If you go to Bali then the chances are you’ll either begin or end your trip in Kuta, as it’s right by the airport. Kuta was the last place we visited in Bali, and therefore the last destination of our WHOLE Asian backpacking adventure *sob*. What a downer of an ending this turned out to be!
We were warned by countless people we met that Kuta was a sh*thole, but being determined to make our own minds up we went anyway. There are very few places in Asia that I’ve actually disliked, but Kuta is way up there amongst the worst places I’ve been, rivalled only by Thailand’s Pattaya – If you know, then you know. It’s hard to pinpoint exactly what I disliked about Kuta, I just found it bland, miserable and tacky. Everyone moans that it’s the ‘Aussie Magaluf’ which didn’t put me off – I thought they were just being travel snobs and this sounded like fun, but honestly, saying this is an INSULT to Magaluf.
This nickname isn’t unfounded though, Kuta is where Australians come to party. The good news is that it is cheap, and you can have a good night out here. Legian Street is packed with bars and clubs, most of which aren’t my taste but you can find some good ones. We had a good night in Apache, the ubiquitous reggae bar that there’s just no getting away from in South East Asia. Our best discovery in Kuta though was Sky Garden, a huge club which opens early and from 5-7pm does a massive all you can eat and drink deal for about £6-£7! You may not expect the best quality in such an establishment, but the buffet is seriously something special. After four months in Asia I almost welled up at the sight of mashed potato, jacket potatoes and potato salad – obviously I had all three to go with my heaps of pasta, chicken wings, sausages and whatever else I could fit on my plate! They aren’t tight with the drinks either; cocktails, beer, vodka and alcopops are all included and you get two per person every time you go to the bar!
Kuta beach is really popular with surfers, and even if you’ve never surfed you can easily start to learn here! In fact, even if you don’t want to learn, you’ll be offered a surfing lesson by someone new every two steps you take down the beach. This brings me to the thing I disliked most about Kuta, THE HASSLE!! You’d think after travelling a bit I’d be used to this but the hawkers in Kuta are like no other – they push, they grab, they get pretty aggressive and they are everywhere. On Legian Street especially you can’t go more than a few seconds without being offered some sort of service and having your arms/clothes pulled if you politely decline. If you can get past this annoyance though the beach is quite cool (if not a bit dirty), lined with locals selling Bintangs out of cooler boxes, people blaring music, and of course, surfers!
Waterbom water park is Kuta’s saving grace, and it’s worth a short stopover just to pay this a visit. It’s easily the best water park I’ve been to and has so many different attractions, some of which are pretty extreme!! I backed out of going on the scariest slides, including one which involved a full upside down loop (!!!) but Jordan tackled them all. Perhaps the best thing about it though was being able to walk around freely all day without anyone trying to sell us anything. Ahhhh…
Whilst I obviously don’t rate Kuta, its location near the airport means that most people do end up there, and it is potentially worth hanging around for a night or so. Hit up the water park, have a night out, spend the next day chilling on the beach, then get the hell out of there! The beauty of Bali is that it’s so small that you can always jump in a taxi and go somewhere else, perhaps Seminyak just down the road, or beautiful Ubud 90 minutes away!
Does anyone have a different opinion of Kuta? Let me know in the comments below!