I knew that I wanted to celebrate the significant milestone that was my 30th birthday this year, in a special way.
Almost 12 months prior, the conversation started about where such a celebration could take place. Countless locations were thrown into the mix and the idea formed part of my TOP 3 PERSONAL GOALS for 2015.
Hubby and I wanted to travel together and so we narrowed it down to 2 options.
Morocco and Bali.
Both of which I'd visited, both with incredibly rich cultures and both wonderful choices.
We wanted to take a month off and to feel like we were home. Less packing up and moving every few days, more presence in the moment.
So, with its dreamy weather, endless palm trees and smiling faces - we booked our tickets to the island of Bali.
As well as celebrating my 30th birthday, having our first trip together in a year and taking some much needed time out - we also had the aim of creating a Healthy Travel Guide to Bali.
For you dear reader.
I wanted to put together a stunning and simple guide that honours my simple and wholesome approach to health and wellbeing - even whilst travelling.
Merging my devotion to wellbeing at every turn, a deep love of exploration and newness, a very willing and talented husband, one fabulous camera and our open hearts; a guide set out to help you healthily navigate the main areas on the gorgeous island of Bali.
With the hope that it would enable you to experience Bali without so many of the clichés that it has become synonymous with and that you would arrive home safe, well and thriving from a wholesome and healthy trip.
This 25-page comprehensive guide is available here.
For now, this post and its consequent parts, will offer you our travel stories, highlights + special insights and gorgeous photography only available here on the blog, supporting the full guide out soon.
So grab a juice/smoothie/whatever, sit back and enjoy Part One....
Our itinerary involved 6 nights in Seminyak first up, followed by 3 weeks in Ubud and a final 6 nights by the beach down south in the Bingin/Uluwatu area. Villas (booked via Airbnb), transport arranged and a heap of planned and proposed experiences to undertake.
The last time I visited Bali was July 2009 and I knew a whole lot had changed, especially in Seminyak.
I was however keen to see this with my own eyes and to show Tippy, a Bali-virgin, the place that I knew and remembered.
With my research complete, spreadsheet and camera at the ready for 5 full days of exploring Seminyak, we were set.
What I've always known to be the big-sister to tourist-centric Kuta just down the road.
I knew a lot had changed in the 6 years since my last visit though I could never have been prepared for just how much.
When one end of the main 'eat street' (Jl Oberoi/Kayu Aya) had barely a shop or cafe that I recall, to now presenting as a thriving metropolis of activity. It blew me away and several times on our first day exploring, I had to stop and adjust. Could this really be the same place?
Seminyak is heavily developed and if there is spare land, you can safely assume that it's currently under development. Hotels, resorts, hostels and villas-a-plenty.
Endless retail stores and places to both eat and drink.
It's an area easily navigated via foot and stretches south to the Legian-border and north to the newer developed area of Petitenget. It's in the latter that you'll find the larger hotels and clubs such as the W and Potato Head.
Wander long enough and soon the stores fade away to rice fields, you'll forget where you are entirely.
During the 6 nights we had here, our purpose was clear.
To sleep in, eat, laze by the pool and relax.
After arriving on a midnight flight into Denpasar, our first point of call was breakfast and a particular meal that I'd been manifesting for months..
Jl. Kayu Cendana No.7
The newly-famed, Australian-ised and super chic cafe.
Fresh juices and smashed avocado for the win here.
That they serve Bonsoy and make good coffee too - killing it.
Ideal for early birds like me too with their 7am open time.
Super-friendly and overall in terms of menu, staff and fit-out, my #1 in Seminyak
Jl. Laksmana No.10
Completely and totally instagram-able.
It's also got delicious menus for all times of day, friendly staff and provides the perfect vantage spot to take in all of the busy Bali goodness (and people watching).
One of the eternal favourites of this area and a great sunset spot.
Serving actually good Italian fare and with plentiful real food options making the most of local produce.
Another booking-advised venue though if you’re feeling lucky, turn up early and cross your fingers.
Jl. Kayu Aya No 3 (Gang 51)
Supplying the above Corner House plus other local venues, this is where the cool (friendly) kids hang and where very good coffee is found.
Good snack options and perfect for a reprieve from that Bali humidity. You can also find Baby Revolver 10 minutes north of the main Seminyak in the Petitenget area (Jalan Petitenget 102x.)
Jl. Drupadi I No.2A
The first smoothie bar on the island and now found in 3 locations (also Canggu and Uluwatu). Below the fab Shelter Cafe and located towards the Legian-end of Seminyak.
Make your own or stick to the menu and enjoy a filling breakfast (or anytime meal) fresh from the blender. Our pick was the Uluwatu with coconut water instead of apple juice - yum!
Jl. Drupadi I No.2A (upstairs)
Upstairs from Nalu Bowls (you can even order one from here) you’ll find an open-air view away from the hustle and bustle of Seminyak’s busy streets.
Enjoy fresh juices, smoothies, salads and sandwiches whilst taking in the relaxed ex-pat and health-aware tourist vibe.
Jalan Petitenget No. 21
Even for non-seafoodies like me, this place is incredible.
An institution honouring locally caught seafood and providing both service and style.
Great for couples + groups alike.
Be sure to book ahead of time for this one and request a table with a view.
Jalan Laksamana No. 99
13 years and 3 locations later (expect more in Part 3), this vegetarian cafe is an institution. Located on the busy ‘eat street’ in Seminyak, here you’ll find salads, smoothies, felafal plates (my fave!) and raw treats too. There’s even a market on-site where you can pick up snacks and fresh produce.
100x Jln Petitenget
Modern, bright, clean and incredibly professional.
Found in the Petitenget area, just north of the main Seminyak area and across from the W Hotel is where you can find this oasis of calm.
I highly recommend the raw facial, signature massage and a pedicure, the latter of which you can enjoy in the open-air foot treatment area. Be sure to order a fresh coconut , enjoy the free WIFI and smile at the gorgeous staff who attend to you.
Book ahead if you can.
Jl. Kayu Jati No. 2
The staple of the Seminyak spa scene for many years, is this institution situated at the north end of Seminyak.
Expect more traditional-inspired treatment rooms and staff presentation here.
There were places that we hoped to visit and didn't on this trip.
Namely Sarong (upscale Balinese food in Petitenget - bookings recommended) and Chandi on the main Eat Street. There's always next time!
Since my last trip to Seminyak in 2009, one clear distinction that I observed was the heightened awareness of food safety.
That being said, use your instincts and know your own body. You could always do as I do when travelling and avoid meat as a precaution.
‘Bali belly’ is a bug that can be picked up on the island.
With awareness, prevention and considerate choices, you should be able to avoid this entirely.
Look to use hand wipes before eating, especially when you’ve handled money - a key cause of the bug.
Yes standards have increased substantially in Bali over the past few years though always err on the side of caution and use your best instincts. Unless you’re at a reputable and known dining choice, avoid cold food and ice.
On the taxi front in Bali, if you do take one always ensure that it is a Bluebird taxi and although 9/10 times they will anyway, politely request that the meter be turned on. This is a large and reputable transport company in Indonesia with uniformed, respectful drivers. Many companies/cars have been made to look similar so look out for that.
On the money front, and as with every destination, look to travel with respect and humility for the local people.
The bargain attitude taken by many visitors towards Bali does little for the island and I’d simply ask that you consider what you would pay for the meal or service in your own country when thinking of worth and tipping.
Although a service charge is often added automatically to your bill in more of the Western establishments, consider that what’s a few dollars to you, may be much greater to someone else.
Be gracious and generous.
To anyone visiting Seminyak, I offer this recommendation...
Although not authentic Bali, it's got its own charm and vibe going on. As a cafe-hopper, you'll be in heaven and the dining scene overall is impressive.
Rather than criticise or wish it were something else, enjoy it for what it is. Besides there's something cool (in my opinion) about Melbourne or Sydney-inspired cafes with a Balinese flair.
And hey if that's not your kind of thing - there's a whole island to explore!
And Part Two does exactly that.
Featuring the glorious beachside locations of Canggu, Bingin and Uluwatu.
If you've loved Part One, why not send it to a friend and encourage them to join my tribe too? And be sure to check out Part Two and Three.
Do you want your very own stunning, comprehensive and handy 25-page HEALTHY TRAVEL GUIDE TO BALI, INDONESIA? Simply head here.
I’ve made this incredibly beautiful and valuable resource available to you for FREE so please enjoy it with love from me.
Arrive home safe, well and thriving from a wholesome and healthy trip. One spent exploring, feasting and soaking up the incredible island that is Bali.