Nusa Dua is the name of the peninsula that extends off the southern tip of the island of Bali, and it’s also the name of the island’s major international resort area on that peninsula. This area was specifically created during the 1980s to house high-end resorts and conference centers, and as a way of showcasing Indonesia in general.
The resort area is similarly as beautiful as much of the rest of the island, but in most ways it’s quite the opposite of everything else. Much of Bali’s infrastructure and all of its charm were already firmly in place when tourist began discovering it in earnest in the early 1970s. So as the tourism boom gained momentum in the traditional cities and towns, and particularly concentrated in the Kuta/Legian area, the scene always reflected local sensibilities and the unique culture of the island. But Nusa Dua was purpose-built from the ground up to be exactly what it is, so in some ways it has more in common with modern-day Las Vegas or Macau than it does with the rest of Bali.
The roads in the area are new and well maintained, and there’s even a guard gate you must pass through in order to reach much of the resort section. Few, if any, locals live independently in the area, although the massive support staffs of most of the large hotels are primarily locals so it’s not like you won’t come in contact with actual Balinese while in Nusa Dua.
Should you stay in Nusa Dua?
The answer to this question will have more to do with your budget and your goals than anything else. Places tend to be far more expensive than elsewhere, but these truly are international 3, 4, and 5-star hotels with no corners cut. On most of the rest of the island even the nicer places tend to be more casual and not as “professional” (for better or worse).
If you are coming for a honeymoon or some other special occasion, then Nusa Dua might be the ideal place. It really does have that tropical paradise dream-like feeling to it, even though there are those that criticize anyone wanting to stay in this exclusive area. But with this in mind, if you do choose to stay in Nusa Dua you’ll be cheating yourself in a huge way if you don’t explore other parts of the island. You might say that Nusa Dua is like the most expensive restaurant in Disneyland. There’s nothing wrong with having a meal there, but to visit Disneyland and skip the rides and everything else is a near criminal waste of a holiday.
If you stay in Nusa Dua you can skip the grungy surf and nightlife city of Kuta, but you should absolutely plan at least a day trip to the inland arts village of Ubud. You can arrange an excursion there from Nusa Dua, and you should try to do it as early in your stay as possible because it may inspire you to see other worthwhile parts of Bali before you leave.
Where to stay in Nusa Dua
As mentioned above, the area is mostly a collection of resort hotels that range from nice to world-class. Don’t expect to find a budget hotel in this area, and if you are on a tight budget this is the worst part of the island to visit anyway. Accommodations in Bali tend to be generally affordable, with the exception of Nusa Dua.
Getting to Nusa Dua
Nusa Dua is about 10 kilometers from the Bali International Airport. You can rent a car at the airport and drive in about 20 minutes, but hiring your own driver and van for island sightseeing may cost even less, believe it or not, and that way you don’t pay for a rental car on the days you plan on staying in Nusa Dua.
A taxi to or from the airport will cost under US$10 each way and will take around 20 minutes as well. You can prepay for a taxi at a special counter at the airport, which actually costs just a bit more than if you pay the driver, but at least you know you won’t be taken the long way and charged even more.
Map of Nusa Dua
Here’s a link to a map of Nusa Dua, but be warned that north is to the left on it.