Are Bali Beaches clean in 2023?

Balis world famous picturesque beaches drowning in plastic? If you ask yourself, are Bali Beaches clean in 2023? Then read this.

Images from beaches in Seminyak, Kuta or Canggu have shocked the public in the last years. So how is the situation in 2023? Which areas are still clean? And what is the island doing about the plastic problem? Let’s find out.

Are Bali Beaches clean in 2023? (source: Greenpeace)

The Short answer to the question: Are Bali Beaches clean in 2023?

  • It all depends on the weather & season.
  • The beginning of the rainy season, typically end of october/november is the most critical time when it comes to plastic pollution at the beaches of Bali. 
  • The worst is generally happening in the span of 4-7 days after the first big rain.
  • Especially beaches close to large rivers are more likely to get polluted. 
  • Generally, beach clean up initiatives take care of the pollution rather quickly. 

How to handle it: If the beach close to you is affected, decide for beaches exposed to less pollution in Bali for a few days, or, even better, join or support the clean up organisations! Pollution is a global problem, you are likely part of it.

Global Top-Destination – how can Bali’s beaches stay clean?

The rise of Bali as a top travel destination started several decades ago, and has many good reasons. The charm of its beaches, once hidden gems of the Pacific, quickly became world-renowned. Initially, these shores remained untouched, oozing natural beauty that many described as ‘heaven on earth’. But as with many good things, immense popularity often brings challenges.

Today, depending on the time of the year, visiting the famed Kuta Beach, Canggu or the upscale Seminyak Beach presents a dichotomy. On one hand, you witness stretches of golden sand, surfers dancing with the waves, and an inviting ocean. On the other, you might spot sporadic traces of litter—most notably, plastic. Data from environmental agencies have shown fluctuations in beach cleanliness, but certain areas, especially those less frequented by tourists, tend to fare better.

Bali Beaches clean? Most pollution comes from the rivers.

5 Facts about pollution in Bali:

  • Tourism contributes some 70 percent of Bali’s economy, and tourists themselves produce 3.5 times more plastic waste per capita than locals.
  • Each year a crazy 300,000 tons of plastic waste are generated on the island, more than 50 percent openly burned or dumped into the rivers or forests.
  • 33,000 tonnes of plastic waste – are annually leaked into the island’s waterways and the ocean (Source)
  • Indonesia ranks as the 2nd largest plastic polluter to the oceans after China. (source)

Is the ocean water in Bali safe to swim in?

When the rainy season starts, garbage and waste is washed from the balinese rivers into the oceans. This is causing plastic pollution, but can also wash out other problematic waste, including bacterial contamination, as reported recently. however, in most areas and beaches the waters are always safe for health. However, after heavy rains, urban runoffs might temporarily affect water quality. It’s always a good idea to check local advisories before diving in.

This is not a common problem – we do not want to overexpose this. Water quality is only temporarily reduced on few days of the year, on few beaches.

Which Factors are Contributing to Beach Cleanliness (or Lack Thereof)?

With Bali hosting millions of tourists each year, the sheer volume of human activity has taken a toll. Disposable items, especially plastics, often find their way to the beach. Local ceremonies, though rich in cultural significance, can sometimes leave behind remnants. Moreover, currents occasionally wash in debris from international waters.

This is why Waste management is so hard in Bali

1. Tourism Pressure: Bali is a major global tourist destination. The constant influx of millions of tourists every year brings about significant waste, including a large amount of single-use plastics.

2. Infrastructure Challenges: Historically, Bali has grappled with a lack of robust waste management infrastructure. Many areas, especially the more remote ones, do not have regular waste collection, leading to improper disposal methods like dumping trash in open areas or rivers, or burning it.

3. Cultural Practices: Traditional practices in some Balinese communities did not account for the type and volume of modern waste, especially non-biodegradable plastic. As such, habits that were once harmless when waste was predominantly organic became problematic with the proliferation of plastic.

4. Economic Constraints: While tourism brings in revenue, it also increases costs in waste management. Setting up and maintaining modern waste management systems can be expensive, and there might be other pressing needs competing for local government funds.

5. Geographical Challenges: Bali’s topography and the fact that it’s an island can make transportation and placement of waste management facilities challenging.

6. Public Awareness: While there have been efforts to educate the public, there’s still a need for widespread awareness and behavioral change campaigns to inform locals and visitors about the importance of proper waste disposal.

7. External Factors: Ocean currents can bring waste from other regions to Bali’s shores, adding to the local waste management burden.

Waste barriers in the rivers of Bali.

What is Indonesia doing to improve the situation?

Indonesia, particularly Bali, has been increasingly active in addressing plastic pollution. But the problem is very complex – so even though the awareness is increasing, it takes years to sustainably solve the issue. Here are some of the measures and initiatives that Indonesia and Bali have implemented in the last years:

1. Ban on Single-Use Plastics: In December 2018, Bali’s provincial government issued a regulation banning single-use plastic items such as shopping bags, straws, and styrofoam. The move aimed to reduce Bali’s marine plastics by 70%. 

2. National Commitment: On a national scale, Indonesia has committed to reducing marine plastic debris by 70% by 2025. This ambitious goal was announced by the Indonesian government at the 2017 World Oceans Summit.

3. Education and Awareness Campaigns: Various organizations and community groups have been actively educating the local population about the harms of plastic waste. Schools, businesses, and local communities have been involved in campaigns and workshops on waste reduction and management.

4. Beach Clean-Up Drives: Beach clean-up activities have become common in Bali. Both local communities and tourists have participated in these initiatives. Organizations such as “Bye Bye Plastic Bags”, founded by young Balinese sisters Melati and Isabel Wijsen, have gained international attention for their efforts.

5. Recycling and Waste Management Initiatives: Efforts to improve waste management infrastructure have been ongoing. This includes setting up recycling facilities and initiatives to manage organic and non-organic waste separately.

7. Innovative Solutions: Some local initiatives have been exploring the use of alternative materials. For instance, “Avani Eco” produces bags that look and feel like plastic but are made from cassava root and are biodegradable.

To keep Bali Beaches clean is not easy. but there are many people working on finding solutions every day.

Keep Bali Beaches clean: Tourist Responsibilities and Sustainable Travel

The narrative isn’t just about “Beach clean” activities; it’s about fostering a mindset of sustainability: Tourists can make a difference by minimizing plastic use, respecting local guidelines, and even participating in community clean-up events. When the charm of a place is its natural beauty, it becomes the responsibility of every visitor to ensure its longevity.

5 great NGOs in Bali to support keeping Bali Beaches clean

This initiative combats plastic pollution in Indonesia’s rivers with innovative technologies. Their efforts have resulted in 1,460,250 kg of collected plastics, 180 installed barriers, and hundreds of community cleanups. They emphasize community engagement, emergency cleanups, and track pollution sources for effective waste management. Supporters can sponsor barriers, volunteer, or report polluted areas.

Bye Bye Plastic Bags

Initiated by the Wijsen sisters, Isabel and Melati, this Bali-based campaign is dedicated to eradicating the use, sale, and production of plastics on the island. Their influential efforts have caught global attention, making strides in raising awareness about garbage disposal.

Coca Cola Amatil Indonesia (CCAI)

 Partnering with Quiksilver Indonesia since 2008, CCAI has been proactive in minimizing waste’s impact on Bali’s iconic beaches. Their Bali Beach Clean Up program not only maintains the beauty of the beaches but also provides job opportunities for locals.


 Positioned as a social enterprise in Bali, Avani seeks to counteract the island’s plastic waste by introducing sustainable alternatives. Their eco bags, crafted from cassava root, provide an eco-friendly and compostable solution to the plastic bag dilemma.

ecoBali Recycling

Founded in 2006, ecoBali envisions a “Zero Waste” future for the island. By focusing on environmental education, recycling, and reutilization, they engage with businesses, NGOs, and community groups to foster practical and sustainable waste management solutions.

Conclusion – Keeping Bali Beaches clean

The question, “Are Bali Beaches Clean?” isn’t black and white. While challenges exist, so do solutions. With collective efforts, Bali’s beaches can retain their glory, offering pristine sands and safe waters for generations to come. For most times of the year, the beaches are fine. The most affected times are around beginning of the rainy season in October.

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