Kuta is the largest tourist location in Bali and accommodates the most coast side tourists and fun loving locals in the island. Located in the south of Bali just 10 minutes from the International Airport and with excellent access to the bypass opening up areas such as Sanur, Jimbaran, the capital of Denpasar and Uluwatu etc. Central Kuta is a truly diverse town with amazing shopping, eating, drinking, clubbing, surfing, accommodation and beach life of all kinds. Kuta still has a large surfing scene with surf shops and blond adrenaline junkies lining the streets of some areas but recently this has been diluted with a mixture of young beach goers, families and couples due to the more extravagant scene within the south of central Kuta.
Most of the accommodation in the south is nothing short of top-notch luxury with very few surfer and backpackers’ super budget home-stays. With close proximity to the high street style shopping strip where Gucci, Ralph Lauren, Armani, Okely and all surf brands and sports brands etc are represented at Boutique outlets. Shopping here also involves haggling at stalls over smaller and more ethnic affects. There are many eastern treasures amongst useless and unwanted goods. Bartering is an enjoyable exercise and should be done casually, in Kuta often try to pay a third of the original offer, stick to a price if you know its reasonable and say you will try somewhere else if the shop owner will not budget from realms of ridiculous. If you don’t know how much something should be especially when buying something of more value then ask a local friend, even a worker in you local bar or resort won’t mind helping you out.
The south is very close to the beach and at the south end, stylish bars line the sea front and ‘warung’ food and drink stalls sit upon the sands under palm shade. On the beach you can by sweet freshly prepared tropical fruit, drinks (both hot and cold) including Bintang (Indonesia’s bottled beer, a subsidiary manufactured by Heineken), massage and plentiful surfboard hire etc. This end of the beach is particularly social where many world tourists chill out under the shade of the palms that extends the whole way across the upper side of the beach, or sunbathing closer to the sea. Generally the further north you go the less crowded the beach gets, a 10 minute walk will show you a complete transformation and 20 minutes will lead you to a much more secluded and relaxing area.
Surf wise there are breaks from the very bottom of Kuta, through Legian, Double 6 and Seminyak, a general rule is the further north you go the bigger the waves get, the southern most point is usually the best spot for a lesson but with a big swell even that can be deliver dangerously large barreling waves. Kuta reef is a world class left-hander of decent length with barrel sections, it is best surfed at over 0.7m of tide and can be reached by fishing boat for about Rp.50,000 return. The best time to surf Kuta is between April and November when the winds are predominantly light and offshore.
Central Kuta has a Variety of stylish bars and restaurants always offering exceptional value though the quality of food differs widely between different places, for top restaurants and warungs alike, the amount of customers inside is often a good indicator of the quality of the cuisine.
Heading slightly north will bring you into the contrasting ‘poppies’ area, famous for its super cheap accommodation, a selection of useful and interesting stalls amongst complete tourist tack and low price excellent value eating. Poppies I and II are home to backpackers, surfers, locals and young Australian holiday makers and has a very lively scene, these street are small alleys (gangs) able to accommodate one large car in width and are often crowded.
Activity wise there is no diving that takes place in the southwest due to large swells over the reefs although there are many dive shops in Kuta offering excursions, package deals and courses at very reasonable prices. It is always advisable to use reputable companies endorsed by PADI when diving though Kuta’s companies are all very professional. Also a wide variety of surfing, bungee jumping, water-park visits, bowling, billiards, super cheap cinema etc are available all without breaking the bank.
Many people choice Kuta at the first stop on a trip or a secure base to explore the rest of the island, it is easy to make local and foreign friends in Kuta and it is always pleasant to be around the facilities and familiar faces of Kuta so for most people it is hard to stay away for long.
Generally the South of Kuta offers a high class of accommodation and has almost a complete lack of young party goers and surfers, this area is perfect for families and couples looking for luxury at a low price within the main facilities of Kuta with excellent entertainment and very close to the beach.
The Northern area is great for party goers, surfers and backpackers who want to be right in the action, the beach scene is lively and social, there are many cheap but decent restaurants and bars and a few hops brings you onto the notorious Legian street where the Clubs pump till 4am.