The grown-up neighbour to Bali's party centre of Kuta, Seminyak has attracted travellers in-the-know for years with its hip hotels, cool cafes, slick bars and boutique shopping. But while Seminyak is no longer a secret, it certainly pays to know your way around. Get oriented with our guide to living it up in the coolest corner of the island.
South Bali holidays revolve around the beach, and Seminyak is no exception. Popular with 30-somethings, expats and families, Seminyak lies just north of Kuta and Legian, and while it can be difficult to figure out where one beach ends and the other begins, the seaside scene generally becomes more chilled out the further north you go.
There are loads of drinking spots on the road that lines Seminyak Beach, from high-end pool clubs to simple beach bars where you can enjoy an ice-cold Bintang on a plastic chair plonked on the sand. Take care in the waters here; the pounding surf and currents can be hazardous and there tend to be fewer beach patrols than typically found in Kuta.
It can be easy to forget you’re in Bali while staying in the overwhelmingly Westernised world of Seminyak, so a visit to Pura Petitenget, set just back from the beach, should be on the itinerary for every visitor looking for a dose of Balinese culture. This centuries-old temple, which sets the scene for a great number of spiritual ceremonies, is most atmospheric at sunset in the fading light. Remember to dress appropriately when visiting by covering your legs and shoulders.
Spas and wellness
Spa and wellness options abound in Seminyak, but there are definitely some standouts. Jari Menari (Dancing Fingers) is run by an all-male staff known for expertly working out the most troublesome kinks with ease (and the help of Tibetan singing bowls), while New Zealand-owned Spring (springspa.com) wows with its sleek interior, DJ station and ultra-professional staff – drop in to tame humidity-frazzled locks at the blow-dry bar or indulge in an oxygen facial or Balinese massage.
Cafes and restaurants
Every beach destination needs a good breakfast spot and Grocer & Grind fits the bill in Seminyak. A bright and modern design gives the cafe a relaxed feel, perfect for lazy mornings spent fueling up on ricotta hotcakes, poached eggs and breakfast burgers. Coffee lovers won't be disappointed in Seminyak either. Tucked away off the main drag, Revolver is a tiny Western saloon-style cafe where tattooed baristas brew everything from cold drip and siphon to an excellent flat white. Plans are allegedly afoot to extend the premises into a cool club lounge towards the end of 2015.
Come lunch or dinnertime, it's all about Mama San with its menu of modern Southeast Asian fare meant for sharing, lengthy cocktail list and moody dark-wooden interior set over two floors; be sure to reserve ahead as it’s deservedly popular. Situated in a prime spot on Jl Oberoi with its striking wooden plank facade partially open to the elements, The Junction (the-junction-bali.com) is also not to be missed. Stop in for a glass of Indonesian rosé or a Margaret River sauvignon blanc during a boutique shopping trip, or linger over a casual dinner of salmon steak or truffle oil pasta.
Despite being situated close to a busy corner, Lacalaca (lacalacabali.com) has a lovely tree-shaded courtyard area with colourful Mexican bunting that just begs for a pit stop. Though more TexMex than authentic street food, the flour tacos hit the spot and micheladas come served in huge heavy Mexican glassware, salt-rimmed and spicy.
Seminyak is Bali's shopping headquarters, boasting streets packed with everything from designer boutiques (Paul Ropp, Lulu Yasmine) to homewares, art and antiques stores (Enfants Paradis, Theater Art Gallery) and independent beach and surfwear shops (Drifter, Blue Glue). See Lonely Planet's Bali shopping guide for more recommendations.
An all-day beach bar, Ku De Ta is the place to be seen in Seminyak whether you stop in for lunch, an afternoon drink or bust out your best threads for a sultry Seminyak night sipping cocktails to a fiery sunset. Another hot spot beach bar, Potato Head wins points for its unique u-shaped window-shuttered building overlooking an infinity pool facing the ocean. Drink and dine at its two bars and two restaurants or order cocktails to your poolside daybed and join the party crowd as the night sets in.
Where to stay
Seminyak is home to the highest concentration of luxury boutique hotels in Bali, with some of the best finds hidden in its backstreets. Tucked behind newer beach-side big-hitters such as Double-Six and the hotly-anticipated Alila Seminyak (alilahotels.com/seminyak), One Eleven Resort (111resorts.com) is the ultimate urban retreat. Twenty-four hour butler service, a private pool, a personal chef and absolute privacy are just some of the features of its nine luxurious villas, which with their mid-century stylings and palm-treed gardens are reminiscent of Palm Springs circa 1960s. Little details such as delicious homemade jams at breakfast and beautifully packaged bathroom lotions only add to its exclusive appeal.
Kate travelled to Bali with support from One Eleven Resort. Lonely Planet contributors do not accept freebies in exchange for positive coverage.