Kuta beach in Bali, Indonesia is a large, sand beach, surrounded by all manner of shopping, restaurants, shrines, street vendors, and other assorted bric-a-brac. I’ve been to Bali several times before but never to Kuta beach. This was by far the best time I’ve had in Bali. Bali is total sensory overload. Everything is super crowded, loud, and has a pretty intense mix of smells. Incense mixes with restaurant smells, which then combine with garbage, and seafood smells from the markets. It takes a while to get the smell, which is actually rather pleasant, out of your nostrils. Kuta beach itself is long and wide, with a big tidal difference. There is a nice surf break and surfboards are available from lots of dudes trying to rent them.
Practically everything in Indonesia is decorated with patterns or faces of various creatures. All of the houses and many businesses have fences and gates out front that are quite elaborate. The stone walls that go along the sidewalks throughout the towns are all very elaborate.
Another quality that seems to be rather unique to Indonesia is the frequent shrines that you come across almost everywhere. There seems to be one of these very old looking stone structures every couple of blocks. They’re at the beach, they’re in residential neighborhoods, and sometimes in the middle of the street.
Just behind the beach at Kuta there is a footpath that runs the length of the beach. Here you can find just about anything you might need. There are hundreds of restaurants and vendors as well as people driving around on motorbikes. The places range from rather fancy like the one I went to called headquarters to people selling beers out of coolers under the trees for shade. Others come down to the area everyday and set up chairs to build a makeshift bar.
I did a little surfing…that is to say that I rode giants! …Well not exactly, but I did manage to get up a couple of times for a brief ride. I rented a board from a beach guy for a couple of dollars and then with no instruction whatsoever I set off to figure it out. At this beach there are a couple of different breaks where you can surf. For some reason, my instinct was to paddle out to the farthest one, which meant attempting to duck-dive my rental long board continuously as the waves broke over me. This was completely exhausting and I eventually figured out that the other break was much more accessible.
Kuta beach, while beautiful, has an enormous amount of trash in the water. It’s mostly the gross but largely innocuous kind of plastic wrappers and alike. As I was paddling to catch waves, sometimes the trash would get caught in my hands and act like webbing. It was pretty gross but weirdly effective.