When deciding where to travel next, a photo or fleeting thought will often ignite a nagging feeling to visit a place. Once there’s a spot stuck in my mind, it’s only a matter of time before we’re stepping on a plane and jetting off to our next adventure. These past years, however, have largely been years of reflection – to look at where we’ve been and where we might be going as life reaches a strange hyper speed. Until recently, with the constant calling to stay connected, there was no slowing, no stopping. We’ve been programmed to feed the virtual world and as I say that, I’m contributing. Yet, as the real world around us evolves, my hope is that this platform can continue to serve as a sounding board for the places and people we love and a reminder of the things we might miss or crave as we’re all swirling around in this undoubtedly bizarre time.
It’s taken me a long time to write about some of my favorite places that we’ve traveled to over the years as time blended together. Sometimes I think it’s because there are certain experiences that I’ve held closer to my heart and wanted to soak it all in before sharing but now it’s time to catch up. As we plan to (hopefully) visit Fiji and New Zealand at the end of the year, I’m jumping back to our trip to Bali and Australia.
Bali wasn’t initially at the top of my travel bucket list. I saw a promotional ad one day, and thought this is where we need to go. If we were going all the way to Bali though, we might as well go to Australia too. Yet, the trip didn’t start out in our favor. Our direct flight to LA was cancelled out of Seattle due to mechanical issues, which meant we had to hop a flight to Portland and catch another flight to LA so we wouldn’t miss our connecting flight the next day. Luckily, I always plan for wiggle room when traveling since who knows what will happen these days, and I originally booked a night at the Portofino Hotel and Marina in Redondo Beach. However, by the time we got there, we were at the hotel long enough to get a good night’s sleep and then explored Santa Monica before making the 15 -hour trek to Sydney and then on to Bali. It also happened that LA got the rainstorm of the year the next day and our flight was significantly delayed again out of LA. While the upside was that we enjoyed our first ever visit to the Delta Sky Lounge and snuck in a shower before the long haul flight, the downside was we missed our connecting flight in Sydney to Bali. Lets just say we weren’t off to a great start. We spent most of the day in the Sydney airport as the walking dead.
After a good 36 hours of traveling from the time we checked out of the hotel in Redondo Beach to the time we touched down in Denpasar, Bali, the blast of humidity that hit us as we walked off the plane was a nice wake up call. When we sat down at the checkin desk at the InterContinental Bali Resort in Jimbaran around 9:00 PM, and they handed us a warm washcloth and a cool glass of watermelon juice, it was as if we had reached the pearly gates of a tropical heaven. We made it and it was so worth it in the end.
Jet legged and still stuck on who knows what time zone, I woke up early for once in time for the sunrise and to see a local grading the beach. The soft light and peaceful setting of Jimbaran Bay was more than I had expected when we initially started our hard fought battle with the airlines.
When I originally researched Bali, it was a bit overwhelming navigating where to stay on the island since Bali is broken up into distinctive areas and each area has its pros and cons. With that, everyone who visits Bali has their own preference. As we found out, on the southwestern side of the island, Jimbaran has absolutely epic sunsets and is a lively place to enjoy dinner by the sea. On the southeastern side of the island in Nusa Dua, there are giant enclosed resorts, white sand beaches and hidden enclaves. To the north, Kuta is known for its vibrant nightlife and shopping. And of course, even farther to the north, the well-known Ubud is a sanctuary tucked up into the mountains with surrounding lush green rice fields.
We opted to stay in Jimbaran right on the beach for the first couple of nights and enjoyed a breakfast buffet to die far, an outdoor yoga class, massages and a lovely french inspired restaurant across the street called Balique.
Each day we explored a different piece of the southern tip of Bali, stopping at temples and enjoying the beaches such as Nusa Dua Beach, Pandawa Beach and Padang Padang (also featured in the movie “Eat, Pray, Love”). Really, there are so many beaches in Bali, it’s hard to decide on the best ones.
The people are also incredibly kind and friendly and a huge part of the economy is hospitality. It’s very easy to a hire driver for the day at a decent rate to take you wherever you’d like to go since nobody sane would try driving on the island if you’re not a local.
We also shopped in Kuta and took note of the sacred offerings scattered along the beach. Tip for Kuta: Avoid the timeshare hawkers that will cunningly draw you in with chances to win freebies before knowing what’s happening.
We visited the Water Blowhole next to Nusa Dua Beach, Garuda Wisnu Kencana Cultural Park based on Hindu mythology and devoted to the Hindu God Vishnu, and the cliff side temple, Uluwatu Temple. Our days before heading north were jam packed as we tried to fit in as much as possible while still taking time to relax.
Our stay at the InterContinental was a wonderful escape but we had a lot of ground to cover and had to keep moving. Our next stop was Ubud, an equally enjoyable but different side of paradise. More to come…
Have you been to Bali? Where is your favorite place to stay?
A few places to visit in South Bali
- Nusa Dua Beach
- Water Blowhole
- Padang Padang Beach
- Pandawa Beach
- Uluwatu Temple
- Wisnu Kencana Cultural Park
- Kuta Market
Where we stayed:
- InterContinental Bali Resort in Jimbaran
A great place for dinner: