I am an unashamed Bali lover. From my first trip here in the 80s, I was hooked on the island’s lush rice fields, laid back beaches, spicy food, thatched bungalows, blissful daily massages and friendly people. Each year, my husband and I spend a few weeks in Bali inhaling all the good stuff. I have hundreds of Bali photos documenting hundreds of good Bali moments, but for this blog, I’ve slimmed down the collection. Hope you like them.
What every tourist wants to see – Balinese terraced rice fields – they’re photo fodder.
The rice fields below are found on the beautiful Campuhan Walk Ubud. The walk is easy and there’s a couple of nice cafes along the way offering cool drinks to help combat the thirst.
Bali’s beaches offer a great way to experience local life. I like Kuta Beach, despite the negative flak it’s copped over the years. Sure, it’s a busy beach and rubbish has a regular habit of washing up on the sand, but in its defence, Coca Cola and Quiksilver have embarked on a mighty clean up effort with the result that the beach often looks fantastic. Check out the photo below which was taken from the Citadine rooftop. The beach is long and sandy, the waters are warm and from here you can walk to Tuban in one direction and Seminyak in the other. Sometimes walking along the beach is quicker than driving, such is the traffic issue now in this part of Bali.
Kuta Beach is central to both Poppies with plenty of accommodation choices, shops and cafes. In addition, there’s plenty of narrow back alleys to explore. Sunset drinks on Kuta Beach, sitting in the cool with a cold drink observing local families seeking solace from the humidity and chatting to the entrepreneurial sellers about the latest issues confronting constantly changing Bali is always on our Kuta agenda. Parts of Bali have certainly morphed into a bit of a tourist juggernaut, but gees you can have such a good time here.
A few minutes walk from Kuta Beach are the lovely Balinese bungalows Poppies Cottages in Poppies 1. I dub it a little oasis in a sea of busyness. We keep returning- the beautiful gardens, discreet staff and of course the quiet are hard to beat. Poppies Restaurant nearby is an iconic Kuta landmark and their Indonesian food is top notch.
Padang Padang Beach near Uluwatu is also a firm favourite. It’s become pretty well known now which is a shame, but still worth visiting. This beach is accessed via a path of steps which cuts through rock walls – a cool retreat before hitting the beach. Friendly locals will sell you a sarong, a drink or a spicy satay. We have stayed at a lovely hotel here -Pink Coco which is just across the road from the beach, making it our base to explore the Uluwatu area.
Balangan Beach gets the thumbs up for its beautiful scenery, great food and drinks from the beachside warungs.
Pandawa Beach in all its glory.
The beaches near Canggu and Echo Beach are a bit rough for swimming, but surfers flock to them. Their proximity to Tanah Lot Temple and its excellent market is a drawcard.
Touristy Seminyak also has a good beach. Sun lounges line the beach during the day and bars at night.
If I had to nominate my ‘top of the list’ beach, it would be Pasir Putih near Candi Dasa. We’d been coming to this beach for years before we realised tourists dub it White Sands Beach. It’s fabulous. There is no accommodation on the beach, so it’s quite undeveloped. The road down to the beach is heavily potholed; access is by foot or motor bike.
Plenty of great warungs line the beach; of course the seafood is abundant and the bintangs are cold. Just need a simple beach bungalow to complete the perfect picture.
I have to put in a good word for Sanur Beach which is a still water beach; a nearby reef ensures this. Bali’s unrelenting humidity can be a killer so Sanur Beach with its clear water, large shady trees and lounges as well as the ubiquitous cafes, warungs and markets fit the bill every time.
Sanur is the haunt of Europeans rather than Australians and some linger for several months, escaping the harsh Northern Hemisphere winter. It’s quieter than Kuta, Legian and Seminyak and it’s been a favourite haunt of ours over the last few years.
Staying in Sanur means staying in a villa. Think villas with plunge pools and an easy walk to everything. Our last two trips have seen us holed up in a one bedroom pool villa. The pool is a good size and gets the sun, which is a plus. Some Bali plunge pools live up to their name – shaded, quite cold and designed for well, … a plunge. No good if you want to loll around, drink in hand.
Have to add this beauty. Jimbaran Bay is a good spot too for a swim, famed for its seafood restaurants on the beach and fresh cooked corn on the cob!
Ungasan offers stunning clifftop views. Travelators transport you to the beaches below.
If you like western food, then there’s plenty of it in Bali … such a shame when the Balinese food is so damn good.
The Balinese are Hindu and their religion is constantly on show. Daily offerings outside their homes, workplaces and temples are colourful with lots of flowers and incense. The temples below are found at Bedugul and Besakih (mother of all temples).
There is a myriad of sightseeing to be had in Bali and it’s easy to organise a driver with an air conditioned car for the day. Bali is a large island and it can take weeks to see the island properly. Once, we spent a month here and still didn’t get to the places I’d ear marked. Here’s a few of my favourite snaps.
Last but certainly not least, if you love your coffee, then Bali will not disappoint. Coffee is done really well here. I can recommend Bemo Corner in Kuta and the amazing Budi who always welcomes you to his beautiful island.
When you’re ready for a change from Bali, hop a boat to the beautiful Gili Islands. Three islands make up the Gilis; Gili Trawangan is the most popular island and known for its party scene, but it’s not all party party – there are some nice parts to it, Gili Meno the quiet island is perfect for a couple’s retreat and Gili Air which is where we stay is a little bit of Trawangan and a little bit of Meno – really really nice.
Another favourite of mine is the island of Lombok, a short flight from Denpasar. It’s a big island, nowhere near as developed as Bali and has great beaches, accommodation and places to see.