Bali-Tree: Bali Part I – Kuta, Padangbai

a room with a couch and a chair


After arriving in Bali we caught a cab over to our hotel which was the Sheraton Kuta.  Even though it’s not very long in terms of distance, it took about 30 minutes since the traffic was quite bad during that time of the day. After arriving, we checked-in and were upgraded to a suite with an ocean view.  We quickly settled in and then met up with the rest of our friends that had arrived the previous night. The room was quite nice and spacious and it was clear that it had recently been remodeled.  The location is great as its right along the beach and next to a huge shopping mall so there was plenty to see and do.  It’s also just a 5-10 minute walk from many of the restaurants and bars in Kuta.  The beach area around the hotel actually is quite crowded and honestly wasn’t that great which is certainly a drawback.  But overall we found the hotel great for our quick 1-night stay in Kuta before heading out to other parts of Bali.

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suite living room
a bed with pillows on it
a bathroom with glass shower doors
a bathtub with a tray and wine glasses
a champagne bottle in a bowl of ice
champagne welcome gift – must have thought we were on honeymoon

Before leaving Kuta the next morning we had a couple things to get done.  The first was to chow down at Naughty Nuri’s which is one of our friends favorite restaurants in all of Bali.  He was the only one of us that had been to Bali before so it made things easy to have a recommendation on where to eat the first night.  We hopped in a cab from our hotel and after about a 20-minute ride (which only cost about $4-5) we arrived.  We were able to snag one of the last tables before the dinner rush started and ordered up a feast.  The ribs here are fantastic and some of the best I’ve had anywhere.  For Bali standards, a rack is pretty pricey at 90,000 Rupiahs (~$9), but in my mind was definitely worth it, especially when you compare it to the $20+ cost for ribs at the Tony Romas next to our hotel.  We liked it so much that we even came back one more time a few days later after traveling to other parts of Bali.

a sign with text and images on it
Naughty Nuri’s – a must stop for ribs in Seminyak
a man cooking food on a grill
a plate of ribs on a table

Next stop on our list was to go to the tailor to get the groomsman’s suits made for my wedding.  I had considered a few options including renting or buying back at home, but getting the suits custom made in Bali while everybody was there to get measured and fitted ended up being the best choice.  I would have preferred to get them made in Thailand as that’s something that I had done previously but my 36-hour layover was just too short.  Based on reviews from TripAdvisor we decided to go with Anika Tailor which is located near the airport in a small alleyway.  As we were driving over to Anika I noticed a few tailors along the way and actually was feeling quite nervous since the quality of the suits those tailors had out in the windows were pretty terrible.  For some reason, the Riddler’s suit from Batman seemed to be a popular design.

After arriving at Anika, my fears were alleviated as they had a proper storefront with many quality suit samples in the window.  We were shown to a private room where we were able to look through the library of fabrics and then settled on a price.  As is the case with most things in Asia, don’t be afraid to haggle and in the end I think that we were able to negotiate a fair price.  The process from here was very easy as everyone got measured for the initial fitting, and then we came back in two more times for fittings before picking up with finished product.  I will admit that my expectations were relatively low in that I wasn’t sure if we’d get something as good as what we could have gotten in Thailand or Vietnam, but after seeing the finished product I will admit that I’m extremely pleased with the end result.  I would highly recommend Anika Tailor to anyone that is looking to get clothes made in Bali.

a woman measuring a man's waista woman adjusting a man's shoulder
a man standing in front of a mirror
initial fitting – is my waist really that big!?

While we had booked a chain hotel for the first night of the trip, for the rest of the trip we decided to try out private rentals through a combination of private websites and  Overall this worked out very well and I would highly recommend this approach for anyone traveling in a group to Bali.  The next stop for us was Padangbai which is a small town about an hour drive from Kuta.  It is an extremely laid back place that’s known for its fishing and scuba diving.  It’s also one of the main ports to catch the fast boat to Gili.

We stayed two nights here and primarily spent our time diving during the day, and just relaxing at night.  The first two dives we did were just a few minutes off the shore and were great refresher dives for me since it had been a while since I’d gone.  There is a ton to see when diving here and the reefs were full of bright and colorful tropical fish.  The next two dives we took were an hour and a half car ride from Padangbai at the site of the USS Liberty shipwreck at Tulamben.  It was my first shipwreck dive and found it to be pretty cool, especially since the marine life here was great and we were able to see some interesting things including turtles, lion fish, and stingrays.

boats in the water with boats
dock at Padangbai
a boat on the water
quick boat ride for first two refresher dives
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turtle sighting
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diving through the USS Liberty shipwreck at Tulamben
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gangnam style lives on
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a plate of food with a sauce on it
post-diving meal – fresh tuna steak
a plate of food on a table
still hungry – grilled chicken

The night life here primarily consists of grabbing drinks and listening to live music at the local bars where it’s not crowded at all and a nice breath of fresh air from the scene at Kuta.  One of the popular drinks here is Arak which is a local home-brewed liquor and actually tastes quite good and sweet.  However, be a little cautious and make sure you get it from a reputable place as there have been some recent deaths/injuries from people consuming bad Arak.  Overall, we really enjoyed the laid-back beach party scene here and a relaxing stop compared to the hectic Kuta.

a man playing a guitar and a man playing a drum
rocking out with the local bands
a group of people playing instruments

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