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Of course Bali is serene and peaceful, it’s not called the, ‘island of a thousand temples’ or ‘morning of the world’, for nothing. What might come as more of a surprise is how well it mixes traditional serenity with fresh contemporary spirit.
It takes just 40 minutes by taxi from the airport to Seminyak. That’s just enough time to cast your eye over Kuta and be thankful that you decided to go for the infinitely more attractive neighbour.
Kuta’s the biggest and most famous seaside city in Bali and one of the reasons why the south coast gets such varying reviews. It’s actually great fun for kids, home to the number one waterpark in Asia, and absolutely nobody argues about the quality of surf on its massive stretches of beach. But the trick is to stay in charming Seminyak, dip into Kuta for some wild fun now and then, and head home before the city unleashes its notorious party animals for the night.
That’s not to say Seminyak’s sleepy. It has some of Bali’s best clubs, easily its coolest collection of beach bars and restaurants, and if you’re a coffee drinker, welcome to paradise: you can barely walk three steps without coming across intriguing little cafés, staffed by the world’s friendliest barista and brewing everything from flawless flat whites to only-in-Bali inventions.
But for all its design talent and brilliant aesthetics, the town is laid-back, beachy and warmly Balinese at heart. Families can relax completely here, and kids feel right at home, since beanbags count as seats all over the place, and fairy-lights rule after dark.
Seminyak Beach begins at the western end of iconic Legian Beach. To the untrained eye they’re virtually indistinguishable and simply seem like broad, shimmery sands for miles; which suits most families just fine.
Kids keen to surf should try Legian for fun beach breaks, or lessons at the Legian Rip Curl school; known for getting Little Rippers up and riding in no time.
Shopping is another of Seminyak’s singular talents and, unless you have a will of iron, it’s impossible to resist it’s rows of surprisingly stylish shops. From chic Scandi-inspired homeware stores, brilliant indie designer shops, health & wellness havens and local crafts elevated to artwork. Colourful markets are fun with kids and Seminyak isn’t so cool you can’t buy a novelty inflatable, if that’s what a young (or older) heart desires.
There are dozens of reasons to fall in love with the Samaya Seminyak. For a start it’s right on Seminyak Beach, minutes from the town centre, but just far enough away to have an easy air of Balinese serenity too. Watching the sun dip behind the Indian Ocean from the resort’s open-air, beachfront restaurant is an almost transcendental experience. And they have all sorts of sweet touches, like traditional afternoon tea; à la carte breakfast served at any time, anywhere (so yes, you can have Eggs Benedict by the pool at noon); and even free taxis to take you anywhere in Seminyak.
But what really makes Samaya exceptional is that it’s an all-villa resort. So families have their own holiday home; complete with private pool, shaded terrace, pretty planting, and all the peace in the world, to do exactly as they please.
Each bright, airy villa is beautifully designed, with luxurious bathrooms, indoor and outdoor showers, spacious living rooms, no less than three TVs and free WIFI. And of course, you’re welcome to enjoy the rest of the lovely resort too; indulge in the Samaya Spa, play in the huge pool or have dinner by the beach, with a sunset on the side.
Not just the best waterpark in Bali, the #1 in all of Asia. It’s in the centre of Kuta close to famous Kuta Strip, and every bit as fabulous and white-knuckle fearsome as its reputation.
Ubud, south east Bali
Bali’s spiritual heartland, Ubud, is only an hour’s drive north of Seminyak. Go for the Sacred Monkey Forest; traditional dance performance at Ubud Royal Palace; jungle eco-cycles; Goa Gajah cave; Ubud Art Market.
Splash Waterpark, Canggu
Just over 10 minutes from Seminyak, in the pretty Canggu countryside, Splash Waterpark is nowhere near the size of Waterbom, but it’s plenty good fun, and it has trampolines and bowling too.
Seminyak Temple Tour
Colourful offerings all over the place, along with the tradition of wrapping ordinary things in striped yin and yang cloth, always fascinates kids in Bali. So they’ll be more than happy to take Samaya’s Hindu temple tour round Seminyak, with guides in national dress to explain all the customs.
Bali Safari & Marine Park
Just under an hour’s drive east of Seminyak, this conservation conscious safari park is a great learning experience for kids, with everything from up close encounters with rescue elephants to Balinese theatre and even waterparks, in the mix.
Horse Riding, Seminyak
Horse-keen kids will love an hour or two riding on the local beaches at Seminyak. If you want a rural canter, the ethereal, rice field scattered countryside round nearby Canggu is another lovely, gentle place to ride.
Eat Street, Seminyak
For breakfast, lunch, dinner, or any snack gaps in between, Seminyak’s legendary Eat Street is the one to wander. Even if you aren’t hungry, the seemingly endless parade of cool restaurants, bars, cafés and shops is one of the town’s must-see experiences.