EXPLORING SOPHISTICATED SEMINYAK, BALI
Stylish, sophisticated Seminyak, Bali, makes its home on the western edge of Denpasar city. Sandwiched between the surf-washed beach breaks of Kuta and the endless villas and seaside resort strips of Kerobokan, it's arguably the nerve center of touristic life on the so-called Isle of the Gods.
One things for sure: it certainly gets the traffic. Yep, thousands of travellers descend on the swish hotels, the surf shacks, the cocktail joints, the classy boutiques, the clubs, the guesthouses, and the warungs (folksy – and cheap – local Indonesian eateries) of the area each year, and there's been a distinct pickup in the number of hotel options and tours in the district to boot.
That means it's pretty darn likely that you'll pass this way on that virgin trip to beautiful Bali. Whether you come on a short two-day stopover before making for the rugged volcanic lands of the northern regencies, or for a lengthy two-week vacation to soak up the Indonesian sand, sun and sea, then this guide should help you get to grips with this immersive and much-loved neighbourhood.
Where exactly is Seminyak, Bali?
Seminyak sits on the southern side of Bali. It's pretty much contiguous with the capital of the Isle of the Gods: the city of Denpasar, which is also where you'll find the only airport and main entry point to the Lesser Sunda Islands as a whole. Immediately to the south of Seminyak are the districts of Legian and Kuta; hubs of surf schools and the most famous nightlife districts on the island. Go further south still and you get the Bukit Peninsula, where most of the best swells roll in off the Indian Ocean.
How do I get to Seminyak, Bali?
Seminyak is connected to the other famous parts of Denpasar by one uber-busy coastal road - Jalan Legian. This strip of bars and boutiques and endless surf shops is amongst the most congested on the island, but it's not actually that bad. Taxis are the best way to get to and from Bali's only airport, with a one-way journey expected to cost just over 60,000 rupiahs. You should also be able to find private car transfers direct to Seminyak scrawled over blackboards in many other towns across the island. These vary in price depending on the distance, but will drop you straight in the center of the town.
Things to see in Seminyak, Bali
Thanks to Seminyak's modern boom, you can hardly expect the same medley of mysterious Hindu temples as places like Ubud or Lombok island here. However, there is one fascinating worshipping spot that's simply not to be missed: Pura Petitenget. This gloriously carved temple can be found nestled beneath a clutch of deep-green maya trees on the edge of Seminyak Beach. It's famed for its folksy festivals that mark the building's anniversary on the 210-day Balinese calendar, when eruptions of old dances and mask displays are the norm. Today, the site is a speck of ancient history amidst a sea of modern resort hotels and bars.
The beaches are the town's second major draw. These run from the wide sands of Batu Belig Beach in the north-west to the eponymous Seminyak Beach on the south-eastern side of the area. Along the way, they cross the quiet and temple-topped strip of sand known as Petitenget Beach.
Starting with Seminyak Beach, travellers can enjoy one of the most accessible beach breaks for beginners. You'll be able to rent boards and get lessons from one of the many surf outfitters that line the shore there - just be wary about the hefty closeouts when the swells get high. Batu Belig Beach, meanwhile, sits just north of where you'll be able to discover the most iconic bars and cocktail drinkeries in the town, from the iconic Potato Head Beach Club (more on that institution later) to poolside Woobar. Keep going and you'll find one of Seminyak's emptier, more romantic and secluded shoreline areas.
Where to eat in Seminyak, Bali
Seminyak is filled with great places to settle in for a bite to eat, from traditional Indonesian warungs to stylish fine-dining joints run under the caring hand of celeb chefs.
If you're travelling on a shoestring, then be sure to consider a trip to the much-loved Baku Dapa. This rustic tavern has a simple menu of tasty local dishes, from classic nasi goreng (a spicy rice dish that's ubiquitous around the Indonesian islands) to spicy oxtail soups and stacks of gado gado (a huge salad of crunchy veg that comes doused in peanut sauce). An alternative would be Batavia, which is loved for its long tables where it's easy to strike up a convo with locals and fellow travellers.
For those on a higher budget, Seminyak's wealth of hipster and stylish joints enters the menu. We're talking about stops like The Junction, with its medley of Italian pasta dishes and French-style filled baguettes; the Queen's Tandoor, where bubbling curries and tandoori meats from the subcontinent are the name of the game, and Grocer and Grind, which is leading the way in new deli-come-restaurant joints here.
For really high-end meals and a taste of the stylish fine-dining that's overtaking Seminyak, be sure to consider the Tuscan pastas and Italian fish dishes of regal La Lucciola on Petitenget Beach, or uber-cool Sarong, where candlelit tables meet reworked Asian street food platters in perhaps the swishest environment in town!
Where to drink in Seminyak, Bali
Once you're done with the evening meal, it's time to sample the hedonistic nightlife scene that's made this part of Bali's south coast so famous. In fact, some of the coolest bars on the island are located between the streets and the sparkling sands here, even if you'll need to transfer yourself down to Legian or Kuta for the mega clubs later on in the night.
For early evening drinks and nibbles, there's arguably nowhere better to settle down that at Potato Head Beach Club (told you we'd get there!). Hidden beneath a curious architectural shell, the joint spreads out to encompass a series of infinity pools and pool bars, decking areas and sand-side seats. There's food and fantastic cocktails, along with some of the best views of the lapping Indian Ocean to boot.
Next up is the legendary Ku De Ta on Jalan Oberoi. This chic cocktail joint occupies its own courtyard of manicured grass, and faces directly onto the beach to promise top-notch sunset viewing in the early evening. The drinks menu has a medley of taste-bud-tingling (literally, thanks to a creative dousing of pepper here and there) highballs, while a series of cushioned divan chairs make it one seriously comfortable place to sip the night away.
Other places worth a mention for the budding night owl in Seminyak include the chichi Hu'u bar, complete with inviting pools and replaced al fresco pavilions, and Syndicate Club, which is one of the few seriously late-night venues in the area.
If you're a veteran of the lively land of Seminyak, Bali, then we'd love to hear your thoughts, amendments and additions to this guide. Just be sure to make your voice known in the comments below. Or, if you think it's high time you headed to the Isle of the Gods to explore this awesome district, why not check out LBW's acclaimed Indo trips and itineraries?