Kuta, once a quite fishing village, now a chaotic, overcrowded and congested place with shops, malls, restaurants, hotels, bars and pubs in every corner. With time people see Kuta as a lost paradise, no more quite beach, no spiritual and cultural values left. If you are one of those people, then you’ve spent your time in the wrong side of Kuta. As a person who has been living in Kuta for the past 15 years I love Kuta but I avoid almost all the tourist spots and doing more what the locals do.
1. The quiet beach
Having a peaceful time in Kuta beach? You might think that it would be impossible. Kuta beach stretches 5 km long from the International Airport in the south to the Legian Beach in the North. If you want a quite beach go to the south part of the Kuta beach. From the Pantai Segara go to the south just in front of ‘Setra Kuta’ (Balinese graveyard use for cremation ceremony – entrance from Kuta art market then turn left) towards the airport to Pantai Jerman.
Pantai Jerman is where many of the locals would go to. The wave is rather calm in this area, no strong under currents like other parts of Kuta, so many children come and play here. During the day time, not many people come to this beach as the locals tend to avoid the sun and come in the afternoon when the sun is not as hot. Try to avoid afternoons on the weekends as many locals would spend their weekend afternoon with their kids at this beach.
If you walk down further to the south towards the Ngurah Rai International airport you could watch the airplanes come and go from the beach. It could be a picturesque view along with the sunset.
2. Kuta Traditional market
Many of Indonesian are still going to traditional market every morning to buy fresh food ingredients. They choose traditional market as the prices are cheaper and foods are fresh. You can find varieties of local fruits and vegetables, traditional snacks and food, Balinese offerings, etc.
Kuta traditional market is located at the end of Jalan Raya Kuta, across village temple. It opens every morning from 3am to 8 am. You can easily spot the market as some of the sellers open their stall along the street on the pavement. Just don’t come too late.
3. Eat local food
Every tourist would definitely try the local dishes and as a major tourist destination Kuta has a lot of restaurants offering local dishes. However, most of them already altered the taste to suit foreign palette. If you really want to try authentic local food, go where the locals eat.
Most of the places selling local food are small restaurants, called warung. Balinese warung usually open only in the morning or for lunch, Javanese warungs open in the morning until the afternoon, while many padang restaurant open all day or until late night. Night food hawkers would open their stalls in late afternoon until late nights, mostly along the main street or traditional market place.
Most of Indonesian foods are hot and spicy, if you afraid you stomach can’t handle it just ask before you order. Sometimes ask them to put aside the chili sauce.
Coming : where the locals eat for some ideas and tips where to find local food in Kuta.
4. Explore Kuta with motorbike
Unfortunately despite being awarded as one of the best islands in the world, Bali has a very poor public transportation. As we have mentioned in Explore Bali with motorbike, motorbike would be one of the best and cheapest way to explore Bali.
You might find Kuta traffic should be avoided at all time. However, it would only go for the main streets. The streets in Kuta are a labyrinth of interconnecting lanes, many only accessible by foot or motorbike. When you rent a motorbike, don’t just go through the main streets, be adventurous, try the small lanes such as Poppies Lane, Gang Bedugul and Benesari. For example, you can go from Bread & Jam Hostel up to Seminyak beach without even have to pass the main road. Moreover, you can park motorbike almost everywhere (as long as not obstructing others).
5. Healthy morning
Trying to keep healthy while on vacation could be a challenge, but if you are a health freak you should not miss healthy mornings in Kuta.
Jog along the beach
There’s a walking path stretch along the Kuta beach, from edge of Ngurah Rai Airport in the south up to the Legian beach in the north. Both locals and tourists are using this path for jogging. The best time would be in the morning starting 6am, when the sun starts to rise. Enjoy the fresh sea breeze, the beautiful sceneries while the beach is still quiet from tourists. When the tide is low enough you can jog on the sand at some parts of the beach!
When it gets too hot you can just jump into the water and play with the waves a bit. If the 5km runs from Kuta to Legian is too much for you, just stop and go to one of the café restaurant at Legian beach, grab a cup of coffee and light breakfast and headed back to the hostel with taxi.
Yoga by the beach
Every Sunday morning there’s a free yoga class at Kuta beach in front of Pura Segara, Kuta. The entrance is from Kuta Art Market. Anyone can join in, just bring your own mattress. The class starts at 6.30am held by Seger Oger yoga community.
6. The temples
Bali is known as island of thousand temples. Tourist would definitely go to one (or more) of the big temples such as Uluwatu, Tanah Lot, Ulundanu and Besakih. Have you ever go to the local temples, the ones near your hotel or hostel? In every village you will find at least 3 kinds of village temples, Pura desa, pura dalem and pura puseh.
If you are lucky you might be able to see the temple anniversary ceremony, called odalan. Odalan is a festival to celebrate the temple’s anniversary, the Hindu Balinese believes that at this time the gods come down from heaven to be present in that particular temple. During the ceremony all of the sacred object in the temple are brought out and cleaned, the whole temple is beautifully decorated with colorful ornaments and offerings. Some temples will present traditional dances and performances, such as Calon Arang.
If you are entering Balinese temple please beware and respect the local custom.
Not many people notice that in one of the busy streets of Kuta stood a majestic hidden cultural mark in Kuta, Vihara Dharmayana or referred by the locals as ‘Kongco Kuta’, a Chinese Buddhist temple built in 1876 M. The local Balinese Chinese descents regularly visit this temple for prayers and communal activities.
You can find the acculturation of Chinese and Balinese culture in this temple. Some of the temple ornaments and architecture design have distinctive Balinese accent, such as Balinese pavilion (bale bengong), roof shape, brick walls, wooden carving, and the shape of the main gate. Aside from the typical Chinese offerings there are canang sari (Balinese flower offerings) and sometimes gebogan (Balinese fruit offerings).
The temple is open for public from 9am to 8 pm. There are no entrance fee but please wear proper clothing (no bikinis, shorts or singlet).