Updated: January, 2013
- See Also: The Best Hotels in Bali for Families
Bali is without a doubt one of my favorite destinations in Southeast Asia for kids.
Here are my tips on planning a trip to Bali and the 5 best destinations for visiting the island with kids.
Kid Friendly Hotels
Finding kid-friendly hotels in Bali is a snap. Most hotels above the budget range have pools and even some of the cheapest places will have a small one too. The Balinese friendliness is legendary and it will make almost any hotel an attractive second-home to most families.
HotelsCombined.com/Bali is the best website for finding hotels in Bal but great deals can be found by just showing up at a hotel’s front desk and enquiring about rooms. (Though, definitely book in advance for the December and January high season.)
For more specific suggestions read Family-friendly Hotels In Bali.
Breakfast is included at most hotels in Bali and will usually include platefuls of fresh and delicious local fruit.
Kid Friendly Restaurants
I find Balinese food to be fairly accommodating for young kids. Generally not very spicy with lots of rice, noodles and familiar foods — albeit mixed in an unusual manner. Fruit is a regular addition to any meal — so don’t hesitate to ask for a plate of fruit whether you’re eating breakfast, lunch or dinner. Western food like pizza, hamburgers, and pasta are widely available at touristy restaurants and hotels.
When To Go to Bali
Bali has good weather year round so the climate shouldn’t be a huge factor in deciding when to go. The dry season runs from April to September and is generally the best time to visit but anytime is a good time for Bali.
During the wet season there tends to be one big downpour a day (often early afternoon) that quickly disappears leaving only large puddles on the ground and a fresh rain scent in the air.
Of greater importance for planning a trip is the peak season months when vacationers arrive from Europe, Australia and Japan. July, August, December, and January are the busiest times for the island and hotels can often be booked solid in the popular beach resorts — especially during the week of Christmas and New Years.
If you’re looking for the best months to visit Bali they would probably be May, June, and September. These months have best weather mixed with the fewest tourists.
The 5 Best Places in Bali for Kids and Families
Most people start their vacation in Kuta — before setting out for the rest of island — or at least pass through Kuta on there way somewhere else. On the plus side there’s lots to do here and people rarely say they were bored in Kuta. The negatives include a lot of traffic, loads of touts and it’s packed with tourists.
No one goes to Kuta to see the “real Bali”, they go to Kuta to have some decent Italian food, buy some cheap t-shirts and maybe hit a few of the touristy attractions.
Things To Do in Kuta
The beach is the center of activity for Kuta and there’s lots to do there — especially for older kids. Flying kites, surfing or body boarding, or just playing in the sand. Waterbom park is a very attractive option for families — water slides, swimming, games and lots of fun.
Shopping is also a very popular activity for tourists and Kuta is loaded with shops selling everything from clothes to cameras, and backpacks to beach towels.
Family Friendly Hotels in Kuta
All budgets are well represented in Kuta and outside of the high tourist seasons (i.e. Christmas and other Australian school breaks) most visitors should be able to get some pretty good deals.
The Hard Rock Hotel features an array of waterslides, swimming pools, rock climbing facilities, and play areas. I think a week long stay here would be way too much — but for a 1 or 2 night treat for the kids it should be fun.
A very relaxing place to stay if you’re looking to skip the crowds of Kuta but still would like to venture into it’s maw for some good food or shopping. It’s very close to the airport so Jimbaran makes a good introduction to Bali if you’d like to spend your first day or two relaxing by the pool.
Things To Do in Jimbaran
The highlight of staying in Jimbaran is eating a fresh seafood dinner on the beach while the kids play in the sand around your table. Flying kites, digging for clams, and visiting the early morning fish market are all fun.
If you’re expecting a lot in Jimbaran you may be disappointed. Pack some toys and some beach gear and be prepared for a few days of lazing at the beach — or beside the pool — and eating some great food.
Family Friendly Hotels in Jimbaran
Two hotels stand out in Jimbaran.
In the luxury category nothing compares to the Four Seasons Jimbaran Bay. With a private beach, kids club program and beautiful pools — all overlooking the full expanse of Jimbaran Bay — the Four Seasons makes a fantastic choice.
In the budget/moderate category is the very friendly and well-run Puri Bambu that has a great pool, good restaurant and is just a short walk from the beach.
Ubud is the arts and cultural hub of the island and makes a nice getaway from the busier beach resorts. It’s also cooler than the coast and provides a good base for exploring the central and northern parts of the island.
Many different venues have nightly showings of different Balinese songs, dances and traditional performances. Most of these venues are outdoors, kid-friendly and realizing. The shows feature theatrical performances, colorful faces and emphatic dancing so don’t be surprised if your kids are more engaged than the adults.
Things To Do in Ubud
Ubud is loaded with great restaurants with kid-friendly food and great desserts. Hanging out in cafes (Casa Luna is highly recommended) was one of our favorite ways of spending an afternoon or evening. Hanging by the pool is also fun, and most Ubud hotels have pools so no need to worry about whether the kids will be able to swim.
Monkey Forest Sanctuary is a 10 minute walk from the town center. Buy bananas at the gate and feed the monkeys as you walk through the park. Many other great walks can be found all over the Ubud area — and mountain bikes are easy to rent as well.
The Elephant Safari Park is one of 2 places to ride an elephant in Bali. Trails lead out into the jungle and take about 30 minutes to wander around on an elephant. The park itself is about a 1 hour drive north of Ubud and has a decent restaurant.
Family Friendly Hotels in Ubud
I have 2 favorite places in Ubud. The first is the very central Puri Saraswati Bungalows. The great Cafe Lotus might as well be connected and sits beside the Lotus Pond at the Water Palace. The hotel has a small pool and very friendly staff.
A little removed from the town center — but still only 5 minutes walk from the town square — is the tranquil Oka Wat Hotel. A swimming pool sits just off the rice fields and most rooms overlook a small stream.
Sanur has the most kid-friendly beach on Bali. The water is protected by a reef and the gently sloping shore is lapped by calm waters (most of the time). A nice string of restaurants and shops sits a few hundred yards back from the beach and makes a nice destination for an evening walk.
Things To Do in Sanur
The beach — while not being Bali’s best — is calm and a good place to play with small kids.
The Bali Safari & Marine Park gets raves from families and is less than an hour from Sanur. Ride an elephant or watch the animal feeding times. The park also has tigers, komodo dragons, monkeys and more.
Family Friendly Hotels in Sanur
The Bali Hyatt Hotel has impressive grounds, beautiful swimming pools and a faded luxury that somehow seems to suit the demands of traveling families.
Lovina is a place to go to relax and unwind. It doesn’t have the attractions of the beach resorts in the south, so come prepared with your own entertainment — books, kites, games, whatever you need.
The beach here — like Sanur — is protected by a reef and makes for a good swimming spot for small kids. But don’t be expecting the huge swaths of golden sand you saw in Kuta. The sand here is volcanic (dark black) and quite thin in spots.
Things To Do in Lovina
Besides the usual beach activities like swimming and snorkeling the big thing to do in Lovina is a dolphin tour. The tours go early in the morning and take tourists out into the ocean to catch a few brief glimpses of the area’s dolphins.
Family Friendly Hotels in Lovina
Seemingly made with kids in mind, the well regarded Rambutan Hotel has 2 swimming pools, a playground and a very family-friendly feel. The staff are great at responding to emails so drop them a line if you have questions about your visit.