Sanur, Kuta, Seminyak, Jimbaran, Candidasa...
Actually, Bali doesn't have so many great beaches one would think. In fact it only has a few. But everyone can find one to their liking, I'm sure. Let's see the ones we visited.
Very popular. Extremely popular. Beautiful, long sandy beach with all sorts of people. From trendy blonds to lazing Aussies through muscular surfers... I don't know. Its charm was lost on us. I guess I just didn't get it. First of all, as the waves are good enough for beginner and more advanced surfers, there's not much of the beach left for swimmers. But if you want to learn the trade, this is the perfect place to do it. Relatively tame waves, handsome trainers... What else would one wish for? ;)
On a different note: there are as many hawkers as grains of sand. Not that annoying if you're used to it, but can ruin a romantic getaway if you're less tuned to them. My advice: don't "getaway" to Kuta. ;)
The chic alternative. I hadn't understood the difference the travel books referred to. But once I saw it I knew. Less people, more model type girls, bigger waves and thus even the surfers more muscular. =) Definitely less hawkers, but I still didn't enjoy this beach that much. I'm sure people do. I guess I'm just not so much into surfing and walking along the beach, though I would have loved the horseback riding one can enjoy here. I prefer less people, tamer waves and the luxury of not wearing anything fancy once on holiday.
Almost desolate, which is intriguing as it is as nice a beach as any other. The sand is creamy, the coconuts at the warung young, and the waves are tamer than my granny's cats. =) The crowds only gather right before sunset, when the warungs fold up their sunchairs and line up all the tables by the water. Smoke rises from the grills and tourists come by the busload to enjoy the colorful spectacle over a seafood dinner. But till then the beach is ours and a couple of locals' mending their fishnets.
(Though I've seen the posters of a would-be shopping center and resort, next to the construction sites...)
Sorry, I have to include this. Lonely planet calls Candidasa a beach resort without a beach and it is quite apt. Legend has it that some forty years ago the village sported a very nice beach. Then came development and resorts started to spring up. The reef that protected the beach was used up to provide enough cement for the buildings. And as the reef was gone the beach was gone. Now there are little pockets of sand at low tide, but of course at low tide you cannot swim on the Western shores. So there you are then. Some concrete wavebreakers have been set along with the little pavilions, and they're a nice place to relax and watch the sun set behind the mountains. For no one will disturb you here. But the half weed half ruin would-have-been hotels are a sorrowful sight and Candidasa is a sad reminder of the destructive power of tourism over nature.