Why I Hated Kuta, Bali

You would think being offered an all expenses paid, two extra days on holiday would be a dream come true! Our Jetstar flight was cancelled and we were put up in a hotel for two nights free of charge with meals and transport included.

The one problem? We’re stuck in Kuta, the one place we adamantly avoided while travelling Indonesia. Kuta is Bali’s first tourist destination, the first resort to expand rapidly to cater to Australian tourism. Many Aussies use this place as their go-to-party vacation spot, much like the Irish and Brits use the Canaries or Ibiza for theirs.

The entrance to Kuta beach.

As soon as we stepped foot outside the hotel, I knew we weren’t in the rural, cultural Indonesia that I’d come to love over the last few weeks. Traffic is terrible here, with aggressive taxi drivers adding to the mess. If you choose to explore by foot, be prepared for the hounding of a lifetime from taxi drivers, honking their horns and shouting to get your attention.


I was anxious to get to the beach, so sure the “holiday-feel” would return once I saw the sea and sand again. Unfortunately, I think it’s safe to say, Kuta beach is a lost paradise. It’s unbelievably filthy especially the evenings, as the tide drags in sewage waste and dirt from the ocean. Kuta is known for its surfing but I’m not sure would I get into that water with the garbage we saw.

Kuta beach in the evening.

We sat down to enjoy the sunset, which was short-lived with the constant badgering from people trying to sell you trinkets and rent their surfboards. We literally had men yelling at us from halfway up the beach trying to get us to buy their beers.

I left Darren and went for a short walk, while he waited for our order to come in a restaurant. I walked down to the water’s edge to snap some pictures and was heckled by a group of young local men the whole time I was there. They followed me up the beach, shouting and whistling, any chance of enjoying the sunset quickly ruined!

Kuta beach at sunset paints a pretty picture, but the reality is slightly different.

Once the sun goes down, Kuta really comes alive. The place is best known for its bars and clubs. It’s great to see the place is booming again after the tragedy that took place here twelve years ago. In 2002, a terrorist bomb was set off in an Irish bar, killing 202 (RIP) and injuring a further 209. This ultimately put a standstill on tourism and effected the economy hugely. It gradually has been built back up and the Aussies and other tourists flock Kuta once again. But I’ve come to realise, this kind of bar scene just isn’t for me anymore. I came to Indonesia as a traveller, not a tourist, and this type of holiday just doesn’t appeal to me.

Walking through the winding streets lined with stalls and fake merchandise, I wonder, what came first, the tourist or the scene which the tourists are attracted to? I suddenly felt very exposed in my crop-top and shorts as Kuta men leered. As we slowed our pace trying to gather our where-abouts, we were hounded by locals trying to sell us everything from viagra and cocaine to penis shaped wood-carvings.

Of course, I know it’s not just the locals who are to blame for the state Kuta has been left in. The way I saw some tourists act was so cringe-worthy, I wanted to look away out of shame. While enjoying a meal by the pool, I watched people in the water get consistently more s**t-faced while barking at the smiling Balinese waitress for more Bintang. I saw sloppy teenagers barter prices for t-shirts with the slogan “Deepthroat” splashed across it. Most are in Kuta for the shopping and are only interested in the tacky keychains and fake Michael Korrs bags.

If you can look away from the filth and tack or Kuta please let me know how. I like to think of myself as a glass half full kinda girl, but our final day in Kuta cannot come fast enough. Luckily not all of Bali has become subject to this tourism from hell. I just pray that the way of Kuta doesn’t spread and stays confined to this region.

Keelin Riley
Keelin Riley

Keelin is an Irish travel writer with a degree in journalism and a background in the Irish media. Keelin’s travel writing has been published in various media publications, and when she’s not off gallivanting around the globe, she enjoys keeping Sun Scribes up-to-date for all those fellow budget travellers out there!

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