You get a lot of luxury for your money in Bali, so with kids in tow, this beautiful island – bathed in history and surrounded by beautiful beaches – is definitely one for the family album.
Depending on where you are visiting from, it can be quite a long flight to get to Bali, but it is definitely worth it. Plus, if you can afford it, you could always travel in style if you book your flights via Jettly. That will no doubt make the journey more comfortable.
Tempting as it is, don’t just hang around the pool every day. The culture in Bali is really quite magical, so we mixed up fun days with cultural activities. Sometimes our wriggly kids had to listen to stuff rather than do stuff, but in the end, it was well worth taking them to see these things. When I hear them relaying their adventures, more often than not, they love to recount tales of historical Bali, the animals, and the villages.
These are what made our holiday to Bali unique and special.
If you haven’t hooked into the idea of getting guides on holiday yet, I can’t recommend it enough ? particularly in Bali where it is affordable, and there is so much to see and learn. Kiwis love to do their own thing, but you get so much more out of your holiday with a guide, and with kids, it is a much smoother ride. We chose Smailing (pronounced smiling) because they have an excellent reputation internationally, and are a local and very friendly set-up.
It is great to have someone drive you through the tricky roads of Bali and the van is air conditioned (an oasis in the heat), has wifi, and boasts a good supply of cold bottled water for your journey.
Smailing can plan all or part of your holiday. Check out www.smailingbali.com or see details of our trip in this article for a range of activities and hotel options.
our choice of resorts
Intercontinental in Jimbaran
This hotel, set right on Jimbaran Beach, is simply magical. With five pools, our children were happy to run from fountain, to pool, to bridge, to spouting whales all day. My favourite time of the day was when hundreds of candles were placed around the resort each night, making our promenade at dinnertime quite delightful. There are three restaurants on offer, all scrumptious, and a regular cultural evening, including Balinese food and dancing.
The rooms are a great size and luxurious, a lovely haven in the heat of the day if you need a bit of cool-down time. Or if your kids are early to bed, the rooms provide a comfortable and relaxed place for them to snuggle up and watch a movie. www.bali.intercontinental.com
Kids’ Club: The Kids’ Club is active and full of activities. Divided into two age groups, all under 12 years, the kids can float in and out during the day, depending on what takes their fancy.
Trans? Luxury Bali in Seminyak (shopping haven of Bali)
Fairly recently opened, this is a very luxurious hotel, where you are literally in an oasis. You are made to feel incredibly welcome here, and the kids loved the courtyard feel. With a super-sized pool, including fountains in the deeper areas and white sand at the entrance, this is incredibly convenient with littlies, and provides plenty of fun for older kids. They can play and build in the sand all day and have fun on the water slide area. If that’s not enough, they have a lifeguard watching over who loves to play games with the kids.
There is a lot of attention to detail at the Trans-Luxury, and the food is one area where you will really notice this. They have a wide variety of foods, including Balinese, of course.
The rooms are beautiful and super-comfortable. The beds and pillows are like nothing you’ve ever slept on before (not that it helped with the kids waking very early, unfortunately!). Our rooms opened straight onto the pool: run off the deck and splash right in! www.transresortbali.com
Kids’ Club: Very cute room with an ice-cream parlour. There is a mix of organised activities and free play, and there is talk of adding additional kids’ play areas like mini-putt and rock climbing ? keep an eye out!
The Harris, Seminyak
The Harris is right in the heart of Seminyak. The rooms are really modern and clean, there are several pools and a very active kids’ club. They have a large restaurant, gym and a shuttle running out to the beach when you need it. This is a great spot to base yourself if you want to explore Bali, and at around $55 per room, it is really affordable for the family. seminyak?bali.harrishotels.com
The Lokha Ubud Resort
I simply love being surrounded by tropical bush. In the Lokha Ubud Resort, home to yoga retreats and meditation, we were in a lush tropical gully, sitting on the edge of the Wos River, and encased in trees. The kids enjoyed the coolness of this setting, and we parents loved the peace. It was just so lovely to return here each day, after our adventures to rice fields and local village days.
The rooms are lovely and comfortable, and easy to join up if you have more than four in the family. As an alternative, you can stay in a villa closer to the river. If you’re up for exercise, try out a yoga class and join in with the village walk each morning. www.thelokhaubud.com
Puri Bagus Lovina
A restful beachfront resort that is fully organic, sourcing ingredients from their own gardens. Accommodation is villa style, with island-inspired decor and a very impressive private outdoor shower area. We slept incredibly well here, as the peace and tranquility is noticeable in the North.
We were charmed by the frangipani drifting off the trees, floating all over the pool and scenting the loungers. The boys spent hours playing in the kids’ pool, attached to the side of the adult infinity pool and shaded by trees so they didn’t burn.
This resort has a very friendly feel, and the staff here
are lovely with the kids. While lunch was cooking, they would come out and entertain us with magic tricks.
activities with kids
There are tons of things for families to do in Bali, and some of them include lunch, which makes a great day out. Here’s what Smailing Tours organised for us.
I highly recommend you take the kids to at least one temple, as the Hindu culture is so important in Bali. There are many standouts to choose from, but our favourites were Ulun Danu (situated on a small island) and Tanah Lot (on volcanic rock in the ocean). See our Tips section for visits with kids.
Village Day, Ubud (lunch included)
In Tunjuk Village we visited a school, a family complex, and spent time working in the rice field. The kids loved all of the hands-on craft, coconut-tree climbing, planting and ploughing rice, and watching cocks crowing. It all ends with a beautiful traditional lunch in their courtyard. A fantastic local experience.
Traditional architecture, Penglipuran
See how countryside communities live in this traditional family complex called Penglipuran, known for its traditional architecture.
Ubud rice paddy fields and hot springs
Head to the Jatiluwih, where you can have lunch overlooking the terraced rice fields and then have a wander through. The vibrant green is incredibly picturesque. On the way, head to Belulang Hot Springs. These sulphur springs come from the Beji Temple in the middle of Ubud, and are used by the locals for pools and showers.
Mount and Lake Batur
We enjoyed a delicious organic lunch overlooking Lake Batur and the remains of the volcano eruption. Take something warm to wear here; the temperature drop is unexpected and you want to be comfortable while you enjoy the food!
Bali Safari and Marine Park, Ubud
See the impressive elephant show, take an elephant ride, and enjoy all the lovely animal encounters on offer. Our favourite was the orangutan, who was seriously cute while draping himself all over the kids. The safari ride through the park will give you a very close-up view of the African animals and when it gets too hot, you can head to the waterplay area, so take your togs. Make sure you make time for the Bali Theatre Performance, which is quite an extravaganza. www.balisafarimarinepark.com
Sacred Monkey Forest, Ubud
I sort of freaked out at first, but soon settled into the cheeky monkey business of holding up bananas so the monkeys could run up our shoulders and snatch the banana, even looking in our bags and up our shirts for more. What child doesn’t love a swinging monkey www.monkeyforestubud.com
Butterfly Park, Tabanan
The butterflies were stunning and the kids can have them placed all over their face and body for photographs (at no additional cost). We spent ages in the quaint gardens, looking through the extensive beetle collection and interacting with the tropical insects. A lovely outing for kids of all ages.
in the water
Surfing is a must-do in Bali, and Dekom are masters of encouraging kids to get up and going. Kids from 6 years old can give it a go (as long as they can swim), and rest assured they head to a fairly sedate break for newbies, so you can get some great photos and watch their smiling little faces (before your turn!). Based right next to Kuta Beach. www.dekomsurf.com
Waterbom Park , Kuta
This is a busy place, but has plenty for all ages. The bigger kids can spend all day on thrill slides like the Funtastic and Green Viper, while you grab a few loungers around the kiddy park area to watch the littlies splash and giggle. www.waterbom-bali.com
Seawalker, Seminyak (lunch included)
Head under the sea in your special helmet designed for a soft-diving system, so you can be in amongst the tropical fish, turtles and coral. Walking around together, bouncing around the bottom of the ocean is really quite a unique experience. www.seawalker.co.id
White-water rafting, Ubud (lunch included)
Up the energy levels and enjoy a day on the rapids. These are not too scary, but the kids will squeal with delight when you float under waterfalls and race the other boats down the Ayung river with the cheeky guides. Great changing facilities and traditional lunch included back at the Sobek base. www.balisobek.com
Swimming with the dolphins, Lovina
This dolphin encounter was a real favourite, so relaxed and exhilarating at the same time. The dolphins splash, tease and snuggle up close, and everyone gets to have a ride before sitting to watch them show off their tricks. A highlight! Check out their packages for special needs children. www.bali-dolphin-swimming.com
Food Healthy, delicious and very affordable. Try out the local seafood restaurants in Jimbaran and the mangosteen fruit, if it’s in season.
People We loved the Balinese people who were always smiling and have a gentle, friendly nature.
Massage From $4 for a half hour, you can afford a massage for the whole family every day.
Luxury We found the hotels and spas were super-luxurious, yet affordable.
tips for families
- At the temples, arm the kids with an ice block or a very cold drink as it gets hot. Avoid bored and aimless wandering by talking to your kids about the history
before you go, and maybe even give them a list of things to find (and tick off) in the temple area, then arm them with a camera to record their findings. Create an adventure!
- Try and do activities in the morning, particularly if they are not in the water, so the kids can chill in the hotel pool all afternoon. Alternatively, make sure you have rest days in between.
- Food tends to be three meals a day in Bali, so head to a market and buy some fruit, or organise snacks for in-betweens.
- Not sure how much to tip? Hotel staff NZ$1-2, drivers NZ$5 and guides NZ$10 per day; other services like massage NZ$3-$5 and restaurants NZ$1-$2.
- Travelling with littlies? Check out www.littlebalilove.com for even more ideas.
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