Love it or hate it, in Bali, there’s Kuta.
Loud, lit and simply crawling with tourists, Kuta is what happens when countless hawkers, surfers, masseuses, motorcycles, budget hotels and beach resorts come together along the warmth of the Indian Ocean for one hell of a time.
Not for the faint of heart or the averse to Red Bull, for most people over a hill named 30, Kuta may be well-worth an obligatory look before pushing on to calmer climes.
If so, here are some tips on where to eat, shop, stay and play.
Stick your foot out in Kuta and you’ll kick a hotel and, while luxury, budget and backpacker accommodation will be very easy to come by during low season, it can be a little more difficult to find your preferred lodging during high season (July, August, Christmas, New Year). The options, however, are plenteous and I chose Eden Hotel. Budget, clean, leaf-themed and within walking distance of Discovery Mall, Kuta Beach, Waterbom Bali and the Bubba Gump Shrimp Co (From ‘Forrest Gump’(1994). I cried, guys!), Eden was easy on my wallet, quick with the Wi-Fi and sexy with the in-pool bar.
You haven’t been to Kuta unless you’ve hit the beach. A lively stretch of soft sand populated by the sunning and the surfing, Kuta Beach is a must for those eager to test the waves with a casual surf school, explore the art market or just chill out sipping on a fresh coconut under one of the many umbrellas being rented by locals for song.
As for Kuta’s nightlife, in a word: legendary. Alternately awesome or infamous depending on your penchant for paranoia, Kuta after dark offers a wealth of bars, night clubs and sundowner spots that keep bumping well into the early morning. Try Sky Garden for an eight pub and club smorgasbord under one roof, head to Kuta Theatre for a little culture and dip into Waterbom Bali to experience hair-raising water slides at Asia’s top waterpark.
One of the weirdest things about Kuta are signs that say ‘Indonesian Food’. Well, duh, it’s Indonesia, no? Yes, but since Kuta is filled with plenty of Western style eateries and pubs, the Indonesian Food signs indicate something a little more authentic which can be found grassroots around Bemo Corner and a little more upscale at Arsana Bali where the Sariyako melts in mouth.
Don’t. Just kidding. Like many places in Bali, plenty of people get around on motorcycles or scooters but if Bali’s “Godspeed” style traffic deters then use one of the many Bluebird taxi’s whizzing by and ask the cabbie to use the meter. If you don’t spot a Bluebird or you simply like the feel of the wind in your hair, negotiate a fair price with a motorcycle taxi driver or download an Indonesian app similar to Uber called GO-JEK for all of your transport and none of the hassle of paying in cash.
Or negotiating until your mouth goes full Sahara.