Kuta Travel Guide
Overview Kuta, just a short drive from the airport in southern Bali, has
become the island's most popular and most crowded holiday resort,
blessed as it is with a lovely sweep of golden sand, crashing surf
and spectacular sunsets. The natural attractions have now been
complemented by the full range of tourist trappings, and Kuta is
bursting with hotels, shops, restaurants and an energetic
nightlife. It is also teeming with touts and vendors offering
everything from sarongs and 'Rolex' watches to hair-braiding and
tattoos. Kuta's atmosphere is relaxed, cheerful and friendly, and
holiday visitors find it easy to wear a smile and enjoy excellent
accommodation with good food.
A holiday must for every visitor in Kuta is a visit to the
nearby Temple of Tanah Lot, Bali's most holy place and a magical
experience when viewed at sunset.
Kuta Sunset © Rudolph Furtado
Shopping Kuta is swarming with shops and holiday shoppers, with clusters
of stores and stalls all selling much the same goods, waiting for
customers to barter on the prices. Accessed either from the beach
or Kuta Square is the vast, fun market area where you can buy
things like CDs, kites, sarongs, shoes and lots of fake brand name
clothing. Local handcrafts, jewellery and custom-made leather goods
are good buys. Visitors are usually assailed by pushy street
hawkers selling goods like fake watches, and are expected to haggle
on prices, which are often quoted in US Dollars.
Kuta is also well supplied with department stores and shopping
centres where prices are fixed, like the new Discovery Mall on
Jalan Kartika Plaza. Around Kuta Square you can have a spending
spree at dozens of brand name stores where goods (the real thing)
are sold at amazingly low prices.
Those who are keen to buy local crafts, hand-made jewellery or
traditional wood and stone carvings will do well to take excursions
into surrounding villages where these arts are practised; some
handcrafts are available in Kuta, but better examples can be found
a bit further afield.
Restaurants On holiday in Kuta, you can find anything from Japanese sushi to
Wiener schnitzel, pizza to paella, and enchiladas to burgers.
Sometimes the taste is not quite as expected because these
international favourites have been adapted to suit local tastes and
ingredients. If you want to play it safe stick to McDonald's or
Pizza Hut! On the other hand, travellers yearning for more
authentic local food can brave the rather primitive little roadside
food stalls, warungs, to sample local cuisine like Bakso
soup, or pick a padang, which is a 24-hour diner
displaying a dozen or so different dishes in a glass box at the
door where you can sample them all for just a few US dollars. Be
warned that wherever you dine wine and beer is very expensive; try
locally produced versions which are better value than the familiar
imports often enjoyed by tourists.
Nightlife Whatever your choice for after-dark entertainment you will find
it in Kuta, which is the main party district of Bali. Evenings
usually start with witnessing spectacular sunsets over cocktails,
progress through a leisurely dinner and then around midnight the
partying starts, either with a pub crawl, club rave, a rhythmic
Balinese dance show or a Wayang Kulit shadow puppet
performance. Cafés, pubs and discos line the streets of
Kuta, but nothing gets going very early, with the serious party
venues often only starting to peak at about 2am. There are also
often special events, like beach full moon parties, or
body-painting parties, which are announced by way of flyers handed
out around town.
Activities Most visitors on holiday in Kuta come for pure leisure and
pleasure, drawn by Bali's laid-back atmosphere and the stretch of
sandy beach, which at Kuta is somewhat dangerous for swimming
because of an extremely strong undertow. However, the area is
renowned for its surfing, the several-mile long beach break between
Kuta and Petitenget offering a range of waves, and there are a
number of surfing schools for beginners. Scuba diving and game
fishing excursions are also sought-after and freely available. Kuta
also offers bungy jumping on the beach, and boasts a beautifully
landscaped waterpark full of thrilling rides and slides.
Horse-riding along the beach at sunset is a popular pastime.
Most hotels and resorts in and around Kuta encompass spas, which
offer massages and beauty treatments. The larger hotels usually
also offer a variety of sports facilities which can be used by
non-residents. Day cruises to off-coast islands are also available.
Some other holiday activities offered by private operators include
paragliding, submarine tours, whitewater rafting, paintball war
games and guided bird-watching expeditions.
Negatives Currents and a strong undertow make Kuta's beach dangerous for
swimming. The beach can also be over-crowded and flooded with
vendors hawking all manner of goods. The roads can be dangerous
after dark, with a number of potholes on the streets and more than
a few drunken drivers.