Seminyak beach at sunset in July
The most lively beach in the Kuta area is Seminyak but see Bukit Peninsula for our favourite Bali beaches
In 2016 Seminyak is clearly the place to be for lazy hipsters, with half a dozen beach bars competing to offer the best bean bag seating with funky Balinese parasols and music from top DJs during the afternoon morphing to live country music in the evening.
Basically Seminyak, Legian and Kuta beaches in the south of Bali are identical – muddy brown water that is shallow for a long way out and soft muddy brown sand. This long, wide (7kms) crescent lacks character except where beach bars have created their own, notably at the far west end of the beach in Seminyak.
We chose Seminyak as the best beach in this strip due to the colour and variety of beach bars/restaurants, as well as the lack of cars behind the beach, though there are plenty of motorbikes there.
Bali’s best beach season: the dry months from April – October when humidity is relatively low and there is little rain, tho’ clouds may still hang around. This is also the best time to trek or explore Bali island culture. Statistically the very least rain is August-September with about 40mm over 4 days.
Temperatures: Being very close to the Equator means that temperatures are quite stable throughout the year, ranging from low 20Cs to low 30Cs at beach level. But temperatures fall if you head north/uphill, so Ubud is a bit cooler and the mountainous/volcano regions much cooler.
The rainy season: the rains are mainly from December – March (but especially January-February). Though not as constant as some other Asian destinations (rain tends to be very heavy for a short time) the rainy season involves high humidity as well as more mosquitoes. Also lower surf and more seaweed on beaches and in the water making swimming less pleasant.
Surfing: April – September is the best time for surfing, especially off the brilliant little Bukit peninsula beaches such as Uluwatu, Padang Padang, Bingin and Balangan, as well as the Kuta-Seminyak stretch.
The wind changes direction during the wet season December – March so surf waves move over to Sanur, Nusa Dua, Green Balls and Keramas.
Kuta beach treeline.
At the back of the beach is a sturdy wall separating the beach from the rampant traffic on the other side. That’s the worst problem with Kuta, the beach road Jl Pantai Kuta suffers a neverending flow of tooting taxis and humming, popping motorbikes/scooters. Anyone with low tolerance of road noise should not stay on that road or nearby, though the wall effectively cuts the road growl from disturbing the beach .
Kuta’s main beach street, Pantai Kuta (pantai means beach), suffers from endless traffic, narrow sidewalks and no street lights. It’s a very unpleasant experience walking home after a night out with the street lit only by passing cars or occasional establishments. And if a Kuta hotel claims to be on the beach they’re not, they’re on the wrong side of the road! Legian also has a road in between hotels/beach but it’s closed to vehicles so they are allowed to say ‘on the beach’!
For cheapish convenience, sun, sand and nightlife, Kuta is just about OK if you are noise tolerant and like to be at the hub of the action.
Sand is plentiful, expansive but quite featureless and also you get garbage at the back of the beach and around the streets, endless hawkers, moronic taxi drivers tooting for fares from unresponsive pedestrians (if I want a taxi I’ll just raise my arm, OK?).
Thousands of little shops across the road sell identical T-shirts (Bintang Bali for visitors with a style by-pass) and ball caps while whining hordes of scooters buzz by the US and European chain stores. And main streets have narrow sidewalks unlit except by taxi/scooter headlights (yes, local government officials are fiddling while Bali burns and moving their families to Singapore).
So for low-cost convenience, sun, sand and quiet nights head west along the coast from Kuta to Legian for a quiet life or Seminyak for funky bean bag seating, beach DJs and country-western bands in the evenings.
At the back of all the beaches Kuta-Legian-Seminyak lurk dozens of hawkers brandishing cold beers, hot corn (yes, that’s my corn the kind lady is burning!) and other foodstuffs, board rentals, sun loungers, and so on, though very little ice cream.