There are still many corners that whisper stories of a more laid-back Bali. And some of these areas became our places of refuge at times where we felt the need to escape from the hustle and bustle of Canggu and Pererenan. Retreating to more serene places was also a great compromise on not having the "villa of dreams" during our two-month stay in Pererenan.
Here are our most memorable staycation experiences...
Yes, believe it or not, as soon as I landed in Bali, I kicked off my adventure with an incredible staycation in Canggu. Nestled on a quiet street, surrounded by lush greenery and away from the Canggu chaos, Kalapa Resort and Yoga Retreat felt like an oasis.
I spent three days here for some much-needed R&R, and my experience was so blissful that I did not leave the compound during my stay. I stayed put and just surrendered to the peace and tropical vibes.
Lounge by the Pool
There are two pools at this jungle resort and during my stay and I hopped between them both.
Get a Spa Treatment
The décor at this resort is rustic and the spa is just that. Be sure to book in advance if pampering is on your agenda, as it seems to fill up fast.
This resort offers complimentary yoga every day, so be sure to take advantage of this offer.
Relax in Your Villa
The rooms itself feel like a vacation and are very inviting as they come with open air bathtubs and even private pools.
Situated on the southern tip of Bali, Uluwatu is renowned for its breathtaking cliffside views, beautiful beaches, and top-notch surfing spots. Despite being a tourist hotspot, Uluwatu still maintains a serene beach atmosphere and quickly became one of our favorite destinations in Bali for respite and relaxation.
Head to the Beach
Uluwatu offers an array of beaches, each with its unique vibe. We explored the laid-back Thomas Beach and Padang Padang Beach, as well as the boho-inspired Bingin Beach, with its charming rustic restaurants and beach boutique accommodations.
Relax at the Beach-clubs
Uluwatu boasts some famous and trendy beach clubs, known for their pools, parties, bars, and stunning sunsets. We spent two nights at Uluwatu Cliff House, famous for its lively parties, but we also discovered its serene side on quieter nights. The bungalow, food, views, and a secret beach hidden by waves until evening made for a magical experience.
Hang out at Dream Sea Surf Camp
Dreamsea Surf Camp became our favorite hangout spot in Uluwatu, thanks to its rustic chic decor and seaside views. It is a bit of a challenge to reach, with cliffside stairs and mischievous monkeys, but the effort is entirely worth it.
Catch the Sunset at Uluwatu Surf Villas
Watching the sunset while sipping drinks by the pool at Uluwatu Surf Villas is a must! Just arrive early to avoid the crowds and ensure prompt service.
The thrill of catching the perfect wave amidst Uluwatu's stunning scenery is bound to create unforgettable memories. Although I have a fear of trying this sport, I must admit that the waters of Uluwatu felt surprisingly inviting, making it an ideal place to give surfing a go. If riding the waves is your thing, don't miss the chance for this experience in Uluwatu!
When it comes to shopping, Bingin Road in Uluwatu had some of my favorite stores, including Myrah Penaloza, Cove, Muse Bali, and Minimal Raw Crystal Jewelry. Each of these boutiques offered a selection of treasures to discover. We were also happy to discover that there was an IndoSole shop located in Uluwatu. This store uses recycled tires and waste to create sustainable footwear for enjoying the beach in style!
There are many wellness and yoga centers in Uluwatu, and if you are seeking some TLC for your soul try heading over to The Space. Here you can join sessions like sound healing, yoga, cranial sacral therapy, breath-work meditations and much more.
Uluwatu offers a diverse dining scene, and some of our favorite spots include:
Laggas, a popular Asian-inspired restaurant with street-style vibes, serving mouthwatering dishes.
Kellys Warung, a cash-only café on Bingin Beach with great views on both floors and good vibes – the perfect spot for a relaxing beach day.
Suka Espresso, a refreshing place opposite the Thomas Beach entrance, ideal for relaxation and brunch.
Gooseberry Restaurant, a tropical chic, Instagram-worthy restaurant with a poolside terrace and an impressive menu. Remember to make reservations as it can get busy.
Frencha Bakery, a cozy French-style bakery, perfect for breakfast if you are staying in the area.
Drifter, a surf shop and café with a chill rustic vibe. The food here exceeded our expectations.
Grilled Fish Warungs on Bingin Beach, a delightful way to end the day- catching the evening waves on Bingin Beach and feasting on grilled fish from one of the local restaurants.
Sidemen is an oasis of tranquility, offering an authentic and quieter Bali experience. This picturesque village in the eastern part of Bali is known for its lush green rice terraces, traditional Balinese villages, and scenic landscapes. Staying amidst the natural beauty of Wisma Kerta, a lesser-known area of Sidemen, provided us with a serene escape and a chance to experience rural local life.
Our time in Sidemen was a serene escape centered around immersing ourselves in the natural beauty of the area and exploring here felt like what being in Bali should be.
Explore the Villages by Scooter
Navigating the mountainous terrain of Sidemen is most convenient by scooter. Discover the charm of the region as you ride through lush greenery, expansive rice fields and tranquil farmlands. The local temples are also worth stopping for.
Visit the Gembleng Waterfall
While listed as an attraction, I advise against visiting the Gembleng waterfall. Our expectations for a magnificent cascade and tranquil pools were met with disappointment, as the underwhelming waterfall and the crowded queues of tourists seeking Instagram-worthy shots left us unimpressed. Trust me, it's not worth the hype.
Visit the Pelangi Workshop
For those intrigued by the art of batik fabrics and weaving, the Pelangi Workshop is a must-visit. Here, skilled villagers, both men and women, intricately craft woven batik fabrics, while you experience the batik making process from start to finish. Witnessing artisans weaving batik fabric, the dyeing of thousands of threads and preparation of yarns before the actual weaving begins.
While dining options are limited, we had the pleasure of discovering Asri Dining, a restaurant located at Samanvaya Resort & Spa, offering picturesque and appetizing dining experiences.
Munduk is a small, unhurried village nestled in the serene highlands of Northern Bali. Surrounded by lush forests, rice terraces, and breathtaking waterfalls, our brief retreat to Munduk was the perfect way to escape the tropical heat to the hills for a cooler climate escape.
We were truly enchanted by Munduk’s misty untouched beauty, and during our stay, immersed ourselves in its natural wonders.
GO ON A GUIDED NATURE WALK
This was of my most memorable experiences in Bali, as our guide took us through the forests, and educated us on the diverse forest foliage. It felt very safe and serene, and our walk ended with crossing a river by canoe and arriving at an old abandoned temple site.
TREK TO WATERFALLS
Munduk is known for having breathtaking waterfalls, and during our visit, we found our way to Labuhan Kebo and Melanting Waterfalls, which are part of the Munduk Waterfall Trek. We eased our burden of hiking all the way to the waterfalls and instead arrived to Munduk Cottage by scooter, then “trekked” down and up stairs to the falls. The stairways are long so even if you opt for our lazy trek, be prepared for a little workout!
VISIT THE ULUNDANU TEMPLE
It wasn’t the most impressive experience but we stopped by as this site was along the way out of Munduk. Despite being a tourist trap, it can still be appreciated for its natural surroundings.
Dining at The Botanist, a farm-to-table restaurant, and indulging in an Easter brunch at Munduk Cabins were definite highlights of our visit. Both experiences provided us with delicious meals set against the backdrop of Munduk's stunning natural beauty.
CENINGAN ISLAND & LEMBOGAN ISLAND
Nusa Lembongan is known for its crystal-clear beaches and vibrant marine life. Just 45 minutes off the coast of Sanur in Bali, it is a popular destination for water activities like surfing, snorkeling, and diving. The island offers a more relaxed and laid-back atmosphere compared to the busier areas of Bali, making it an ideal spot for a peaceful getaway.
Ceningan Island is a tranquil destination with beautiful coastal landscapes, rocky cliffs, and stunning viewpoints. The island is easily accessible from Nusa Lembongan by a yellow bridge, making it convenient to explore all three Nusa Islands during your visit.
We spent two wonderful nights at the Blue Lagoon Resort on Nusa Ceningan for New Year's Eve and New Year's Day and indulged in little island life.
Visit the Blue Lagoon
During New Year's Eve and New Year's Day, we had a splendid stay at the Blue Lagoon Resort on Nusa Ceningan. The resort's restaurant location above the lagoon provided breathtaking views that we enjoyed while dining.
Explore the Island by Scooter
Both islands are easily navigated on scooters, allowing us to conveniently explore their surroundings. It is a great way to maximize your time while soaking all in the island's beauty.
Go to the Beach
We visited Mushroom Beach (to the far right of it), where you can experience various water sports and Secret Point Beach, located in a small cove which felt like a unique and idyllic coastal experience.
Hangout at Mahana Point Warung & Bar
The Mahana Point Warung & Bar offered us the ultimate island ambiance. Perched atop a cliff, with views of the ocean and the nearby Secret Point beach, it was a great place to relax and watch surfers ride the waves. The reggage tunes playing in the background made the experience feel perfectly surreal. Mahana bar also hosts jumping platforms for those who dare to make a splash into the ocean. You don’t have to jump, but you must visit this place if you are ever on this island!
THINGS TO NOTE
Rural places in Bali can be a bit troublesome to get it, but it is totally worth it. It was easy for us to use Grab Car to arrive at the destinations but impossible to get one on the return. Hiring a private car from these rural areas is costly so it is best to organize for pickup with a driver in advance. Uluwatu is the exception for this, as it is easy to get a Grab Car both ways.
Beaches in Uluwatu can be stunning, but they can also be a sad sight after heavy rains, which expose the great issue of pollution in Bali. With this said, if you can, avoid visiting this area on rainy days.
Munduk can get chilly at night and in the mornings, so don't forget to pack a sweater for extra comfort.
Getting to the waterfalls require walking up and down stairs so be sure to wear comfortable clothing and shoes.
Accommodation in these areas is limited and the good ones go fast, so be sure to book in advance to secure a comfortable place to stay.
Getting to Nusa Cennigan requires booking a van ride from the ferry drop off point. Be sure to contact your hotel to plan for a smoother transition.
Spending time in nature has an incredible way of reconnecting me to a more peaceful and positive self. The stunning landscapes, tranquil atmosphere, and authentic experiences I had during my Bali escape served as a gentle reminder of the simple yet profound joys that nature offers us. Not only did these moments renew my resilient mindset, but they also deepened my appreciation for the beauty and harmony found in the natural world.
Stay tuned for Part 4, the conclusion of my time in Bali!