A First-Timer's Guide To Bali For Families

1 May 2019
Read Time: 6.7 mins

Clocking in at just under four hours’ flight from Perth, 5.5 hours’ flight from Adelaide and just over six hours flying time from Brisbane, Bali is the ideal distance for a beach break from Australia. This popular Southeast destination has the perfect mix of laidback vibes, culture, shopping and eating that makes it ideal for all kinds of holidaymakers – even the littlest ones. Here’s some of our tips for families travelling in Bali.

How to get around

Girl in front of shrine in restaurant, Bali Life's good on holiday in Bali.

When people tell you the traffic in Bali is crazy, believe it. It’s insane how long it can take to travel by car or scooter from area to area. That said, taxis are plentiful and cheap. Look out for Blue Bird Group taxis, which are the only metered cabs and ensure the meter is turned on once booked. You’ll see iterations such as Blue Biro, Ngurah Rai or similar logos on blue sedans everywhere, so make sure to only use Blue Bird. For travel to and from Ngurah Rai International Airport (aka Denpasar International Airport), I recommend chatting to your consultant to book an airport transfer before you go to avoid the hassle of obtaining a taxi at the airport. If your resort or hotel doesn't offer a complimentary hotel transfer, Buffalo Tours has an affordable option for a stress-free pickup.

If you’re travelling further distances for a day trip, consider booking a driver for a half or full day. Ask the concierge at your resort to recommend a reputable driver and negotiate a rate or, if you need a child seat, talk to your consultant about ground transfer options. 

Girl in front of Bali shrine Even on the busiest streets you can find pockets of serenity in Seminyak.

It’s also quite easy to walk around Seminyak if you’re inclined. Be aware that the footpaths in Bali are quite narrow, and often strewn with offerings, so it’s hard to navigate with a stroller. Consider packing a baby sling if you’re planning on walking around for hands-free access.

Where to stay

Girl in chair in front of Seminyak shop Sitting pretty on 'Eat Street' in Seminyak.

For first-timers to Bali who want a bit of everything – beach, bars, shopping, markets, restaurants and spas – you can’t go past Seminyak. There’s a huge variety of Seminyak resorts that cater for all holidaymakers and budgets with everything you could possibly need on site, which can be overwhelming for the first-timer. Some tried-and-tested 4-star resorts to consider include Tony’s Villas & Resorts, Villa Seminyak Estate & Spa and The Breezes Resort & Spa.

We stayed at The Breezes Resort & Spa, which I’d highly recommend as a family-friendly property that’s close to the beach and just a short golf cart ride to Jalan Kaya Aya (aka ‘Eat Street’) for eateries, supermarkets, spas, cafes, shops, markets and shopping centres galore. The staff at The Breezes are super friendly – shout out to guest relations manager Aldi, who is such a gem and a favourite of returning holidaymakers and kids alike for his personable nature and for making everyone welcome. The towel animals are a cute touch, too.

Towel animal at resort in Bali Checking out the day's towel animal at The Breezes Resort & Spa in Seminyak, Bali.

If you want to spend your time in more than one area, most seasoned visitors to Bali will move around the island to stay in multiple resorts or villas during the one stay to avoid the lengthy transfers. Consider staying in Seminyak, Ubud and Canggu for a few days each to experience the different areas within Bali, minus the time spent in traffic.

RELATED: Want to get away from the crowds? Bali's hidden spots

Things to do

Girl in front of mural in Canggu. Hanging out at the mural at Old Man's in Canggu.

If your kids are like my child, if there’s a pool, they’re happy. The Breezes Resort & Spa has interconnecting pools (including a swim-up pool bar and a sandy beach) that will amuse the kids for hours. For next-level watersports, there’s also the popular Waterbom Bali waterpark in Kuta. FYI: the beach at Seminyak is not great so this area is more of a pool holiday spot.

We also hired a driver for a couple of day trips from Seminyak to Uluwatu and Canggu. While three or more hours might be a little too long for littlies (and their parents) to handle in a car, kids aged eight and over will be fine with a day trip to see other areas outside your resort and explore the Balinese culture in more detail. Otherwise, consider staying in different areas to immerse yourself in the lifestyle. You can book resorts or private villas in most areas – ask your consultant for family-friendly recommendations.

If you don't plan on venturing to the Sacred Monkey Forest Sanctuary in Ubud, the good news is you can spy the cheeky and light-fingered Balinese long-tailed monkeys at Uluwatu Temple, too. Get there before 6pm to see the kecak dance at sunset daily.

Girl in front of mural in Canggu. Canggu is a laidback, hipster haven by the beach.

Canggu is a laidback, Balinese version of Byron Bay with plenty of expats, surfers, plant-based eateries and spaces to relax with kids. If you can steal away from the kids, book into Spring Spa (there’s locations in Seminyak and Canggu), a New Zealand-owned spa with fantastic signature massages. Bliss!

Where to eat

Vegan meal at Earth Cafe, Bali Tuck into the macrobiotic and vegan fare at Seminyak's Earth Cafe.

As I'm lucky to work in travel with well-travelled colleagues, I went to Bali armed with list of recommendations of restaurants and bars to try in Seminyak, and we also discovered many more favourites during our stay.

For the adults, Sibling (next door to the popular, Aussie-run Sisterfields and across from Seminyak Square shopping centre) has decent coffee and juices, while Sisterfields and Motel Mexicola have satisfying options for a casual dinner. Earth Cafe & Market, a plant-based eatery and provisions store, was another fave for healthy fare for lunches on JL Kayu Aya in Seminyak (there’s also a cafe in Ubud, too).

Vegan breakfast at Earth Cafe, Bali A breakfast bun with 'egg' and coconut bacon at Earth Cafe – yum!

The Breezes Resort & Spa also has some well-priced onsite dining options if you don’t feel like venturing out with kids some nights – we loved the breakfast buffet at The Beach Restaurant, and Gigi’s Supreme Slice, right outside the resort, offers Italian favourites, including pizza.

In Canggu, check out Old Man’s – a breezy beachfront beer garden, restaurant and bar with simple, affordable meals that hosts markets (with locally made food) on the last Saturday of the month.

For a sweet treat – essential for balmy Bali nights and bribing kids – I love the vegan options at Mad Pops Bali. You won’t miss the lineup outside the tiny neon-lit pink shop on JL Kayu Aya and the Insta-worthy flavours (and shopfront).

Main image: Getty Images; Other images: Cassandra Laffey

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Cassandra Laffey

Consumed with unrequited wanderlust, I get my fix in 24/7 cities and hippie retreats. I'm still looking for the ultimate combo of secluded beach and major metropolis, and my happy place is a 5-star hotel room all to myself - sigh.