Remember that post I wrote recently, where I recounted the tale of the lady who checked us in at the airport who told us that Bali wasn’t at all child friendly? (Spoiler: we didn’t listen to her and continued on our merry way). Well, it turns out that she was wrong. Very wrong, in fact. Not only do the Balinese people adore children, but 90% of the sites that we discovered and the activities that we pursued on our travels around the island were incredibly easy to do with young children or a baby in tow.
Here are 10 of my recommendations for the most family-friendly things to in Bali.
1. Visit the rice terraces at Tegalalang, Ubud
The famed steep green valleys of rice terraces that are located in the village of Tegalagang are a must-visit if you are staying in or near to Ubud. Located just half an hour away from the town by car, this landscape is one of the most breathtaking sights I have ever seen on my travels.
Ignore the naysayers who tell you that the terraces are too steep for young children to cope with, or too trecherous for them to climb. Sophia, aged 16 months, tackled them admirably (with a little assistance!) and enjoyed counting the steps down the hillside and back the other side.
As an added bonus, she also slept incredibly well that night!
TIP: Take some small change with you, because even though it is free to enter the terraces, the men who maintain the paths will ask for a donation as you cross certain points along the way.
2. Make friends with the monkeys in Monkey Forest
While in Ubud, the Sacred Monkey Forest Sanctuary is also an exciting place to take children. It’s one of Bali’s most popular attractions for a reason: the beautiful (and rather ancient) natural forest is home to a troop of feisty grey long-tailed macaques.
Besides being able to watch these monkeys play for hours in their natural habitat, which is far more appealing to children than staring through the bars of their cage in a zoo, the site offers interesting walks through leafy walkways, with stunning ancient temples en route.
TIP: Educate your children to be careful around the monkeys before you enter, as they are very bold and have been known to be vicious if provoked. Also, keep bags zipped up and food & drink tucked away from their grabby hands!
3. Spend a day on Jimbaran Beach
Arguably the most visually appealing of all of Bali’s beaches, Jimbaran Beach is located on Bali’s southwestern coast, where Bali’s mainland joins the Bukit Peninsula.
With a plethora of luxury hotels nearby, including the Four Seasons Resort Bali at Jimbaran Bay, as well as great dining spots, such as the famous beach BBQ huts which spring to life as the sun goes down, there is more to see and do on this beach than any other in Bali.
Plus, it’s one of my favourite places from which to watch the sun set.
TIP: There are no sun loungers or parasols for shade actually on the beach, unless you head to one of the beach clubs. If you are going to be there at the height of the day, hats and/or a portable sun shade is a must to keep children out of the scorching heat of the sun.
4. Watch the sun set on the west coast
Before we left for Bali, it was the sunsets that our friends who had already been there raved about more than anything else. Pinterest backed up their claims, but I had to see my first Bali sunset for myself to truly believe the hype.
I can’t put into words how magical Bali sunsets are. A combination of the perfect weather conditions, clear skies and just the right aspect make the south west coast of Bali one of the best places to view a sunset in the world.
TIP: The sun typically sets around 6.15pm in the summer, which is quite late for very young children. Therefore, we tried to combine our sunset watching with dinner, by booking a restaurant with a view.
5. Spend a day at a cliff club or beach club
Bali is renowned for its fabulous beach clubs, with their sparling azure pools, trendy cocktails and chic clientele. However, super-glamorous doesn’t always come hand in hand with super child-friendly, so if you want to spend a day at one, do your research first.
El Kabron, the Spanish restaurant and cliff club located just outside of Uluwatu, has excellent food, provides high chairs and has plenty of shaded areas for little ones.
Sundara Beach Club, attached to the Four Seasons at Jimbaran Bay has the most amazing infinity pool overlooking the beach, a fabulous children’s pool and kids club, and provides colouring books and crayons for the youngsters.
TIP: Check whether the beach club has a children’s menu before you book. You might find it’s worth packing some extra provisions if they don’t cater for the under twelves.
6. Visit a temple…or three!
A visit to Bali isn’t complete until you’ve visited at least one Hindu temple. It was top of my list of things to do while we were there, but I was worried that it might be an impossible feat, as many of them are located in quite remote places, a long drive from the main settlements where we were staying.
I needn’t have fretted. Located just off the main street in the centre of Ubud, at the end of a pathway which crosses scenic lotus ponds, is the stunning Saraswati Temple. With intricate architectural details and pretty grounds, this is a great place for kids to have a run around.
The other temple we visited was Uluwatu Temple; the oldest temple in Bali, and one of the most famous. Perched on steep cliffs overlooking the sea below, this temple hosts traditional dance shows and is one of the most picturesque places to watch the sun set.
TIP: Don’t worry about having to cover your knees before visiting temples: most will provide you with a sarong at the entrance.
7. Go surfing and fishing at Padang Padang Beach
This small beach in Uluwatu can be found at the bottom of a winding pathway which tunnels into the steep cliffs, meaning that the journey down to it is just as fun for kids as the beach itself.
This is one of Bali’s most famous surf spots, attracting surfers from around the world. Here, you can rent boards or sign up to a surfing academy. If fishing is more your thing, there are several nooks in the cliffside around the beach which provide perfect places from which to cast a rod.
TIP: The waves on this beach break over shallow coral, so if your children are beginners, this might not be the best beach for them to start learning to surf on. However, it’s just as fun to watch the pro surfers doing their thing here as it is to get stuck in.
8. Spend the day at one of the Four Seasons resorts
Undoubtedly two of the most luxurious resorts on the whole of the island, the Four Seasons Resort at Sayan and the Four Seasons Resort at Jimbaran Bay have so much to offer families.
From picturesque grounds, to stunning pools; world class restaurants to incredible kids clubs, I can’t recommend spending at least one day in complete and utter luxury at one of these resorts enough.
TIP: Look out for my upcoming blog posts on these hotels in due course!
9. Swim in an infinity pool with a view
With sunsets and sea views, beautiful natural landscapes and dramatic cliffsides, Bali is the dream location for a good infinity pool. There are a few world famous ones dotted about on the island, at The Hanging Gardens of Bali, Alila Villas Uluwatu, the Viceroy Bali and Ayung Resort, to name a few.
We enjoyed a few rather beautiful infinity pools on our trip, but Sophia liked the one at Sundara Beach Club, Jimbaran Bay the best. Look out for my upcoming blog posts for more info in due course!
TIP: Make a simple infinity pool more fun for the little ones by packing some pool toys. I’m still amazed at how a simple bucket, watering can or ball can transform their experience of a pool and keep them occupied for hours!
10. Enjoy the moment and get completely and utterly lost
With a wealth of knowledge at our fingertips these days thanks to the old WWW, it’s all too easy to create packed itineraries full of sites to be ticked off before you head out on your travels. However, Bali is one of those places where magic lies around literally every corner, and if you stick to your plans too rigidly, you’re likely to miss some special moments.
Some of our most treasured memories from our trips were from when we went ‘off piste’…such as exploring the grounds of the Four Seasons Sayan to keep Sophia entertained when we were waiting for breakfast on our first day…
And getting lost down the narrow lanes of Ubud while searching for a restaurant and accidentally stumbling upon the pastel umbrellas of Ubud Art Market…
If you’re travelling to Bali with kids, it’s so important to allow yourself to get lost.
Just not so lost that you lose all phone service and are unable to access Google Maps. You know, just in case…
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