I’m in love with Bali. This surprised me because I never expected to be. Bali was never a destination on my (rather extensive) travel bucket list and had recently being getting a very bad wrap in the Australian media. I had an idea that the popular Indonesian island was overflowing with surf board carrying, ‘mate‘-calling, too-loud fellow Aussies.
Let me promise you that Bali is so much more than a party destination and is an enticing melting pot of culture, spectacular resorts and perhaps the most friendly and relaxed locals you’ll find on the globe. After almost 2 rejuvenating weeks on the island, Bali has firmly established itself as one of my favourite destinations in the world. I mean, when can I go back?
Here is an overview of my 10 night experience that will (hopefully) convince you to book a holiday to Bali right now!
Day 1: Jimbaran Bay
My family and I boarded our Virgin Australia flight to Bali bright and early. The flight from Melbourne, Australia, was pleasantly short and only took 5.5 hours. When we arrived we were greeted with a cruisy walk through (modern!) Denpasar Airport. We paid a $35 USD entry fee into the country before we met our strange driver (a man called Mansu who wouldn’t take no for an answer) and were on our way through the myriad of drivers to our resort in Jimbaran Bay, a quiet area in southwestern Bali around a 15 minute drive from Denpasar Airport and one hour from the party hub of Kuta. As we rounded a corner to the resort, Karma Jimbaran, we were greeted by immaculately maintained tropical gardens, warm friendly smiles and a welcome drink while our four bedroom Valley Pool Villa was prepared. This was perhaps one of the most spectacular villas I’ve come across with a large lap pool overlooking a valley, sunset viewing deck and four spacious bedrooms. We spent the afternoon splashing around the pool drinking cocktails and later enjoyed a complimentary dinner at the resort by the pool!
Day 2: Exploring Jimbaran Bay Beach
We rose crack of dawn to watch the sun rise from our viewing deck before enjoying a deliciously healthy, just-cooked breakfast at the resort. Then it was time to explore the local area. Jimbaran Bay has a fantastic swimming beach that is relatively clean thanks to the number of resorts in the area. After an afternoon of pure relaxation on the beach we made our way to Jimbaran Beach Cafe for a famous seafood dinner and sunset viewing. This sunset was perhaps the most breathtaking that I have ever seen. I spent the night lying leisurely on a bean bag, drinking in the tropical heat and watching locals playing cricket on the beach.
Day 3: Exploring Ulu Watu, Dreamland Beach & Karma Kandara
The resort hired us a charming young driver called Wayan Ari to take us to Ulu Watu temple, Dreamland Beach and Karma Jimbaran’s sister resort, Karma Kandara. This was one of my favourite days of the entire trip with Ulu Watu temple perhaps one of the most beautiful coastline destinations I’ve ever encountered. After mum ‘apparently’ glimpsed a crocodile-like silhouette at Dreamland Beach I was not impressed so we were quick to leave and make our way to the more authentic and uber-surfy Green Bowl Beach. We walked down 320 stairs and were greeted by an impressive surf vibe and a cluster of hippie expats riding the waves. In the late afternoon we enjoyed perhaps the best 5 hours of our holiday at Karma Kandara Private Beach Club, drinking exotic cocktails and dancing the night away to laid back music provided by a totally hipster South American DJ.
Day 4: Lazy Day by the Beach
One of our main purposes for visiting Bali was to do absolutely nothing, so that’s what was on the agenda for our third day. We did all that comes to mind when you think of a beach-side holiday including reading by the pool, lying on the beach and having a lazy long lunch at a great beach-restaurant called Puri Bar. Later in the evening we caught a taxi to Rimba Jimbaran Bali ( a nearby resort complex) to watch the sun set from their rooftop bar.
Day 5: Shopping in Seminyak & Sunset at Tanah Lot
After spending the majority of our time in and around Jimbaran Bay, we set out to explore neighbouring Seminyak just over an hour’s drive from our resort. It is a great boutique shopping area and has plenty of fantastic eateries offering delicious food for a great price! As a vegetarian, I was especially pleased to discover a local establishment called Earth Cafe where they had pages and pages of veggie food options! After a hot day of exploring Seminyak, our loyal driver Wayan Ari drove us through the rice fields to sacred Tanah Lot Temple to watch the sun set. This was a truly magical experience despite the hoards of people fighting for the best view. If you want a great photo, avoid staying too close to the crowds and cross the beach to get the sun setting behind the temple.
Day 6: Spa Treatment & Birthday Celebrations
Today was my sister’s 21st Birthday and the resort staff kindly provided her with a cake for breakfast (without being asked! That’s how good they were). I indulged in a manicure at our resort spa and then a much-need massage (the heat was starting to make me slightly delusional!). Later in the afternoon we ventured back into laidback Seminyak to experience the popular bar, Potato Head and an amazing dinner at the renowned Ku De Ta Restaurant.
Day 7: The Famous Ayana Rock Bar
After another luxuriously indulgent day spent by the lap pool at our villa, we were keen to experience the highly-anticipated Ayana Rock Bar just fifteen minutes drive from our accommodation. The sunset was absolutely spectacular and our seating position offered prime views of the sun sinking below the horizon. In the evening we indulged in a BBQ in our villa for our final night in Jimbaran Bay.
It was time to embark on an adventure to the land of Eat Pray Love! Our (terrible) driver Mansu picked us up and delivered us 1 hour 40 minutes from Jimbaran Bay to the sacred and peaceful town of Ubud in the mountains. On the way we passed idyllic rice fields and rustic temples. Our accommodation in Ubud, Komaneka Tanggayuda, was located just 15 minutes from the centre of the town and was truly a magical place immersed in the forest. We enjoyed traditional food at the restaurant before having an early night.
Day 9: Exploring Ubud & Surrounds
We enjoyed a (rather over the top!) four-course breakfast at our resort, Komaneka Tanggayuda before catching the free shuttle bus into the centre of Ubud, home to numerous art galleries, clothing stores and beautiful temples. We did some light shopping before wandering aimlessly and once again enjoying a Vegetarian feast at the Ubud Earth Cafe (I am seriously obsessed!)
Day 10: Karsa Kafe Walking Track, Ubud
We ventured back to the centre of Ubud to complete the famous walk through forest and rice terraces to idyllic Karsa Kafe. This was one of my favourite experiences in Ubud as it gave us the chance to peruse authentic art galleries and purchase a spectacular painting of Ubud’s rice fields. Karsa Kafe was stunning itself with little huts immersed in the rice terraces. In the evening we had a simply amazing last night at a restaurant called Swept Away offering a beautiful river-side dining experience.
Day 11: Our Final Day
We sadly explored a few final art galleries and had a last swim in the magnificent infinity pool at our resort before our driver (who thankfully was not Mansu!) collected us and delivered us to the Denpasar airport for our trip home.
Bali was a truly wonderful travel experience and I simply cannot wait to get back there!