While Bali is a notorious party spot for young revellers, the landscape has a lot to offer in terms of wholesome family adventures too. The best part: you can combine both aspects. Meaning days can be whiled happily away in bonding activities fit for all, with still enough space and time for some adult conversation and a glass of wine or two in the evening, out of the reach of the kids. (Don’t worry Mums’, I haven’t forgotten about you!) Many of the resorts and villas available to hire across Bali feel the same way - 24 hour room service; on-hand assistance to unpack luggage; kids clubs; and in-house nannies, ensure that you do as little as possible all vacation, and that the kids are invariably entertained - even during the bouts of necessary adult time.
Bearing this in mind, I have compiled a list of fun, family-friendly activities, so that there is less moaning and even less planning involved in creating a full-on family holiday in Bali.
Popular for its surf beaches and bohemian vibes, Bali is actually an ideal place for beginners - big or little. The waves are manageable and there are many reputable surf schools to choose from - my personal favourite: Santai Surf School found on Kuta Beach. Fortunately, days can be planned to be mutually enjoyable for both adults and kids. If joining in on the lesson doesn’t sound quite like your cup of tea, there are ample beach loungers and bars dotted along Kuta beach where you can relax with a coconut, resting assured that the kids are in safe hands and will come back equally thrilled and exhausted by catching their first wave. Another popular surf spot is Canggu. Even better than the waves, it is home to numerous independent cafes that serve delightful coffees and smoothies, and some pretty exceptional vegan food. Check out Nude Canggu for the crispy ‘chicken’ burger and the Shady Shack for its Buddha Bowls.
2. White Water Rafting
An affordable and laughter-filled day can be easily spent white water rafting down one of Bali’s rivers. The all-inclusive ticket, roughly £20 a head, includes hotel pick up, a buffet lunch and up to three hours bobbing down the river with an expert guide to look after you. The most frequented rivers are Aryung and Telaga. While Ayung is typically the tamer rafting experience, I took my mum on the Telaga river and as well as having heaps of fun, we didn’t find it to be too intense at all (in fact staying within the boat was surprisingly easy!) Rafting the Telaga river additionally includes a 6 metre ride down a (sort of) waterfall near the end of the experience - again, not as scary as it sounds! When we had brief respites from giggling frenzies, the surrounding scenery was breathtaking. Simply relax, let the guide do the steering and enjoy the passing jungle and its colorful fauna; countless waterfalls running down the cliffs above and banana plants at every corner.
3. Land of Foodies
During family holidays food can be a constant issue - Will we find something the kids will like? Will we want to eat there too?! It’s not always an easy feat finding good restaurants when abroad. Bali, on the other hand, has some of the best restaurants I have been to - ever! From delicious Indonesian dishes, to whopping great burgers, to rocket salads like you’ve never tasted - there is something for everyone. Infact, one of my favourite pastimes in Bali was eating. For the sake of all rumbling tummies out there and considering my endless list, I will detail just a few of the different eating options and some of my personal favourites. For prime sunset views and some sublime cocktails, head over to Potato Head, situated on Seminyak beach - with three restaurants, it is possible to have a casual pizza by the pool, or some exquisitely glazed pork in the upstairs restaurant. Laid-back, child-friendly restaurants include Jamie’s Italian in Kuta and Cinta Cafe in Canggu - featuring its own outdoor playground and boasting stunning views of the surrounding rice paddies. More upmarket, potentially adult-only dinners can be found at the architectural delight that is Merah Putih, or the pulsing beach bar, Ku De Ta. Last but certainly not least, and my number one dining treasure, is La Lucciola. Directly on the beach, it is famous for its delectable selection of brunch dishes.
4. Monkeying About
A highlight to any Bali itinerary is without doubt the Monkey Forest. Situated in Ubud - a lovely place to visit either way - copious numbers of monkeys occupy the ancient ruins of a Hindu temple complex, found in lush green forests. The Indiana-Jones esque ruins are beautiful, and there are towering banyan trees and hidden waterfalls on a number of the different pathways that wind through the trees. While there are mixed reviews about the monkeys online, I would say that the experience is really down to you and can be as interactive or passive as you desire. Following the rules and avoiding touching the monkeys should ensure a calm expedition. If buying bananas, as we did, the main thing to know: if a monkey wants a banana, hand it over! On the topic of monkeys - you and the kids can become one too for the day at the Bali Treetop Adventure - what better than swinging through the trees in some of the most spectacular jungles in the world.
Unsurprisingly, the ocean surrounding Bali offers many an opportunity to discover tropical fish in its clear blue depths. There are a number of beaches from which to snorkel, including Nusa Dua and Sanur. The adventure is readily accessible, with the option to rent masks and snorkels on the beach and simply find the coral gardens yourself. Only a little way off shore, all numbers of colored fish, brain-like coral and waving anemone await the eager snorkeller. For those who don’t fancy getting up and close with the sea life, but don’t want to miss out on the family fun, on most beaches it is possible to hire a glass-bottom boat for a couple of hours. Additionally, the snorkelling beaches, which tend to be further out from the main tourist drag of Kuta and Seminyak, are far more idyllic and peaceful and feature generally calm waters - perfect for a day of lounging and snorkelling.
There you have it. Merley a brief glimpse into the delights that a family holiday in Bali could bring. Plenty of activities to fill the long summer days; with the promise of even longer adult-only evenings; the children exhausted and smiling in their sleep as they recount the days adventures.