It’s hard to talk about Kuta, Bali without sounding a bit negative. Seen by many as a backpacker black hole and a haven for drunk Australians, Kuta is the no frills, slightly grimier version of Seminyak and Canggu. It’s also cheaper than those places, and I reckon it’s a good, unpretentious spot to spend your first (or last) couple of days in Bali.
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It’s Cheap and Close to the Airport!
If you’re anything like me, you’ll want to spend the least time and money possible in getting to your accommodation after a long flight. On my 2022 Bali trip I arrived late at night and very tired, so the first couple of days were earmarked for recovery. I found a cheap resort, Legian Paradiso Hotel, with plenty of good places to eat nearby — exactly I was looking for. I also stayed in Kuta for the last couple of nights before my flight at Palm Beach Hotel Bali — both resorts were great value!
READ MORE: 10 Awesome Islands Near Bali
Things to Do in Kuta
Looking for the best things to do in Kuta? I’ve been there a few times now and can steer you in the right direction!
Get to know the (Australian) Culture
If you spend any time in Kuta (or Bali in general) you’re bound to meet some Australians. Regular visitors to Kuta from Australia tend to love their sport and drinking (massive generalisation I know) and almost think of Bali as an extension of Australia. Head to a sports bar when there’s a game on and you’re bound to meet some — they love their AFL and NRL but tend to shy away from rugby as New Zealand is way better at it than them.
READ MORE: 32 of the Best Things to Do in Bali
Get Some Practice Ignoring Touts (AKA Shopping)
The touts in Kuta would have to be the most insistent in Bali. Walking the streets you’ll be offered massages, invites to shops, transport and many other things every few metres. It can be annoying, especially if you’re like me and have trouble ignoring people when they talk to you. It’s an experience though, and maybe you really want 10 massages a day and an endless supply of jandals and Bintang singlets.
Kuta is a good place to hit the town, especially if you like the down to earth (aka cheap) style of nightlife. There are still fancy places, but it’s far more working class than Seminyak and Canggu. That’s not a bad thing — one of the great things about Bali is that it is (or can be) a cheap place to eat and drink. You’ll end up paying close to Australian/ New Zealand prices at the more high-end places, which for budget conscious travellers can be hard to stomach.
Nightlife is bound to be one of the reasons you’re going to Kuta. It’s well served with smaller, local pubs, bars with pools and happy hour cocktails, and beach clubs which try to bring a bit of class to proceedings. You’ve also got hotel bars, bars with live music, drag queen comedy shows and pretty much anything else you can think of. Kuta is also very close to some cool beach clubs in Seminyak — the photo below is from Potato Head Beach Club.
Hit the Beach
The beach in Kuta is very similar to the whole stretch of coastline all the way north to Canggu. Not great in terms of water clarity or cleanliness, and you won’t get that nice blue water / white sand that you might expect from beaches on a tropical island. Kuta beach is good for sunset though, and it’s a decent place to rent a sunbed and chill out. I’ve never swum at Kuta Beach, or any of the other ones in this part of Bali, as the water has never looked inviting.
Learn to Surf
If you’re getting in the water at Kuta beach then chances are you’re going for a surf or are in the process of learning how. I can’t comment on that side of things, but it seems like a decent place to do it. Again, this is true for a lot of the beaches on the west side of Bali, so it’d pay to do some research to find the best breaks etc.
Watch a Sunset
The whole western side of Bali is great for sunsets — whether you’re watching it from a flash beach club, a warung by the sand or just walking along the beach. It was a bit cloudy on my last trip to Kuta and I didn’t see any good sunsets, the one below was taken a few kilometres away in Seminyak.
One of the best things about Bali is that you don’t have to move around too much. You could spend your whole trip in Kuta while doing day trips to other parts of the island. Good options from Kuta include East Bali, Central Bali (Ubud, waterfalls, rice terraces etc) or even another island (Nusa Penida / Nusa Lembongan).
Massages seem to be one of the best things to do in Bali, but they’re not all created equally. You’ve got proper massages, places that are a little less family friendly masquerading as proper massage joints, and fancy spa-type ones. I’ve only ever had one massage in Bali, and that was on my press trip there in 2016. It was a fancy spa kinda one and it was OK — definitely wouldn’t have paid for it though!
READ MORE: How to Plan the Perfect Bali Honeymoon
Go to a Waterpark (or Hang Out by the Pool)
There are a couple of waterparks in Kuta, and they seem to be popular with families. Also with the younger, drinking all day crowd as well. If you’re keen for a swim and don’t fancy going to a waterpark, or braving the ocean, choose a hotel with a pool. I stayed at Palm Beach Hotel Bali and it was cheap with a good pool.
The beaches north and south of Kuta Beach are pretty much more of the same — Seminyak is the major beach north and I reckon it’s a bit better than Kuta. To the south you have Jerman Beach and further than that is Jimbaran. Again, not the best beaches in the world but good enough for what they are.
Sea Turtle Release
Every now and again you can watch the Bali Sea Turtle Society releasing baby turtles into the ocean. I went to check it out on my recent trip and it was a strange experience. Dozens (maybe a hundred or more) people waiting behind a line before an announcer urges them to release the baby turtles they’re holding. It was pretty chaotic, and you probably shouldn’t trust a hundred random tourists to all do the right thing, but it seems legit enough (I did some research after I went, thinking it may be just a big scam). You can check their Facebook page to see when releases are planned.
Other Things to Do in Kuta
You could visit a shopping mall, see some temples (that’s the case for pretty much everywhere in Bali), go and see a movie (could be good the day after a long night of drinking), do a cooking class or pretty much anything else you can think of — there are a lot of options and you’re not too far away from other interesting places in Bali.
Are you planning a trip to Bali? Will you stay in Kuta after reading this post? Let me know in the comments below!
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