Sweet: Bali has it all, beautiful resorts, warm weather, affordability, great massages, and delicious food. After a short six night stay, I know we want to go back, and that there is so much more to see!
Sour: We wanted to get a feel for the island, staying at three resorts for two nights each. This itinerary didn’t leave very much time to enjoy the property with its amenities, nor to experience the areas nearby, but I guess a second trip would be necessary.
Sweet: With an abundance of resorts to choose from, private swimming pools, and tranquil spas the picture opportunities are endless. We enjoyed numerous long massages, and ate like royalty. The first area we stayed was in Nusa Dua at Amarterra Villas, where we had a gorgeous pool villa that was only a two minute walk to a white sand beach.
Sour: Each morning at Amarterra we heard the staff ringing room service bells to the villas. Breakfast had arrived! Both western and Balinese breakfasts were served with fruit, coffee, juices, breads, and cheese.
Sweet: I loved the variety of satay, beef rendang, and dessert tray! The chef even invited me in the kitchen to help prepare our satays!
Sour: Our first long drive from Nusa Dua to Ubud took just under two hours with a private driver. Aside from a new toll road near Nusa Dua, we had to navigate through several small streets.
Sour: Taxis and private drivers are very inexpensive in Bali. You can save yourself a headache by hiring a private driver for a full or half day at a set price. Cars and motorbikes ride in a cluster, and I felt carsick during each ride.
Sour: Locals work hard to make a sale, and like most of Southeast Asia, always bargain. I noticed a road dedicated to selling stonework. There were thousands of fountains, statues, and carvings.
Sweet: I was surprised by the shopping in Bali, boutiques everywhere, especially in Ubud!
Sour: Roaming the streets is typically safe, but you should carefully consider where you step; the sidewalks are usually crooked, especially in Ubud.
Sweet: Beautiful temples make you feel like you have stepped into a movie set. Whether walking or driving, there are curiosities around every corner.
Sour: The economy lives off of tourism, so there are definitely tourist traps, for example; expensive Luwak coffee, instagramable rice terraces, expensive seafood restaurants, and monkey forests. We visited several of these, and although locals may not visit these places, they were still fun to visit.
Sweet: Just north of Ubud, we visited the Tegalalang rice terraces and enjoyed a crispy duck lunch, while listening to locals play the gamelon.
Sweet: Back in Ubud, it was time to check out our villa and plunge into our huge private swimming pool followed by a romantic dinner served by our private pool.
Sour: Our villa, Royal Kamuela, and the massages in Ubud were so affordable, making me only want to have stayed longer! I’d also liked to have taken a cooking class here at Cafe Wayan, made famous by Eat, Pray, Love. Don’t be like us and rush…enjoy Ubud!
Sweet: One snack not to miss in Bali is babi guling (roast suckling pig), and one great place to try is at Ibu Oka. After filling up on crispy pork skin, we walked around the Monkey Forest and tried some (touristy) Luwak coffee.
Sweet: Before we knew it, we were on our way to Jimbaran Bay for our last few nights. In this area, Menega is the most popular of the several seafood restaurants that line the bay, and usually a reservation is necessary. The best clams that I have ever tasted is marinated in a special chili garlic sauce that will make you want to lick your fingers without shame.
Sour: The restaurants fill up by sunset, so get there a little bit sooner and enjoy a few beers. This area is a great place for dinner, but Jimbaran’s picturesque beaches are further south.
Sweet: After dinner we wanted to release sky lanterns. So we walked down the beach a little ways and lit a few off over the ocean.
Sour: When lighting our lanterns, we completely let the vessel fill with hot air, so that it doesn’t take off only to crash into the ocean (after a few seconds of flying time)…good thing we had two!
Sour: Rimba was a great value, and the breakfast buffet was outstanding! A shuttle arrived every 15 minutes to shuttle us to Ayana. If your budget is big, then you can’t go wrong with a cliff front villa at Ayana.
The Rock Bar Bali, located on the beautiful Ayana resort draws travelers from all around Bali. Grab an oceanfront lounger, possibly an umbrella for shade, and watch the sun sink into the Indian Ocean with a refreshing cocktail.
Sour: It can get very hot at the Rock Bar, so be sure not to wear jeans and a black shirt (lesson learned)!
Sour: Next to the Rock Bar is one of Ayana’s 5 pools, the Ocean Beach Pool, which is even a cooler (literally) place to watch the sunset.
Sweet: I can’t rave enough about the amazing pools in Bali, which brings me to my favorite pool at Ayana, the River Pool. Here you can lay on the edge, jump down into another pool, and enjoy complimentary watermelon brought over by the staff.
Sour: I could have used more relaxation time at the River Pool. It was very relaxing, between napping and wading in the pools the feeling of vacation really sunk in!
Sour: Our last dinner at Ayana was at the oceanfront Kisik. While the restaurants here did cost more than what you would pay outside of the resort, the experience is worth it.
Sour: To get to Ayana’s Kuba Beach you must go down 197 steps, or shall I say it’s 197 steps back up!
Sweet & Sour: There’s no doubt that we had a great time in Bali. While it seemed like paradise…most of all, it felt like an adventure.