You’d be forgiven for thinking this was Hawaii. Most tourists are very well acquainted with the likes of Seminyak, Uluwatu, Canggu and Ubud, but the northern part of Bali is worth exploring for its verdant tropical mountains and black sand beaches. You’ll feel a world away from the Bali hustle and bustle. Rent a mountain bungalow like this one, shower under the stars and listen to birdsong in between spa treatments and organic meals. Bali is a spiritual island. Not ‘New Age’ spirituality, but deeply, culturally spiritual. While Bali is multi-religious, the main faith is Balinese Hinduism (a blend of Buddhism and Shivaism called Agama Hindu Dharma), felt in the laid back state of the Balinese people, as well as the prevalence of yoga and ceremony. On your way south towards Ubud, you will pass Mount Batur (and lake Batur – Bali’s largest), an active volcano surrounded by flatlands. Take a sunrise hike to the summit. The Kintamani region and inland west has great hikes, including waterfalls like Git Git. The streets of Ubud, dubbed the spiritual hub of Bali (by westerners or ‘bule’) – and where you’ll find yoga, excellent vegetarian food, rice terraces and beautiful cafes and spas surrounded by lush greenery. Everywhere in Bali people get around on scooters. Some of that fabulous western fusion vegetarian cuisine at Kismet Restaurant. The food game in Bali is so strong, whether you want healthy vegan and veggie meals, or to tuck into some local fare at a Warung. When in Ubud, you’ve got to make a trip to some rice terraces. Tegallalang Rice Terraces are easy to get to and super beautiful. (Also check out Jatiluwih). Take your fill of fresh juices, this one’s watermelon, which became a fave. Ubud is known for the many places you can stay that are peaceful, serene and surrounded by nature. Take a load off, get a massage, lay by the pool. Spending lazy days by pool and palms. It’s common to find many Javanese huts, or Joglo, in Bali. The striking traditional homes have usually been imported to the island from Central Java and re-constructed piece by piece. Another must-do is the Campuhan Ridge Walk in Ubud, a super easy stroll along a ridge line along palm-strewn valleys and rice fields. After the main part of the walk, you’ll come to Karsa Spa, a great spot to stop for a coconut. It’s surrounded by rice terraces and has its own lily pond. Just make sure you book in advance if you’d like a spa treatment (and you would like one). Bali is full of wonderful doorways and entrances. #ihavethisthingwithdoors While Bali has many exceptional hotels, one definitely worth a visit is Bambu Indah. It is a perfect example of Bali’s love of green architecture. A sustainable luxury resort built with local indigenous materials by the Green School, it’s super quirky with many surprises. And a fabulous restaurant. A sunset session at Bambu Indah, just outside Ubud in Sayan. Down towards the south of the island is trending hotspot Canggu (the ‘new Seminyak’, guys). This is another hub of ridiculously good food ¬– this here is a dragonfruit bowl at Betelnut café. A woman checks the breakson an overcast day at Echo Beach, Canggu. Near Echo Beach is The Lawn, a great spot to watch the surf and chill out on bean bags. The bar area at The Lawn, Canggu. More good noms, this time at vegetarian Peloton Supershop in Canggu, where you can buy some pretty swish bicycles. Beautiful cafes and boutiques are everywhere in Bali. Another fun spot for Mexican food and total vibes is Motel Mexicola is Seminyak. Take your pick of cafes, like Café Bali in Seminyak. The list of cool spaces and world-class food in both Canggu and Seminyak feels endless. Further south are famous surf breaks in the Jimbaran, Uluwatu, Bingin and Balangan areas. There’s the beach, but there’s also your infinity pool. Probably the most important decision of your day. Life could be worse. A view from the infinity pool in the Jimbaran area towards Mount Batur. New meaning to the words ‘traffic jam’. Bali is an island completely devoted to ceremony. Before Balinese New Year (Nyepi) Balinese communities make their way to the coast, to perform a cleansing ceremony called Melasti. They also parade huge ‘demons’ (Ogoh-Ogoh) in the streets, some of which are burned. Down by the ocean, Melasti ceremony is in full swing. It’s easy to come to Bali and completely miss the beautiful culture by sticking to western hot spots. But experiencing local customs and traditions is what can make your regular trip to Bali different and special.
Year after year, we never tire of the endless beauty of the Island of the Gods (just check Instagram). With rich culture and warm hospitality, lush landscapes, excellent surf breaks and delicious food, Bali will always remain one of Australia’s favourite island holiday destinations.