Seminyak vs Nusa Dua: Where Should You Go?
Bali as a sun-and-sand destination delivers admirably on many counts. But what makes this island truly exciting is that every half an hour, the island presents a whole new dynamic to explore. The more popular and commercial towns of Kuta and Legian have seen a lot of exposure by tourists, but Seminyak has managed to maintain its identity as a posher, quieter cousin of the two.
Home to hundreds of bars and restaurants, boasting of the same wide pristine beaches with streets that are lined with boutiques and designer galleries – Seminyak is a wonderful place to sample the best of Balinese culture.
Nusa Dua, a mere hour’s drive from Seminyak, is a gated paradise of resort hotels. Nusa Dua translates literally as ‘Two Islands’ – although they are actually small raised headlands, each with a tiny temple. It’s a vast and manicured place, where you leave the rest of the island behind as you pass the guards. It also boasts of the island’s only golf course.
In Bali, Seminyak is the centre of life for hordes of the island’s expats, many of whom own boutiques, design clothes, or surf. It may be immediately north of Kuta and Legian, but in many respects, Seminyak feels almost like it’s on another island.
It’s a dynamic place, home to scores of restaurants and clubs and a wealth of designer shops and galleries. World-class hotels line the beach, and the beach itself is one that regularly makes itself on the lists of best beaches around the world.
Nusa Dua is an international standard beach resort, built for the tourists that came flooding to the island in the ‘70s. Thanks to the well-planned layout of the Nusa Dua tourism complex, you have an upmarket shopping complex, superb facilities and manicured gardens that seamlessly blend in with a luxurious 18-hole golf course – all within a short walk from your hotel.
This is the perfect to place to unwind and enjoy an easy vibe, take in the sights and sounds of the ocean and live life at your own pace.
It is hard to imagine that only ten years ago Seminyak was a distinctly separate village, and something of a backwater. But the area has seen fast development, and as well as absorbing all the green spaces which formerly separated Seminyak from Legian, it is now almost impossible to determine where Seminyak ends and the nearby villages of Petitenget, Umalas and Kerobokan begin. This certainly has its downside, and the whole district has become very congested and traffic is a huge issue in Seminyak.
Built in the 1970s, Nusa Dua was designed to compete with international beach resorts at other seaside tourist destinations around the world. The traditional displays and ethnic touches to the hotel rooms are the only things that remind you that you’re in Bali. With more than 20 large resorts and thousands of hotel rooms, Nusa Dua can live up to some of its promise when full, but during slack times it may feel a little lacklustre.
Seminyak has three main beaches – Petitenget Beach, Seminyak Beach and Batu Belig Beach. Petitenget Beach is usually frequented by locals, as it is considered sacred for hosting religious Balinese ceremonies.
Seminyak Beach and Petitenget are right next to each, but if you want to be where the crowds are, set up your bean bag at the famous La Plancha, or everybody’s favourite Potato Head. North of Petitenget Beach lies the Batu Belig Beach – a beach that’s quieter and more relaxed than its counterparts. Swimming is welcomed here, but watch out for rough waters and stay in sight of the safety flags.
Nusa Dua has a public beach – Geger Beach, which is a splendid stretch of white sand at the western edge of the enclave. Geger has a cooling breeze, as it is one of the few beaches facing east and because of the reef, it has some of the warmest water temperatures in Bali.
The other beach worth mentioning near Nusa Dua is about 3 kms away – in the past, this beach was hidden behind a hill, so it was called Secret Beach. But since 2012, the Pandawa beach has been opened to the public and is rapidly gaining popularity among tourists.
Ease Of Access
Seminyak has seen rapid development over the last few years, and the roads coming in and out see a lot of the strain. Streets glittering with upscale boutiques and galleries are often congested – locals warn against travelling between 3pm and 7pm. Local taxis are aplenty, in case you want to check out the neighbouring areas of Kuta or Jimbaran.
Being a gated resort, Nusa Dua is calmer and has a lot more space to move around. Once you enter its gates, gone is the chaos of the rest of the island – no hawkers interrupt you as you enjoy the locales. At the same time if you’re looking to travel around the island, it may be tough to find independent taxis – your best bet may be to check with the hotel concierge.
Villas & Resorts
Hotels in Seminyak come in a variety of choices, from luxurious private pool villas, to five-star luxury beachfront resorts that line the popular sunset coast. At the same time, there are quite a few mid-budget resorts too, if you’re on a budget.
Nusa Dua is the heart of luxe – the coastline here is home to some of the most sophisticated beachfront properties in Bali. Sofitel, Hilton, Westin, St Regis – they’re all here, with landscaped tropical gardens that border the shared total stretch of seven kilometres of white sand along the south-eastern peninsula.
Seminyak nightlife has flourished over the years with its rich collection of sophisticated and chic entertainment venues, bars and hotspots that have found international fame. These complement the upscale beach resort area’s stylish fashion boutiques, designer galleries and luxury. Most of the venues double as favourite dining destinations by day, with attractive menus and splendid beachfront settings, and also cater to the evening crowds from sundown and well into the wee hours. Ku De Ta is one of the hippest spots to be seen at, as is Woo Bar, both of which face the sea.
The nightlife at Nusa Dua may not be as obvious when compared to Bali’s other destinations. Bars and lounges are mostly situated in luxurious resorts and hotels. Most venues in Nusa Dua present live music, although if you’re looking to sample Bali’s famous all-nighter parties, you might want to venture out of the gated walls of Nusa Dua (almost every nightspot here closes its doors by 2am) and visit any night spot in Kuta, which is about 30 minutes away.
Things To Do
With breathtaking beaches and its world-class ‘eat street’ that hosts many restaurants and bars, Seminyak might sound like an upscale tourist trap. But behind Seminyak’s glitzy, five-star appeal, there are some significant local attractions. The ancient Petitenget Temple, for instance, is centrally located, but well-hidden behind the trendy restaurants and boutiques. It’s also very easy to escape from the glut of dining with some shopping – whether it’s local knick-knacks, or some designer labels, or even silver jewellery.
The attractions at Nusa Dua will likely form a huge part of your Bali photo albums and travel diaries. Besides the beautiful bay to swim and snorkel in, Nusa Dua also has Museum Pasifika, which houses a vast collection of rare art from around Asia and the Pacific region.
You can also catch the Devdan show, which is the sole highlight performance at the Nusa Dua Theatre, presenting a 90-minute journey through the Indonesian archipelago. Another worthy attraction at Nusa Dua is the Water Blow – you can witness large waves from the Indian Ocean as they constantly crash against the jagged limestone edges.
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