Bali really is one of the most incredible islands in the world. After seeing a lot about it online before we arrived we thought we knew what to expect, but ended up being constantly surprised and blown away; the contrast between the different areas of such a small island is unbelievable, and will keep you constantly excited to explore more. There are even a few clusters of tiny Islands surrounding it that you need to make sure you check out while you’re there. Here’s our breakdown of the different areas as well as a little about our time in each.
After 6 months of travelling, arriving in Canggu was exactly what we needed – it has so much of what we missed about our home in East London, but placed right on the beach, which is why it ended up being our base for a lot of our time in Bali. The area is full of the most incredible restaurants, cafes, coffee shops, bars, and reasonable but lovely accommodation, all a stones throw from the beach where you can relax or surf all day, and catch some of the most incredible pink sunsets at night.
Where to stay:
Silvy Guesthouse – Located right on the main street, with lovely, modern, clean and comfortable rooms at a very reasonable price, run by one of the sweetest ladies we’ve ever met.
Sandat – Just like Silvy but with a small pool, at a slightly higher price.
Shady Shack / La Baracca / Banana Flour Bakery / Bu Mi / Nalu Bowls / Peloton / Milk & Maddu (check out our Bali Food Guide for more)
Pretty Poison (awesome bar with a skate bowl) / The Lawn / Old Mans / Fins beach club / La Laguna
We didn’t stay in Seminyak, but we visited a lot… mostly for the incredible food. Seminyak is similar to Canggu, but a lot busier. As it’s only a 15-20 minute drive from Canggu we’d recommend staying there and visiting on a scooter to sample some of these incredible places:
Eat at: Strawberry Fields, Coffee Cartel, Mad Pops, The Spicy Coconut (Other places that we didn’t make it to but are meant to be great: Kynd, Sisterfields, Shelter, Sea Circus, Motel Mexicola)
Seminyak also has some awesome places to drink:
Mrs Sippy – Huge pool with a diving board, bar, and restaurant
Potato Head Beach club – A great place to party through the day, drinking cocktails by the pool. Definitely worth checking out but it’s not very budget friendly
Although only an hour drive from Canggu, Ubud is a world away from the beachy areas areas along Bali’s coast. There’s something so enchanting about this cultural town in the Bali jungle. There’s so much to see and do here that you’d never get bored, from the countless waterfalls to the rice terraces that look more like works of art. Ubud is also a hub for great food and Yoga.
See and do: Telangelang rice terraces, Tengenugan waterfall, Dusan Kuning waterfall, Sacred Monkey forest, Trekking, Yoga at the yoga barn, day trip to northern Bali (see below)
Eat at: Yellow Flower Cafe, Soma, Melting Wok (book ahead), Clear Cafe, Lazy Cats Cafe
Stay at: The Athaya
We loved The Athaya, it’s priced as mid range hotel but you’re getting full luxury. We figure that’s because it’s a few minutes from the main street, but really that’s a good thing… especially if like us you’ll be renting a moped anyway. The chilled out pool area was the perfect place to relax after mornings exploring Ubud, and the rooms overlook beautiful rice fields.
Northern Bali / Buleleng
We spent one day exploring northern Bali, and it was probably the most incredible day of the whole two months – the area is so full of surreal natural beauty as well as stunning temples and structures.
We left Ubud at sunrise on our moped and drove north for about 1.5-2 hours until we reached Bedugul, high up in the mountains. Our first stop was the beautiful water temple, followed by Bali’s most famous gate (the entrance to Handara Golf Course), then we drove further north for another hour, winding down steep mountainside, to the Aling Aling waterfall which was our favourite in Bali and even has the option of a canyoneering type adventure. After that we drove back up the mountain to the multiple viewpoints overlooking the stunning Twin Lakes, which is when we realised we were standing at the rim of a giant inactive Volcano.
The whole day was breathtaking, and we’d highly recommend everything we did. Just make sure you take warm clothes, because once the sun starts to set and the wind is blowing it gets so unbelievably cold up there (especially on a moped!).
Uluwatu is in our opinion the most beautiful area of mainland Bali. The coast is lined with dramatic cliffsides, picturesque beaches and seemingly endless surf spots. As soon as you cross over into Uluwatu, you’ll feel like you’re on a whole new island. The vibe is just so much more chilled out than anywhere else in Bali and there’s way less traffic. Also, Uluwatu has lots of beautiful beaches, our favourites were: Dreamland, Uluwatu, Balangan and Padang-Padang. If it’s Island life you’re after, this is the place for it… on mainland Bali at least (see Nusas and Gilis↓↓)
And of course, as we’re in Bali, the restaurants, cafes and bars are great. Here are a few of our favourites: Single Finn’s (amazing for sunset and watching surfers in the day), La Baracca, Suka Espresso
We still can’t believe the amount of natural wonder on these 3 tiny islands. We spent 5 days on them, with Nusa Lembongan being our base and fell completely in love. From the T-Rex shaped cliffs and Natural Infinity pools, to Swimming with Manta Rays and watching sea turtles, you could spend years on these islands without getting bored. And that doesn’t even scratch the surface – for more about these incredible islands check out our Nusa Island Guide.
These 3 tiny islands are less than a 2 hour boat ride from Bali, and are complete paradise – white sand beaches, crystal blue water, the most incredible underwater life for snorkeling and diving, no cars, and the most unbelievable sunsets you’ll ever see. Each of the three islands has a slightly different vibe, so there is certainly something to suit pretty much anyone – check out our full Gili Island Guide for more info and pictures!
Amed: We didn’t make it to Amed this time round but can’t wait to visit soon. It’s up in the north east corner of Bali, away from the crowds, with a chilled out fishing village vibe and incredible clear water for swimming and diving.
Kuta: We missed Kuta as we heard over and over agin that it’s a very overcrowded party scene, so we’re not in a position to make our own judgement on it. (Not to be confused with Kuta Lombok, which is great)
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We love this island and we really hope that our guide can help you experience it to the fullest to! If you have any questions for us or if there’s anything you think should be added, please leave a comment.
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