Legian, once a small village has now developed to such an extent that it is difficult to place a clear line between where Legian begins and central Kuta finishes, Legian is now a counterpart of what has become the Greater Kuta district and the consensus on the streets is that all north of the infamous poppies I and II is accepted as Legian. Legian accommodates backpackers, surfers and budget conscious travelers in the southwest extremities on Jalan Benesari, which runs down to ‘gang poppies II’ (poppies lane), this area extends east to the parallel Jalan Legian which is home to most of the major clubs, bars and restaurants and has an excellent combination of boutique stores and traditional stalls in the daytime. Jalan Legian extends North through the Padma and ‘double 6’ areas where the accommodation is more up market and the hedonistic Legian street clubs are exchanged for more tasteful intimate bars and live music cafes. East of Legian street is a local scene where you can mingle with the locals, sample the real local snacks and food and find very cheap motorcycle repair, locksmiths and other services you are willing to barter for!
To the west at the beach there is a the beach road that runs down to the Melasti area, it is where this roads ends that the more prestigious accommodation begins, access to here is good but the lack of the beach road can be thanked for the absence of large crowds on the beach, Melasti and further north Padma are much more exclusive, a private strip separate to the public road runs between these roads along the beach where many beach side hotels open out onto the front with private beach access. This trend continues up to the double 6 area where there is a strip of comfortable refined café bars where many reside during sunsets with good quality food and service but for a little more Rupiah then on Benesari or the beach road further south, though the scene here is cool. There is also the large ‘double 6’ open air Hacket club that is hidden around the side of the rest of the cafes that opens at 10pm and stays open until 8am for a full on hedonistic voyage.
For the more budget conscious traveler, many find Benesari is a perfect balance with quiet reasonable low cost home-stay with small bars, surf shops, mini-marts, restaurants and all other required facilities close by. The area is similar and close to poppies but far less crowded with a seemingly more friendly crowd, the beach here is also less crowded with all the same facilities as central Kuta including surfboard hire, massage, food hot and cold drinks and quick access to the poppies area and Legian Street but far enough away be able escape it when necessary and still find seclusion at the hotel.
Activities here surprisingly include surfing, generally the waves get bigger the further north and smaller the further south, on very small days a drive up to Seminyak can offer a decent size and on big days even the southern most area can be very big. Every year people die in these waters and often victims are intoxicated or inexperienced surfers in large swells when the currents are strong, if it’s too big wait for another day. The semi permanent peaks are named ‘Halfway’, where benesari connects with the beach, and Melasti, Padma and Double Six are named after their respective adjacent streets. The southern area is the best for a lesson and Kuta reef is a world-class lefthander of decent length with barrel sections and other smaller breaks including a right close to the airport. The reefs are best surfed above 0.7m tide from April to November when the winds are predominantly light and offshore.
There is no diving in the Kuta area or anywhere on the west coast due to exposure to swell, world class diving occurs all over the east and north coasts and excursions can be arranged from the many dive shops in Kuta and Legian. Tulamben is home to one of the best wrecks in the world and a diverse wall, Nusa Penida, Nusa Lembongan and the Gili islands offers exclusive native life including the Mari Mari. The Double Six club is also the Bungee jump facility and there is a very impressive water park call ‘the water bom’ in Kuta, also there is a cinema, bowling, billiard and many other familiar activities to indulge upon. Excursions can be arranged for white water rafting, sailing, windsurfing, kayaking and cultural experiences from many resorts and local tour operators. Legian shares central Kuta’s qualities in terms of most budget accommodation and facilities in the south and a large more refined luxury area towards the north, the beach is quieter here and the lanes are less crowded, there is more of a person feel here that the rat race of poppies misses out on.