One of the things to do when in Bali is to head down to one of the beach clubs to sip on a cocktail (or 10) while watching the sun go down. The tunes are cool, the vibes are laid back, and the cocktails are delicious. Here are some of my favourites.
Ku De Ta, Seminyak
The original and in my opinion, still one of the best. Ku De Ta is chic without being too pretentious. It’s big, but still maintains a fairly intimate ambience. It’s built kind of in the shape of an amphitheatre, with a grassed area in the centre, the restaurant and bars at the sides and the ocean as the main stage. You can also sit on the grass leading down to the sand, but you tend to get hassled out by hawkers trying to sell you sarongs and plastic toys.
The cocktail list at Ku De Ta is impressive, and is written in diagrams, so you can understand what’s in it even if you’re not a cocktail connoisseur. An espresso martini is always my favourite way to kick off an evening, and a sea breeze is also a great way to get into the beach club vibe.
The grazing menu from the bar is really good, with heaps of options for sharing. The food has a Japanese influence, but if that’s not your thing, there’s also the option of pizza. Ku De Ta has also opened a degustation restaurant on the second level called Mejekawi which serves awesome 5 or 12 course tasting menus. The restaurant has an open kitchen in the middle, so you can watch the chefs work. You can choose to pair your meal with wine, or order by the glass. It’s also nice to step out onto the balcony in between courses to look out over the ocean.
Potato Head, Seminyak
The first club to really rival Ku De Ta, Potato Head was designed on a grand scale. It’s a bit more up market than its rival, and is way more pretentious. This is where the cool kids want to be seen, and there’s plenty of selfie action and very little actual human interaction happening. But it’s also a very entertaining place to do some people watching.
Despite its slightly up itself vibe, Potato Head is still one of my favourite places for a cocktail in Bali. Speaking of which, the cocktail list is divine and the presentation is impressive. Potato Head has a massive pool overlooking the beach, complete with a pool bar. It also has heaps of luxurious day beds big enough to fit several people. There’s a waiting list and a minimum spend though, so check before you hop on one.
Potato Head has several menus depending on where you eat, but to be honest, I’ve never actually managed to leave the day beds to eat in the restaurants. Why would you, when you can just lie around sipping cocktails while someone brings you food?
The Rock Bar, Jimbaran
The Rock Bar is in a class of its own. Built into the side of a cliff at the Ayana Resort, it has one of the most dramatic and spectacular views of any bar I’ve ever been to. This place is where the seriously cool kids hang out. You can only access the bar via a monorail that smoothly brings you down the cliffside and deposits you into the open air bar. There are day beds for lounging on, cocktail in hand to watch the sun slide down behind the DJ, who plays tunes from their spot on a platform built on a rock formation in the ocean (accessible only by a swinging bridge).
Not surprisingly, getting access to the coolest bar in Bali is not that easy. Sunset is absolutely rammed, and the line at the top of the cliff is long. Ayana resort guests get priority access too, so if you’re not staying there, the sun could set while you’re still standing at the back of the line. Getting there super early isn’t a great option either, as there’s barely any shade at the Rock Bar and you could end up pinker than a Cosmo.
We got around this problem by booking a ‘Perfectonic’ package at the Ayana’s Aquatonic spa, which included two hours of being pummeled by a series of different jets in the Aquatonic therapy pools, then priority access to the Rock Bar and a cocktail as well! However, this offer is only on at certain times of year, so check their website.
La Laguna, Canggu
Canggu’s newest and most funky beach bar. It has a completely different vibe to its neighbours in Seminyak. La Laguna is on a massive property dotted with lanterns, lush gardens and weirdly, antique wagons. It is the most eclectic of the beach bars and has a style that’s completely unique. It doesn’t have the mass-produced feel of Potato Head, and is more boutiquey.
La Laguna has two bars, one inside and one outside, and the eclectic collection of tables and chairs are spread throughout the property. Inside, there’re comfy couches and benches. Trying to get served around sunset can be a bit of a challenge and like all bars in Bali, La Laguna suffers from the curse of having terrible Bali wine that not even a cheese platter can improve. And cheese can improve just about anything. To be honest, I didn’t really like the food menu, but I’m vegetarian, which can be a little tricky. However, I loved the cocktail list, so I just stuck to those.
Mozaic Beach Club, Canggu
Mozaic started with a gastranomique restaurant up in Ubud and has spread its wings to Canggu. It’s a really small club compared to its rivals in Seminyak, but that gives it a very intimate feel. It has a row of massive white cabanas which you have to book ahead of time. The cabanas look over the pool, which in turn looks over a row of sun lounges, which in turn look over the ocean.
The brasserie at the back of the beach club is stylish and a bit more upmarket. It has a broad menu, scrumptious food and excellent staff. And it even has some drinkable wine on the menu. I’ll drink to that!
Seminyak is about 30 minutes from Denpasar airport (depending on traffic!). Canggu is about 10 minutes up the road from Seminyak.