After visiting Bali 4 times in the last couple of years, my friends are always hitting me up for my to-do lists for the land of cocktails and sunsets. Let me tell you, your Bali experience all depends on who you go with, where you stay and the places you visit. I spent my 30th birthday there last year with a small group of close friends and it was one of the the most perfect holidays I’ve been on. I spent most of my time in Seminyak so my tips are mostly for that area plus a few car ride trips. I’ve travelled near and far including places like India, Peru, Mykonos and Vegas and yet Bali will always be a special place to visit time and time again. Here are my top things to do during your stay in Bali (in no special order):
Yoga and breakfast – Desa Seni, Canggu
Desa Seni is one of those magical places in Bali where you feel like you are a million miles away from civilisation. It’s an Eco Village Resort that combines the ethos’ of culture, art, yoga, organic farming, Svaasthya (wellness) and Kula (community). Situated in Canngu, Desa Seni is a sprawling assortment of scattered huts and veggies patches situated on its own private lot of lush gardens. A true sanctuary away from the hustle and bustle. Only a 10 minute ride from the middle of Seminyak, their yoga classes keep me coming back again and again. The yoga deck is an open air platform where you can watch butterflies and geckos mingle outside whilst enjoying your vinyasa flow. No need for bikram yoga here, combined with the humid weather and the advanced vinyasa teachers, you leave dripping in sweat but feeling so refreshed. The natural progression is to the salt pool area for a dip before indulging in a breakfast all made from ingredients grown on the property. I usually go everyday during my stay (it’s that good).
When travelling, I always need to get my green fix – ask anyone I’ve travelled with. The first thing I do when I arrive at a hotel is ask what the wifi password is, where the nearest yoga studio is and where I can eat some greens! Strange I know – but these three things make me happy when I’m away from home. My favourite green-digs in Seminyak is Cafe Zucchini. Breakfast is the best time to go and you can devour into sautéed greens and avocado paired with a spirulina smoothie! Green upon green upon green. Bali wasn’t always this green forward, but in the last couple of years these types of healthy establishments are popping up all over the place.
Earth Cafe is on the main strip on Seminyak. It’s nothing flashy, but it’s your go-to place for vegan and vegetarian food, healthy supplies and some raw cacao balls for energy between shopping. It’s part of the Down To Earth Bali company which has 6 restaurants all with the same healthy living ethos.
Sunset cocktails – Potato Head, Seminyak
Potato head is a beach club slash restaurant haunt slash cocktail bar. No matter the time of day you go to Potato Head, you will always have a good time. If you plan to stay all day, I suggest to get there early and snap up a day bed near the pool. Listen to the great tunes whilst enjoying the sun and a few cocktails or fresh coconuts. You must try a few of the cocktails from their extensive list — my favourite is the Millionaire Martini. Let’s face it, there’s way too many to choose from, so plan a few visits so you can try them all. If you don’t mind sitting on the grassy area with a picnic style meal, you can arrive a little later in the evening for a 5pm sunset. If your dates are lucky enough to coincide with their DJ schedule, they attract acts like of Snoop Dog, Passion Pit and Fat Boy Slim.
Dinner – Kuteda, Seminyak
The original beach-front destination for watching the sunset, Kuteda is great for a casual drink or world class dinner. The sweeping views of the ocean is the perfect backdrop for catching up with friends or celebrating. If you’re not drinking, they have an awesome arrange of mocktails, fresh juices and coconuts. Dress code: Smart casual and no singlets for men.
The W chain is renowned for their cool vibes and funky designed hotels. The W in Bali is all that and more. The beach front location and grounds is absolutely stunning. You wouldn’t need to leave the hotel on your holiday as you can eat, drink, party and sleep here without getting bored. Sunday afternoon sessions at Woo bar are loads of fun and the Sunday brunch at StarFish Bloo is to die for. I wouldn’t eat the day before just so you can taste everything on offer!
Margaritas – Motel Mexicola, Seminyak
Owned by an Australian, Motel Mexicola has a cool Bondi vibe, whilst the bright and colourful interior is an attraction in itself. The decor and furniture are to die for and something I’d love to decorate my home with. Margaritas are paired with your traditional mexican street menu of guacamole, tacos and quesadillas. My favourite is the spicy prawn ceviche and the coco rita cocktail. Vegetarian friendly (most places are in Bali), the ambience is best after dark. Dress code: Casual Hipster.
Lunch – La Lucciola, Seminyak
This relaxed fine dining Italian restaurant overlooks the beach in the Petitenget area. An Balinese institution, La Lucciola serves up a fresh and modern twist on Italy’s well know dishes. Brunch, lunch or dinner is great here and for a fine dining restaurant, you’ll be surprised at the reasonable prices. You can enjoy your yummy dishes in the open air hut styled restaurant as the waves roll into shore. Dress code: Upscale casual.
All day breakfast – Sea circus, Seminyak
Your all-day breakfast venue. Whether you’re after a healthy quinoa bowl or a hangover fix, Sea Circus is the place to be. It’s not a seafood restaurant, nor is it near the sea but you can guarantee almighty good food and coffee. They have an array of fresh juices, wheatgrass shots and is vegan/vegetarian friendly.
This French Mediterranean restaurant offers a superb and elegant dining experience. The architecture has a traditional Balinese aura with french artefacts and antiques. You will want to dress up for the occasion. Again, vegetarian and vegan friendly, the meals are served like pieces of art, constructed with high levels of sophistication. I had the crab bisk for entree and the seafood linguine as main. And you must try the desserts! The assorted sweet temptation gives you a taste of everything plus you need to order a chocolate soufflé. Dress code: Upscale Casual
Day Spa – Body Works, Seminyak
Body works is another Balinese institution. I’ve been going to Bali for over 10 years and I always make a visit (or five) to this day spa. Massages, cream hair baths, manis and pedis – they do it all. Make sure you book in advance as this place gets really busy. I love booking in on the day you arrive to really get you into the Bali mood. It’s opposite Motel Mexicola and around the corner from Sea Circus for a post treatment bite to eat.
Brunch – Petitenget, Seminyak
With a farm to fork philosophy, Petitenget serves up delicious dishes all from locally sourced farmers and ingredients. My favourite time of the day to visit is for breakfast or brunch as the scent of freshly baked croissants meander throughout the cafe. I always order the “The Gadang” Breakfast salad of two poached eggs with wild rocket, green beans, chickpeas, asparagus, pearl barley, baby spinach, cherry tomatoes, pumpkin & sunflower seeds, goats’s curd, poppy seed lavosh and basil pesto. Yes my mouth is watering as I type. You will want to instagram the beautiful food as much as the stunning interiors.
Pool session – LV8 – Vue Beach Club, Canggu
If you need a sweet infinity pool to escape the humidity, LV8 is the place to go. Unlike Potato Head, you won’t find the crowds here, usually just the hotel guests. But the infinity pool is amazing. I spent the whole day there swimming, sipping on coconuts and catching a few rays. Definitely an amazing backdrop for your photos.
Yoga – Prana Spa, Seminyak
Inside one of the island’s largest day spas is the Prana yoga studio. With a indian and middle Eastern influence the design is fit for an Arabian princess. The scent of incense encapsulates the senses as soon as you step inside studio. They have vinyasa flow, super flow vinyassa and Sivananda which is a mindfulness type of yoga to release energy blockages. I tried all classes and the Sivanada had to be my favourite as it was something different than what you could get back at home.
Drinks and dinner – Sundara, Jimbaran Bay
After researching high and low the ultimate restaurant to spend my 30th birthday, I decided that Sundara looked pretty special. Overlooking the infamous Jimbaran Bay, Sundara is perfect for sunset cocktails and one of the most amazing dinners on the island. I went all out with lobster and champagne (you only turn 30 once right?). Sundara is owned by the Four Seasons, so everything is pristine including the sun lounges and the view from the infinity pool. I’d love to stay there on my next visit or if you’re coming from Seminyak it’s about a 30 minute drive but it’s totally worth it.
Infinity Pool – KLAPA, Dreamland
Ok if you can’t already tell – I’m a bit of an infinity pool aficionado, searching them out all over Bali. You can find this one near Dreamland beach sitting on 3,5 hectares of gorgeous Balinese gardens. The decor needed a little updating last time I went, but the view from the infinity pool drops over the cliff face to the beach below. Order a cocktail or a bite for lunch and catch up on some reading. Devine.
Well there you have it. If you eat, drink, yoga and infinity pool hop as above, I can guarantee a great time in Bali.
I’d love to hear about your favourite places to visit and I will add them to my list for next time. Comment below.
My last trip to Bali was in February 2014.