employing this guy. Poor dude seemed pretty bored - eager for a chat. Fancy standing there all day with nothing to do but scope out Russian bikini babes.

In 2013 saw a Trip Adviser article on the world's unforgettable beaches which mentioned south Bali's Geger so I figured I better go check it out the next visit. When I learned Geger was actually an extension of Nusa Dua's southern beach I realized I could also revisit Nusa Dua for the first time in years. Well I saw plenty of Geger Beach that trip but I can't say I was too conscientious covering Nusa Dua, spending most time there walking the southern beach or shopping/eating at the Bali Collection mall. So when I returned to Bali in May 2014 I made a  point of staying at Nusa Dua's northern extension, Tanjung Benoa and checking both areas fairly comprehensively. However I did not get the chance to recheck the Geger Beach area so that information is now a year old.

Google Earth image shows Bukit Badung which is the southern most 5%  of Bali. The tilted limestone Bukit plateau covers the western 2/3 of this - Nusa Dua and Tanjung Benoa are the eastern seaside areas of the remaining lowland area.

The Nusa Dua strip is about 10km south-east of the airport. Traffic used to be horrendous along the way and it the trip took a good 30 minutes+ most times of the day. But note those mid-bay lines going thru the distance scale near the 5km mark - that's a new Bali Mandara by-pass starting adjacent the airport which when opened recently greatly eased access. Another branch goes north to meet the main road north-east to Sanur and beyond, which cuts out a section of even busier main road. This is a toll road - at 10000idr (less than a dollar) it is very good value. I reckon our 2014 trip from Sanur to Tanjung Benoa was cut from an hour to about 20 minutes by using this.

It's kinda hard denoting the border between Nusa Dua and the Tanjung Benoa area but the general consensus it that it's around the start of the peninsula where I have drawn in the white line.
In 2013 stayed at the Swiss Belhotel Segara bottom left (the closest affordable-to-me joint to Geger) which classes itself as a Nusa Dua hotel - however it is actually on the lower slopes of the eastern Bukit limestone plateau over 2km from Geger Beach but fortunately with a free hourly shuttle. There is also another free hourly shuttle to the Bali Collection mall just above the center of image.
In 2014 I stayed at Bali Club Mirage on the Tanjung Beno peninsula just out of image - see later information and shots.


THE BEACHES - FROM THE WEST


Beach corner where Nusa Dua South turns into Geger. Background is the Nikko with part of its beach below - telephoto used makes this appear half the distance of reality.

The Mulia's (lower left) beachfront wings take up most of the southern half of Geger. A bunch of budget restaurants is located where the public access road hits the beach just south of my Geger Bch place marker. Immediately north of this marker can be seen the St Regis.  That cleared zone around the distance scale line belongs to the Bali Golf and Country Club which extends across the road - they seem to be redeveloping the beach side section although I would not be surprised to find the part nearest the beach sold off to a hotel developer. The Novotel Nusa Dua is located on inland side of that construction zone just above the 0 of the distance scale but has a nice little beach club section almost adjacent the tip of the blue "north" symbol. 
North of the distance scale line the beach becomes Nusa Dua South. The first hotel is the Ayodya. The cleared zone is the Anarterra under reconstruction. The star fish resort north of this is the Grand Hyatt.

GEGER
The resort section of the Mulia dominates the southern half of Geger but the St Regis starts not far past halfway and is pretty unobtrusive from the beachfront (if you click-expand you may just be able to see the rooftops further from the beach). St Regis' new construction is closer the far corner of the beach and could be more visually intrusive on completion. This is the chance for you subsequent trip reporters to become stars.  


Near Geger's halfway point a public access lane arrives from the main road, This is where Swiss-Belhotel Segara's free hourly shuttle drops people. The area has a half adozen inexpensive restaurants, many of which rent these sunlbounges and water sports equipment, although I got the impression that the lounges were free for restaurant users. Area quite popular.


About 200m north of the budget restaurants is the extensive St Regis sun lounge area. The building behind the palms at left is about as intrusive as the place presently gets along the beachfront - I wasn't aware of the resort as I passed by. At the far end of these sunlounges......


....is a small area where the Novotel Nusa Dua has its beach club area. I'm not sure how users access from the resort which is inland on the other side of the road from the St Regis, but the people on the lounges (mainly non-English speaking Russians when I wanted some info - but one cutie in the typical minimalist bikini had no problems. Bless her.) looked a pretty contented lot. Nice area. I notice Novotel's website claims this area their "Private Beach". No doubt the sun lounges are not for outsiders but the greater beach area is open to all.


Geger's fringing reef about 600m offshore protects the beach from tricky waves and also provides a few good surfing breaks (as does adjacent Nusa Dua South - although any surfer worth his/her chops should be ripping [or getting destroyed] at not too distant Uluwatu/Padang-Padang/Bingin/Balangan. Plus this area is better in the wet season when winds are off-shore and so stand the waves up and smooth the wave faces). The distant wave in shot was probably 2m plus and seemed fast enough to be entertaining.
The protected lagoon gets a fair tidal range - maybe 3m - this shot taken only an hour short of lowest tide showed plenty of water - those fishermen are maybe 200m offshore and are waist deep.
I took the face mask out into this zone - sea grass and broken coral from the reef plus patches of sandy bottom would be interesting enough for novice snorkellers. No doubt there is okay live coral out near the reef but I was too lazy to swim out there.


So is Geger Beach mainland Bali”s best as the Trip Advisor article infers? It is a fine stretch of sand protected by that offshore reef and with clear water which appears not to get too shallow at low tide. It doesn't get the hawkers which can make other Bali beaches a bit tiresome for some people. But nearly half is now dominated by the huge Mulia Resort and Spa which perhaps has taken some of its former quaintness away. I don't think it is any better than adjacent Nusa Dua south. I prefer the Bukit's not too distant Balangan (although that place gets the low tide blues) and Dreamland aka New Kuta Beach - although the surf makes them not as kid friendly.

The Mulia is huge - it took me over 10 minutes to walk by road from the budget restaurants to the top entrance gate (the resort is built on a gentle slope away from the beach) to the left of my "Mulia villas" placemark, but I bet villa owners/renters have electric golf buggy thingies or similar to zip to the beach and elsewhere. I thought the beachfront pool was pretty big (I just measure it at 80m long on Google Earth) but that central pool is appreciably larger (approx 110x60) and a close-up shows at least 8 other smaller "public" pools plus most villas seem to have a small private pool. Wow.
UPDATE - I notice another hotel, the Mantra Nusa Dua, takes up part of the top section of the area shown. It runs a free shuttle down to Geger beach.

NIKKO'S BEACH
This is west of Geger beach and is technically not a Nusa Dua beach but one of the Bukit Plateau's many strips of sand. So too arguably is Geger.

I shot this from the headland at the southern end of Geger which has a rather nice temple. Nikko's buildings are up top and you can see part of the beach below. This is about as close as I got - the security guys on the gate at Nikko whre not too encouraging to outsiders (well not to rough looking bums like me) and you can see that walking the shoreline in not an option, so.........
........I pinched this great shot by Parapeter (Panoramio)


This is no small patch of sand at almost 2km long - and others are moving in. In typical Bali fashion at least 3 other resorts seem to be under construction in this Google Earth image dated 0?/2013. If you click-expand the 06/2013 pic two above this you can see some of the construction cranes.
I'm annoyed with myself for not exploring the area more thoroughly- my Swiss Belhotel Segara is not too far out of shot and a slightly bigger area on Google Earth seems to show alternative beach access. But I had only 2 days here at the end of a multi-stop Bali trip and what I mostly wanted to do was laze by my hotel's huge pools and make use of other facilities way above my usual accommodation standard.

THE SWISS BELHOTEL SEGARA
This joint may not be as flash as a lot of the resorts in the region but it is still a pretty nice place. Note I have added SEGARA each mention - there are a number of Swiss Belhotels in Bali including the nearby BAYVIEW who's position beachwise is not particularly good. Closer to the airport though although SEGARA is not too bad in this respect (about 12km - 80k rp 06/13).



Our room overlooked this pool (first shot is from our balcony) - there is another of equal size on the other side of the hotel with a big shallow section for kids. Hotel pretty busy but there was never a shortage of sun lounges.


We were upgraded to a Premier Pool View room which had all you would expect of a good 3 to 4 star hotel. The bed was sinfully comfortable, the big terrace overlooked one of the pools and the area quiet. Only complaint was slow drainage from the sink and bath. Free wifi reception was good.
The restaurant served nice food at prices maybe 70% higher than budget restaurants down at Geger Beach, but still a bargain by western standards. The hotel’s inclusive buffet breakfast was fine with a good selection. Cheaper non-budget dining was available by taking the free hourly shuttle 10 minutes into Nusa Dua to the Bali Collection shopping mall which is a good area for browsing with a couple of big department stores, many specialty shops and a few minimarts.
Staff performance in all areas was outstanding. Reception seemed keen to provide late checkout if vacancies allow. The free 15 minute massage at the spa which was pretty nice. That area also has a basic gym with treadmills, a stationary bicycle and a treadmill.

Nyet Nikita! "Don't pinch the food" sign on exit from the excellent breakfast buffet. Guests seemed to be over 50% Indonesian, followed by Chinese, then Russians/other westerners about equal at maybe 10% each. Bit perplexing why nearly all of the text is monolingual.


NUSA DUA SOUTH aka Mengiat Bch.
Geger becomes Nusa Dua South beach past this point. I thought this long (1200m) beach was equally attractive - maybe more so because the resorts tended to be hiding behind beachfront palms. Maybe the Mulia hasn't got around to this yet - they were still working on beachfront ceramic landscaping in early June 2013. Updates welcomed.

From the other (northen) end.
This is shot near lowest tide but there is still plenty of water for swimming. Some fine hotels behind this beach including the Grand Hyatt, Amanterra and Ayodya. Note that a pass in the reef allows access to good surfing on the outside break. My experience of this type of wave suggests only experts should apply.

 No need for surfer dudes to bring their own boards, plenty on hire - but I saw one 40s-something western hooligan departing the beach on a skateboard with his surfboard under his arm and a bikini clad 18yo local cutie in tow. I gotta get back to surfing.


NUSA DUA CENTRAL

















The coastline changes direction at this small bay from heading nne to nnw.


My elcheapo Olympus had difficulty stitching this panorama shot together (nothing to do with the incompetence of the operator). Nevertheless it gives a good idea of its scale - the beach is only 500m long. Not particularly attractive in this low tide shot but probably quite nice at higher levels. Anyway attractive Nusa Dua South and North beaches are each side. The Bali Collection shopping/restaurant mall is behind this bay. These panorama shots click-expand nicely.


There are some cool bars and eats joints behind the central bay including Pirates' Bay Cafe and Restaurant.



NUSA DUA NORTH
This 850m stetch of sand is equal imho to Nusa Dua south and Geger. Still protected from the reef which runs most of the way to the northern tip of Tanjung Beno. Some fine hotels behind this beach including the Melia, Laguna, Westin, Nusa Dua Beach Hotel, Nusa Indah, Sheraton Lagoon.


The beach-side coastal path starts back at the Central Bay and runs nearly 5km to 800m short of the northern most part of the Tanjung Benoa peninsula. In a few places not backed by resorts drifting sand or expanding vegetation has obscured the path. And high end resort The Conrad has allowed the same, no doubt to dissuade plebs like me from passing by their resort. Take a bow for civic inclusiveness, The Conrad. 


Many of the resorts behind the path have very attractive beachside bar/cafes.


Nusa Dua nth from the other (north) end. Sweet.



Much of the Nusa Dua resort strip is in a separate compound with security checks on the entrance roads. It's a different world in there - Bali's narrow, hectic, crowded streets are replaced by wide boulevards and pristine landscaping. Many say this is not the real Bali, but for those wanting good international class accommodation, eating and shopping at venues which often show the Balinese touch, but few of the normal hassles, this can be an agreeable location. The various attractions of outside Bali are a taxi or bus trip away, after which they can escape back to their haven of peace and quiet. 
I shot this from the free Bali Collection shuttle.




THE GROYNE BEACHES - MOSTLY TANJUNG BENOA
Heading north again we have a series of smaller beaches, separated by groynes, small breakwaters aimed at trapping laterally-drifting sand to slow erosion/build beaches.

Count 'em - 17 in all over some 3km. Generally the beaches are wider and the resorts flasher in the south, but there is nothing wrong with the northern-most beach and its resort, the Grand Mirage-Thalasso - very nice. Note that some resorts share beaches - others have their own exclusive patches of sand. Once again some fine resorts along this strip including Sofitel, Bali Tropic Palace, Conrad (hiss!), Royal Santrian, Oasis, Aston, Peninzula, Villa Bintang. 
The southern most part of this area is definitely still Nusa Dua - the northern security gate is past the entrance road to Club Med which is behind the 2nd to 5th breakwaters. However plenty of resorts further north claim to be Nusa Dua ResortsClub Med  has the biggest grounds in the whole Nusa Dua/Benoa strip.


Local dudes relaxing on groyne bale near full tide. Low tide would see sand exposed out to end of groyne.


Local dudes fishing the channel off groyne bale.


A few of the groyne beaches have no resorts yet - with less incentive for a daily beach clean-up, the sand can get messy.


At lowest tide things get real shallow towards the northern end of the groyne beaches. This section off the 12th to 14th groynes saw people walking out to the reef to do some fossiking. Area is covered by 3m of water at full tide.



NORTH BENOA BEACH
The final strip of sand on the peninsula runs 1200m to within a short distance of the top of the peninsula. The southern most 200m is a bit skinny - difficult to walk and keep dry near full tide. Most of the rest of the beach has plenty of sand but is not as attractive imho as those further south.



There are relatively few beach-side resorts along this long strip of sand - mainly because the main road is too close to the beach to allow big developments. Look for Bali Khama, Bali Reef, Chedi, Segara Condotel. Nevertheless the shore is crowded with water sports centers, restaurants, bars and beach clubs, quite a few of which are attached to big flash resorts like Ramada and Novotel across the main road from the beach.


Beach from northern end. Hundreds of boats here - many of them with glass-bottoms for lagoon/inner reef cruising. It seems this section of Tanjung Benoa is the water sports capital of south Bali with tourists coming from all over to cruise, jet ski, water ski, ride a banana boat or like the dude below, do a Jet Jackson.... 

This western guy was doing an aquatic JJ routine off breakwater at northern end of beach - could do back-flips, somersaults, undulations like a swimming dolphin - much to the appreciation of a big band of local watchers who cheered and applauded. Note Mount Agung peeking above clouds in background.


I walked a few blocks to the northern tip of the peninsula where the channel goes thru to Benoa harbour. That is south Sanur across the other side. There are some okay seafood restaurants lining the shore here.

THE CLUB BALI MIRAGE - OUR 2014 ACCOMMODATION

I was pretty keen on staying in one of the seaside resorts but most of these are way beyond my modest budget. The best deal I could find at time of booking was this Tanjung Benoa joint, between the 15th and 16th groynes. Okay, it is not as big and flash as most others and some user reviews complained that it was showing a bit of wear and tear. But despite needing a lick of paint here and there, everything was in good working order, it was clean, our big comfy room was fully equipped, public spaces were spacious and attractive, the beach-side pool was sweet, the place was quiet at  night, the inclusive buffet breakfast a good one. Other food was pretty nice at prices above budget levels but not unreasonable by Bali standards and a bargain by western standards. Budget diners could find inexpensive meals in the water sports complex next door to the south - unfortunately this closed at 1600. There was a bunch of  tourist restaurants across the road a short distance north but these seemed no less expensive, often dearer than Club Mirage's. And noisier. A good sized supermarket was directly across the road from the hotel.
Club Bali Mirage's staff was fine. Free access to the much swisher sister resort's gym (the Grand Mirage-Thalassso directly to the north) and a free shuttle bus to the Bali Collection shopping mall were bonuses.





Pool nice place to spend time, as was.... 


....the beach. Doesn't look so hot here at dead low tide but attractive enough most other times despite being the shortest and narrowest of the groyne hotels' beaches. And if you want something bigger hike north to the adjacent sister resort Grand Bali - Thalasso's bigger beach. Their pool/beach towels are the same (Club Mirage's look hand-me-downs) and nobody hassled several of our guests who used both the beach lounges and impressive pool.
Note that at full tide the water goes right up to the sunlounges.


My favourite beach time was around sunset with a bottle of duty free rum. No grand sunsets on this east-facing coast but to the north Mt Agung usually trying to clear its cloud cover was a nice backdrop.

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1 comment:

Ron Johnson said...

These pictures are awesome! I want to travel and go o some other places around the world. I have only ever been to Texas beaches.