SOUTH BALI, PLAYGROUND IN THE SUN
South Bali is the most popular part of Bali and is where all the foreign tourists converge and where the action is. The best of Bali is displayed here, from Denpasar urban attractions to Nusa Dua exclusivity and Kuta scenic white sand beaches. Here is where most of the islands action takes place: shopping, relaxing in the sun and the vibrant and, at times, raucous nightlife. There are countless restaurants, bars, nightclubs and hotels of varying standards and budget to suit travelers from all market segments.
PLACES TO GO, THINGS TO DO
If you go to South Bali and not visit Kuta, even for a few hours, then you will miss the very essence of what Bali is for this fun-filled city is the very essence of Bali. A once sleepy village on the road to the capital city of Denpasar, Kuta has evolved into a thriving tourist resort, especially among the young. Many avid surfers come to Kuta for its magnificent waves, although the strong currents make the sea less suitable for swimming.
The village has a wide range of accommodation to suit the super duper rich in the elegant villa and five star luxury resorts to budget hotels and simple hostels and home stays. The town is choc a bloc with discotheques, clubs, restaurants, shops and every imaginable facility for tourists. One of the common services available in Kuta, and in most other beach destinations in Bali, is massage on the beach – masseurs rejuvenating your body while you lie back and bask in the sun. Culture is evident in the nightly performances of Balinese music and traditional dances staged specially for tourists. As Kuta faces west over the Straits of Bali it offers visitors the best sunset on the island.
Situated just next to Kuta, Legian beach is more laid-back compared to its bustling neighbor in the south. As Legian is not directly accessible by any public access road it is relatively quieter and more peaceful. The best way to explore this beach is on foot. Apart from its gorgeous beach Legian also offers one of the most stunning sunsets in Bali. There is also good surfing.
Located north of Kuta and Legian, Seminyak is an up market resort with luxury accommodation and high-end shopping complexes, restaurants, bar and clubs. It is reputed as the spa and boutique shopping centre in Bali.
Located about 15 minutes drive from central Kuta, Canggu is popular with surfers as it has larger swells than those at Kuta and its sandy beach make this the haunt of foreign tourists and expatriates living in Bali. Canggu is picturesque and tranquil with green rice fields reaching right down to the beach. It is not as upscale as Seminyak and offers affordable accommodation.
Kerobokan, a short distance from the centre of Legian, Seminyak and Denpasar, is another place that offers peace and serenity. It is a tranquil area surrounded by rice fields and is an ideal base from which to explore the rest of Bali. Nearby are furniture and handicraft shops that sell the goods at wholesale prices. It is a nice quiet place to rest and relax in resorts and hotels close by. For those who want some sun and sand they can go to Batu Belig and Legian Beach, which is about five minutes drive away. Kerobokan also known as the expatriate community area because of many expatriate who live and work in Bali often stay and play around in the area.
Sanur is Bali’s oldest upscale resort area and is a mature beachside town. It has an abundance of restaurants and accommodation, but it is quiet and a great place to have a relaxing holiday. In price range it is cheaper than Seminyak and more expensive than Kuta. Its palm-lined, white sand beach facing the Indian Ocean is considered one of the best in Bali and is ideal for a wide variety of activities.
Sanur serenity appeals mostly to middle-aged and older families, especially Europeans, and to families. It has many good hotels, restaurants, shops and other tourist facilities and is only a short distance from Denpasar. It is also full of spa’s offering treatments steeped in Balinese tradition and a day in the spa is a highly recommended activity. Nearby are ancient temples and local villages where its inhabitants still practice age-old customs and culture.
The Nusa Dua tourist belt has some of the most scenic beaches and luxurious beautiful resorts in South Bali. Its beaches are clean, the sea crystal clear and the surf perfect for surfing. It also has some of the best golf courses on the island. As well as a host of luxury hotels, Nusa Dua is home to the main convention centre in Bali. Spas also abound in Nusa Dua and a traditional Balinese massage and spa treatment is one of the must-do activities in Nusa Dua.
Jimbaran village is on the narrow neck of Bali Island with two remarkably different beaches. On the west, Jimbaran Beach faces the Jimbaran Bay lined by new luxurious resorts. On the east the beach faces the body of water sheltered by Tanjung Benoa (Benoa Peninsula).
Jimbaran is known for its fresh seafood, and seafood restaurants abound along the beach. Diners choose the live seafood and it is cooked immediately, usually grilled over a fire of coconut husks. It also has some of Bali’s best five star hotels and resorts, as well as high-end villas, the latter usually perched on ridges high above Jimbaran Bay. Shopping here is a delight as there are a number of chic and exclusive boutiques. However, it is not a place for nightlife. Visitors come to Jimbaran for its tranquility, the fine white sandy beaches and the beautiful sunset.
The traditional Jimbaran fish market at the northern end of the bay and next to the beach is worth a visit. Fishermen bring in their catch early in the morning and they display them on the beach for customers, most of whom are from Bali’s fine dining restaurants.
Tanjung Benoa, a former fishing village and an old dock, is today lined with deluxe hotels and resorts. Within walking distance from Nusa Dua the peninsula is popular with tourists in the search for water sports as it has one of the one of the most beautiful beaches in Bali with grey-white sand instead of the white sandy beaches found elsewhere on the island. The peninsula has a rustic village atmosphere with a landscape filled with numerous coconut groves and a Buddhist temple perched on its northern edge.
Tanjung Benoa is also famous for its seafood and seafood restaurants, which offer spectacular views of the Nusa Penida cliffs across the Badung Strait. Just offshore is Serangan, commonly known as Turtle Island, the site of a sacred Sakenan temple dating back to the 16th century. The reef, lying 200 meters off the peninsula’s northeast tip, has a rich marine life with a large variety of colorful, tropical fish.