Bali is a much-loved destination for many Australian family holidays, and for good reason. Pristine white sandy beaches, crystal clear blue waters, lush tropical rainforest and centuries old culture – not to forget the food, the shopping, the endless activities both adventurous and relaxed; Bali truly has something for everyone. Better yet, it's only a six and half hour flight from Sydney to Denpasar, followed by a short Bluebird taxi or perhaps you'll have your own personal driver take you to your accommodation – it's an easy and affordable getaway, one that the entire family will remember fondly for years to come.
Where to Stay
From luxury villas with your own chef, to yoga retreats, traditional family resorts and even camping getaways, Bali has accommodation covered – the hardest part is deciding where you'll stay!
Staying in a villa is the perfect solution for young families (or groups of friends), privacy and peace and quiet is guaranteed, there are usually full kitchen facilities and with your own private pool you'll feel like it truly is your own home away from home. Most villas can offer an in-house chef, nanny/babysitting and a driver. Try the Iris Villas Seminyak, for great value for money and fantastic location.
As the children get older and require more entertainment, try a resort with water slides, playgrounds and a kids club to allow you some free time to relax by the pool. Padma Resort Legian is great value, has a dedicated family block and swimming pool with water slides. There is also the Wolly Kids Club with a huge array of activities including craft lessons, Balinese dancing, fish feeding, and Indonesian lessons.
If you're after a luxury getaway, you can't go past The Samaya, Seminyak. Stay in a divine beachside villa with a private pool and garden, your own butler and onsite spa and restaurant. The Samaya will satiate all of your needs and can organise a full-time live-in nanny or short term babysitting to allow you to enjoy the beauty of villa and grounds without a care in the world.
What to Eat
Frequented by Western tourists for decades, Bali offers up almost any cuisine imaginable, which is perfect for those fussy eaters.
What better way to encourage the kids to experience new flavours, than have them prepare it themselves. There are a number of great cooking classes across Bali, but why not try Payuk Cooking School in Ubud. Catering to children as well as adults, your class will commence with a tour of the local market to sample and purchase your fresh ingredients, a tour of the rice fields to learn the planting process before it's on to the traditional Balinese kitchen to get cooking. You can choose from a vegetarian and non-vegetarian menu and enjoy the rewards of your hard work from the Payuk dining room overlooking the wonderful Petanu River.
Every Sunday afternoon Starfish Bloo at the W Retreat and Spa (Seminyak) hosts the brunch of all brunches, it's not to be missed. Enjoy a complimentary glass of champagne as you arrive and then dive in to a sumptuous buffet lunch of fresh seafood, curries, roasts, salads, tacos and desserts. Watch the stunning view of the sun setting over the ocean, while the children run off all that sugar from dessert in the dedicated play area. Bring a towel and make use of the hotel pool and cabanas.
Widely acclaimed as the best coffee in Bali, Loaf (Candidasa) is the place to go if you need that caffeine hit. Go for breakfast or a quick cake and coffee pick me up, you won't be disappointed. They bake their bread fresh on site too!
What to Do
While you could easily spend your entire holiday lying back, watching the kids play in the pool, the options are seemingly endless when it comes to what to do in Bali.
With 22 waterslides, a relaxing tube raft and junior play area you can't take the family to Bali without a day at Waterbom, Bali's premiere water theme park. Ranked third best water park in the world, the kids won't be disappointed. Better yet, there's a chill out pool with swim up bar and a day spa if you can sneak a break from the slides.
If after a day at Waterbom the kids are still raring to go, leave your fear of heights at home and get to Bali Treetop Adventure Park (Bedugal). Set amongst the Botanical Gardens there's courses designed for all ages, with children as young as four tackling the rope climbs and swings. All up, there's 72 challenges to keep them busy including tree walks, suspension bridges, spider nets, tarzan jumps and 12 flying foxes up to 160m long.
After all the activity and adrenaline, it's time for everyone to wind down. The Jiwa Spa at Conrad Bali offers special family and children's packages the whole family can enjoy together. The family package includes a footbath and facial or massage for the adults while the children receive a footbath, foot mask, kids' back massage, a chocolate bath and healthy snack and milk.
For the Adults
While in Bali, make use of the exceptional nanny and babysitting services available (ask your resort or villa for recommendations if not offered in-house), and spoil yourself with some alone time.
Book a driver and head to Seminyak for the shopping mecca where you'll find great fashion, bespoke gifts and homewares and boutique children's wear. Just remember to buy extra baggage for your return journey!
For some relaxation and rejuvenation, book into The Spa at Peppers, Seminyak. Unparalled in indulgence, treat yourself to the the 'Symmetry for Two' couples body massage, exfoliation, herbal bath and facial with cooling jade roller, emerging pampered like you've never been pampered before.
Perhaps the most romantic meal of your lifetime, reserve a table at Swept Away (The Samaya, Ubud). Set beside the Ayung River, the view is amazing but the food is to die for; make the most of your visit and opt for the Degustation Menu or the 100 Candles dinner which will see the river and surrounds transformed into a romantic wonderland of scattered flower petals and hundreds of glittering candles.
What to Pack
Almost anything you forget to bring can be purchased in Bali, but there are a few items to remember that will make your Bali holiday a breeze.
- A water bottle for each member of the family because it's important to stay hydrated, particularly on day trips. You should not drink the tap water in Bali, however most hotels and restaurants have water coolers where you can refill your bottles
- If you have small children in nappies, pack enough to last the entire trip. The brands and quality of nappies available from local supermarkets may not be what you are accustomed to.
- To keep the kids entertained on the flight, during car trips or the odd rainy morning, bring play dough, colouring in, stickers and activity books for young children. For older children, a journal to write about their holiday, an adult colouring in book, a puzzle/Sudoku book and Uno or other card games. Don't forget the iPad for emergencies and headphone splitters if they're sharing.