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Bali Vacation: Top Things To Do With and Without Kids

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Last Updated on June 5, 2024 by Leslie Stroud

We spent six weeks in Bali, and I felt like we had just acted out to get to know it. There is SO much here to do and see. Thankfully, it’s all really affordable too! Here is my list of must-dos for your Bali vacation!

Top Things To Do with Kids:

1. Watersports!  Bali is known for its watersports.  I think any of the cities near a beach will have them available- we saw them in both Nusa Dua and Sanur.  Other popular beach cities are Kuta and Seminyak.  While they aren’t dirt cheap, they are really affordable.  We went jet skiing by ourselves for 30 minutes, with two double parasails and a banana boat with four kids (everyone but Grace), all for around $75 USD.  That’s incredible!  Just one double parasail in Mexico easily costs $100-150.  The kids really liked the banana boat, even though you just go back and forth a bunch of times.  I would have loved to go tubing behind a speed boat if our kids had been a little older.

Bali vacation- my son and husband parasailing together

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2. Waterfalls.  We didn’t do nearly enough of this.  We went to the largest waterfall, which is quite a tourist attraction.  It has swings (that charge for pictures), restaurants, snack stands, a bar, etc.  We didn’t love it- there were hundreds of people.  The kids still had a blast playing with the rocks, but I wouldn’t recommend it.  Another day, we went to a smaller waterfall after seeing Ulun Danu Beratan (a large temple on a lake).  It was so incredible.  We had it nearly to ourselves; the kids could jump off small rocks into the water, and the pics were out of this world. TIP: When we were walking down to the waterfall, some guys in the parking lot tried to charge us 150K rupiah per person to enter.  They gave a speech about how it benefits the children in the community, etc.  However, our travel friend decided to look it up on his phone and found that the tickets were only 20K rupiah!  (For reference, 150K is about $10 USD). What a difference.  Our entire family got in for less than one ticket he wanted to sell us.  This kind of thing will happen A LOT on your Bali vacation.  Tons and tons of kickbacks, commissions, etc.  Even the drivers get kickbacks for driving you to certain areas.  So just be aware.

Bali vacation- the smaller waterfall we visited

3. Monkey Forest. I was really nervous about this one.  I’d heard many times that monkeys bite, and nearly all have rabies.  I was freaked out.  We almost skipped it all together, but I’m so glad we didn’t– it ended up being such an amazing part of our Bali vacation.  This monkey forest has monkeys that see hundreds of people per day and aren’t nearly as mean as some of the stories I’ve heard.  Our travel friends had already been to two monkey forests (one good experience and one terrible one), so I felt more confident going with them.  It was SO. MUCH. FUN.  It was like the best zoo ever.  You do have to be really careful still- don’t look them in the eye, don’t have ANY food on your person or in your bags, don’t reach in your pockets or bag for something, don’t touch them, don’t run from them.  They have signs posted all over reminding you, as well as employees, to make sure you are following the rules.    If you DO want a monkey to come on your shoulders or back, just sit down and wait.  Maybe finger your pocket- they are always watching you and will go straight for that same pocket (kind of incredible actually).  Suddenly, you’ll feel them jump on you.  Stay calm!  When you want them off, just stand up and start slowly walking away.

bali vacation- a monkey sitting on my shoulder!

4. Surf lessons.  I read before going that we could find these super cheap, and I was so excited to go a bunch.  When we got there, the only one we could really find in Sanur (that wasn’t just some random local) was Rip Curl.  It wasn’t nearly as cheap as I had hoped, but it ended up being so awesome I’d recommend it anyway!  It was about $ 35 USD per person, which was still much less than the $70-80 USD per person we spent in Hawaii.  They did SUCH a good job of getting the gear, sitting down and explaining technique, practicing on a mat on the beach, and then wishing us off in a boat out to where the waves were breaking.  The kids got a teacher EACH and could just go as much as they wanted.  For the whole two hours, I didn’t have to do a thing but enjoy watching them.  The staff even provided a labeled water bottle for each kid.  It was so worth the money!  They got in a ton of surf time and were plenty of workouts.  Lucy was even learning how to turn and catch waves on her own.  I don’t know if we will end up near a beach, but in case we do, I’m so glad they’ve been on a surfboard a few times now.  Even if you don’t ever plan to live near a beach, it is a super fun experience!

5. Kecak dance.  If you want a neat cultural experience, take your kids to one of these.  My top favorite cultural experience we did!  We actually went to two different ones, and I loved the first one so much more.  It was in an actual temple in Ubud.  It didn’t hold many people, and they only do the show twice per week (I think Wednesday and Saturday), so we got lucky on a Saturday.  We got our tickets really early- I think around 2 hours before the show.  I’m glad because then we could get the seats we wanted and get in.  It was quite serious, and one of those moments of this experience was when I just thought, “Wow, I’m here in Bali watching this with my kids.  What a blessing.”  What is it?  It is a group of men who chant in unison to make incredible music.  Then, there is a sort of drama played out around some of the Hindu gods in a story.  In the end, they light coconut hunks, and one man goes into a trance and dances on the fire.  He also kind of kicks them around, so be careful if you are in the front row.  The lady in front of me had a burning ember on her foot, and it hurt!  I was glad we were one row back from the very front.  The one I loved was the Kecak Fire and Trance Dance by Taman Kaja Community.  We also went to the one at Uluwatu at sunrise.  The setting is spectacular, but the show is not as good.

6. Explore another island. If you have some time, take a day trip (or overnight) to another island. We went to Nusa Pedina for the day, and it was incredible. We did a half-snorkeling and half-island tour day. If you have to do it over, I’d say just stick with the snorkeling if you have a lot of little kids. They loved that part and hated driving around to just take pictures. The pictures ARE incredible, but that’s a good adult activity!

Top Things for an Adult Bali Vacation

1. Scuba dive!  If you love to dive or want to learn, this is a great place.  It is one of the best diving trips in the world.  Indonesia hasn’t fished and purged out its oceans as much as many other places (mostly because it is still a third-world country), so it is still quite rich.  My parents did a dive boat and said the diving was over the top. A must-do on your Bali vacation!

2. Get massages (this can be done with kids, too!).  You will find “spas” everywhere you go- just around our house, there were probably 15 within a five-minute walk.  Seriously.  You can get a full body massage for 1 hour for about $ 6 USD.  Chris and I went about 3-4 times a week!  You can also get just a foot and leg massage for an hour if you don’t want to strip down.  TIP: In Bali, for a massage, you still wear underwear or a swimsuit bottom.  If you don’t have one, they will give you a disposable pair to wear.  You get naked otherwise.  They also get friendly!  There are not a lot of boundaries, and while we didn’t experience it ourselves, sometimes they ask if you want more than just a massage.  Yikes!

3. Day trips.  Bali has tons of day trips and activities.  Your guides are everywhere, ready to book you into something. Your taxi driver also doubles as a tour guide!  So just ask your driver to take you around, and they will provide a fun day.  If you want something less touristy, tell them that too. This is such a fun way to get the most out of your Bali vacation and to see everything you want.

4. Arts and crafts. lots of cooking classes and craft classes.  I did a Batik class with my mom and Lucy- it was a ton of fun and turned out beautifully.  The hot wax is REALLY hot, so it is not good for young kids or boys who get distracted 🙂

5. Temples.  Bali is the land of temples, and there are some incredible ones.  If that’s your thing, you have plenty to choose from.  The big ones are Besikah, Ulun Danu, and Uluwatu.  We didn’t make it in Tanah Lot- our friends said it was just OK.

6. Sunrise hike.  We did this with out older kids and they loved it.  However, it is also fun for adults.  Get up at 1:30-3:30 am, hike and be there at 5:30 am and enjoy.  It’s incredible.

bali vacation- a family photo at the top of our sunrise hike

I’ve only scratched the surface here.  We didn’t make it to the rice paddies (we drove by a lot) or a cleansing ceremony- both of which are quite popular.  Bali is FULL of fun things to do.  We loved spending some time in the East Bali Poverty Project villages and seeing the different sides of Bali.  Bali has quite extreme poverty, but good people are working hard to improve it.  The people are amazing everywhere you go.  

Come enjoy a Bali vacation and have a great time!

Catch great fare deals from Booking.com, Skyscanner, Kiwi.com, or Expedia

Find a family-friendly hotel in Bali from Booking.com, Expedia, or Vrbo, (we also love Tripadvisor and Hotels.com)

Discover more of Bali while having fun through exciting activities from GetYourGuide, Airbnb Experiences, or Viator

Need to rent a car to navigate the city? Visit Rentalcars.com.

Get insured while traveling with World Nomads.

Want to have a family photo shoot while traveling in Bali? Check out flytographer.

Capture your best travel memories in Bali we do with a GoPro, Sony camera, or our favorite drones: DJI FPV, Air, and Mini

Check out your travel necessities from a comprehensive list of all the 7Wayfinders Travel Must-Haves. Click Here!

Additional Reading

Bali: Tips, Tricks and Take-Aways

Best Eats in Bali

5 Reasons You Should Visit Bali with Kids (with Insider Tips!!)

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