We absolutely adore Bali here at Destinology, and recently, two of our Bali experts, Philip Munro and Amy Williams, returned from some island explorations. We’re delighted to present their story here.
On arriving into Bali, we could not contain our excitement, and we have been wanting to visit the island for such a long time. Our trip proved to be everything that we imagined and much much more. During our visit to Bali, we visited the resorts of Jimbaran Bay, Nusa Dua, Uluwatu, Manggis, Seminyak, Ubud and Tabanan. Each area has something completely different to offer, and we would absolutely recommend that you give one of us a call to discuss in more detail, and design the perfect Bali experience for you.
This resort is just a short ride from the airport, and is a great first stop. Here, you can experience an excellent golden sand beach, with a great atmosphere, and a safe sea to swim in. On the way here, you drive through some local villages, which gives you a nice insight into to how the locals live; the area and communities around Jimbaran Bay are full of life. When arriving into the bay, your eyes will be drawn to some stunning views right out to sea, and you can see the planes landing in the distance. The bay has a great feel to it, with surfers hitting the waves, water sports, holiday makers lounging on the beach and even those taking a leisurely stroll on the sands. There are plenty of local restaurants and a really popular fish restaurant.
Our favourite hotel in Jimbaran Bay is the Four Seasons at Jimbaran Bay, which is perfect for everyone coming to Bali. From the superb service to the gorgeous restaurant on the beach (Sundara), this is definitely the place to be in Jimbaran. Four Seasons also have some amazing larger villas for those looking for a family escape; they are all completely private and sit across the road from the beach. This was a great way to start our trip, and we definitely look forward to returning to Jimbaran Bay in the future.
The best beaches by far in Bali are in the exclusive enclave of Nusa Dua. Here, you will find light golden sands and a very calm sea. The resort is elegant and relaxed, and definitely one that we’d recommend for those who are seeking true tranquillity. We stayed at Amanusa during our time here, which is one of Aman’s collection here on Bali. What a place! When entering the resort, the views are just incredible. Rising high, you are wowed by the aspect over the golf course and the lush tropical gardens around the resort. The beach is just a short ride away, and the concierge will take you whenever you like. The service was, as expected with Aman, utterly impeccable and the resort’s lovely staff really make you feel like you are at home. It feels like being with a family, with a real sense of Bali. The suites here are beautifully luxurious, and feel private and peaceful, with traditional thatched roofing and a real Balinese feel.
If it’s awe-inspiring views and architecture that you’re craving, then do not miss the resort of Uluwatu. This is a clifftop area, in the South of Bali, and is home to the most amazing views from the various hotels there, a lot of which perch on the high cliff edges. Uluwatu is now one of the most exclusive areas of Bali, being home to numerous stunning resorts. During our time here, we had the pleasure of staying at Alila Villas Uluwatu. Designed by award-winning architects, WOHA, this is an all pool villa luxury resort, showcasing a contemporary and seamless Balinese-inspired design aesthetically set in this dramatic natural landscape. This is an incredible hotel; you really do feel like you have stepped to the future as a result of its amazing design and special features.
Alila Villas Uluwatu is definitely a resort is for those seeking a quiet, relaxed and tranquil experience. In the evening, you can dine in one of two restaurants, both of which are absolutely stunning and have incredible menus. There is also a path down to the black sand beach, albeit with over 300 steps! The resort will assist taking you down, but it’s definitely a journey for those who are very fit. It is beautiful once you are down there, with a real castaway feel.
We loved Mangiss! This is an area which can be either tranquil or active, you decide. This is a really good base for active souls who seek adventure and activities. The beaches in this area are of black volcanic sand, and the sea seemed to be a little calmer but did gain drama as the day unfolded. There was a lot of talk around about the best dive sites and snorkelling sites in this area, so it is popular for those of you who love such pursuits. You will be taken out on a boat to the reefs close by to experience what we heard are some stunning underwater treasures.
For those of you who love cuisine and dining, the two resorts that we visited run cookery schools. These are brilliant; you will go to the local food markets very early and buy your Indonesian food to then return and cook at the hotel with their chefs.
We’d absolutely recommend starting your holiday here, and basing yourself at the amazing Amankila. Another of Aman’s beautiful resorts here in Bali, we adored this resort, whose name means “peaceful hill”. There are some truly beautiful pool villas here, and the resort’s legendary three-tiered infinity pool tumbles down like a traditional Balinese rice terrace, almost hanging to the cliff edge. It really is a wow moment, giving you the most spectacular view of the Lombok Straits. Our whole experience here was fantastic, from the superb service, the feel and heart of the resort, and the lovely staff here. Not to mention some truly delicious Balinese cuisine!
If you're looking for the life and soul of the party, and being in an area with lively bars, restaurants and some trendy boutiques, then Seminyak is for you. This is a fun and exciting resort, around forty-five minutes to an hour from the airport. It has a great buzz about it, with cutting edge bars (our favourite was KuDeTa; incredible cocktails!), nightclubs (such as the famous Potato Head) restaurants and shops. The beach is wide here, and of golden sand, however the sea can be rough so they do have markers indicating if you can swim or not. You will get to see some cool surfing in this area too, and it’s a perfect place for people watching.
There is a fantastic selection of luxury hotels in this area, and you could almost be spoilt for choice! Definitely give either me or Amy a call to discuss in more detail. We stayed at The Club at The Legian, which is definitely the best option in our view. This is pool villa style accommodation, and has a beautifully secluded feel. The villas are elegantly designed, providing the privacy that you seek on holiday, complete with your own butler and separate bar area. The main Legian resort, on the beachfront, is also fantastic, and has some gorgeous suites overlooking the beach and sea. In the evening, you can then take a stroll up the beach, watching as people socialise, play with kites, surf and jog. It’s a really nice community feel here, and we loved it. We’d definitely recommend a few days in lively but elegant Seminyak during your time on the island. You should be aware however that the traffic can be heavy at peak times with lots of locals on the mopeds, so expect delays and prepare your journey if you are heading to the airport.
This resort, the lush green heart of Bali, is now one of our favourite places on earth! Before arriving on Bali, we had heard that Ubud is a place that we must visit, and we were intrigued as to what to expect. It is hard to explain how fantastic and beautiful Ubud actually is unless you’ve experienced it. It really is magical. This is where the heart of the culture is on Bali. You get to see the rice paddy fields tumbling down hillsides and into illuminous green wide valleys. It is spellbinding, and if you love a tropical landscape then you simply mustn’t miss this jungle paradise.
There was one point when we arrived at COMO Shambhala, perched beautifully in a lush green valley, where we felt like we really had stepped back in time. Surrounded by a vast world of ferns and trees and wildlife and water, our eyes widened with awe and wonder. We saw monkeys swinging from the trees and the River Ayung flowing right through the landscape. Our accommodation was just incredible; we stayed at a two-bedroom villa at COMO Shambhala and we’ve never seen anything like it. Utterly unique.
We have a superb selection of resorts to choose from in Ubud. You can choose to be close to the shops, market and restaurants, or more secluded and right in the jungle landscape. Our personal recommendation is to sample two resorts; we’d go first for a couple of nights at Uma Ubud, a contemporary and chic boutique resort near the restaurants, bars and shops. Use your time here as a base to enjoy the brilliant tours on offer in Ubud, such as white river rafting, a rice paddy cycling tour, a volcano hike or even the Monkey Forest, which is incredible. We’d then move to a resort in the jungle, such as COMO Shambhala, to switch off from the world and revel in amazing massages, seclusion and some jaw-droppingly good accommodation.
We also loved the Four Seasons at Sayan, which sits right on the river in the bottom of the forest, and Ritz-Carlton’s beautiful new resort, Mandapa, which recently opened at the end of 2015. There is certainly something special about Ubud, and seeing the different villages that bring of Bali together like the village that makes all the wood carvings or the village that does all the stone carvings.
Bali is an incredible destination with so much on offer. There is something magical about this place. The locals have strong beliefs and are a very spiritual people, who reflect on the balance of life. They know there is good and bad in all things, and when you experience their atmospheric temples or see their stone dragons draped in traditional black and white cloth, you’ll understand much about their fascinating beliefs. There is a gorgeous community spirit at play here too; families stick together and look after one another, and I’m sure that we could all learn something from this lovely Balinese culture. The service delivered in each resort that we experienced, and the other resorts that Destinology offer, really is second to none. Nothing is too much trouble to the wonderful people of Bali. Amy or I would be delighted to help you plan your next Bali escape, so do contact us now.