The Best of Bali
Featured destinations: Bali
Published 20 February 2017
Bali is one of the most diverse islands I’ve had the pleasure of visiting. The mere mention of it evokes images of sandy beaches with crystal blue waters, but the singular island has more than just that to offer. Whether you’re after world-famous waves, a place to party or ultimate relaxation, I encourage you to pack your bags and board a flight…
...if you’re a surf and sea lover:
As Bali lays claim to a beach for every surfer, it’s crucial to pick the right spot for your level of ability. Beach breaks for beginners can be found at Kuta, Legian or Seminyak. Packed with local surf schools and with a soft tide, Kuta Beach is the most popular spot to try white water surfing and catch those first waves. Although it can be slightly more challenging, Canggu is an alternative location for beginners who desire a quieter vibe. In fact, Canggu proves to be a popular spot for just about everyone – with soft-rolling as well as powerful waves – making it one of the fastest growing areas on the island. Advanced surfers get to play with a vast range of epic locations too: the Bukit Peninsular hosts some of Bali’s most famous waves including Balangan, Bingin, Padang Padang’s ‘pipeline’ and Uluwatu, which boasts some of the biggest swells to hit the island. Balian and Medwei on the West Coast are worth checking out, as well as hidden-away Keramas on the east coast, especially during ‘off season’ from December – February.
Lotus garden, Bali image: Lottie Croker
...if you’re a yogi or spa lover:
With a name derived from the Balinese word for medicine, Ubud is the ideal destination for those looking to relax and rejuvenate. Whether your idea of releasing tension is through yoga, meditation or an hour long massage, the heart of Bali promises to heal. It’s doesn’t take a genius to work out why Elizabeth Gilbert chose Ubud as the setting for her bestselling novel, Eat Pray Love. Yoga studios, massage parlours and spas are in abundance, and at around just £4 for an hour-long, full-body massage, it’s the perfect place for pampering. But take note: the centre of Ubud gets pretty crazy, so journey just outside town to find serener settings. Many believe Ubud to be Bali’s arts, cultural and historical hub, so if you’re artistic as well as spiritualistic, make sure to add it to your itinerary.
A colourful party
…if you’re a party lover:
If hedonistic nightlife is top of your list, then Kuta is your Balinese mecca. Losing yourself in the chaos of Kuta is a popular past-time for backpackers on a budget, particularly at The Sky Garden. Here, you can dine and drink to your hearts content from 5- 9pm every night for about £8 – stay and dance ‘til the early hours if you haven’t overindulged. Nearby areas of Legion and Seminyak also have a lot to offer in terms of bars and clubs. For something more upmarket, head to La Favela in Seminyak or Potato Head Beach Club where the expansive lawn leads to an infinity pool that spills out onto the beach; there is officially no better place to enjoy a cocktail whilst watching the sunset. If you’re sticking South, savour an icy cold Bintang on a balcony over the beach at Single Fin’s Sunday Session in Uluwatu.
Mt Batur, Bali image: Lottie Croker
...if you’re active and love the outdoors:
Perhaps you’re more inclined to escape the crowds and explore Bali’s beautiful natural offerings? Ubud, located in Bali’s central highlands, is a great base and what you lose in beaches you gain in verdant valleys with undulating rice terraces. Hire a bike and cycle through coffee plantations and rice fields, stopping in a local village to refuel with some nasi goreng along the way. Set your alarm early and hike to the peak of nearby Mount Batur in time to watch the sunrise over the clouds - a totally unmissable experience. Or if you fancy day-trips to nearby waterfalls, then the northern Balinese town of Lovina is a good place to stay.
Luxury hotel in Bali
...if you want 5-star luxury and love to shop:
If you enjoy a sybaritic lifestyle or wish to go all out for your Bali break, then head to Seminyak for a bit of sophistication. Best known for its sunset-facing beaches, the area is home to some of Bali’s most upmarket beach resorts, beach clubs and leisure venues. Boutiques and cute cafes line the streets, so it’s also a shopper’s paradise! Jimbaran and Nusa Dua are popular for those looking for something exclusive and luxurious.
Sacred Monkey Forest, Bali image: Lottie Croker
...if you’re an animal lover:
Ubud (a personal favourite if you hadn’t guessed!) is home to one of Bali’s biggest animal attractions: The Sacred Monkey Forest. Banyan trees wrap around the Tomb Raider-esque surroundings, populated by hundreds of monkeys. Tip: don’t bring food unless you want to become well acquainted! Nearby, you can visit Villa Kitty – a rescue home and sanctuary for cats – to play with felines, completely free of charge. Or explore Bali’s animal Kingdom further at Bali Bird Park and adjacent Rimba Reptile Park in Batubulan, or Bali Butterfly Park in Tabanan.Diving in Bali image: Lottie Croker
...if you’re a diver or small island lover:
Okay, so it’s not technically Bali but if you agree that it’s better down where it’s wetter, or like things a little more secluded then don’t miss a trip across to the three Gili Islands. Although you can dive in Bali, the Gilis offer world-class diving in the most gorgeous of settings. I swam with sharks and turtles on my first ever dive –I can’t recommend it enough!
If Lottie's adventures have inspired you to visit Bali, take a look at our Indonesian Hills and Beaches tailor-made Indonesia holiday, which includes various stops in Bali and the Gili Islands.