Where to Stay--Nusa Dua

Next up is Nusa Dua, a very pleasant change from Kuta (arguably molar extraction done with an angry ferret would also qualify as a pleasant change). Nusa Dua is home to the best beach we found, as well as the location of the larger well-known hotels, such as Hyatt and Sheraton. Prices are also highest here, though the low end costs we saw for Nusa Dua were similar to the high end costs in Sanur.

We liked Nusa Dua, but could understand that it may not fit with everyone's idea of the right vacation. The area was bascially developed from scratch as a resort, and thus represents a vacation that is stronger on sun and sand and no-hassle days while making it a bit more of an effort to explore Bali than basing yourselves in Sanur.

Full Disclosure: we like hot water showers and room service too. A lot actually. So, this is not an effort to convince you that unless your kids get malaria you are unfit to call yourselves “travelers”. In fact, the kids having malaria can make it much harder to find a baby sitter. The point here is to draw the contrast between Nusa Dua and Sanur and let you pick which one best fits your idea of paradise.

O.K., details. Nusa Dua is wonderfully clean and amazingly convenient. The hotels rival each other in landscaping, in pools full of enough clean, blue water to float Titanic II. The shops have everything you could want from Bali, even if you wanted a Snickers bar and a Rolex the same morning, all clearly priced and clearly authentic.

By the pool at the Hyatt (we were there sucking up some free sunshine, um, I mean, for research purposes honey if the nice man with the badge asks again) the waiters appeared to be able to anticipate our thirst via brain waves and rush to us funny blue drinks with paper umbrellas that had cool names like “Tropical Sunset Lemon Swizzle Freeze Asian Experience Hootch”.

The beach was amazing, broad, white sand, cool waves that were fun enough to only feed a mouthful of salt water to our daughters every once in awhile. A ten minute walk down the beach landed us on a huge hunk of volcanic rock that is whacked by awesome waves that break under its concave face to soak us in seawater without sweeping our kids to sea—think Disney-level excitement without actual risk and know the kids ate it up.

A real plus is that vendors and hawkers are banned from Nusa Dua.

Prices are top-end: hotel rooms starting around US$120 a night up to… to… suites Bill Gates would likely need to secure a loan to afford. Food prices are equally steep, maybe US$15-20 a person a meal or so. Local handicrafts were also about 30-50% more expensive than in Kuta, with a better selection and nicer shop clerks. The other guests in the area seemed to be mostly from Japan, the U.S. and Western Europe.

So what's not to like? It is more of an issue of omission. If you wanted to see how people live on Bali, or interact with a Balinese person not working at your hotel, you would have to first pry yourself off the pool chaise and hop into a not-so-cheap taxi. The restaurants on the compounds serve mostly Western food, with some Japanese dishes thrown in, but little from Bali. Prices are high for most things, from handicrafts to massages. You will have a relaxing vacation in Nusa Dua, but be sure that that is sufficient for your needs before slapping down the VISA card.

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