As promised, a quick round up of adventures to get you started planning your trip to Bali!
A glorious, long stretch of white sand and pale blue sea. Waves to play in at high tide, shallows to wallow in at low tide. Sunbeds to rent and simple restaurants for a spot of lunch. (Blog post here.)
Next door to Padang Padang (Known locally as “Julia Roberts beach” because of the tourists who flock there having seen “Eat Pray Love.”) but much lesser known. Beautiful, simple, two beach shacks selling beer and noodles. Hire a sunbed and maybe a surfboard. Expect a bit of a hike back up the steps, but you could do it in flip flops.
Sundays Beach Club
Below a luxury resort, you pay to go down (in a very cool lift) but get what you pay as credit at the restaurant. Great food, great cocktails, smores at sunset. A must visit. Sea very rough at high tide, great snorkelling at low tide.
Pasir Putih (White Sand Bay)
Feels remote and wild, great snorkelling. Bit off the beaten track, take water & snacks.
Dark sand, not postcard worthy but teaming with wildlife. Turtles, manta rays, dolphins.
Long stretch of beach in front of luxury hotels. A bit dirty and intense in places, but fun for sunset drinks and seafood in one of the many restaurants on the sand. Rough and ready style eating, be sure to go out back and check out the kitchens! (Blog post here.)
Nyang Nyang Beacg
Pain in the butt to get to. Fields, dirt track, hundreds of steps. You’ll need to take a parasol, towels, water and food, so not for the faint hearted. However it truly is Bali’s finest hidden gem, you’ll have the place to yourself to run around naked in and play Blue Lagoon!
Nusa Lembongan Island
Well worth taking a boat trip to, if you’re in Bali for a little while. Stunning white beaches, unbelievable snorkelling, crystal waters. (Blog post on a trip we took here.)
Bali is bursting with culture, history, temples, shrines, caves, you could spend a lifetime exploring and never find it all.
If you’re visiting for a short while here are my top picks, the things you really shouldn’t miss.
The water temple, hanging over a cliff edge in Uluwatu (the very south west of the island). Not as busy as some of the other temples, and the combo of the jungle, temple and sea all coming together is quite something. Wear loose clothing, covered shoulders and expect to wear a sarong they’ll lend you at the door.
The Elephant Cave, near Ubud. 9th century temple carved into a cave, surrounded by incredible sculptures, ponds and fountains.
Wander around the spiritual heart of Bali. Rich in culture and hidden away in a lush jungle, visit the market and join a yoga class.
Visit the Tegallalang rice terraces around Ubud, chat to local people, find a small wooden hut for lunch. Immerse yourself in the real Bali! Might be worth booking onto a tour – blog post on the one we chose here.
Ubud Monkey Temple
For monkey lovers only! Not the sort of place you want to be if they freak you out. Stroll the grounds of a ruined temple, climb through the jungle, feed the monkeys and keep a firm grip on your sunglasses! Blog post here.
Do not visit:
Any tiger “sanctuaries” where you can hold the tigers (they drug them and mistreat them to keep them docile), elephant safaris, or pay to have pictures with baby monkeys, sloths, or anything wild but cute. They’re snatched from their parents in the jungle and paying only encourages this to happen again and again as the babies grow up and become less cute and (understandably) aggressive. There are also a couple of Balinese hotels keeping dolphins in swimming pools. They go blind because of the chlorine and eventually die from depression. Steering clear of these goes without saying. Sign the petition for their removal here. Seeing dolphins in the wild is one of the greatest gifts the world has to offer. It comes down to patience and luck. Paying to swim with a trapped wild animal does not compare. Instead try your luck with one of the sunrise dolphin trips in the north of the island.
All the time I’ve spent in Bali I’ve eaten as much local food as humanly possible. Satay chicken with every meal, nasi goreng and mie goreng (fried rice with satay and fried noodles with satay) on repeat. The best places for Balinese food are the little shacks filled with locals at lunch time. If you steer clear of anywhere too touristy then you’re guaranteed great food. For the times you fancy something a little different, check these out:
Batik (Seminyak) – Beautiful lunch or dinner spot in Seminyak – modern Thai and Balinese food in stunning surroundings.
Famous for it’s acaii and colourful smoothie bowls, 4 different locations around Bali. Blue Point’s my pick for it’s unparalleled views over the ocean.
The Warung (Uluwatu not far from Sunday’s beach club)
Beautiful restaurant on cliff top, part of a luxury resort/. Fancy Indonesian food, good for special occasions.
Instaworthy acaii bowls, breakfast or a quick bite.
The Spicy Coconut (Seminyak)
Plant-based cafe, colourful plates perfect for lunch or breakfast
Drifter Surf Shop (Uluwatu)
Cool surf shop with a café out back serving acaii bowls and iced lattes.
Revolver Espresso (Seminyak)
The perfect cup of coffee.
Motel Mexicola (Seminyak)
Set amongst the palm trees in Seminyak, delicious traditional mexican street food, great cocktails, instaworthy interiors, crazy colours and tiles for days.
Bukit Cafe (Uluwatu)
Healthy Aussie style eatery, good for breakfast, they do pancakes, smoothies, fruit platters and pretty coffees.
Blue Point (Uluwatu)
Funny little area full of eateries, poke bowls and ice creams.
Watercress Cafe (Ubud)
Lovely eatery in Ubud, great brunch spot, very good coffee and homemade cakes. Upstairs they have a cosy wine bar between the trees.
The Elephant (Ubud)
Vegetarian restaurant, lovely smoothies and fresh juices, overlooking the beautiful Tjampuhan Ridge, great views and atmosphere.
If you want to travel around a bit I would recommend hiring a driver. You can book them by the day. Traffic in Bali is mental so leave yourself a good amount of time to get anywhere!
Nusa Dua Blowhole
A rock formation that blows water way up into the sky as waves hit. Fun for pictures! Don’t climb into it.
Learn to surf
All over Bali you’ll find surf schools, surf board rental and instructors. When’s the best time to learn a new sport? Last year. Failing that, start now.
Join a yoga class
Nungnung Waterfall, Petang
The descent down to the waterfal is half the fun, walk through rice paddies and plantations, take good shoes you’ll have to go down 509 steps, the car park is quite easy to find but prepare for a long descent. This 50m high waterfall is a magical spot.
Beautiful waterfall cutting through the rain forest, easy access. (Blog post)
Banyumala Twin Waterfall
Not the easiest to find but once you’re there it’s worth all the effort! Located in Wanagiri district near Lake Buyan. Worth getting a local who knows their way around to take you down there.
Close to Ubud and easier to access, good for jumps, take your underwater camera, lots of shops around, best to go late afternoon/evening for the best light for photos.