Why Frequent Travelers Recommend Avoiding This Popular Destination On A Trip To Bali

Bali is a 2,232-square-mile island in Indonesia (per Britannica), but for tourists who don't venture off the beaten path, it can feel much smaller. After many travelers touch down at I Gusti Ngurah Rai International Airport, they make their way to their hotel, often just a short walk or drive away in Kuta. Conveniently located in the same area are nightclubs, an abundance of restaurants, and Kuta Beach, a 1.5-mile stretch of sandy coastline.

Kuta Beach and the surrounding Kuta District are popular among tourists, but according to some frequent travelers, the area is completely overrated. TikTok creator @jetsetting_jacki named it as one of Bali's sights to skip in a clip posted to the social media platform, while some Redditors pointed out that Kuta is known for having drunk partiers, bumper-to-bumper traffic, and scams and tourist traps to avoid.

Even if you're into nightlife and a little chaos, Kuta might disappoint. A content creator on TikTok using the handle @travelwithholl shared in late 2023 that the once-touristy area hasn't yet recovered after the COVID-19 pandemic, and a lot of places in the district remain shuttered.

There is one reason to go to Kuta

Besides its stunning beaches and rich local culture, Bali is known as one of the best surf spots in the world, and for many, Kuta Beach is their gateway to the sport. The waters of Kuta are ideal for beginners, though all levels can enjoy the destination's world-class waves. It's no wonder the beach is known to get crowded at times.

Whether you've never touched a board or you're a seasoned surfer, Kuta Beach is the perfect place to learn and improve your surfing skills, considering the abundance of schools and instructors in the area. You don't even have to go searching for them — in true chaotic Kuta fashion, amateur surf teachers will sometimes approach you, aggressively peddling their services.

It's also worth noting that Kuta Beach can become covered in litter, especially during the wet season (between October and March) when trash washes ashore. Unfortunately, this can mean catching waves in a sea of plastic bottles, disposable cutlery, and other garbage.

Other areas to visit when in Bali

If you only visit Kuta when in Bali, you're missing out on a chance to get to know the island's authentic local neighborhoods, vast rolling rice fields, and beautiful temples. Even if you prefer to spend your vacation in a tourist-friendly area where the food is familiar and people speak your language (we get it!), there are still better destinations besides Kuta.

One option is Seminyak, separated from Kuta only by the Legian Beach area. In Seminyak, you get access to the airport, restaurants, shops, and other spots found in Kuta, all with a little less noise and a little more luxury. If you follow the coastline further north, you'll eventually reach Canggu, another touristy spot that's considered by many to be a more charming alternative to Kuta. It boasts great surf and an exciting nightlife scene but, unlike Kuta, Canggu offers a more relaxed atmosphere.

Ubud has long been known as a hub for yogis and nature lovers, and it continues to be an ideal destination for those who want to escape Bali's urban districts. It's nestled in the island's mountains, surrounded by greenery and natural attractions such as the Sacred Monkey Forest and the nearby Tegalalang Rice Fields. Venture away from Ubud and Bali's other popular destinations and you'll find resort areas, laidback local towns, and more. Whatever you do, just be sure to look beyond Kuta.