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Kuta Beach, Bali. Best and Worst, Old and New. The Real Deal.

I am perhaps the harshest critic of Kuta but I do have to give it its due on a couple points.  It has changed quite a bit in the 17 years I have been coming here and just 20 years before that, Jalan Pantai Kuta was just a dirt road lined with coconut trees linking Kuta, Seminyak and Legian.  But now it is packed with hawkers, chain stores, drunk loud bule and the traffic can be worse than the 405 at rush hour on a Friday.  Sure, for the first couple hours you can politely say ‘no thank you’ or ‘tidak tertarik’ to the hawkers yelling out to you every 4 steps, but they are so numerous and persistent that even Gandi would want to get a sign that reads, “NO, I am NOT interested in transportation, neon beer cozies, spiked motor bike helmets, drugs, massage, etc.” I remember thinking after first arriving, “How sad.  Bali is over.  Some places can handle tourism and the influx of the almighty dollar, but unfortunately, Bali can not.”  This was of course before I smartened up and got the hell out of Kuta as fast as I could and saw the real Bali. 


The short video above is from The Balifornian Tours & Travel Blog's "Quick Look" series. 

I return to Kuta seldomly, but I do have some dear friends there like Mas Ngurah and his sweet family who run the newly renovated Baleka Hotel and Resort.  If you want to be in Kuta, it’s a great value in a good location and with the Balifornian discount, you can get a steal of a deal on some modern and impressive lodging.  They have a pool and The Gula Gula Restaurant and Lounge.

That being said, the cause of the over-crowding is in fact for good reason as the beach itself is a world-class beach with white sand and great waves.  If you can avoid road rage getting in, and the crowds at the beach, it can be close to a quintessential beach experience (although I greatly prefer being on a beautiful beach alone or with a small group which Bali also offers).  The trash on the beach is certainly disappointing.  “Littering” is an unknown concept to many Balinese.  In fact our close friend Kadek is a bright and very spiritual person, but I have seen him toss his trash onto the ground on occasion.  Its not that he and many other Balinese don't care or are bad people, they just did not receive the same repeated messages that we in the west did- No cute owls telling us kids to “Give a hoot and don't pollute”.  I in no way blame the Balinese for all the trash on Pantai Kuta as much of the blame falls on the tourists.  However major efforts are underway to educate and its effects are being seen already.  For example, this last weekend was Eco-Weekend on Kuta beach and a massive clean up volunteer effort was held to clean up the beaches.

The surfing in Kuta is great for most levels including the beginner and there are tons of activities.  One secret we recommend is a place on the beach called 27 Beach.  The short video above was shot at this location. Neither I nor the staff knows the significance of the ‘27’ as I asked half a dozen of them, but they have a great pool, post-surf shower, comfy lounges and decent food and drink.  It serves as a great home base to sit with friends, have lunch and drinks, head to the beach for play or surf, and return to your own un-crowded spot.

As much as I can get down on Kuta, I am thankful for it, as it being the easiest place to get to (just a few km from Denpasar Airport), it keeps most of the obnoxious tourists in one small spot leaving much of the real Bali for the rest of us.

Leave a comment and let us know what you think of Kuta.

Reader Comments (2)

Interesting point you make in that last paragraph. I never considered overly touristy places as a blessing for keeping those secret and uncrowded locations just that.

August 18, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterSuzy

Thanks a lot for such a important post. I have read the post very well. Really it is very essential for everyone who wants to enjoy the beauty and amazing sight of Bali.

November 1, 2012 | Unregistered Commentersalmankhan1

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