Dreamland Beach, its sad tale of greed

alone at dreamland beach

Dreamland beach, located at the south of the Bukit (as the Balinese call this area) used to be one of the most pristine beaches on the island. Together with a handful of locals, you were the only ones riding the waves or walking down the beach. Nowadays it’s called New Kuta Beach and it has changed dramatically.

surfing at dreamland beach
Despite the changes, this beach still attracts a crowd

What happened to Dreamland Beach?

Like many beaches in Bali, this beach was discovered by Australian surfers. And as always they just needed great waves, basic accommodation, and simple food. They called it Dreamland beach for its white sandy sand, limestone cliffs, great surfing waves, and stunning sunset. Occasionally nudists came here too. You could easily hide behind the many small cliffs and have a small strip of beach all to yourself.

You can still surf here with some short right-handers and some longer lefts. If you’re lucky you’ll find yourself in one of the barrels.

Tommy Suharto’s Destruction

During the ’80s this beach area came under the attention of Tommy Suharto (official name Hutomo Mandala Putra). He is the youngest son of Suharto, who was the President of Indonesia.

He wanted to control the entire Dreamland and the Nusa Dua area through his company PT Bali Pecatu Graha. In order to do so, he used the Indonesian army to evict all locals who opposed him.

He bought the land at Nusa Dua for a cheap price by intimidating the local Balinese. Now the Nusa Dua land is leased to hotels such as the Westin Resort, the Laguna Resort, the St.Regis, the Nikko Bali resort, and the list goes on and on. The same soon started to happen at Dreamland too.

entrance to dreamland beach
A huge statue welcomes you at the entrance of the formerly known ‘Dreamland Beach’

Financial crisis hits Dreamland Beach

In the ’90s Tommy Suharto had big plans of changing the Dreamland beach area. He wanted to transform it into a golf course with villas and a hotel. However, the Asian financial crisis put a hold on his ideas.

Then in 2002, Tommy Suharto was convicted of ordering the killing of Supreme Court Judge of Indonesia, Syafiuddin Kartasasmita. He was sentenced to 15 years in jail of which he only had to sit 4 years.

The hottest golf course on Bali

Once Tommy Suharto was released from jail, construction continued. They started off with  building a 4 km long road all the way down to the beach. The little warungs (Indonesian styled restaurants) and massage ladies were closed down and replaced by an ugly concrete building containing shops and other overpriced restaurants.

dreamland beach hotels
Luxury resorts and villas are being built on the remaining open spaces

Subsequently, they started to build the 18-hole golf course. We do not play golf but we can imagine that the location is less from ideal.  It is definitely the hottest golf course on the island as you will have a hard time finding trees. A desalination pipe that leads into the surf at Dreamland brings water to the golf course to keep it green.

Not only the New Kuta golf course but also the New Kuta ‘Green’ Waterpark for kids, an ugly Jakarta-stye condominium, luxury villas, flashy restaurant, a club and the Pecatu Indah Resort are looming over what was once one of the best beaches on Bali.

The name was changed to New Kuta Beach in order for PT Bali Pecatu Indah to put their stamp on the place.

Is Dreamland beach worth going?

Not if you’ve been there before. The change would be too shocking and would ruin your good memories of the beach. For those loving to surf, you can still go out to the reef and have a good time. Occasionally you can also jump into the turquoise waters and have a swim but the laid-back atmosphere has changed forever.

There are better and cooler beaches such as Balangan, the famous surfing point at Uluwatu and Niang Niang beach.

Now Dreamland only attracts travelers from Java island, Indonesian celebrities from Jakarta and other types who shoot their commercials with the sea as their background.

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