For many Australian’s Bali is like a second home. It’s easy to see why, with beautiful coastlines, cheeky wildlife, smiling locals and affordable, luxurious accommodations. There’s so much more to Bali than Kuta, although Kuta itself just had a big overhaul making it much cleaner and modern. I’ve always said that Bali is where business moguls are heading, creating designer restaurants and bars that would cost a fortune to visit in Australia, but in Bali they can run them at a fraction of the cost. This has lead to the development of many hot spots that are huge draw cards for Aussies. Gone are the days of returning from Bali with a Bintang singlet and a Bounty headband, now we are returning with designer clothing and tales of fancy beach clubs with spectacular vistas.
Wherever you choose to base yourself in Bali be sure to get out and explore, as I have outlined for you below, each area has their own distinct point of view. Pre book your day tours to ensure creditable guides and transportation.
Kuta & Legian
These are the main tourist districts of Bali. The main street – Jalan Legian runs down the centre of Kuta and boasts shops selling souvenirs and surf clothing, massage parlours, bars and restaurants. Recently at the top end of the street, right on the beach, they have developed the Beachwalk Shopping Mall. This sleek urban leisure hub shows the immense effort going into freshening up the vibe of an area that was becoming a little tired. After my first visit to Bali back in 2007 I would have suggested steering clear of this area, being a little dingy and over run with tourists. After my last visit however, I would definitely recommend this area. After all, this is the heart of Bali.
Long known as the designer end of the tourist stretch of Bali, this area does not disappoint. Seminyak is full of boutique resorts and villas and shops, with hand crafted home wares, jewelry, artwork and designer clothing. Seminyak is also home to many of the renowned beach clubs and hot spot restaurants of Bali. Some of my all time favourites are Ku De Ta, Ultimo and La Lucciola, and some of my new favourites are Potato Head Beach Club, W Restaurant and Bar and Motel Mexicola. All of these places serve outstanding food in beautifully designed establishments. Seminyak is also a hub for beauty treatments with many spas to choose from. Things may not be quite as cheep here as in Kuta, but you’re getting good value for money.
Jimbaran Bay & Uluwatu
Located in the south west of Bali these are stunning costal areas. Jimbaran Bay is lined with BBQ Seafood restaurants where you can sit on the beach, watching a magnificent sunset and eat until your heart desires. Uluwatu sits atop stunning peninsula and is home to the Uluwatu Temple and some of the best surfing spots in Bali. Make sure to add the Rock Bar to your itinerary, sitting out over the ocean nestled into a secluded limestone cliff it’s easy to see why it’s one of Bali’s most photographed locations.
With affordable luxury resorts boasting large grounds and a plethora of facilities there’s no wonder this 5 star resort district has been a favourite with Families and Honeymooners for quite some time. The coastline here is expansive and less crowded and is only a 25-35 minute drive into Kuta. Nusa Dua is home to the Bali Collection, a shopping, dining & entertainment centre, and is the hub of Water Sports in Bali. I highly recommend taking a boat tour from Benoa Harbour out to Lembongan island, the white sand beaches and colourful reef’s make this a day to remember.
Lined with rice fields and locals crafting handmade home wares and paintings, this lush mountain area is a cultural haven away from the hustle and bustle. Here you’ll find retreats surrounded by jungle, craft markets, the Monkey Forest and beautiful temples. Ubud is a holistic centre with retreats designed to relax the body and mind. Here you can also get out and enjoy untouched nature, get up close and personal with animals, go for a bike ride through the jungle or raft along the Ayung River.
Sanur is what I imagine Kuta must have been like 30 years ago, a quaint stretch of beach with tourists enjoying sea side massages and authentic dishes at locally owned restaurants. Very uncommercial, this 5km beach stretch is lined with a pedestrian path and markets. The beach here is protected by a reef, making it an ideal place to relax in the ocean.
Balinese hospitality is warm, inviting and generous. It’s so easy to relax and lose yourself to the spiritual culture of this Indonesian paradise. Read a book, bike through the jungle, hike to view a spectacular sunrise, reconnect with loved ones, delight in international cuisines, snorkel in pristine waters, leave all your stress behind and you wont be disappointed.
Thank you for reading!