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Ayana Bali

Beyond Kuta and Seminyak

Bali's beaches

The beach towns of Kuta and Seminyak have long enchanted Australian travellers, but as Aleney de Winter discovers, there is much to be discovered beyond their boundaries.

With its beautiful beaches and locals that love children, Bali is one of Australiaís favourite family holiday destinations. While the appeal of the islandís busy resort areas is undeniable, those seeking to experience the real Bali might want to venture beyond Kuta and Seminyak to experience a place thatís high on culture and natural beauty and low on crowds.

Bukit Peninsula
In the Southern part of Bali youíll find the Bukit Peninsula and some of the islandís most beautiful beaches and best surfing. You can also explore Baliís spiritual side with a visit to Pura Luhur Uluwatu, one of its most iconic sea temples.

Perched high on a steep cliff that overlooks the ocean, the 11th-century temple is the place to watch a traditional kecak dance with one of Baliís spectacular sunsets as a backdrop. The Bukit Peninsula also boasts some of the best beaches in Bali. Experienced surfers will relish the waves at Uluwatu, while the whole family can stroll down and along a cliff-side path to check out this famous break. Other locations worth a visit are beautiful Belangan, rated by some as Ďthe beachí in Bali, with deckchairs to laze on and warungs serving local dishes, Dreamland and Padang Padang.

Jimbaran Bay is also a major drawcard of this region. At the northern end, watch the local fishermen hauling in their morning catch at Jimbaran fish market, then join local families who congregate to watch the sun go down and dine at the seafood warungs that line the beach. Jimbaran is home to some excellent family resorts and villas including perennial favourites such as the beachfront InterContinental Bali Resort, the boutique Karma Jimbaran and AYANA Resort and Spa Bali which offers both hotel-style accommodation as well as luxury private villas.

InterContinental Bali Resort

Surrounded by rice paddies and incredible beaches about 20 minutes north of Seminyak, itís no surprise that the village of Canggu has a rising profile. Popular with surfers, each of the areaís beaches has its own special charm. Echo Beach is the most popular with great waves as well as warungs and restaurants lining the beach. Pererenan Beach is quieter and prettier by comparison with swimming spots more suited to younger kids.

A horseback riding tour along the beach or through rice paddies and small villages with the Bali Equestrian Centre is the stuff of holiday dreams, as is a sunset visit to Pura Tanah Lot. Located on a rock island just off the coast of Tabanan, it is Baliís most famous temple and only a 15-minute drive from the village of Canggu.

Image credit: Canguu Club

The areaís newest attraction is Splash Water Park at the Canggu Club. With its speedy Giant Racing Slide and the Crazy Creek tube raft ride, this one is a must for the kids. And be sure to check out Deus Ex Machinaís Temple of Enthusiasm, a cool cafe where you can enjoy your cappuccino surrounded by custom motorcycles, surfboards, skateboards and art.

There is a variety of accommodation choices for families but for something out of the ordinary, the stunning Villa Sungai, a bespoke luxury villa situated in lush jungle overlooking a river, lies just 10 minutes from Canggu in the village of Cepaka. With it comes personal service fit for royalty and incredible access to local experiences that the kids will adore.

InterContinental Bali Resort

Beaches may be Baliís biggest drawcard, but lovely Ubud is its cultural and creative heart. While its delightul location among fields of rice paddies offers an alternative to Baliís beachside towns, families can still go wild.

The Bali Bird Park is home to almost 250 different species of birds in walk-through landscaped aviaries, while you can find critters of the cold-blooded variety next door at the Bali Reptile Park. At the Elephant Safari Park, a world-class elephant sanctuary, the kids can see, ride and feed the elephants in their natural tropical surroundings and even wake up with them at the Safari Park Lodge.

Thereís more than just wildlife to keep you busy! Youíll also find craft and cookery classes, art galleries, whitewater rafting, temples and even a chocolate factory where you can witness cacao beans become delicious treats before your very eyes.

Gili Islands
Touted as the Ďnext big thingí these three little islands, fringed by white-sand beaches and coconut palms off the north-west coast of Lombok, are holding increasing appeal for families looking for a quieter and more authentic experience. Technically itís not Bali, but with speedboats ferrying visitors direct from Candi Dasa, it might as well be.

The three islands have their own personality but each remains unspoilt. Trawangan Island has the most facilities which is handy for families, but the smallest and most peaceful of the islands, Gili Meno, is our pick. Its pristine white-sand beaches and clear-blue waters provide the perfect location for spending lazy days swimming and snorkelling with the kids. There is also a range of accommodation to suit families but there are no cars or motorcycles allowed on the island, so be prepared to walk or cycle to get around.

Elephant Safari Park Lodge

Ayana Bali

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