Whereas Sanur and Nusa Dua cater to visitors in search of relaxed seclusion and comfort, Kuta on Bali’s southwestern coast, has blossomed recently into a bargain basement beach party.
“Discovered” by Aussie surfers in the early 1970s, Kuta’s chief natural attractions are a broad, sloping beach, a pounding surf and a technicolour sunset. Kuta’s accommodations are delightfully informal – ofte no more than a concrete block hastily thrown up behind a villager’s home. Rooms rent for as little as US$1 a night. There are also increasing numbers of upscale bungalows resorts, and the streets of Kuta and neighbouring Legian are lined with a staggering array of restaurants, cafes, pubs, boutiques, discos, bike rentals, artshops and tour agencies. The result is a kind of tinseltown with a cosmopolitan feel – during peak season (July, August and December, January), Kuta roars into the fast lane.
Deserted stretches of sandy beach and the serenity of the Balinese country side are, thankfully, never more than a few minutes away. Walk or drive north from Kuta through Legian to Seminyak and beyond. Crowded beaches and raucous trarric give way to empty space.
Past the Bali Oberoi Hotel, built of coral rock in a handsome traditional style, you reach the important estuary temple of Peti tenget. By divine coincidence, this is the spot where the first Hindu Javanese priest and the first Dutchman both set foot in Bali.
Farther along the main road lies Kerobokan Village, an outspot of rural charm and as instant a trip into the “real” Bali as one can hope to find. Kerobokan’s main road, leading to the richly carved palace, is lined by a series of three score and ten temples: tall gates define ridge of decorative precipices unique in Bali.
See the “art nouveau” temple in the nearby village of Kaji on the back road to sempidi – itself a shangrila of mossy gulleys, fast flowing streams, miniature dams and waterfalls.
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