There’s no doubt that Bali has all the ingredients for a relaxing holiday. What is entertaining for grown-ups, however, might not always be fun for kids.
Not to worry, the island of the gods offers a wide range of activities sure to put smiles on the dials of families with children in tow. From sliding down exhilarating water slides to scaling tree canopies, Bali abounds in family-friendly activities.
Pod Chocolate: bean to bar
Pod Chocolate (podbali.com) is where Indonesian cocoa is fermented, dried, roasted, ground and turned into a range of delicious gourmet sweets. To share the lip-smacking goodness, Pod offers tours where chocoholics of all ages can not only taste the factory’s myriad chocolate flavours – lemongrass, ginger and coconut amongst them – but also witness the magic behind the chocolate-making process. Best of all, the tours give children a chance to make their own mini chocolate elephants. Those ready to continue their chocolate adventure can visit the attached café, which serves unusual dishes including pizza with chocolate sauce and spaghetti marinara chocolate.
Pirates Bay: avast ye seapups!
Pirates Bay (thebaybali.com/pirates-bay-bali) gets the seal of approval from little ones ready for a swashbuckling adventure and grown-ups who love to see their kids kept busy while they feast on some quality fare. With its tree houses, paddle boats, zip lines and replica of a pirate ship, this themed restaurant makes a great playground for aspiring Jack Sparrows. The oceanfront complex also organises two-hour treasure hunts where budding buccaneers are kitted out in pirate gear and sent off in search of a wooden chest filled with gold.
Pondok Pekak Library & Learning Center: a taste of Balinese culture
Located in Bali’s cultural hub Ubud, the Pondok Pekak Library & Learning Center provides a fascinating insight into Balinese culture through a variety of fun pastimes. While some of the activities, such as multi-lingual song circles, are specifically aimed at little tykes, others are tailored to both the young and the older. Families can sign up for workshops in traditional dance, gamelan playing or canang sari (Balinese religious offerings) making. There’s also a children’s library with books in many different languages that can be borrowed or read on the premises.
Waterbom Bali: splashing good times
An oldie but a goodie, Waterbom Bali has been soaking kids, and kids at heart, since 1993. From mini slides to heart-stopping rides, the park has adventures that are cooling and fun for all ages. Thrill-seekers can test their nerve on the Climax, which involves a nearly vertical drop from the height of 16 meters, while younger family members can enjoy more mellow experiences such as tubing down the Lazy River. For really young children there’s Funtastic, a water play area with shallow pools and fountains, and Flowrider where little dudes can learn to surf.
Warung Dandelion: down a rabbit hole
Housed in a wooden joglo (traditional Javanese house), Warung Dandelion (facebook.com/dandelioncanggu) is a family-oriented restaurant with a twist. The lush garden at the back of the complex is home to a bunch of fluffy rabbits, which are not just irresistible to kids but also to many an adult. Happy in the knowledge that their little ones are reveling in bunny world, grown-ups can dig into the restaurant’s delicious Indonesian and Balinese classics such as gado-gado (vegetables with peanut sauce) or mee goreng (fried noodles).
Beach bumming: fun in the sun
Bali has a beach to suit every mood and every age. The island is world-famous for its surf, and it’s never too early to start learning how to paddle out and catch a good wave. There are lots of reputable surf schools in the southwestern visitor enclaves of Kuta, Legian and Seminyak that cater to beginner grommets, such as the Rip Curl School of Surf. Those looking for a slower pace can grab a snorkel and take the family to one of the calmer beaches such as Blue Lagoon, which features spectacular shallow reefs and coral gardens, or to Pemuteran Bay, where a reef restoration project has created over 90 manmade coral nursery sculptures.
Bali Treetop Adventure Park: swinging Tarzan-style
Bali Botanic Garden in Bedugul highlands is home to one of the island’s most adrenaline-pumping attractions. Designed for kids over four, as well as adults, Bali Treetop Adventure Park offers seven age-appropriate adventure circuits with aerial lines that link tree canopies at the height of between two and 20 meters above ground, 72 challenge courses that include spider nets, Tarzan jumps, flying swings, and zip lines up to 160 meters in length. Parents will be pleased to know that safety comes first here with harnesses used on many of the more elevated circuits.