welcome to the beautiful area of south kuta, bali, where the beaches are pristine and the lifestyle is laid-back. locals wash & dry their clothes in the front yard, chickens & dogs cross the roads, families on motorbikes are bustling and beach-hopping is the thing to do. it’s very cheap in this region and if you ever make it to this part of the world, i would highly recommend starting your trip out with this little slice of paradise. i would love to share our quick adventure to this part of the world and some of the best beaches in south kuta, bali that we found.
dek & i kicked off our two-week journey to bali in south kuta especially because we could not wait to set our eyes on and jump into the waters of some of the prettiest beaches. in the most southern region of south kuta the majority of the beaches (at least the more secluded ones) are onlu accessible by walking down hundreds of stairs. we went to 2 beaches that required the descend (green bowl & gunung payung) & it was intense! definitely worth it if you’re up for it, it only takes ~10 minutes to climb down, but going back up after you’re sunbaked and sleepy kinda sucked. the beaches are close enough together that you could see a few in one day, which we did, or if you have more time, slow down your pace & visit a different beach each day. some are known for surfing, some are secluded for privacy, some are good for snorkeling, etc. just research which beaches draw you in and what you think you would enjoy the most.
we love airbnb & used it to book all of our stays in bali. we wanted to stay in a bed & breakfast-y type places so we could mingle with other travelers and also not have to worry about filling our bellies every morning. for south kuta we originally booked this room in sun & surf stay, which is a homestay on bingin beach for $110/night. we were so excited to wake up every morning to the ocean view, smell the sea-water & hear the waves from our room but exactly one month before our trip i received a message that our reservation had been canceled. we contacted the host and discovered that a fire broke out on the beach & their building burned down so it would be shut down for construction during the times we booked. it was horrible news and luckily no one was seriously injured, but it left us without a plan for the first leg of our two-week trip to bali. we digested this news and then got a bit worried that this late in the game there would be nowhere else to stay for a reasonable price that we liked, but airbnb swooped in and compensated us for our “inconvenience” and we quickly found a room in a hidden clifftop mansion overlooking the southern beaches of south kuta for even cheaper per night than our original booking, at ~$40/night. it was in a different area that we originally planned on setting up as home-base and wasn’t beachfront, but it’s location overall was close to beaches we wanted to explore & the whole situation turned out to be a blessing in disguise. villa adila deserves 10 stars! it was a great place to land after a long travel period and flight and they greeted us with a welcome cup of tea and warm smiles. it had an upscale, designer vibe mixed with a local and homey feel. we were close enough to the best beaches on the southern peninsula of south kuta but remote enough that you truly felt like you had your own personal slice of heaven to come back to & relax. there were about 8-10 rooms total in this mansion house on multiple levels & the whole space was all open concept with a rooftop viewpoint and infinity pool. this place was dreamy! the people working there were extremely friendly & helpful with everything from motorbike rentals to ordering pizza when we didn’t feel like going out and of course transportation/restaurant recommendations, etc. there was a communal breakfast served every morning at a beautiful balinese wooden table that was at least 20 feet in length. the walk-up bar held a giant bowl of fresh fruit (watermelon, banana, mango, dragon fruit), avocado toast, homemade peanut butter and coffee and we could order any kind of eggs. the cherry on top was the fresh baby baby coconut water with bamboo straws (plastic straws are being banned in bali, read more about this movement here) and the delicious fresh fruit shakes they would whip up in the kitchen.
it was easy & cheap to rent a motorbike, we paid ~$6/day and the hosts at our airbnb helped us organize this. i would highly recommend it, otherwise you must rely on uber and it’s not that advanced on the island. we did use uber at night because we didn’t feel comfortable driving the motorbike past dark, but during the day we preferred to be more independent and have the freedom to pick up & take off when we wanted. in renting a motorbike we were able to check out 4 different beaches within 3 days & also stop to take as many photos along the way as we wanted.
the night we arrived and the day we left we didn’t have time to explore, so total we enjoyed 3 full days in south kuta, scroll down for a play-by-play of where we stayed & what we did:
entrance to our lovely airbnb- villa adila
all open & breezy
communal breakfast area & an infinity pool with an ocean view.
we loved lounging poolside after breakfast and in the evenings to chillax for a bit & read a chapter or two in our books. when on vacay, murder mystery books are my fav & dek reads financial freedom mindset books (always). we even had a lovely candlelit, romantic pizza dinner poolside one night – one of the friendly staff members helped us order dinner online through a local app they use for delivery from local restaurants (ther’s no favor or grubhub, ha!) and spoke to the driver when they called for directions to the mansion. then he went above & beyond and lit candles and brought a glass of wine for us to enjoy with our pizza meal.
this was my typical spread of fresh fruit, toast of some sort & authentic, homemade peanut butter that was gritty textured and so yummy with fresh coconut water/milk mixture to wash it down. there was also your choice of eggs, endless coffee with coconut milk and they rotated different exotic fruit shakes daily, so sometimes it was strawberry watermelon, sometimes it was dragonfruit berry, etc.
for dinner on our first night we took the reco of someone staying at our airbnb & ended up at this warung that had a street food flair.
order at the counter to start with your “main dish” and then, in a similar fashion to chipotle, go down the line and add all sorts of noodles, worm-looking things, flavored tofu and toppings, piling it all on to pay by weight.
my meal, including the beer and tip, was ~$3.
dek with our rented motorbike!
we would always head into town to pick up a few water bottles & snacks before starting our day
offering outside of a gas station
the first beach we explored, since it was SO close to where we were staying, was melasti beach.
this is one of the few beaches you could drive all the way down a narrow paved road to get to the sand (even past where that pink tiny car is in the photo below) and for that reason, we thought it might be kind of crowded but NO ONE was there. we had the beach basically to ourselves…until sunset when the fisherman came out.
on day 2 we motorbiked it to balangan beach so dek could try surfing 🙂
i loved laying out, reading my book & people watching.
when we were ready to grab lunch we walked ~20 feet to a warung and ordered a burger, salad & beer – it was a perfect day.
all of those little dots in the ocean in the below photo are surfers!
the many warungs along balangan beach
dek preparing to surf for the first time
sandy beach pup who was worn our from surfing with his owner
the endless offerings you will find all over the island. these palm leaf boats were loaded with carnations, crackers & mentos and stuffed in a small worship area by the beach
on day 3 we made our way to green bowl beach & gunung payung beach, they are a short distance from each other.
bright graffiti & monkeys in the streets on the way to green bowl beach.
a snapshot of the 100’s of steps leading down to beautiful green bowl.
my legs were definitely shaking at the end!
we made it!
it was so cool to be at green bowl beach in real life after seeing it so many times online!
after green bowl beach, we headed to gunung payung beach which was only a short drive by motorbike.
you park your car/motorbike at the top of the cliff and walk down a path lined by hanging green vines (that we kept seeing all over bali & are sooo cool!), that pathway then ends and the steep steps begin. you descend and then start to see the bright blue ocean peek through the trees.
cotton candy sky view from back at our airbnb
on our last night in south kuta we had a sunset dinner at single finn.
if you ever go bring your hat and sunglasses, wear sunscreen and plan to sweat…that sun is bright & hot AF
on our last day in south kuta we were able to enjoy breakfast, then we had to pack and check out. we used uber to get to our next destination, which was ubud!!! the drive time was ~1.5 hours & we later found out that uber is banned in ubud and there are certain drop-off areas before you enter the city that you’re suppposed to use. our driver was a rule-breaker and dropped us off at the driveway of our next airbnb but once you get to ubud you can rent a motorbike (if you are ballsy enough, we were not!), take a cab or mainly walk. i have a post on ubud coming soon!
last day in south kuta, on the rooftop at villa adila
5 tips for visiting south kuta:
1. plan a few beaches you want to visit because there are so many in this area, but leave a little room for flexibility so you can receive local recommendations. the people working where we stayed had some great recos & they left tons of useful information like a booklet of “bali’s best beaches” in our room. our “must see” list had green bowl beach and balangan beach on it (so dek could try surfing!) and once we got there we decided to also go check out melasti beach and gunung payung beach.
2. rent a motorbike. it’s only ~$6/day & will give you flexibility and mobility. it’s tough to flag down a taxi or uber sometimes & in case you want to run “into town” or hop over to another beach, it’s best to have your own wheels.
3. bring sunscreen from home. it’s way more expensive in bali (at least compared to how cheap a bottle is where i live in dallas) and you need to lather up. wear more sunscreen than you think you will need & keep re-applying. i was watching dekel surf for about 2 hours on balangan beach and i was completely covered by the umbrella, but still managed to get burned. the sun in this region is intense and shade isn’t enough to protect you.
4. get a SIM card. it’s only ~$10 and it gives you internet and a few minutes to call/text. you can also reload this at any point in your trip, so start small.
5. less is more. you will already be getting sandy and sweaty, don’t get hot & bothered by trying to wear jeans, layer on jewelry or spend an hour doing your makeup. it’s best to pack and think light -you can do laundry in many places around town, we walked 3 minutes from our airbnb & found a family home with a sign in the front yard and gave them our business for $1.50 (it’s always nice to tip, too).