Kuta’s main attraction is, and always will be, the beach. Kuta Beach is where Bali’s surfing scene (and tourism) started. But this famous resort continues to attract visitors with its plentiful options. These range from some of the island’s most modern shopping and entertainment centres, to world-class recreational spots. Kuta is good for all. Whether you’re a lone and adventurous surfer, or travelling as a family or band of friends. You can enjoy all Kuta has to offer. Here’s some of the top picks.
Kuta Beach’s 2.5-kilometre stretch of cream-colored sand borders Legian to its north and Tuban (home of the Ngurah Rai International Airport) to its south. This beach on Bali’s southwestern coast is perhaps the most popular resort area in Bali, and it’s even more recognised among international visitors than the island itself – thanks to its combined features of sun, sand and surf. Surfing in Bali, often considered a key contributor to the rise of tourism in Bali, all started here. What once was a mere ‘backyard’ of a sleepy Balinese fishing village, with cow grazing fields and seaside coconut groves, has evolved over the decades as a front showcase of a one-stop beach holiday destination, with accommodation ranging from cheap guesthouses to five-star hotels and resorts, plus thriving bars, nightclubs and (in recent years) multi-storey shopping malls nearby. Despite the modern and urbanised feel of Jalan Pantai Kuta, the main beach road that runs parallel the coastline, the beach of Kuta continues to appeal – it’s still a place for Bali’s magical sunsets.
Hit the beach in the early mornings, you can claim a spot on the sand, together with surfers steadily watching for the perfect swells as the action takes place on the waves. Throughout the day, troupes of beach vendors and masseuses will all vie for your attention, be it for a beach sarong or a cheap massage, aka ‘spa treatment,’ on the sand. During and after sunset, it’s a greatly mixed scene: friendly beach soccer matches that you can join, spontaneous ‘beach bars’ selling cold Bintangs and local bites, chats with locals, djembe drumming jam sessions and even fire dancers. Kuta Beach’s focal point is its central section, aptly named ‘Halfway’. Here, you only need to cross the Jalan Pantai to Kuta Beachwalk, the premier modern shopping, dining and entertainment complex, filled with numerous tenants. The footpaths on both sides connect to most of Kuta’s other highlights, such as Hard Rock Café, HQ Beach Club, the Kuta Art Market, and the Balawista lifeguard tower that is right next to the Sea Turtle Conservation site, where batches of hatchlings are released regularly (visitors are free to join).
ABOUT THE BEACH
Best Time to Visit Kuta Beach
Like with most of Bali’s west-facing beaches, you can expect the best waves in Kuta in the dry season, from April to August, with easterly winds. Conversely, expect flotsam and jetsam during the monsoonal months between October and March, with a combination of westerly winds and overflowing rivers from the highlands and neighbouring Java. Nevertheless, the whole length of Kuta Beach is cleaned daily by a bright red tractor and trash raking machine sponsored by Coca-Cola, and in recent years collectively by the peddlers and masseuses (who are listed as members of Kuta’s local beach hawkers’ association, and enforced to actively participate in daily beach clean-ups). From midyear to October, you can expect larger swells and undercurrents, which can be dangerous even for experienced swimmers. Even though you can swim or paddle almost any day in Kuta Beach, always take caution and pay attention to the red flags posted by the Balawista crew. On the other hand, whenever you see red and yellow flags, it means it’s safe to hit the waves.
Kuta Beach Shopping and Dining
You won’t find fixed bars right on the sands along the length of Kuta Beach, but there are small vendors who claim their spots under the palm trees, with ice boxes stocked up with soft drinks and beers, or wandering vendors carrying baskets filled with tropical fruits and light bites. Some also tout everything from colourfully dyed beach sarongs and broad-brimmed wicker hats, knock-off Oakleys, Ray-Bans and Rolexes, to unthinkable knick-knacks such as bows and arrows!
A great variety of dining spots are just across the road, ranging from McDonalds to an eclectic mix of restaurants at the Kuta Beachwalk. Take a short stroll south along the beach footpath and it leads you to the HQ Beach Club where international dishes are served in cosy settings. For a wide variety of local and international cuisine (and cold beers or fresh coconuts) sold at local prices, head further south along the footpath to the permanent cluster of small warungs.
Just up the path from these warungs is the Kuta Art Market, where although bargaining is still a fun exercise, you’ll also find fixed priced items, ranging from paintings to keychains and pervasive Bintang singlets.
Kuta Beach Facilities
There are public toilets at Halfway and near the Kuta Art Market, however their cleanliness and upkeep is usually low. The restrooms at Kuta Beachwalk are available for public use and are modern and very well maintained. Parking is available along the beachside of Jalan Pantai Kuta, however it is mostly overrun by motorcycles and very limited for cars (if your hotel isn’t nearby, getting to Kuta Beach is best by taxi or your hotel’s shuttle transfer services, and it’s very easy to hail a taxi down the street).
There are plenty of rentals readily available on the sand, run by locals, ranging from surfboards and body boards, beach loungers and parasols. If you ask to rent a board, they usually also offer coaching as well, and this ‘package’ can range from IDR 150,000 to 200,000 (USD 12-15). You can always just ask for the board, be it a racer or a Malibu, from around IDR 50,000 an hour (the duration is usually flexible or negotiable). Similarly, depending on negotiation, you can get a sun lounger with parasol starting at either IDR 50,000 or 100,000 (USD 4 or 8). Feel free to ‘shop around’ for the best price.
Kuta Beach Activities
Although surfing and swimming is the highlight activity at Kuta Beach, you can also enjoy anything from beach soccer or volleyball in the mornings or at sunset. Non-surfers can learn the art of wave riding with the number of surf schools available along the beach. There are beginner lessons for both kids and grown-ups, with some guaranteeing you’ll be able to stand up on your learner board within the first hour of your session.
If you aren’t into too much action, simply relax on the sand, spread out your beach sarong and laze about under the sun and watch the world go by. Or, simply unwind and opt for a cheap beach spa session – be it a thorough Balinese massage, or body scrubs using a traditional concoction of virgin coconut oil and aromatic spices. Having more than two masseuses kneading you is possible!