When that time comes around to pack up and embark on the annual family holiday, the excitement and the renewed sense of adventure is at an all time high. Once you’ve arrived at your destination, what to do with the kids can often become a source of unwanted stress and your time in paradise is meant to be carefree, right? Let’s face it, the little ones often have a very short attention span, so keeping them occupied is imperative to any parents sanity.
Long gone are the days where a game of I-spy in the car, or an ice cream at the beach will suffice as creative sources of entertainment. Never fear, we have a thoughtfully collated a list of the top ten things to do with kids in Bali. This list is full of family friendly activities and ideas for your trip, and who knows, the big kids might love it just as much as the little kids.
1. Visit Waterbom, Asia’s No.1 water park
Waterbom seems to be the first port of call for many youngsters arriving in Bali. It has been around for 20 years, meaning some of the big kids used to come here and are now returning with their little ones; a budding institution for families visiting Bali.
Located in the heart of Kuta, it is easily accessible from just about anywhere. But be warned it gets very busy, so best to arrive early to bag a place and settle in for a day of serious fun.
There are 22 waterslides set over almost four hectares of tropical gardens.
Private cabanas can be hired to guarantee a comfortable spot, which is particularly handy if you’re a watch-from-the-sideline style of water park goer. The cabanas come with complimentary drinks and snacks: Win.
There is a dedicated area for toddlers, contrasted by bungee jumps and extreme slides for teenagers and brave (read: crazy) parents. With a spa, restaurant and shops topping things off, there is something here for the entire family.
Read more on the Waterbom website.
2. Hire a kid friendly villa
Bali boasts a great selection of kid friendly villas that can truly take the hassle out of travelling abroad as a family. The ultimate villa in the heart of Seminyak for adults with children is The Orchard House.
It an old style Balinese house, exquisitely decorated in a tropical English style that is an oasis of calm in a bustling area. But don’t be scared off by the word calm – it is also a lively playground welcomed for children. There is the pool with a safe shallow area, the tree house for hours of fun, the football nets and the Xboxes – just to list a few. For the tiny tots, everything from strollers and high chairs to a much needed bottle steriliser is all there waiting for your arrival.
But the best part? The in house chef. Who apart from making superb meals for the grown ups, can also whip up fresh fish fingers and chips or is a dab hand with a puree. A magical place to pass any family holiday.
3. Hire a nanny and some equipment
Travelling with children, especially the young ones can be more exhausting than it is relaxing. Luckily, Bali is one of the few places that has wonderful and qualified nannies readily available. Whether you would like to go out for a one off dinner for just a few hours, or have a daily massage in peace and quiet, plenty of qualified nannies will be there to help you out.
Many hotels and villas offer babysitters, but if you are looking to scout your own there are a few agencies that provide reliable well-vetted babysitters. Most speak a variety of languages and possess various skills that could see the kidlets having swimming lessons or enjoying art classes. A great established agency is Bali Krisna.
If you are in need of some toys, a stroller, a high chair, or even a pool fence, then look no further than Bali Baby Hire. They can help you with everything, meaning you can just leave everything at home and clear space for carting home you shopping.
4. Take an elephant safari
The Elephant Safari Park in Taro, Ubud, is an exceptional day out for the whole family and a rare opportunity for many youngsters to see these giant mammals in a more natural environment. Spread over two hectares, this sanctuary doubles up as an ecotourism destination and a heaven for rescued elephants from Sumatra.
Known as one of the best elephants parks in the world, it is a fantastic place to learn about these highly intelligent animals and visit the museum complete with the only mammoth skeleton in Asia. There is plenty for the children to do, from a ride on the elephant to helping feed or even bathe them. For older children, other activities like white water rafting can be incorporated into the tour. Daily shows also see the elephants showing off a selection of their skills.
For the elephant crazy kids out there, you can even stay in a safari lodge style accommodation to take in the night safari and wake up to breakfast with them grazing nearby. The highlight of the stay is the elephant ‘chauffeur’ that ferries you from your room to the restaurant and the main park.
Find out more on the Bali Adventure Tours website.
5. Treat them to a mini spa
Spas are a big attraction for mothers in Bali due largely to the fact that they are inexpensive and of an extremely high standard. No matter what your budget or therapy requirement, you will find something in this beauty bar paradise. Now that 5 is the new 15, a few places have started offering beauty treatments for small children and teenagers.
Semara Spa in Seminyak provides manicures, pedicures, facials and hair masks for 3 – 12 year olds. Using natural, chemical free ingredients as not to damage their delicate skin, these special kiddy spa treats will keep the youngsters entertained so you can get some treatments of your own.
Semara is also home to the Kids Cubbyhouse that is equipped with iMacs, toys and a host of activities for any children who are not interested in testing out the spa. This is a strictly adult free zone and kids can be dropped off for a couple of hours or for the day.
A first trip to the spa can be a fun, unique thing to do, particularly if the rain decides to come down. Definitely an affordable alternative to yet another rainy day DVD.
6. Hit the beach
The beach is a big attraction in Bali for all holidaymakers and definitely a place where many families spend most of their days. There are lots of great beaches on the island but not all are safe for children, especially if they are not strong swimmers.
The best beaches to take little ones are the beautiful turquoise sea and white sand lined in the Bukit and Nusa Dua, South Bali. Safe with small waves and slowly becoming one big paddling pool as the tides go out, making these the perfect spots to laze away endless sunny beach days with the small ones. Two favorites are Pandwana and Mengiat Beach.
There are small cafes and warungs dotted around that serve fish and local specialties such as the ubiquitous nasi goreng or fried rice.
When the bucket and spade gets boring there is always a kayak available for a paddle or you can head to the beachfront restaurant of Pirates Bay, complete with wooden ships, bamboo tree houses and hidey-holes to explore. A fantastic place to pass a few hours with pirates and princesses alike.
7. Indulge in Sunday brunch at Ku De Ta
Sunday brunch has come to Bali in a big way. From fine dining experiences in the $100’s to slightly more casual affairs, there is a plethora to choose from. However not so many of them fit the kid friendly criteria, save trusty Ku De Ta, that can always be relied on to provide a great morning for families.
As well as the wonderful view of the sea and its beachfront location, the small pool is safe for all sizes and every Sunday there are different rides, games and art activities. Everything from merry-go-rounds to bouncy castles and remote controlled Mercedes cars, to magicians, Sponge Bob and craft tables, entertain the little ones for hours.
With extremely attentive and helpful staff, you can even relax and enjoy the great breakfast yourself. Special children’s menus also make coaxing them away to eat a much easier endeavor. With both healthy and more traditional mini fry-ups there is always something for even the fussiest eaters.
This has become a tradition for families on the island and it is always full of fun and new things for the kids to enjoy.
8. Go horse riding
A pony ride is always popular with children, be it on the beach or in a rice field. There are a couple of stables offering a beach ride or walk through the countryside.
At the Bali Equestrian Center, they have managed to incorporate the traditional pony ride into a great day out for children.
These beautifully kept stables are in the village of Umalas. This pristine place offers lessons for all levels and sizes. For those who really want to get up close to the horses but may be a little nervous to ride, then there is the Bali Pony Club.
Pony Club does not involve sitting on the horse but rather learning how to groom them, care for them and saddle them. For smaller horse enthusiasts there are pony rides from 3 years old where an adult can accompany them.
The restaurant also has a substantial garden with a pool, sandpit, swings and a playhouse. A true family gem.
9. Learn some cultural arts
Set in the heart of Denpasar in a lush Balinese compound, Balinese Cultural Creation runs courses and classes for both adults and children that teach students about both Balinese culture and Balinese crafts.
The comprehensive program of activities for children is outstanding; cooking and chocolate making classes, Balinese dancing and dressing up in traditional costumes all stimulate an interest in Balinese culture.
The most impressive workshops are the handicrafts. There is woodcarving, kite making, puppet making and Batik workshops for children of all ages. The dedicated staff here make these classes fun and fascinating for all the children, giving them a real sense of interest and achievement after attending.
This a wonderfully educational and fun place for anyone interested in the old arts and traditions of Bali and a great place for those young and old to get to know these customs better. A must visit for anyone travelling to Bali with kids.
10. Do a mini day of shopping
Bali is a great place for shopping across the spectrum of budgets. The choice is mind-boggling and whether you like traditional materials or more western designed items, there is something for every taste – and that is just the adults! The same applies to children’s clothes.
Boutiques for children are popping up in the shopping enclaves of Ubud, Kuta and of course, Seminyak.
These vary madly in design from very traditional European to more modern Mexican and snazzy sequined numbers. Whatever you are looking for, there is an outstanding selection around. Lovely little individual boutiques include Indigo Kids, Coco & Ginger and Kids a Go Go. Finely embroidered and detailed, lots of this miniature attire is beautifully crafted to create lovely individual pieces; however the prices do tend to match, or exceed, what you might expect to pay back home.
There are lots of bargains to be found in the markets and the smaller streets around town. Down Jalan Kerobokan and Jalan 66 in the Seminyak area, there are a few factory shops and small manufacturers selling gorgeous handmade tutus and fairy dresses, hand appliqued clothes and lots of wonderful batik pieces at a fraction of the usual price.
Since the renovation of Ubud Market, a lot of the stalls have moved on or raised their prices but in the streets around Monkey Forest Road you will find lots of little shops selling children’s clothes and the age old Bali shirts.
Denpasar market is another great place to search for bargains. Be prepared to haggle hard but you will be rewarded with some individual finds in wonderful fabrics.