Bali continues to impress as a holiday destination. The tropical climate, expansive beaches and friendly locals make this a go to destination for a relaxing break; just stay out of the hideous tourist area of Kuta. Recently, I was asked to put together an itinerary for one week in Bali for a beginner/intermediate level surfer. This meant no off shore wave excursions, just an enjoyable time spent relaxing and experiencing some of the Balinese culture and hospitality. Below is a list of recommended activities, places to visit and tips.
1. Arrange airport pickup with your hotel/resort before, or take one of the taxis available immediately outside terminal. You pay at the counter window before being shown to your driver. Later, blue taxis only.
2. Expect traffic throughout your journey. 2+ million people on mostly single lane roads make this a reality. Relax, you are on holidays. Open the window and take in the sights and smells.
3. Stay somewhere nice that incorporates the tropical climate into its architecture. Air conditioned, western style hotels are ok, however, they are not really a change from your home city life. Cross-flow ventilation in well-designed rooms makes for a better holiday experience. Personal tip. Stay away from Kuta/Seminyak. If you stay here, you may never return to Bali.
Two options; Puri Angsa up above Seminyak approaching Canggu/Echo Beach (20 minutes in a taxi) or Komune at Keramis on the other side of the island (60 minutes to Seminyak). Both are amazing and incorporate open, ventilated architecture. Komune has insect screens, Puri Angsa a mosquito net above the bed (bug repellent is essential in Bali so you will have this on anyway). Komune is right on the beach with an open restaurant overlooking the water (main picture is the view from Komune).
4. The tropical climate means getting out of bed early and hitting the beach from 6-10am and from 4-7pm. The middle of the day melts you, even in the water and should be avoided. This time is for relaxing in the shade with a book, napping, eating, getting a massage and seeing the sites.
5. Activities/attractions. My picks are the Safari and Marine Park, Ubud for the Monkey Forrest and suckling pig at Ibu Oka opposite the palace, whitewater rafting in the rainy season, fresh crab on the beach at Jimbaran Bay and cocktails at sunset at the Potato Head Beach club. I like to pick one activity per day and link up food around that, preferring to spend the rest of my time surfing, relaxing, napping, etc.
6. Various pieces of advice on improving your trip.
– Hire a driver. It is only $30-60 per day depending upon how long you use them. If I am happy with the first one I pick up, I book them for the rest of my trip. They know their way around, help you avoid places where the hygiene is questionable, and save you the potential of a serious scooter accident. Road rules are practically incomprehensible to the first-time visitor.
– Leaving tax; make sure you still have local currency as you will need to pay to leave as well as enter.
– Health: visit the Travel Doctor and get the appropriate shots. Take bug stray and do not drink the water (even the locals drink bottled water).
– Shopping: Deus ex Machina (surfboards, motorcycles, clothes, cafe), Jenggala (ceramics), fashion boutique underneath the Potato Head Beach club. Personally, Bali does not offer much that appeals to me in the way of shopping which is part of its appeal. The first two mentioned above are super impressive and worth a visit. The last, is good if you are going to the Potato Head Beach club for drinks.
Finally, relax. Tropical life runs at a different pace. Embrace it and you will thoroughly enjoy yourself.