Kuta is a former fishing village, it was one of the first towns on Bali to see substantial tourist development, and as a beach resort remains one of Indonesia’s major tourist destinations. It is known internationally for its long sandy beach, varied accommodation, many restaurants and bars, and convenience to Bali’s Ngurah Rai Airport.
In the early ’70’s surfers, hippies and adventurous travelers made it to Kuta Beach, with its perfect coastline, simple guest houses and bamboo warungs. In the early days there were few creature comforts for visitors, with rice, fish and fruit making up a large part of the diet. Cooking oil was also a luxury, so coconut oil was used, giving the food a less than delicate flavour. Pork fat could be substituted, although not entirely the healthy was to go.
In the early days of Kuta tourism a few enterprising people set up warungs to serve the growing tourist market. Among the most successful were Made’s Warung (Jl. Pantai Kuta) and Poppies Restaurant (off of Poppies I), both still in business. Another long time favourite is TJ’s (Poppies I), owner Jean starting out with a vegetarian restaurant and moving to Mexican food in 1984.
Kuta is now the center of an extensive tourist-oriented urban area that merges into the neighboring towns. Legian, to the north, is the commercial hub of Kuta and the site of many restaurants and entertainment spots. Most of the area’s big beach-front hotels are in the southern section of Tuban.
Legian and Seminyak are northern extensions of Kuta along Jl. Legian and Jl. Seminyak. They are somewhat quieter suburbs with cottage-style accommodations, where many of the expat crowd live. Also to the north are Petitenget, Berawa, Canggu, and Seseh – new and quieter continuations of Kuta’s beach. They are easy to reach through Abian Timbul or Denpasar and Kerobokan. Several large hotels are located in this area: the Oberoi Bali, Hard Rock Hotel Bali, the Intan Bali Village, the Legian in Petitenget, the Dewata Beach and the Bali Sani Suites in Berawa. To the south, Kuta Beach extends beyond the airport into Jimbaran.
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Kuta is just 2 miles from Ngurah Rai airport in Tuban, making it an ideal first night for many visitors. An airport taxi might cost around 25,000rp, dropping you in the Poppies Lane / Benesari area, with a choice of budget / mid-range accommodation.
After the 2002 Sari Club / Paddy’s Bar bombing, Kuta’s nightlife hit the skids. Seminyak seemed to be charging ahead with new bars opening, some of which were conspicuously open at the front, allowing easy escape should there be another bombing. Kuta’s location however meant that was due for a rebound, so with MBarGo, Hook, The Wave, the new Paddy’s, Sky Lounge and other venues, Kuta is a strong contender for nightlife action.
One of the fun ways to check out the neighborhoods in Bali, including Kuta is by using Wikimapia.org. This site allows you to zoom in and out and check out the area. You might spot a few places you’ve been before. Kuta may not look like the French Riviera, but real estate is worth top dollar. In fact most landowners in Kuta will not sell, realizing that times may change, but the location will always mean business. Some long term expats still live in the Tuban, Kuta, Legian area, feeling at home with neighborhood and comfortable living close to the friends they have developed over the years.
Kuta may not be paradise, but it is not the hell hole some travellers make it out to be.