If you’ve been following me on Instagram, you would know by now that in November I spent two weeks travelling around the beautiful island of Bali with my beautiful girlfriend. Yep, we were toolies for two weeks. But before you jump to any conclusions, you need to know how we ended up here. After finishing uni forever, and with Soph only having one more semester left of uni, we felt it was appropriate to treat ourselves with a holiday. About 30 seconds into looking at flights and we saw cheap flights to Bali. It’s funny because Bali is somewhere I was never really interested in travelling to. Mainly because every other person and their uncle has been, it’s apparently overrun by Aussies, their beaches have nothing on ours and it’s overrated. But being suckers for a deal, we booked the flights and before we knew it we were landing in Denpasar.
Well, if this isn’t a lesson for not listening to everyone else, then I don’t know what is?! BALI WAS AMAZING! It surprised me in ways I couldn’t have imagined and it is seriously the ultimate destination. Whether you’re looking for romance, parties, shopping, adventure, epic nature vibes, culture, beaches, jungles, isolation or the hustle and bustle, Bali has is all.
So I thought I would share with you our itinerary and give some reviews so you can plan an epic adventure to Bali.
Seminyak was the perfect welcome to Bali. With the craziness of constant honking taxis, people selling sarongs and penis shaped bottle openers, tourists wandering the streets with their Bintang singlets and braided hair, it completely encapsulated what I believed Bali to be. With a thriving nightlife, pumping party culture, Instagrammable cafes and endless shopping, you’ll never find yourself wondering what to do.
The beach surprised me with its cleanliness and its crystal clear water. Despite my run-in with an unknown sea creature I stepped on (ew!), some perfect waves rolled in over the otherwise flat surface.
It’s not a visit to Seminyak without watching the sunset over the ocean with a beer in hand and a cocktail at Motel Mexicola, the perfect ending to a perfect time in Seminyak.
Where we stayed: Juada Garden
Favourite restaurant: The Dusty Cafe (order the mojitos!)
Best coffee: Coffee Cartel
Highlight: Watching the sun set over the ocean.
Hot tip: Get your bartering shoes on, it’s time to get fiesty!
Perfect for: those who want a wild girls trip filled with shopping, partying, nails and beach sunset parties.
Canggu is a hipsters paradise! All the locals (and wannabe chillers) call it changoo and if you have enough coconut milk lattes, you’ll be calling it by its proper name in no time. A much more relaxed version of Seminyak, Canggu caters for the young wanderer.
You’ll find some delightful bars to satisfy all your cocktail needs (hello happy hour!) and some delicious spots to chow down some food. There’s nothing quite like heading down to Echo beach to watch the sun set over the ocean (for someone living on the East coast of Australia – I don’t know if I’ll ever get over this!)
On our last day in Canggu, we headed out to the sacred Tanah Lot, only about 30 minutes from our hotel. I would completely recommend making this trip because it not only has a lot of cultural significance to the Balinese, but it is gorgeous. We headed there early in the morning to avoid the crowds. Instead, we ran into a school group of Malaysian school children wanting to practice speaking English with us! I kid you not – Soph and I were swarmed by 10 year olds! That ordeal aside, it was a gorgeous temple and a nice little outing.
Where we stayed: Tapa Tepi Kali
Favourite restaurant: Peekaboo
Best coffee: Give cafe
Highlight: Bar hopping across Canggu and buying sexy sunglasses, and visiting nearby Tanah Lot.
Hot tip: Order the shrimp tacos at Peekaboo! You can thank me later.
Perfect for: Groups of friends travelling to go surfing, do yoga, visit vegan cafes, pet cute dogs and taking it easy.
Ubud is said to be the cultural capital of Bali. With temples, gorgeous architecture and a food scene to die for, Ubud certainly delivers with the whole ‘culture’ aspect. It’s much busier than I initially thought it would be, but this only adds to the trendy, happening vibe of this place.
Despite its popularity, we didn’t venture to the ‘sacred monkey forest.’ Neither Soph or I are interested in or like monkeys and we thought willingly entering a forest plagued by monkeys was sure to induce a panic attack. Instead we opted for a little day trip to various parts surrounding Ubud. Our hotel arranged a driver who took us to Goa Gajah (a sacred temple), a butterfly sanctuary (yes it really was as random as it sounds) and finally to Kanto Lampo waterfalls.
I came across this waterfall on Instagram and was concerned it might be equally as busy as the Tegenungan falls we had visited the previous day (there were swarms of tourists doing stupid tourist things), but to our surprise at Kanto Lampo, we had it to ourselves. The locals offered to take some pictures and it seems they have some creative directors among them! It was gorgeous to actually climb and get under the waterfall to enjoy it in all its natural perfection.
Where we stayed: Taman Amartha
Favourite restaurant: Casa Luna (order the lime tart and five spice duck noodles! Best foodgasm you’ll have).
Best coffee: Seniman Coffee
Highlight: Kanto Lampo waterfall
Hot tip: Whilst out hotel was beautiful, it would have been nicer staying a little closer to the centre of town. I would definitely recommend it because the streets and vibe of Ubud are where you want to be!
Perfect for: Yogis wanting to experience Bali’s culture. The type of place you would go to meditate and do a juice cleanse (ok so one chic we met on our travels did this. I wouldn’t recommend because the food in Ubud is amazing and ew – juice cleanse? Get over yourself).
And these are the moment I’m grateful for my YouTube obsession. Thanks to ‘Where’s Poppy‘ I found out about this beautiful little beach town of Amed. We technically stayed in Lipah, right on Lipah beach – a stunning black sand beach with some of the best snorkelling I’ve ever done. The drive from Ubud to Amed was incredible! We drove through enormous mountains, past rice fields and past volcanoes. Along the way we stopped at Tirta Gangga water palace. Soph and I had no idea what we were in for but when our driver suggested a stop we said OK. We were pleasantly surprised by the beauty of this place. Again, seriously one of the most epic drives!
The hotel we stayed at was a little… so so… but its location was perfect! On the beach with access to fisherman who can take you on a boat ride to the Japanese shipwreck. It would be a perfect location to ride a motorbike, or like us, we hitched a ride with a local.
This place is an absolute must! It’s a completely different Bali. It’s isolated, quiet, though with some cool bars and restaurants, and incredible beaches. If I was to go back to Bali, I would definitely head back here and take a boat to the Gili Islands and Lombok.
Where we stayed: Bali Bhuana Beach Cottages
Favourite restaurant: Griya (we went for brekky! Worth it)
Best coffee: Griya (there weren’t many cafes around)
Highlight: Snorkelling around a Japanese shipwreck and watching the sunset behind a volcano.
Hot tip: Stay in Amed. There seemed to be more cafes, bars and restaurants.
Perfect for: Diving and snorkelling enthusiasts. Those looking for a peaceful, serene yet adventure filled break.
We only stayed here for one night. In my planning, I thought it would be worth it to break up the trip between Amed and Nusa Lembongan, and I’m so glad I did. We arrived at 10am way before check in, but they let us check in and enjoy the pool. It was a cute little cottage and Candidasa was a cute little town. There were tourists around and some lovely restaurants (we had some amazing Mahi Mahi). It was a great little one night stay with a gorgeous view of where we were headed next, Nusa Lembongan (and Nusa Penida).
Where we stayed: Segara Wangi Beach Cottages
Favourite restaurant: La Rouge (order the Mahi Mahi)
Best coffee: I think we skipped the coffee and went straight to happy hour mode here.
Hot tip: There’s a beach called Virgin Beach which is supposed to be beautiful that’s quite close. We didn’t make it there but hey, we’ll add it to the list for next time.
Perfect for: a one night stay before your next adventure.
Love that island life! Only a 30 minute boat ride from Bali, Nusa Lembongan is paradise just waiting to be explored. The ‘Nusa’s’ are made up of three islands, Lembongan (the most developed and popular), Cenigan (the small middle one with a famous yellow beach), and Penida (the big, mountainous island that’s rather undeveloped, natural with amazing viewpoints).
The water here is picture perfect! Crystal clear with great snorkelling, perfect for stand up paddle boarding and relaxing by the beach. We spent a morning on a boat headed to go snorkelling around Nusa Penida including the famous ‘Manta Bay.’ We actually swam with manta rays! Real life manta rays! It was incredible!
We stayed on Mushroom Bay and I would absolutely recommend this quiet spot. There’s gorgeous cafes and restaurants dotted everywhere along this pristine beach.
Where we stayed: Lumbung Bali Huts
Favourite restaurant: Sandy Bay Beach
Best coffee: Mushroom espresso
Hot tip: Be careful around surprise muddy areas (I found out the hard way). Order a strawberry daiquiri at the Sandy Bay Beach club. Don’t think you can just go for a day trip, there’s so much more to this gorgeous little island, so be sure to give yourself a few days.
Perfect for: Those who are looking for adventure, for relaxation and for good cocktails!
So we finally made it to our final destination, beautiful, chilled and relaxed Uluwatu. Wow. This place was absolutely beautiful! But maybe it was the gorgeous hotel we stayed at that added to the unparalleled beauty of this place.
Our hotel was incredible! We stayed in ‘the cliff’ which was literally carved out of a cliff face! We woke up every morning to uninterrupted views of the gorgeous Indian ocean. Be warned, we did have some little visitors (monkeys) but if you’re not in a rush, they’ll monkey around in the bathroom and you can sit back and watch them.
There was absolutely great shopping and beautiful little cafes that I would have loved to explore more. But because our hotel was so glorious, we really couldn’t pass on lounging by the pool, drinking affogato’s, being smart and just enjoying each other’s company before we had to return to reality.
Where we stayed: Mû Boutique Hotels
Favourite restaurant: Lucky Fish (on Bingin beach)
Best coffee: Bukit cafe / The Loft
Hot tip: Make sure you keep your belongings close and out of reach from pesky little monkeys.
Perfect for: sinking some beers whilst watching the waves roll in and watching the sunset.
In all seriousness, Bali absolutely exceeded all of my expectations. I always thought it was a place reserved for Schoolies or Instagrammers. But I came to realise that Bali (like all travel adventures) is what you make it. It caters to everyone – the schoolie, the toolie, the yogi, the vegan, the family, the couple, the solo traveller, the thrill seeker, the shop til you drop-er, the nature lover, the young, the old and everyone in between.
Bali is somewhere I would absolutely love to go back to, and it is a holiday I will always remember. I am so thankful to have shared such beautiful experiences with my girlfriend, Miss Sophie Washington, and I cannot wait to see where our adventures take us next.
Have you been to Bali? Is it on your hit list? Do you have any other recommendations to add to this list? Let me know in the comments below.