Bali with Kids: choosing the base for family vacation
We are planning Bali trip with kids this Autumn and did some research to choose the best bases. It is said that Bali has many faces. The island is small but you will see and feel the variety if you travel around. A decision to make is where to base yourselves. Here are the regions we chose.
The area of Indonesian island Bali is only 5780 km². The distances between the places you will most probably want to visit are not far away from each other but Bali’s traffic is slow. An average 40 km trip might take 2 hours. That’s why we decided not to waste too much vacation time travelling back and forth but to choose several home bases and discover different magical places that Bali has so many of.
Our journey to Bali will take 2 days, 3 countries, a ferry boat trip plus 2 flights. Thereby we are going to take it slow in the beginning giving kids and ourselves the time for rest and play. So let’s start the fun with beaching.
Kid friendly beaches
Most of Bali beaches do not have white sand that you might expect on a paradise like island. There are some exceptions in the north though. There are many beaches in Bali that surfers love. In fact the island is supposed to have a spot for surfers every day no matter what the season is. Windy beaches with huge waves sound great for adrenalin seekers but not necessarily for families with small kids.
Many families stay in Sanur, Seminyak and Kuta area as there’s a wide sandy waterfront which is usually not that wavy. The areas are also the most touristic ones in Bali huge hotels throning right on the beach. Sanur is the best from three being cleaner and quieter than the others. That’s also where we decided to acclimate and enjoy the first rays of sun.
Base 1: Sanur
Sanur has a wide choice of beachside resorts and a nice promenade that is perfect for walkers and bikers. The reef-protected beach is safer than many others in Bali. The place also has light traffic and it is located close to airport and to many kid-friendly activities.
It’s good idea to rent a villa in Bali and stay away from the most touristic areas with many huge hotels. Away from the crowds you might see real life that Bali people live in Sanur: local people selling groceries, kids going to school, mothers doing laundry and everything else that is part of Balinese people daily life.
Real Bali is not in Sanur, though. Despite of the modest size of the island Bali has lots of different places. Resort towns near the ocean are nice but might be crowded and everyone say you have to go to inland to see the real beauty of Bali nature. Ubud is the place not to miss.
Base 2: Ubud
Ubud is a small town in the middle of the island that is going to be our second home for some days. The beauty and the culture of Bali have been captured the best in Ubud. There are many things to see and do. Starting with walks on famous rice fields to incredible yoga studios, hotels in the jungle and visits to spiritual healers. In the evenings kids might be entranced by the dance performances taking place in Ubud often.
It is recommended to step aside the main streets in Ubud to see real Bali. Visit markets and buy some local crafts. Ubud monkey forest is a place not to miss with children. Be careful as monkeys are audacious and tend to steal things that have been left to their reach (including sunglasses, cameras and food).
Leave the baby carriers behind if you visit Tegalalang rice fields and use sling or baby carrier instead if you go with baby.
Ubud has plenty of wonderful villas with infinity pools and lovely small hotels. Tebesaya Cottage, Villa Lumia, Meng Bengil Villa and Jati Cottage kept our attention. For budget friendly vacation check out Kailash.
Base 3: Canggu
We chose Canggu as our third destination to enjoy the tumult of small village loved by surfers, artists and many expatriates who choose to live there. It seems to be something different again, having many lovely shops and cafeterias crowded with not only tourists but with people that might not originally be from Bali but living there for a longer period.
Canggu village is situated about 20 minutes north of Seminyak but Canggu is more often used to refer to a large coastal stretch of about 8 km. You may be wondering wether it’s a right place for family vacation as Canggu’s black sand beaches are not prized by tourists for swimming and sunbathing but offering challenging surfing spots. Nevertheless, we decided to give Canggu a chance for the surf vibe and all the hip places.
Much of the area features quietly undulating terrain with the rice paddies. It is still a largely rural area away from the beaches. Canggu is being developed fast as the rest of the island is which is the reason to travel to Bali better sooner than later to see the real island.
The water in Canggu’s beaches is clean and not as littered with plastic as Kuta or Seminyak. And hopefully we will find some places for swimming with kids as well. But this depends on weather conditions, so we’ll see.
Places not to miss in Bali
If the time in Bali is not very limited visiting neighbouring islands is recommended. The best one for families with kids is Gili Air which is peaceful and has the best beaches.
There are nice temples and waterfalls in Ubud area.
- It’s the fastest and most convenient to use motor scooters for getting around in Bali. That might not be the safest option with kids though.
- You can also use Uber for shorter rides or for day trips. It’s cheaper than taxies and there are several cars available in Sanur and Ubud but not that many in Canggu.