Sep 05

Cement Structure at Dreamland Beach BaliAround 2 years ago I was raving about the so-called Dreamland Beach in Bali, situated at the west coast of the Bali Bukit, the dry hilly area south of the airport.

It’s one of the closest candidates for a Dream Beach, which Bali unfortunately doesn’t have in the abundance of let’s say Thailand or the Philippines. The only other natural white beach, west of the Padang Bai lagoon is currently developed into a 5-star Hotel resort for a Japanese company with restricted access for the average traveler.

Tough luck I hear you say, but for Surfers and Expats there was always Dreamland Beach – up until now:

A relict of the Asian Crisis

Heavy Terraforming near Padang Bai Bali, White Lagoon, making room for 5-star HotelHistorically the whole area was marked for development as early as before the Asian crisis, with heavy involvement of Tommy Suharto, the son of the former Indonesian president, snatching the area from the locals for peanuts.

Passing the big Garuda bird near the main road, you were in a land of its own, with Golf Courses, Apartment Housing Developments and Country Clubs for the rich and famous. All this was brought to an halt by the looming of the Asian crisis around 1998, when the Indonesian Rupiah lost most of its value, prices skyrocketed and tourism slid into uncertain times. The first Bali Bomb in 2002 didn’t help either to revive the economy of the island and most parts of those developments slept a very deep and undisturbed sleep.

Backpacker and Surfer’s Paradise

Backpackers and Surfers discovered soon the lonely and remote area, the pristine white beach and the fabulous beach breaks. Beach Huts, Bamboo Restaurants and Surf Shops mushroomed in a short time and the area developed an almost mystique and secretive aura. It felt a bit like Koh Phi Phi before the Tsunami, with cheap food, backpacker hostels or rooms and an bohemian atmosphere of free spirits and other young at heart.New 5-star Hotel development at Dreamland Bali

All this slowly began to change with the improving visitor situation in Bali end of last year. Suddenly there were talks of re-animating the whole area and continuing the building and construction developments, even though the whole hill has already water shortages and existing villas have to pump very deep or get their water delivered by truck. The first signs of ‘progress’ was the creation of a huge 5-star cement development in a few months, almost appearing like a Djinni from its bottle.

Progress here we come!

Earlier this year all bamboo structures were demolished by heavy equipment and the law for the ‘righteous owners’ was restored. Bohemians, Surfers, Backpackers and local Shop Owners were sent away to make room for Golfers and all-inclusive or package deal tourists.

Drinklist for the very thirsty at Dreamland Beach BaliPrices are again through the roof, with a Rp 5.000 parking fee for motorbikes (5 times the average for Bali), shower fees of Rp 10.000 or toilet usage fees of Rp 5.000 and standardized Drink Price Lists with 3-4 times the prices above the island standard. Yeah, for outsiders it might be only a Dollar or two, but for Bali, those prices are outrageous. I can buy a 19 liter gallon of Drinking Water for Rp 10.000, while they charge here Rp 12.000 for a 1 liter bottle.

Clearly a sign to bring the area back upmarket again.Parking Ticket Dreamland Beach, now Klapa New Kuta Beach

The whole development comes with the usual corruption, with the parking guys refusing to hand out too many recipes for parking fees, as those obviously find their ways into their own pockets.

We were 5 people on 3 bikes, but only one got a parking ticket. “No need!” you will hear with a big smile.

The beach is renamed as well, now being called “Klapa New Kuta Beach” (Klapa means Coconut in Indonesian). There are no coconut trees around here, but who cares.

This once secluded and quiet bay is now packed with vendors and hawkers, trying to sell you everything from Sarongs, carved wooden souvenirs, T-Shirts, arrow and bows – exactly the same like in Kuta. x(

Commerce and progress are generally a good thing, if applied in the right places and right doses.

For me, Dreamland Beach is no more. It has lost its appeal and will be just another commercialized tourist trap – call it Kelapa New Kuta Beach, or whatever.

It’s very sad but time to bid farewell. Bye bye Dreamland Beach Bali!

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written by Chris

32 Responses to “Dreamland Bali – another Paradise Lost?”

  1. zahlenjongleurNo Gravatar GERMANY Says:

    I am shocked !
    What a shame ! :((
    I am so lucky, that i had the chance to see Dreamland Beach as it was before this fuck happened.

  2. Travel BettyNo Gravatar UNITED STATES Says:

    I am also shocked! I had an amazing day there myself and am disappointed future visitors will never know how cool it used to be :(

  3. Nomadic MattNo Gravatar THAILAND Says:

    Bali was a paradise lost a long, long time ago. It is still a wonderful place to visit but it’s a tourist mecca (with good reason) but sadly it’s no longer a nice quiet place. I’d rather go to lombok or flores!

  4. MonNo Gravatar PHILIPPINES Says:

    That also happened to Boracay here in the Philippines. What worse is they relocated the native Aetas (they look like the Australian Aborigines) at the back of the island.

  5. aviNo Gravatar INDONESIA Says:

    Sustainable tourism WILL happen in Indonesia. It WILL be a maritime tourist destination. This nation is still so young and its people are just beginning to rise. Come or don’t…paradise in Indonesia is just beginning to open up to its potential. Champagne is beginning to pop. If you can’t feel it…well, I suppose you’re not living the life that I’m just beginning to taste…

  6. BloGendengNo Gravatar INDONESIA Says:

    Very nice blog….I like it

  7. nicciNo Gravatar SWITZERLAND Says:

    :(( Hy Chris,

    Now i’am Very sad i would like to trael in bali i saw dreamland in the net, but now i read your story and i think i’ can forget dreamland. what could you propose to me in bali i would like a white beach, i am travel allone, and i like to surf but i have no experiences, is kuta really the only place ???? Ah ich glaube du sprichst a auch deutsch oder? merci für deinen tipp!

  8. thierryNo Gravatar INDONESIA Says:

    Yes, it’s true….bye bye Dreamland.Touristic cars full of chinese and japanese people are coming very hour…T-Shirts with Dreamland Prints you can buy everywhere….The lefthand waves is overcrowded….
    But there are still some good places:
    hello, hello Balangan and Padang Padang! The beaches there are awesome and I hope that it will be a small paradise for a while.

  9. JoshNo Gravatar SINGAPORE Says:

    That is a real shame.
    Is it still like this now?
    I thought maybe with the latest crisis work may have stopped?
    Is this wishful thinking or a possibility. Has anyone been recently as i am in bali in march?
    Thanks for any info

  10. epunkNo Gravatar INDONESIA Says:

    shit..all the guest run from this beautiful beach..i’m interest to surf there anymore..keuntungan sepihak :((

  11. camillaNo Gravatar SINGAPORE Says:

    hola.hey Chris did you know about wayag raja ampat indonesia is nice hope you make new blog about wayag island and misool too is wonderful.thanks :)

  12. ChrisNo Gravatar GERMANY Says:

    camilla, sorry – never heard of this one. Where exactly is that located?

  13. adaNo Gravatar SINGAPORE Says:

    ola… yes its true dreamland is becoming a brickland… but still there’s hope there’s still places in bali where the sea is undisturbed beauty…

  14. ChrisNo Gravatar PHILIPPINES Says:

    ada, truly spoken! But don’t tell anyone where exactly! ;-)

  15. mellieNo Gravatar AUSTRALIA Says:


    Very upset about this. The first and only time I went to this beach it looked like paradise and the huts on the cliff face beautifully fit into the atmosphere of a cheery traditional location. very upset to hear of this. why didn’t anyone fight for this beach?

  16. ChrisNo Gravatar PHILIPPINES Says:

    mellie, the problem is, that in Indonesia (and elsewhere) – money will always rule. The Dreamland area is rumored to belong to Tommy Suharto, member of one of the wealthiest families in Indonesia, so money can obviously still move mountains, as happened at Dreamland. :(

  17. Migration MarkNo Gravatar SINGAPORE Says:

    Unfortunately I arrived at Dreamland too late and did not get to see it as paradise. When I arrived one afternoon, bus loads of random tourists followed me, and hawkers were selling the exact same things from Kuta.

  18. AmyNo Gravatar INDONESIA Says:

    This writing is very good. I visited Dreamland yesterday with no idea about its history and absolutely hated the place (I couldnt even afford to buy a coke!).

    The only time it was good was when I was in the beautiful surf with my back towards the monstrous development behind me.

    This place is a tragedy now that I’ve read this history. Sponsored surfers should unite and fight this kind of thing. Yes money rules, but those guys working for Billabong etc have it too, and there has always been proof of ‘people power’ – yes… even in Bali…

  19. ChrisNo Gravatar PHILIPPINES Says:

    Migration Mark and Amy, that sounds like the situation at Dreamland is getting worse. When I was there last time, at least one could still enjoy the beach, if you ignored the vendors and the cement fortress they build right there. Hopefully authorities wake up one day and learn one or two lessons from this lost paradise. :-/

  20. cazNo Gravatar UNITED KINGDOM Says:

    OMG!! I’ve just read this link after telling a friend how Dreamlands was a paradise, and now it is no more. I went there for a day trip in 2001, and stayed for 5 days as I loved it so much. I have had a photo of the place on my desk at work ever since, and now it’s gone. This is the saddest news ever!! What a waste!!

  21. PamelaNo Gravatar PHILIPPINES Says:

    this is horrible news! i am taking some friends to bali this easter (first time for them, 3rd for me) and was just raving about my pleasant day at dreamland back in 2006, which was perfectly capped by a visit to uluwatu temple at sunset (yes, i’m still part tourist, but at least it’s a temple!).

    would you be able to recommend another area? i loved how the beach still had people, but most just relaxing, and not just tourists taking photos or hawkers cutting into my reverie. i’m from the philippines, so i’m not exactly starved for isolated beaches with natural views, so what i really loved was the combination of a great beach, unpretentious restaurant, and other pleasant beachgoers (who drink of course).

  22. jenNo Gravatar AUSTRIA Says:

    padang padang is also about to be destroyed (or maybe already is gone for good, i don’t know for sure. the bulldozers were already working from what i saw on pictures in february, shaving off some 70 meters of cliff face on a downward slope to sea level) :( it was my favorite place, really loved it. i am going to bali this september again and i am sad beyond words that i won’t see this beautiful place again. in fact, there are awful plans for lots of huge ugly resorts for the whole bukit. balangan, impossibles, bingin won’t last much longer.

    there is a group on facebook named SAVE BUKIT – BALI (unfortunately there is a lot of spam on their wall and also in the photo-album) but if you are patient enough to scroll to the beginning of the posts you can find some info about it. there are also some pictures of the buliding sites and drawings of the planned resorts (ignore the first 3 pages of the album, which have nothing to do with the topic, and go directly to page 4 and start displaying the pictures from there on). it is really horrible.

  23. ChrisNo Gravatar INDONESIA Says:

    jen, what you say is true, unfortunately. I was there about 3 weeks ago and although I didn’t see any bulldozers – things obviously are more commercial than ever. Hundreds of people are packed like Sardines on that small strip of beach, reminded me of the beaches of Spain in High Summer. Guess, it’s just not a cheap surfer spot or well-hidden secret after all anymore. Hope things get back a bit more to normal when the high season ends here in Bali.

  24. ArminNo Gravatar SINGAPORE Says:

    :(( :(( :(( , I’m Indonesian and was living in Bali for 2 years on 2006, Dreamland was my favorite place. I went there 2 days ago and now it’s no more dreamland, it’s nightmare land! I was really angry with the development, they even named it “new kuta beach” now! Really shameful act to destroyed such beautiful place and even name it with something that already exist just to attract visitors..
    No more beautiful cliff, the beach are dirty,and they built big building which suppose to be cafe and small shops but almost all are vacant and unmaintained, so you can imagine how bad it is now.

    Well, good bye dreamland and welcome nightmare land… x(

  25. Matthew LutwycheNo Gravatar UNITED KINGDOM Says:

    :( :( :(
    just spent some time on google earth admiring Bali and zoomed in on Dreamland and couldn’t believe this view of a monster hotel on the top of the cliff. We have just discovered your comments about the development of this area and we are now in deep shock. Dreamland was our most favourite place in the world and we visited it all the time when we where in Bali. We loved the place, the surf, the beach, and most of all the people. This has left us with a sick feeling in our stomachs.

  26. JoseNo Gravatar SPAIN Says:

    Dremaland was in May 2007 before it was built around the holiday resort, was a bohemian, spiritual, fantastic, full of peace, life and youth, some amazing sunsets and a nice place to surf.
    Like everything in this globalized world some get rich, razed and built, what a shame, a shame, I live the Canary Islands and Dreamland was one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen.

  27. Padang Padang Beach – 7 days 7 beaches | Travelfish on Bali UNITED STATES Says:

    […] sandy little nooks and crannies away from the crowds. You won’t have to walk too far to see the aberration that is Dreamland in the […]

  28. KeijiNo Gravatar JAPAN Says:

    I visited Dreamland last month. I love the primitiveness of nature and don’t like being so much developed. I remembered feeling sad when I’d read this article before visiting Dreamland
    I saw many people on the beach on my left, but I could enjoy myself feeling the magnificence of nature away from the crowd. There were a few persons except me where I was, so it was quiet. I was relieved to know there was still a place undisturbed, which made me happy. At the same time, I felt that we mustn’t lose such a beautiful and peaceful place any more! Well, I will be back to Dreamland someday, and I hope the beauty of nature will be there forever. Terima kasih!

  29. AuliaNo Gravatar INDONESIA Says:

    You all can go to Karimun Jawa.
    The beach is wonderful.
    Try to googling it.

  30. SrlemNo Gravatar SLOVENIA Says:

    I visited Dreamland beach 10 years ago. I found out about it like the author suggest from some backpackers (or surfers can’t remember), and at that time to me that place was the most beatiful thing not just location wise but the whole thing I remember renting a bed (not a room), i remember the people hanging out in the huts at night. remember the dogs (a lot of those) . during the day the place was a bit busy, but after dark only the free spirits stayed, since there was not luxury accomodation at that time. reall too bad what has happened. i hear the same has happened to the gilis.. oh man.. the nostalgia..

  31. ChrisNo Gravatar PHILIPPINES Says:

    Srlem, yeah, things have changed quite a lot over the last couple of years in Bali. But then, where things don’t change. We have to appreciate and embrace the change. Everything else will not make us happy.

    Of course we all have those memories of our favorite travel places, but then, if we hang on to them in a melancholic way and try to re-live those memories by visiting the places and expect nothing’s changed and mood and atmosphere still the same, we’re truly chasing ghosts. Nomadic Matt wrote a nice article about that topic a while ago. It’s a nice read and I recommend it to check out here.

  32. SrlemNo Gravatar SLOVENIA Says:

    Thx Chris, you are right. I read the article and it’s exactly like that. But yeah change is good cause it brings new memories and friends. I have a love/hate relationship toward melancholy :)

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