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Bali’s best towns compared to U.S. beach spots
Choosing where to stay on Bali based on your favorite American vacation destinations
Bali is a large island with many neighborhoods. Each of them are very different from each other, so it can be challenging to choose which one is right for you. My husband and I spent a month on Bali hopping between the different cities. We saw surf beaches, boutique shopping streets, rice terraces, and stretches of stunning five-star hotels. Many of these places reminded us of popular vacation spots in the United States. Based on everywhere we went, here are our favorite towns on Bali.
If you like San Diego, you’ll love Uluwatu
Uluwatu is on the southwest side of the Bukit Peninsula. It’s a haven for the wave-obsessed, surfer guys and girls. There is a string of coves along the coastline where surfers can paddle out to sea and ride massive ocean waves. Our favorite was Suluban Beach. The waves were small enough to swim in, but we could still watch the surfers riding the bigger waves in the distance.
Apart from surfing, Uluwatu has a growing food scene. There are quite a few spots that serve some of the best food we had on Bali. We loved Bukit Cafe which is a bohemian style bistro that serves mouthwatering tuna steak, and surf and turf. Another one of our favorites was YeYe’s Warung. It’s an indoor-outdoor patio restaurant that serves delicious homemade Thai dishes in a garden setting. Lastly, it’s pretty much a requirement to grab a drink at Single Fin and watch the sunset. This cliffside bar serves western food, beer, wine, cocktails, and has a killer view of the ocean.
Love surfing and a solid food scene? Go to Ulutwatu.
If you like Maui, you’ll love Nusa Dua
Nusa Dua is a peninsula on the southeast side of Bali. The peninsula has one long beach that stretches down the coastline. The beach is dotted with four- and five-star resorts, which makes the area attractive for vacationers who are simply looking to get away and relax. Many of the resorts have private beach clubs, so guests can have an exclusive, luxe experience.
Nusa Dua is also great for families with small children, because the waves are small compared to other parts of the island. If you want to visit Nusa Dua without staying at one of the beach resorts, check out Nikki Beach Club. You can buy a day pass and get access to their beach chairs, pool area, and outdoor lounge.
Love beach resorts and down time? Go to Nusa Dua.
If you like Los Angeles, you’ll love Seminyak
Seminyak is a bustling beachside city that’s just a 30-minute drive from Ngurah Rai International Airport. Because of its convenient location, it has become wildly popular with travelers from all over the globe. Seminyak is packed with boutique shops, chic eateries, luxury beach clubs, and hotels in every price range. The foot traffic and car traffic make this area very busy, but it has an always-awake, high-energy vibe that lovers of Los Angeles will appreciate.
We stayed at IZE Seminyak, which is a stunning boutique hotel that has a rooftop lounge, whiskey bar, and suites that are connected by a swim up pool. Our favorite restaurant in Seminyak was the infamous La Plancha, known for its bean bag chairs in the sand where you can sip cocktails underneath exotic looking umbrellas.
Love shopping, exploring new places, and staying busy? Go to Seminyak.
If you like Kauai, you’ll love Ubud
Beaches aren’t your scene? No problem. Central Bali has a lot to offer. Ubud is known as the cultural center of Bali and the surrounding area is one of the most peaceful places we’ve ever been. Ubud is home to lush, green rice fields and ornate Hindu temples. It’s a very spiritual place and it has grown in popularity with yogis, vegans, and other earthy expats.
The city center of Ubud is actually quite busy and congested these days, but it only takes a quick scooter ride out of the city to find peace and solitude among the rice farms. Our favorite restaurant was Sari Organik, which is a warung that serves healthy food, juices, and overlooks postcard-perfect rice terraces.
Love green, nature, and getting in touch with your spiritual side? Go to Ubud.
If you have a few weeks to spend Bali, then I recommend you stay in more than one place. You’ll have a more diverse experience and you’ll get to see multiple sides of Bali. There’s so much to explore and it’s impossible to do it all in one trip. My husband and I plan on going back someday to experience some of the towns we didn’t see: Canggu, Nusa Lembongan, and Nusa Penida. That’s the beauty of leaving a few stones unturned, right?
Which Bali town sounds the most appealing to you?
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