Because ’tis the season, it rained everyday for a few minutes or a few hours, the streets were crowded with cars and mopeds and walking children, laughing about school, and the humidity brought out the mosquitos. And even with all that, Bali is still one of the most beautiful places I’ve explored. Before the rain started and when it stopped, the skies are blue and the birds and roosters sang. The crowds in the street stopped me for photos and to feed me their snacks. The mosquitoes added no beauty, but I did find great joy in slaughtering each of them. Simon Bestwick lied when he said, “there is no magic in places.” Bali is magic and you must go.
And if you’re going to take my advice and one day abandon it all because you absolutely need a break from work, kids, homework, parents, your president, or your own thought, and head to Bali, here are a few things to note.
WHERE TO STAY:
Villa! Villa! Villa! There are so many amazing villas available in Bali, and most of them come with a staff that’s ready to handle all the small things for you. Need to rent a bike? Get a masseuse to make a house call? Find a personal chef? Book a taxi? They will handle everything. And you’ll have a pool and outside common area.
I stayed at Villa Coco in Seminyak and have absolutely no complaints.
1. The only way to properly do and see Bali is by moped. Of course you can get a personal driver for the low like most visitors who are a bit afraid of falling from a bike or being hit by a car because their own driving skills are subpar, but you must have patience for traffic and be willing to operate on other folks’ time. I have no patience and I am the captain of my ship. And hey! If the locals are all riding mopeds, I’m riding a moped. The best part: you can rent one for $4 per day.
2. But if you must, and you want to feel fancy and tell your friends “I had a driver,” you can get a personal driver to stay with you all day for as little as $30 per day. Probably cheaper.
3. Uber isn’t a thing because the local drivers don’t want them there, but there is an app called Grab. It’s still semi problematic, but it works.
WHERE TO EAT:
1. The Fat Turtle: Jl. Petitenget No.886A, Kerobokan Kelod, Kuta Utara, Kabupaten Badung, Bali 80361, Indonesia.
The best breakfast in Bali, hands down. The red velvet pancakes, Asian-inspired chicken and waffles, avo and egg toast, taro milk latte, and everything else. The service was dope, the people watching was great, but the food…the food was everything.
2. Bo & Bun: Jl. Raya Basangkasa No. 26, Seminyak, Br. Basangkasa, Seminyak, Kuta, Seminyak, Kuta, Kabupaten Badung, Bali 80361, Indonesia.
No matter the country, I must find Pho. I found it here and it was delicious. The bowl was smaller than I’m used to, but admittedly, I always go for the super bowl when it’s an option. Oh! And get the spring rolls with peanut sauce. Yes indeed!
3. Honey Bees Local Eatery & Coffee: Jl. Petitenget, Kerobokan Kelod, Kuta Utara, Kabupaten Badung, Bali 80361, Indonesia.
We found this place while getting lost on our mopeds and were immediately smiling at the large coconuts they offered for so little money. One thing we were told we had to try before leaving Bali was the crispy duck. I’ve never been a huge fan of duck, but when the people speak, I listen. I licked and smelled my fingers for hours after. It was that good. Also the Mie Goreng, a local dish of fried noodles, veggies, a sunny side up egg, and cracker. Eat local food!
4. Luigi’s Hot Pizza: Jl. Batu Mejan, Canggu, Kuta Utara, Canggu, Kuta Utara, Kabupaten Badung, Bali 80351, Indonesia.
I know what you’re thinking, but listen! This was some pretty freakin’ delicious pizza made by some really cool folks. The music was blasting, the spirits were pouring, and the people were filing into the place and into the clubs across the street. Do it.
5. Sambal Shrimp: Jl. Kayu Aya No.6 Lt.2, Seminyak, Kerobokan Kelod, Kuta Utara, Kabupaten Badung, Bali 80361, Indonesia.
Oh! Oh! Oh! I love seafood! And this place knows seafood. I was looking for red snapper for a few days, and wandered into this spot. I ended up ordering far too many things from the menu, including the Grilled Octopus and Escabeche with Kemangi.
6. Warung Rujak Gula Bali: Jl. Merdeka II No.9, Renon, Denpasar Tim., Kota Denpasar, Bali 80239, Indonesia.
You’ll see “Warung,” all over the place. It means it’s a small family-owned restaurant, or at least gives you that feel. The menu here is strictly traditional Balinese food, and none of it will disappoint.
7. Kilo: Jl. Drupadi No.22, Seminyak, Kuta, Kabupaten Badung, Bali 80361, Indonesia.
Y’all! This spot makes you wanna throw on your good clothes, but the prices are great and the food is worth it all. I had the Squid Ink Rice and for dessert, the Sticky Black Rice. Listen Listen Listen! I’d go back.
WHAT TO DO:
1. Bali Swing at Zen Hideaway: Jl. Dewi Saraswati No.7, Bongkasa Pertiwi, Abiansemal, Kabupaten Badung, Bali 80352, Indonesia.
You’ve seen the photos, now go take your own. Sit in the bird nests, swing out and become part of the beautiful backdrop. And the buffet lunch is included. It rained while we were there, so the swing shut down, but the nest was ours!
2. Sacred Monkey Forest Sanctuary: Jl. Monkey Forest, Ubud, Kabupaten Gianyar, Bali 80571, Indonesia.
Don’t be like me and not read all the rules before going in. I made eye contact with a monkey and he grabbed my finger and showed me his teeth. I played it cool, I think.
3. Tegenungan Waterfall: JL. Ir. Sutami, Kemenuh, Sukawati, Kemenuh, Sukawati, Kabupaten Gianyar, Bali 80581, Indonesia.
165 steps to the bottom is nothing. But those 165 steps back up are a killer, but well worth it. Get your feet wet in the water gathered below, walk the bamboo bridges, take photos with the signs, laugh with the others.
4. Lempuyang Temple: Banjar Purwa Ayu, Desa Tribuana, Abang Subdistrict, Karangasem.
After a beautiful drive through the mountain, through the rice plantations, and through the towns, you will arrive, pick a sarong, climb one more hill, and you will arrive at this place affectionately known as the Gateway of Heaven.
5. Potato Head Beach Club: Jl. Petitenget No.51B, Kerobokan Kelod, Kuta Utara, Kabupaten Badung, Bali 80361, Indonesia.
Lounge, toast to the good life, swim in the warm waters in the infinity pool or on the beach just below, and know that your life is great in that moment. The drinks are phenomenal and the food is good. Make sure the people you’re with bring your energy up!
6. Watch The Sunset From:
A. Seminyak Beaches
C. Jimbaran Bay
7. Learn to Surf at MySurf School: Legian, Kuta, Badung Regency, Bali, Indonesia
What a time to be alive. I love the ocean and I love learning new things. You? Then this is definitely for you! And the people running it are great! Reserve a spot here: CLICK HERE.
8. Cultural Exploration of Ubud (and everywhere really): Finding a local guide is easy and since Ubud is known as the cultural heartland, there will be plenty for you to see, do, taste, and remember. All those gorgeous rice paddies, galleries, and wonderful folks to take in.
9. Enjoy it all. If it’s raining, dance in it. If it’s sunny, gather the rays.
I will never forget the magic, the amazing people who experienced it with me, the beautiful people who made Bali like home, or the red velvet pancakes at The Fat Turtle.
Photos above by Ty Reed & Darnell Lamont Walker