Originally published on holidaywithkids.com.au
Danielle Norton and family pump up the adrenaline to uncover the action-packed side to beautiful Bali
Sitting astride my quad bike, leg protectors strapped on and engines revving, I watched the smile spread across my teenager’s face. After an easy introduction where we learned how to manage our vehicles (hand-braking system like a bicycle!) we meandered through green rice fields, waving at little kids as we rumbled through their villages with Gasrut Travel.
My eldest was in his element on his own quad bike, and the twins were allowed to drive their own vehicles, although they had to share with an adult to be covered by insurance. Shrieking with laughter as we sped through the sparkly black sand on Tegal Mengkeb Beach, near the famous Tanah Lot Temple, we felt like true speed demons.
Parents may fantasise about a leisurely holiday in Bali – lazy days by the pool, sunset walks and balmy evening meals on the beach – but the reality when travelling with active teens and tweens is that they need more than fancy drinks and deckchairs.
My three kids, 15, 12 and 12, are on the hunt for excitement and adventure wherever we go, so on our latest visit to Bali we planned an itinerary to suit.
My kids came to Bali chasing waves, so I booked them in for a class with the guys from Impossible Surf School in Uluwatu, where the swell was the perfect mix of small and scary. The super “chill” instructor had the kids hanging ten in no time, although peppered with lots of gasps and face plants.
Speaking of gasps, Waterbom is the bomb! Do yourself a favour and rent a cabana so you have a base to retreat to when the kids are not screaming down water slides. Or grab a tube and float along the Lazy River if, like me, you are less inclined to twist, turn and tumble all day. I did brave the Python, a life-raft ride, but passed on the Climax, a trapdoor slide, although I have it on good authority that it challenges even the toughest teen.
Mountains and rivers
For a truly exhilarating escapade, try a Rafting Ayung experience near Ubud. Over two hours, professional guides led us through lush rainforests, over teeming rapids, under waterfalls and through some hairy river patches that kept us clinging to the sides of the raft and grinning till our faces hurt.
There are more thrills to be found along the Ayung River with a Bali Tubing Tour. Seriously, what could possibly be more fun for a kid than holding on for dear life as they hurtle down a river in a plastic blow-up tube, watching as their mum slides off into the water to be dunked under a waterfall?
My lot weren’t all that impressed by the Instafamous Bali Swing; instead, a speedy mountain bike ride gave them a real chance to observe the wonder of the changing surroundings. Guides do set the pace, but if your kids are confident riders, like mine, they will make this journey a fast and furious affair.
Bali Quad Discovery Tours offers combined buggy tours and canyon-tubing experiences for those kids over the age of five who just can’t get enough thrills in one day. The Bali Buggy Discovery Tour takes you to some incredible hidden locations, giving yet another perspective of the culture of this country and the gentle nature of its people.
Zoo and ziplines
In need of a rest day, but still wanting to get out to explore, we headed to Bali Zoo where even the older kids enjoyed the tropical gardens and learning about the animal adoption programs. Many of the 500 animals in residence have been rescued from Sumatra and rehabilitated by caring staff. There’s a water play section for kids too, so remember to pack swimmers.
But of course, there are still thrills to be found, and Bali Treetop Adventure Park beckons. There are seven adventure circuits and 72 different challenges here, and the second you strap on your harness and click your carabiner to the zipline the adrenaline starts pumping. My advice here: have faith, look up into the treetops and simply enjoy the view.
After the heart rate has accelerated past a certain point, it’s time for Mum to get her fix of relaxation, too. Returning to Mövenpick Resort & Spa Jimbaran Bali by 4pm in time for the very appealing ‘Chocolate Hour’ became our aim. A swim in one of the resort’s many pools and 60 minutes spent dipping churros, fruit, marshmallows and cake pops into deep bowls of warm chocolate was the perfect way to restore our energy before sneaking in a sunset cocktail at Above Eleven, the resort’s very stylish rooftop bar. With a mix of Peruvian and Japanese food and an outdoor cinema with free popcorn for the kids, this was a favourite spot to relive the day’s funniest tales.
Nothing says holidays like a buffet breakfast and we were big fans of the spread at the resort. From healthy shots of veggie juice to congee, mee goreng and the colourful bakery corner complete with a wall of doughnuts, we ate like kings, stockpiling energy for another day of exciting Bali adventures.
Direct flights to Bali are available from most major Australian cities. You can organise transfers with balibuddies.com for a hassle-free arrival experience.