Sanur Beach in Bali.

Exotic Sands: The Best Beaches Close to Home

25 April 2017
Read Time: 4.6 mins

It’s pretty hard to go past Australia when it comes to beaches, but if you’re looking for something a little more exotic – black sand, limestone cliffs, cocktails on the beach – here are a few suggestions further afield in Thailand, Indonesia and the South Pacific that are but a short plane ride away.

Padang Padang Beach, Bali

A view looking down on Bali's Padang Padang Beach, featuring umbrellas, huts, hillside, white sand and blue sea. A steep descent is worth the effort at Padang Padang Beach. Image: Getty

Reached by descending narrow steps between two rock faces, this Bali beauty is known for its calm waters, safe swimming, and surfing. There’s even a cave to explore, and you might spot a monkey or two.

Kata, Phuket

Umbrellas, sun loungers and jet skis dot Kata Beach in Phuket, Thailand. Family fun awaits at Kata. Image: Getty

Phuket’s popular Kata Beach is a nice one for families, boasting white sand and blue sea, as well as places to eat and shop. There’s a nearby dinosaur-themed mini golf park and artificial wave surf park to keep the kids amused.

Amed Beach, Bali

A jukung fishing boat forms an unusual silhouette against the setting sun at Amed Beach in Bali. A jukung fishing boat forms an unusual silhouette against the setting sun. Image: Getty

This unusual, black-sand beach has a slower pace of life and traditional jukung fishing  boats still line the shore. It affords awesome views of Agung volcano, the sunrises are spectacular, and the waters draw divers from around the world. The region is also known for traditional salt farming.

Sanur Beach, Bali

A Balinese pagoda graces the shore at Sanur Beach. Image: Getty A Balinese pagoda graces the shore at Sanur Beach. Image: Getty

Find fishing village charm along this quiet, volcanic stretch of sand. Bali’s earliest beach resort, it features calm waves protected by a reef, making it popular with families. It is backed by a paved path, perfect for cycling. Keep an eye out for the traditional kites, too.

Kata Noi, Phuket

White sand, turquoise waters and a jungle backdrop at Kata Noi Beach in Phuket, Thailand. Pretty Kata Noi on the Andaman Sea is a must. Image: Getty

While popular, beautiful Kata Noi offers a somewhat quieter place to soak up the sun. Small and sweet, with a jungle backdrop, these waters of the Andaman Sea are calm from December to April, and attract surfers in the monsoon season from May to October.

Kuta Beach, Bali

Beach umbrellas and lights at a beach bar in Kuta, Bali. Clubs and bars line the beach at Kuta in Bali. Image: Getty

Widely known as a party beach, Kuta’s white sand is lined with beach bars and colourful umbrellas. It’s the perfect spot to enjoy the sunset with a beer or cocktail in hand. It’s popular with surfers, too – rent a board on the beach or take a surfing lesson.

Champagne Beach, Vanuatu

The white sand, turquoise waters and jungle-covered hills of Champagne Beach in Vanuatu. Champagne Beach in Vanuatu is a Pacific paradise. Image: Getty

A cruise ship favourite, effervescent Champagne Beach on the island of Espiritu Santo in Vanuatu really does bubble at low tide. It’s everything you’d expect of a South Pacific lagoon – crystal-clear, turquoise water, white sand and green jungle-covered hills.

* Featured image: Sanur Beach in Bali, with Mt Agung in the background. Image: Getty

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Renae Spinks

Travel for me is about conversations and connections. There’s nothing like setting foot in a new land and meeting people a world apart. From talking to North Sea fishermen in Norway’s Lofoten Islands to breakfast chat at a B&B in my own back yard, there’s always a story to share and a tale to tell.