We were looking forward to our time in Kuta. Not because of the supposedly beautiful beaches, surfing and nightlife but because Rob’s Mum, Raffaella, and partner Roger were flying out to meet us and we would be staying in a posh hotel for the first time on our travels (we’ll let you work out which of these we were most excited about!).
As per usual with these tourist hotspots we had heard mixed reviews about Kuta. But it was close to the airport meaning it was easy for our visitors to get to and we found a great hotel on the beachfront so we thought it would be a perfect place to park ourselves for a week and enjoy some R&R.
For us it was great to see some familiar faces again and it was good to catch-up over beers and cards on all the gossip from back home after 7 months away.
Keeping everyone entertained during the day was a struggle though. Whilst we liked the idea of actually staying in one place for a few days as opposed to constant sight seeing and moving on, Raffaella and Roger were more keen to actually do something with their days…who’d have thought?! Therefore we spent the first day exploring Kuta.
Kuta isn’t the Bali paradise that some might expect. It’s a key holiday destination for Australians and as such you will find western shopping malls, hawkers, tacky markets, drunk manic Westerns on scooters and sports bar galore. But amongst all this tosh there are some sights and decent places to eat and drink. Our first real sight was the beach. Despite the beach being gang controlled meaning that it’s full of pop-up cool-box bars and deck chair pushers, everyone is friendly and it makes a beautiful walk. We strolled down the beach together and then made our way inland to see the memorial of the Bali bombings. After that we hunted down a nice bar whilst constantly being reminded that everyone is gay, a c*nt or a b*tch by the stickers for sale in all the tourist shops. All-in-all a steady first day.
After a few days chilling by the awesome pool we decided to walk along the beach up to the Seminyak area. In Seminyak we hoped to explore Petitenget Temple but whilst we had no menstruating women, we were declined entry for not wearing traditional dress. This was a real shame as it was the main reason we had walked all this way and despite reading that we would be offered garments to wear, all we got was stern telling off. This gave us more time to explore Seminyak itself and we found that it was a completely different experience to Kuta. It is still touristy, but it gave off a much calmer vibe and was definitely less rough. Here we found a nice bar and settled in for a few hours drinking coconuts and beer.
Kuta is famous for its surf and we couldn’t miss an opportunity to give surfing a go at such crazy low prices. We also thought that getting some practice in here would set us up well for surfing in our next destination, Australia. Whilst Rob has had a lesson before, Louise was new to surfing. However, as Rob was certain that all his previous lesson’s instruction had consisted of was being told how to stand up on the board (“hold the sides and stand up… quickly”) we thought we’d forego the extra cost of someone to “teach” us and just hire the boards ourselves. This led to a fun few hours experience of surfing or more appropriately falling – but well worth it.
In the evenings we started with drinks on the beach watching the sunset and then had plenty of “laughs” trying to find decent places to eat. Whilst, after 7 months in Asia, we had adjusted our standards for the kinds of places we would eat, Raffaella and Roger were still very much expecting places that looked clean and had English menus. This led to a few nights where our choices were rejected and we strolled around trying to find somewhere else. Thankfully there is a wide choice of establishments in Kuta so we usually found somewhere good – especially on the last night when we left the decision entirely up to them and ate at the Smiling Frog. Well…Mum’s know best.
We had a great time in Kuta. Yes, it was a little brash but after months of being on the move in mainly shoddy hotels it is always nice when you get to spend of few days in one place, in a nice clean room and not have much to do. It was also wonderful to see Raffaella and Roger after so long and our adventure with them continues as they join us in our next stop, Sydney!
Kuta, Seminyak or Legian?: Whilst we enjoyed Kuta it was a little too touristy and if we weren’t meeting family we wouldn’t have stayed long here. We visited Seminyak and thought it was nicer than Kuta. We didn’t enjoy Legian so can’t help there! We also heard that Canggu is a great spot and a lot less touristy.
Stay: In Kuta we stayed at the Citadines Hotel. It was on the beach, did a great breakfast, had a nice (but small) pool and had a comfy room. It was what you’d expect from 4* hotel in a tourist joint. For us it was a luxury we didn’t usually get when backpacking so we loved the stay there.
Eat: Our favourite restaurants were Fat Chows and The Smiling Frog. Fat Chows had awesome food and a good lively atmosphere. The Smiling Frog had good food too but was a little cheaper and they gave us free shots (result!).
Do: Surfing is so cheap that you’d be a fool not to give it a go. Whilst we didn’t do that much as we were looking forward to the break from moving around there is plenty to go and do if you want. Go and climb volcanoes, search out secret waterfalls, visit Ubud, explore the islands. If you can, don’t limit yourself to Kuta as you will not see the best of Bali here or get to know the incredible friendly people.