Expat on the Beach: Topless on Bali

Just do it?

by Miss Footloose

Bali serenity

I’m sure you’ve heard expats or tourists talk about the Indonesian island of Bali. How magical it is, this island of rice paddies and beaches, of temples and festivals, of smiles and serenity.

Bali has something for everyone. You can hide in the idyllic mountains and meditate and hope to levitate; you can cruise from temple to temple and catch a festival almost any day of the year; or you can party with the backpacker crowd, eat magic mushroom omelets, and hang out on the beach.

And if you go with children?

Well, you might find their observations interesting.

When my prince and I lived in Indonesia, on the main island of Java, we spent several weeks on Bali on vacation with our two young daughters.

So what to do?

Sand temples

The girls were not into meditating or temple cruising, but the beach held great appeal. Balinese kids loved playing there too, as you can see on this photo, making not sand castles, but sand temples. Go figure. Anyway, come with us on our first day at the beach in Bali.

What to wear?

We’re off to the beach and daughter number one has proudly donned her new bikini. Her Oma in Holland, my mother, gave it to her as a present. She’s nine years old and teenage hormones have not yet stirred from slumber and started their magic in her girlish body. No curves in sight anywhere, no blossoming bosom. The bikini is a string bikini, tiny scraps of fabric covering not very much. But hey, she looks cute.

Me? I’m wearing an elegant one-piece number. Not because I am prudish (I’m Dutch), but simply because I want to spare the world the view of my mid-section and the ravages of two pregnancies. (My man will roll his eyes when he reads this. He thinks I’m gorgeous. Love is so blind, don’t you agree?)


Bali beach vendors

So many temptations . . .

We’re on a tourist beach near our hotel and there’s lots to look at. Vendors everywhere. You can buy drinks and dresses and sarongs and shells and jewelry and beach mats and secret stuff you don’t want to get caught with. And if you crave a massage, no problem. Coconut oil and the steely hands of a ancient granny are available right here in the sand. Or if you prefer a young male hunk, he’s available too.

I discern a potpourri of languages around me — Australian and English and Swedish and Japanese and German. People of all sizes and shapes are roasting in the sun, many of the females wearing bikini bottoms only.

Mother Nature’s art works

So, the girls are messing around in the sand and I’m studying my half-naked sisters nearby, realizing that Mother Nature is very creative if not always kind when it comes to size and shape. Still, whatever your figure, getting an even tan is a noble pursuit, so go for it, is what I say. And as I’m considering this, it occurs to me that daughter number one, although lavishly anointed with sunscreen, is going to end up with some unflattering little triangles on her flat-as-a-dime little-girl chest.

Out of the mouths of babes

“Listen,” I say to her, “why don’t you take off your bikini top?”

She lifts her blond head. “Why?”

“You can get an even tan that way. See, lots of girls here are topless.”

She looks around at the various topless females. I see her study the plump British girl nearby whose generous breasts glow dangerously white in the tropical sun. My daughter glances back at me, her serious little face all sober contemplation.

“I can’t,” she says. “I’m too young to go topless.”

* * *

Tell me a story! Anything to do with kids and their bodies, swim suits, the beach, topless sunning, people watching. Bali!

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So cute! Did she ever go topless later in life? It’s so funny how times have changed, and people became more prudish. These days you rarely see anyone under 50 topless on a beach even in Europe… I think in Bali you’d be admonished by the pecalang I think. Or even arrested/ deported for being topless. And to think the Balinese women themselves would go around topless themselves just a century ago. I was in Siberut (island off Sumatra), in the jungle, staying at a remote longhouse where you had to bathe in the river. We did that topless but… Read more »

Your daughter’s comment is priceless!


The USA has nude beaches like Blacks Beach in California

I’m so jealous that you’ve been to Bali. It is totally the expat place of choice for vacays and Hubby has denied me for ages. *sigh*

A few years ago we were at a hotel for xmas and this one woman kept going topless at the hotel pool. A few of the parents in the area were annoyed but mostly everyone was whispering that she shoudl put her top back on because she didn’t have much to show off. LOL


That is too cute!
I wish that was my excuse…

What a cute thing to say — the sweet naivete of it! I’ll never forget the first time I went to Copenhagen. It was a nice warm day in summer and as I walked by a city park, my eyes popped out: none of the ladies there had your (also my) scruples about sparing the world their post-children bellies. I’ve never seen so many pendulous breasts and sagging, stretch-marked tummies in all my life, but the wonderful thing was that no one was the least bit self conscious. Wish I could be that blase. Lucky for the world that I’m… Read more »

Such sweet innocence!

hi there, What a great ending to the Topless story! I love it! So cute! ….and I am too old! 🙂

Middle Aged Woman Blogging

Funny story. I don’t go topless anywhere.. I don’t want to scare people!

I wonder what your daughter thinks of her comment today. I love it. I remember taking our 3 sons to Corsica. My youngest was 4 and the oldest 11. They stared at the topless women for about 3 minutes, especially coming from the U.S., but then they stopped. They were already used to it. I so wish this was not a big deal in the U.S. I don’t think I shall ever understand the attitudes towards guns and violence being OK in movies and then “Oh my, she’s showing her breasts. Hide your kids’ eyes.”

@ Mitr Friend, yes, it really is fun to see how differently kids perceive certain situations! @ Tell your dh it is not all about tourists there. Inland it is quiet and peaceful and gorgeous! @ Scintilla, Ah, go for it! In Italy, there are nude beaches. You can go all the way 😉 @ Mary Witzl, I’m sure that the sooner it becomes “normal” the sooner nobody cares and the sooner everybody just feels comfortable with her/his not-so-perfect body! @ Gabber, look above: nobody is too old! @ Middle-Aged Woman, see my reply to Mary Witzl. Wouldn’t it be… Read more »

Kids are so unique and individual in their thinking, aren’t they?! Great story.

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