First timers to Bali are always told to head to Kuta Beach, one of the more popular beaches on the island. It is, I have been told, a favorite of foreign surfers, who are mostly from Australia as the flight from one of its cities is just an hour plus, and local surfers who double up as surfing coaches. It wasn’t on the nth visit and as I watched the surfers gear up to ride the wave that it finally dawned on me why it is a surfer’s paradise. The waves are every surfer’s dream: glassy surface (read: nice and smooth), rolls in one direction, big, and powerful. If the surfers find the waves thrilling I find them on top of the waves absolutely amazing.

Kuta beach in April

At first glance, Kuta beach can be off-putting. First is the huge crowd at the entrance. Finding a parking space is a nightmare unless you have a scooter. Behind the entrance are legions of vendors plying anything under the shaded sun – accessories, beach wear, temporary tattoo (think henna), braiding and massage services, and alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks. In fact, the beverage vendors have set up makeshift “bars” of plastic chairs under a huge beach umbrella and drinks in a cooler box. 

Second push-factor are the aggressive vendors. I cannot forget the mistake I made in browsing this woman’s accessories only to change my mind because the woven bracelet I fancied looked worn out. She threw a hissy fit and followed me around the beach for a time. Lesson learned: never entertain a vendor unless you are certain of buying. 

However, hurdle the crowd and the vendors, and you will come face-to-face with the pulchritude of Kuta Beach. A divine, majestic landscape of blues – light blue, cerulean, aquamarine – intermingled with yellow, gold, and white play before your eyes that is completely mesmerizing. Standing or sitting, it is almost meditative as you slowly breathe in and breathe out the fresh sea breeze. The sun on your face, the breeze dancing with you, and the sound of waves rushing to shore is like a welcomed benediction from the universe and your guardian angels that you thought had abandoned you. A tingling, vivifying feeling shoots through you and you feel a smile tugging at the sides of your lips. For a moment everything is copacetic in your topsy-turvy world – the veil of sadness has been lifted and your heart has stopped crying.

Scanning the area, I people-watch: smiling at the lovers strolling by the water, laughing at the failed acrobatic stunts, staring at those sunbathing wondering if they had put on sufficient sunblock lotion. Then my gaze falls on the horizon and my thoughts take a different direction. In due time the beauty of Kuta Beach will permeate my gray-tinged world.


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