The five-bed bunkroom with its thatched roof is perfect for sleepover fun
If you’re looking for fabulous hotels and villas, tasty local fare and superb international cuisine, truckloads of kid-centric activities, and all the shopping, spa-ing and revelry in-between, cast your eyes on Bali. The Isle of the Gods is one green, lush and versatile jewel with rich culture and famed hospitality making it both friendly and fascinating for all the family.
Bali’s riches spread far and wide, from the Bukit Peninsula, with its big-name luxury resorts, to mountainous Ubud and the lesser-developed north. Seminyak and environs on the southwest coast are the most happening (and busiest) for food, retail and fun, although Kuta with its Bintang-tee hordes, is worth avoiding like you would a dose of cholera.
Although Bali has an incredible offering of hotels and resorts – Alila, Aman and Four Seasons each have spectacular presence here – accommodation on the island is really all about villas. And the choice is, frankly, outstanding. There’s a swanky pad to suit every taste, most with staff and a chef on tap, ideal when catering for fussy little appetites.
A top pick for family rentals is Puri Bawana in Canggu with its verdant gardens, supersized pool (with decent-sized shallow section for little nippers) and entertainment room. The star attraction of this expansive, mod-classic, thatched-roof Balinese estate is the five-bed bunkroom, perfect for sleepover fun.
Having a dedicated chef at home is handy, especially when en famille, but Bali’s dynamic restaurant scene is too good to overlook. A strong Aussie culinary influence combined with an influx of international chefs has sparked a prolonged gourmet moment where respect for ingredient-driven food and creative flair prevail. What’s more, there are plenty of standout eateries that cater for kids without compromising on style.
Like Singapore, Hong Kong and Bangkok weekend brunching is raised to an art form in Bali with most big hotels offering lavish spreads with free-flow. Families won’t go wrong sampling beachy Starfish Bloo’s stellar Sunday brunch where grown-ups feast while wee ones are wooed with sandcastle building, face painting and pool toys.
Planning some Daddy day care? Send him to Deus ex Machina, where bikes, boards and myriad boy toys will entertain, while mama makes the most of the island’s varied shop and spa-tunities. Meanwhile their Saturday family brunch sees cheeky monkeys fashioning their own mini-surfboards or batik screen print t-shirts – it’s the perfect pitstop après Echo Beach surf.
On the brightly coloured face of it, the high-octane revelry of Seminyak’s Motel Mexicola might not look altogether fam-friendly, yet the fab fiesta vibes and easy eats will suit the whole tribe. Blessed with myriad nooks, mini-me’s can explore, while madre and padre sample the moreish margaritas.
Over in Ubud, go troppo with the tots in Warung Pulau‘s trad joglos and lovely garden. Kids get to pick their own veg from the patch, marvel at the nightly firefly show, while your amenable hosts will cook yumsome Balinese fare with more or less spice as you please.
For daytime grazing, Yoga Barn’s bi-level, recycled wood Garden Kafe is an expat hub of boho buzz, organic eats, guilt-free healthy sweets and ace java, plus yoga classes to boot. Lunch gets busier than a Wiggles concert so book!
Not to be missed are Bali’s day-to-night beach clubs, where ace food, music and frolics serve couples, party princesses and families, alike. Longtime staples Ku De Ta and Potato Head Beach Club live up to their reputations, the former a scene-stealing icon frequented by a Euro-glam crowd; the latter a relaxed and funky, nostalgic pleasure dome. By far the best for kids is stylish and secluded Finn’s Beach Club on the Bukit Peninsula. The adventure starts on the inclinator down to the pristine beach where rugrats can snorkel, kayak, frolic and build up their appetite for the club’s famous fish n’ chips or pizza.
Leisurely eating and drinking is all good and well, but when you need to exorcise some of that youthful energy, there’s a plethora of kid-friendly activities for budding Bear Grylls, mini Nigella’s or Kelly Slater in the making. Try horse riding (baliequestriancentre.com); Italian cooking classes (www.facebook.com/RusticaCucinaItalianaBali); paintballing (balipaintballarena.com) or surf lessons (www.balilocalsurfschool.com). If staying by the beach, it’s sacrilege not to dip your toes in the water and the excellent JSM offers the motherlode of sun-n-sea soaked adventure for peewees, including parasailing, jet skiing, wakeboarding, paddle boarding and diving.
And if that doesn’t wear them out, consider Adderall, or instead pop to the swish Canggu Club where a day or week visitor pass grants them access to trampolines, bowling, a cinema, pools and kids club while you unwind in chic colonial comfort with a martini or two. Phew, well done you.
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