Bali isn’t always reviewed positively. I have heard tales of ‘Aussie Bogans’, youth-filled clubs and overpriced restaurants. Maybe in some areas this is the case. But my experience has always been that Bali is a very special place. Get away from the resorts around the airport and it’s easy to discover positive energy, mouth-watering local dishes, and views to take your breath away. Whether you want to climb a mountain, or find your inner zen, Bali is the perfect spot.
What to EAT
Pitaya Bowls: These will definitely be coming to a trendy smoothie-place near you soon. Hailed as a the new superfood, Pitaya (better known as Dragon Fruit) is bursting with health benefits, tastes delicious, and looks gorgeous. A favourite on the beaches of the Bukit peninsula, they blend it up with some banana and top with fruit, seeds, nuts and coconut. You never ate something so beautiful!
Healthy Goodness: Tempted by cocktails, fried treats and mountains of food, it’s hard to stay healthy on holiday. Not in Bali. Fruits, vegetables, salads and smoothies abound, and give the naughty-stuff a real run for it’s money. My favourites? Sari Organik is an organic cafe in Ubud, unique for its mouth-watering dishes but also its idyllic location in the middle of the rice paddies. Another winner is The Cashew Tree in Bingin, Pecatu. Lots of veggie and vegan options set in a tranquil garden, that bursts into life with live music, and beautiful people on a Thursday night.
Sate: Marinated meat, fish and veggies on sticks. Need I say more. And the place to go? Arang Sate Bar in Ubud. This little gem is a little bit pricier than other local options, but is a great spot for an atmospheric date. The tapas-style plates are complimented with exotic cocktails, and the staff are like old friends.
How to PLAY
The Yoga Barn, Ubud: You can’t come to Bali, and Ubud in particular, and not indulge in a little bit of yoga. For a huge range of classes and styles head to The Yoga Barn. Be warned, it is a large operation, with up to 40 people per class, but the space still maintains its calm, the instructors are very experienced, and the onsite cafe serves up perfect pre-or post-yoga juices, smoothies and snacks.
Surfing (Spectating), Uluwatu: Much to my bitter, bitter dismay I am no surfer. However, the famous surf spot of Uluwatu is one of my favourite places. Why? Because even if you don’t surf, you can be part of the (super cool) surfing scene. Grab a seat on the balcony at Single Fin, order a Bintang and enjoy the view. It’s the next best thing to actually being out on the waves.
Climb a Volcano: The two hour trek to the top of Mount Batur starts with a hotel pick-up around 2am. It feels brutal. As does the incessant uphill slog in the dark. But when you reach the top just in time to see the sunrise over the peak, you totally forget what you were complaining about.
The Gili Islands, Lombok: Just a short cab ride (from wherever you are in Bali) and then a boat trip will get you to the Gili Islands in just a few hours. The Gilis are simply three minuscule desert islands, fringed by white-sand beaches and coconut palms, sitting in a turquoise sea. They are not quite so ‘deserted’ these days, but you can still find your very own slice of paradise. Head to Gili T for a vibrant party scene, Gili Air for local character, and Gili Meno to really get away from it all.