One of Bali’s most beautiful beaches, Nusa Dua is back to its blissful best this month following the reopening of Kulkul beach house. A much-loved local institution on the vanilla-white Nusa Dua shoreline, the fully renovated beach house has returned with thoughtfully reimagined interiors and updated menus that include some of Indonesia’s most innovative cocktails – all on offer just steps away from the warm waters of the shimmering Indian Ocean.
Its name a reference to the traditional Balinese wooden bells that invite locals to gather for special moments and ceremonies, Kulkul is an idyllic social setting tailor-made for languid days by the beach – the vibe here is intentionally relaxed rather than raucous. Soundtracked by a mellow mix of house and Mediterranean music, lazy days here are best spent lounging outdoors in pillowy cabanas by the 12- metre adults-only swimming pool or lingering over laid-back afternoons in the shade. Generous cocktails provide two distinct opportunities to mark a special night, either as the setting sun turns the skies pink and the ocean golden or after darkness has fallen and starlight sparkles on the water.
Though Kulkul always operated with consideration for its surroundings and its sustainability responsibilities, its closure provided the longstanding team with the opportunity to reassess its offering more thoroughly. This time round, the Kulkul kitchen returns with a greater emphasis on zero-waste drinking and dining. Still spotlighting as much produce as possible from local partners, the all-day menu features a range of vegetarian and vegan options alongside traditional comfort foods and superb seafood specialities.
Its fresh-as-can-be and fuss-free menu provides guests with a perfect complement of casual light bites to enjoy with drinks throughout the day and evening. Easy-to-share options include deliciously crumbly seafood croquettes served with beetroot salad and punchy wasabi aioli; the signature ‘About Pumpkin’ dish is a sunny burst of roasted pumpkin with pumpkin purée and pumpkin flowers. Infused with squid ink, the smoked salmon macarons come with a cool dollop of sour cream. For dessert, homemade coconut, raspberry or strawberry sorbets are wonderfully refreshing, while rich chocolate tarts are balanced with passionfruit.
For cocktail connoisseurs, Kulkul’s drinks menu features inventive pours that rival the beautifully presented creations you might expect to find in the world’s most famous drinking destinations. Having studied emerging trends, the bar team’s signature drinks make novel use of nitrogen, smoke, foam and ice. Try the N20 cocktail, which is made exclusively from locally sourced ingredients such as arak, coffee and honey. The team use a novel Nitro cold-brew technique to turbocharge its flavours, and the chilled drink’s thirst-quenching qualities make it particularly popular on especially hot days.
Also popular are the bar’s sparkling spritzers, including the Negritzer. This effervescent spin on the classic Negroni features Campari, sweet vermouth, angostura bitters and sparkling wine. Other favourites include the Piña Espumada, which blends coconut rum with juicy local pineapples and freshly blended coconut cream. A distinctly Indonesian interpretation of the classic Bloody Mary, the Sambal Mary mixes arak and homemade tomato sambal with lemon juice, tabasco and Worcestershire sauce.
All those offerings combine to create a chilled-out setting that carries the everybody’s-welcome atmosphere of a relaxed bohemian party. Guests are encouraged to lounge around all day and night, perhaps cooling down in the pool, taking in those incredible Indian Ocean views or reconnecting over cocktails and canapés (though an ambient soundtrack plays throughout the week, the melody picks up pace a touch on Friday and Saturday evenings, when friends can listen to live DJ sets as they sip their sundowners). With the Nusa Dua shoreline just steps away, visits can be supplemented by snorkelling discoveries and romantic waterfront strolls along palm-lined soft sands. Relaxed, carefree and welcoming, the new Kulkul is the perfect place to luxuriate in the serene spirit of Bali.
Kulkul (Instagram @kulkulbeachhouse; phone number +62 361 771 327) relaunched on 18 April and is open daily from 10am to 11pm.