Kuta and around

Contents
1 Introduction
2 The town
3 The beach
4 Tuban
5 Legian
6 Seminyak
7 Canggu
8 Berewa beach

Kuta was the main port and arrival point for foreigners visiting south Bali for over 100 years, from early in the 18th century until first Benoa, until the airport at Denpasar usurped its role. The town prospered as a hub of the slave trade in the 1830s, attracting an international cross-section of undesirables.

Miguel Covarrubias wrote in 1937 that Kuta and Sanur were “small settlements of fishermen who brave the malarial coasts”. It was not until the 1960s that large numbers of Western travellers 'discovered' Kuta. Since then, it has grown into a highly developed beach resort with a mind-boggling array of hotels, restaurants and shops. While Sanur is no longer a backpackers' haven, there are still many cheap
losmen
in Kuta as well as a growing number of mid- to high-range accommodation. Central Kuta was decimated by the Bali bombings , and the area acted as a barometer for the island's suffering, with many businesses forced out of action. Things now are returning to normal, and bars such as the rebuilt
Paddies
(destroyed in the 2002 bombing) are pulling in big crowds of pleasure-hungry punters once more.

The town

Many people dislike Kuta. Other than the beach, it is not an attractive place. However, it does offer a wide range of consumerist and hedonist treats and people often find themselves staying here longer than expected. In the rainy season the drainage system is hopelessly inadequate, and some areas of Kuta, noticeably Jalan Legian, become flooded.

Since the Bali bombings, which slowed business down considerably in the area, tourists have increasingly complained of hassle from Javanese hawkers along Jalan Legian and Jalan Pantai Kuta who can get a little aggressive at times. There are also numerous women offering massage of a dubious nature on Jalan Legian. Pickpockets are less of a problem than they used to be, and children now swarm in packs selling friendship bracelets rather than rifling through your bag.

The beach

Kuta Beach is a fine beach; a broad expanse of golden sand where local officials have taken reasonable steps to limit the persistence of hawkers. It is because of its accessibility that it is popular with surfers, although better waves can be found elsewhere. It is an excellent spot for beginners and recreational surfers. Boards can be hired on the beach and there are usually locals who will offer insider knowledge of surf conditions. Strong and irregular currents can make swimming hazardous so look out for the warning notices and coloured flags that indicate which areas are safe for swimming on any particular day: red flags represent danger; yellow and red flags represent safe areas for swimming. The currents change daily and there are teams of lifeguards keeping an eye on proceedings
who won't hesitate to blow their whistle if they see people straying into dangerous waters. There are allegations that levels of contamination in the sea are above internationally accepted safety levels, though many people swim with no apparent ill effects
.

The sand is white to the south, but grey further north. The hawkers are less of a problem now they are forbidden to cross an invisible line that divides the beach. Sit on the half of the beach closest to the sea if you want to avoid hassle. The beach faces west, so is popular at sunset, which can be truly spectacular. Religious ceremonies sometimes take place on the beach and are fascinating to watch.

Tuban

Although marginally quieter and more up-market than Kuta, Tuban is still fairly built up. Lying just north of the airport and south of Kuta, the town is spread along busy Jalan Kartika Plaza, and one of its main attractions is the convenience of its close proximity to the airport. At the lower end of the market, Tuban represents poor value compared to the Kuta/Legian area. There is a string of upmarket hotels overlooking the bay beside a reasonable sandy beach, which cater mainly to tour groups. Tucked down side streets away from the beach are some budget places to stay. There is limited access to the beach down a few public paths between the big hotels; the most useful path is on the extreme left, just inside the entrance to the
Bali Dynasty Hotel
.

Legian

It is hard to say where Kuta ends and Legian begins, as the main shopping street, Jalan Legian, dominates both places. Like Kuta, Legian is a shopping haven. Legian is far more relaxed and less congested than Kuta and there are significantly fewer hawkers.

Seminyak

This area to the north of Legian begins at Jalan Double Six and runs northwards into unspoilt ricefields. With a fabulous coastline, spectacular sunsets and views of the mountains of North Bali on a clear day, it is still relatively quiet compared to Kuta and Legian, but some long-term residents are complaining that the place has lost its charm in recent years and are selling up. In August, Seminyak's villas are filled with European holidaymakers. There is good surfing, but be warned: the sea here can be lethal. There are strong undercurrents and riptides. Lifeguards patrol the beach, which is wide, sandy and much less crowded, with a few mostly mid- to upmarket hotels dotted along it. Jalan Pura Bagus Taruna is also known as Rum Jungle Road. Jalan Dhyana Pura is also known as Jalan Abimanyu.

Travelling north from Seminyak, you pass through
Petitenget
with its large temple made of white coral (covered in moss, so not looking white at all). Further north still, the village of
Batubelig
is in an undeveloped area, with a luxury hotel and a small guesthouse; again this is a surfing rather than swimming beach. Unless you are a keen walker, you will probably need to hire a car if staying in this area.

Canggu

This area of coastline, only 20 minutes north of Legian, is slowly being developed and (at the moment) offers peace and rural tranquillity, traditional villages untouched by tourism, and frequent ceremonies and festivals at one of its many temples or on the beach.

Canggu district offers unspoilt, grey sand beaches, with the possibility of excellent surfing (easy 1-2 m-high waves off left- and right-hand reef breaks), as well as swimming. The following beaches are all part of Canggu: Pererean, Banjartengah, Canggu, Tegal Gundul, Padang Linjong, Batu Bulong and Berewa. The villages from which the beaches draw their names are inland and most offer simple homestays, just ask around, local people are very friendly and helpful.

The drive to Canggu is very beautiful as you pass endless lush green paddy fields, coconut and banana palms, cows grazing, and the occasional picturesque, small village full of temples and shrines.

Berewa beach

A very peaceful location (the drive from Kuta takes about 30-45 minutes; as yet there is no coast road) with an unspoilt beach backing onto ricefields, friendly local people and few tourists. There are a few unpretentious restaurants hoping to attract tourists from the local hotels; except during high season, these are usually only open for dinner. There are also a few small shops near the hotels. The main temple is 'Pura Dang Khayangan'; there has been a temple here since the 16th century.


Note
 Swimming in the sea here can be dangerous.

This is edited copy from Footprint Handbooks. For comprehensive details (incl address, tel no, directions, opening times and prices) please refer to book or individual chapter PDF
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