If you spend your first trip to Bali at an all-inclusive resort you are really really doing it wrong. Bali is one of the most beautiful islands in the world and each part is completely different to the other, you really can’t stay in just one place. Go to Bali to explore, have an adventure and seek out hidden treasures.
I began my adventure in Bali with Wanderlands (& RealGap) on their 8 day tour and couldn’t have travelled with a greater group of people. The great thing about tours, and this was my first, is that you meet people from all around the world. I now have good friends and connections in the US, Ireland, Northern Ireland, New Zealand, Germany and The Netherlands. Some of which I’ve since travelled to Munich, Chicago and Berlin with.
The first thing I noticed about Bali was the heat and humidity. As you leave the airport it just hits you but i soon forgot about that whilst i feared for my life on the drive to the hotel. (I swear there are no traffic laws in Bali, the roads are absolutely nuts!!) Once at our hotel in Kuta, I quickly felt at home amongst the rest of the tour group, lounging by the pool and heading out for our first real taste of Indonesian cuisine! After a wander around the street vendors and figuring out how to play the bargaining game over Bintang vests and Bulls jerseys, we wandered down to Kuta beach for sunset and then out in to the busy Kuta streets for a few lemon Radlers.
The next day we headed to Tanah Lot temple, passing the memorial of the 2002 Bali bombing in Kuta which bears the names and nationalities of the victims. The one thing I love about Bali is their culture and the daily offering of gifts to the Gods called Canang Sari. This involves offering gifts of food, money and flowers in small baskets and can found lined on the streets outside homes, workplaces and placed on shrines and at temples. They are often accompanied by incense which makes the Bali streets smell amazing, and something you really take away with you when you leave.
Tanah Lot temple was really beautiful, as you arrive there are a number of street vendors, cafe’s and restaurants and it’s very touristy. You can find people selling photos to tourists with their snakes, bats hanging in coffee shops in the middle of the day and random animals roaming around. As you head down to the sea towards the temple you can be blessed by a priest who sprinkles water over your head and applies rice to your forehead.
We left Tanah Lot and headed to La Plancha beach bar in Seminyak which is probably my favourite place to head for evening drinks in Bali. It’s popular, well-known for its brightly coloured parasols on the beach and is the absolute perfect place to chill out and take in the sunset after a full day of ‘temple-ing’ and exploring. The food here is also amazing, I recommend the sliders. And the cocktails (heart eyes emoji).
Day 2 was a stroll to Kuta beach for a surf lesson after a quick stop at this amazing panini and smoothie shop right next to our hotel for breakfast. Now, I’ve had surf lessons in the past (although unsuccessful) but, my gosh, was i unprepared for a real surf lesson in Bali. If there’s one thing i learnt it’s that if you’ve only ever surfed in English waters and dive straight in Bali, you’re not going to survive. These waves are on another level and i can safely say all I learnt was how to fight the waves and make it out to sea to even attempt to get up on the board! Fun but exhausting! Definitely recommend starting out in calmer waters if you are an amateur! After this morning I was definitely ready for a Bintang or two at and some loaded nachos at the nearby pool bar!
The afternoon was spent at Dreamland beach which really is a dream with its vast white idyllic beaches and hidden caves. There’s also an infinity pool for those instas. We spent a few hours here and it felt like our first bit of peace after the Kuta adventures of the past few days.
In the evening we headed to Uluwatu temple set on giant cliffs and boasts one of the bests sunsets of our trip. I recommend learning how to use the sunset mode on your camera before heading to Bali, the sunsets are on another level. One thing you’ll notice here is the number of Monkey’s roaming around. Just be sure to hide your sunglasses and hold on to you camera, these monkey’s are absolute robbery masterminds and used to tourists. We ended our last day in Kuta making the most of this party town, eating at an amazing steak restaurant and grabbing drinks at Alleycats.
Next stop, Ubud…