‘Bali?! I would never want to go there. Yuck.’
I hear this so often, and must admit, that I once said it too. But you know what? Once you get out of the bogan filled concrete city gridlock of Tuban, Kuta, Legian and Seminyak, it can be a holiday of your dreams.
Yes, you can get some bargain deals when you stay in these areas - but I’ve learned it’s not worth it for me. If I have to walk out of my hotel, be surrounded by concrete, drunk tourists before midday, touts pestering me every second - then I’m not going to enjoy myself that much.
If I can walk out of my accommodation and be surrounded by chilled people, relaxing rice paddies or jungle and relaxed beaches, I am content - even if that does mean being awoken by the roosters at dawn. I’m happy to pay the extra.
I love Bali because it’s close, it’s easy, has good surf, the people are beautiful, and the countryside is dreamy. My kids love it because it has pools. Wish I was that easy to please.
My first visit to Bali was in 1992. We had to walk along a road lined with rice paddies to get to Kuta from Legian, where we were staying. Since then, I have returned four times and stayed in Tuban, Legian, Sanur, Seminyak, Canggu, Menjangan and Padang Padang.
My top three are...
You can ride a bicycle around the streets here
Echo Beach sunset chill sessions
Surfing at Old Mans
Walking deserted beaches at Berawa
Expat chilled vibe scene with funky cafes/bars/restaurants like Old Mans
As one taxi driver commented, ‘you are staying in the jungle!’
Uluwatu cliff top bars
Surf beaches everywhere - with squeaky on the feet white sand!
It feels safe enough to ride a scooter around here
Kuta bogans don’t normally hang out around here. It’s more surfer/chilled vibe
Breakfast on a deck that hangs over the tree canopies while watching monkeys trying to steal food
You get transported through the resort in open-sided double decker vans
Kayak through the mangroves
The cocktails at sunset after crashing it on the free bicycles make all pain disappear
It’s quiet, there are no shops, and there is not much to do except relax in the forest
I know this list doesn’t suit everyone, but it’s mine. It’s chilled, surfy, good for families that like a bit of adventure (and not five-star luxury). You also get half a chance to get to know some locals, make friends, rather than just highbrow it to the touts in the tourist areas.