Kuta is the proverbial jewel in Bali's crown in terms of tourist numbers and is a place where families, football teams and singles come for sun, surf and beer. It's a typical tourist resort town with cheap food, cheap booze and all night partying to keep the throngs entertained after having flown in for a week to let off steam. It's not for everyone, but it certainly ticks all the boxes for people wanting a cheap holiday by the beach while having fun at night. Over the past 40 years, Kuta has transformed from quaint seaside fishing village with a magnificent palm fringed beach to bustling tourist haven with a good beach. The beach sweeps in a golden arc from the airport in the south all the way along the coast to the north for tens of kilometres.
On the beach are countless trinket sellers, masseuses, food and drink vendors and people renting surfboards. Away from the beach, things become decidedly hectic and the narrow streets are home to eager store owners selling everything from cheap clothing to locally-made handicrafts. Some people find the persistent nature of the salespeople more like harassment and avoid Kuta completely for this reason. Others take it all in good humour and offer a bit of banter in return. Kuta attracts an amazingly diverse mix of people, but the largest group are probably Australians on all-inclusive packages looking for a cheap escape from the cold Australian winter. You'll see plenty of bars and restaurants obviously catering to an Australian clientele and don't be surprised when Balinese surfboard vendors greet you with a "G'day mate!"
There are about a gazillion deckchairs and umbrellas along with some shaded areas. In Kuta and Legian where most people choose to hang out on the beach, beach vendors do a roaring trade selling food and drinks and renting out surfboards. Masseuses also offer their services for ridiculously low prices (30,000 rupiah/hour). Vendors can become annoyingly persistent on Kuta Beach and some find, by buying one item (say a pineapple) they get left in a little more peace. If being asked to buy a sarong every ten minutes intensely bothers you, we'd suggest choosing one of Bali's other beaches for your down time. Aside from the vendors, the beach is also patrolled by lifeguards and it is important to take their advice and only swim between the flags erected to indicate where it is safe to swim. Outside of these flagged areas, the surf is more dangerous and is unpatrolled. Every year, tourists drown on this beach such is the treacherous nature of the current. For those seeking a more a peaceful section of the beach, head south towards the Kuta art market where the beach is almost totally devoid of other tourists and the surf is less rough.