The picture that was painted in my head of Bali as a travel destination, before I caught the travel bug, was that of a beachy destination strewn with steamy party goers from down under. It hadn’t come across to me as a place where kids can have as much fun and things to do as the adults. This year when we were pondering over where we could head next for a family vacation, my 60+ year old mom declared that she wanted to visit Bali. My ears stood up like a cat that has suddenly heard some sound which it is not familiar with and wanted to hear it more precisely. As we had kids in our trip, I had to plan a kid friendly vacation. Whining kids and pleasant holidays don’t go together. So that was when I started reading up voraciously on Bali for a while and made a plan that my 8-year-old son and 6-year-old niece would also approve. Here are somethings we did in Bali where the kids had a whale of time.
When there is a coast there must be snorkelling. But this fact is not always true. The coasts must be dotted with reefs to provide for a snorkelling experience akin to swimming in an aquarium. Most of Bali’s coastlines have reefs and are teeming with marine life and if the weather is right and the sea is on your side, one can view the wonders of the world under water. We did our snorkelling at Nusa Lembongan which is 40 minutes ferry ride away from mainland Bali. Nusa Lembongan has 15+ diving sites to choose from and most of the sites are suitable for both divers and snorkelers. The visibility is upto 50 meters on a good day. If you are lucky you can find larger pelagic like mola mola and manta rays, but be aware that currents in these spots will be strong and hence not suitable for kids to swim in. Our favourite site to snorkel in Nusa Lembongan was mangrove point. The site was shallow being just over 6 feet deep, placid waters, good visibility and density of fishes and corals.
Bali’s coastline has waves fit for all levels of surfers. While some of the most advanced surfing is done in Uluwatu and Dreamland beaches, beginners head to Kuta beach and Lembongan island. We took a surfing lesson in Kuta beach. The instructors cater to kids as young as 8-years-old and teaches you how to ride a wave. The beginners lesson is usually one hour and can be extended. They promise to be with you till you have learnt to surf, but an hour is all that semi fit people can last as the falling off and getting back on the board is as hard as doing push ups and the whole muscles of your body will be aching that one usually calls quits after an hour. The beach and surfing with the sunset in the background is beautiful. The evening will be well spent with giggles, excitement and the feeling of achievement to finally catch atleast one of the waves. Even if you don’t learn to ride a wave with that one lesson, it will be fun anyway.
3. Do a Safari: Most young kids love to watch animals and the Bali safari park is one of those places where kids can see wild life very easily in a clean environment. The park has some shows that are very educational and run breeding programs. Board a safari tram and go around the Asian and African enclosures to view the wildlife indigenous to those regions. The tram with an English speaking tour guide cruises through the lion’s territory, over a pond with partly submerged hippos, African cows, Indian spotted dears, Zebras, Giraffe, Ostriches and Wildebeest gracing peacefully. The shows aim to promote awareness like poaching, illegal pet trade and habitat shrinking that are endangering various species, and emphasizes on conservation and boycotting goods made from these animals. It was also good to hear that the park has successful breeding programs, for example a rhino was born recently in the park and it happens to be the first and only rhino born in Indonesia.
Here is more on our experience at the Bali safari park – https://onthegoforever.com/2017/04/26/bali-safari-park/
4. Swimming with sharks and turtle watching:
Bali sharks and turtle conservation centre is an initiative to protect and spread awareness about marine life. These places are popular with eco tourists and will be a hit with your kids too. Bali sharks buys small sharks caught in the net of local fishermen who use the traditional method of fishing in their sampans and raises them in a pontoon off the Serangan island. The sharks are released into the open ocean after they reach 1 meter in length. Visitors can feed the sharks and even swim with them. Fear not, the sharks that are raised here are the harmless white tip and black tip reef sharks. The pontoon also has an enclosure of star fishes that lets visitors hold the star fishes. After this the visitors can choose to go to the turtle conservation centre in the Serangan island where they house rescued turtles. During the turtle breeding period volunteers scour the beaches in search of turtle eggs and bring them to centres like this. This is to avoid the nests getting dug up by dogs and eggs getting eaten by animals, birds or humans. The hatchlings once strong enough are released from the kuta beach once a month. They have quite some species of sea turtles ranging from green sea turtle, olive ridley and the hawks bill turtles. The kids are sure to learn a lot about the sharks and turtles from this visit and at the same time have lots of fun doing so.
Check out our Bali sharks experience at – https://youtu.be/ROkdOe0KJ8k
5. Trekking rice terraces:
Bali’s rice fields are not flat and are instead terraced. This gives some easy trekking opportunities for the kids to participate. The Tegalalang terrace is a UNESCO site and has trekking path with steps that makes it easier for kids to walk around. It takes about an hour to complete this trekking trail. The rice terrace even has a bridge and a waterfall, and the views on either side of the terrace are pretty cool. Preferably go in the evening at 5pm, when the sun is about to go down as the kids will be more obliged and comfortable to do the trek when the weather is cooler.
For more on things to do in Ubud check my videos –