Blessed with rich culture, lush resorts and villas, a buzzing food scene and famous hospitality – not to mention shopping, spa-ing and revelry in-between – Bali continues to be both friendly and fascinating for all the family...
While the island’s riches spread far and wide, the southwestern pocket of Seminyak and Canggu tick boxes for style and substance when you have kids in tow.
Bali has an incredible offering of hotels and resorts, but for us, this island is all about villas. There’s a swanky pad to suit every taste, most with staff and a chef on tap. A top pick is The Palm House in Canggu, an architectural, minimalist marvel replete with custom-made furniture and 40-m infinity pool. Uber stylish, yet family-friendly, in addition to the five understated ensuites is a bright kids’ bedroom with four bunks, plus toy box, craft supplies, books and DVDs. Surf spot Echo Beach and its string of bars and restaurants is but a thong’s toss away. If you have older kids, check into Arnalaya Beach House . Occupying one acre of prized beach frontage, Arnalaya’s tropical-chic lodgings are boosted with a gym and games room, tennis courts and even offer kickboxing – perfect for mini sportos.
Having your own chef at the ranch is handy, especially when catering for fussy appetites, but Bali’s restaurants are too good to overlook. A strong Aussie influence combined with an influx of international chefs has generated a thriving gourmet scene where respect for ingredient-driven food and creative flair prevail. What’s more, there are plenty of standout eateries that cater for children without you having to compromise on style. In Canggu, casual in/out hip spot Milk & Madu serves a wholesome day-to-night menu that will tickle grown-up taste buds and those of kids alike – from their bonanza brekkies of fruit-laden nalu bowls and skillet shakshuka eggs to lava stone pizzas and an array of yum homemade cakes, cookies and pastries. The island’s roaster heroes Revolver keep you caffeinated, there’s a small garden for frolicks and a regular programme of events for kids both big and small. Want to expand the little darlings’ culinary horizons? Homage to the national textile, Batik in Seminyak is the perfect place to do just that. This light, contemporary all-day diner plates a wide-ranging menu of accessible Indonesian and Southeast Asian dishes, but there’s also a dedicated kids’ western menu should the tykes turn refusenik. Weekend brunching is raised to an art form in Bali with most big hotels offering lavish spreads with free-flow. The W’s beachy Starfish Bloo ’s splendid Sunday banquet invites grown-ups feast while wee ones are wooed with sandcastle building, face painting and pool toys, (kids under 3 go free; aged 3-11 pay 50%).
Not to be missed, but natch, are the island’s famed day-to-night beach clubs, where food, music and good times serve couples, party princesses and families. 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. With its beachside patch of grass, modern rustic decor and flip-flop dress code, Canggu’s The Lawn is a laid-back antidote to the big-name clubs, attracting a local and expat crowd with its soulful tunes and sunsets. Leisurely eating and drinking is all good and well but chances are there’ll be a need to exercise some of that youthful energy at some point – fret not as there are a plethora of kid-friendly activities for budding Bear Grylls, mini Nigella’s or Kelly Slater in the making. Try horse riding at Bali Equestrian Centre; sprog-focused Italian cooking classes at Rustica Cucina (Jl Batu Belig No.1, +62 361 4737812); or paintballing . The excellent JSM offers the motherlode of sun-n-sea soaked adventure, from parasailing, jet skiing and wakeboarding to scuba diving. And if that doesn’t wear out the kiddiewinks, bag a day pass to Finns Recreation Club where they’ll have access to trampolines, bowling, a cinema, pools, waterslides and kids club, while you unwind in chic-colonial comfort with a martini or two in hand. And exhale… For more insider tips and recommendations, nab a copy of the LUXE Bali guide.