We spent a month Bali, exploring the beautiful island and its waters, indulging in Indonesian food, and simply relaxing. We were there from half December till half January, normally the high of the rainy season. We only had one serious rain shower that lasted about half an hour though. The rest of the time it was dry, hot, and humid. Luckily, the beach or a pool was always close by in case we were in need of a refreshing dip. We went surfing and diving, and saw some nice temples, beautiful nature and amazing sunsets.
Surfing and Diving in Bali
One of the reasons we came to Bali was surfing. Brecht tried it once on a short trip to Portugal and I had never done it before, so we needed an instructor to teach us. A former colleague of Brecht recommended Popo, and we were pleased with his services as well. For 250,000 IDR per person he gave us lessons of a couple of hours, correcting our mistakes and encouraging us to keep trying. We took lessons for three days and practiced on our own for another two. Renting a board for a day (we could only keep it up for an afternoon though) costs 50,000 IDR. We still need a lot of practice, but manage to catch a (small) wave every once in a while. #proud! For a more elaborate explanation about our first surfing experience in Kuta, you can head over to another blogpost.
We went to Amed to go diving. A friend recommended Bali Reef Divers, so that’s the dive shop we did five fun dives with, spread over two days. It cost us 1,750,000 IDR per person, including dive gear, guide, and transportation to the dive sites. We were very pleased with their services and Komang, our guide, showed us some nice spots and sea creatures. Our favourite dives were the Pyramids and Jemeluk Wall, with beautiful fish and amazing coral. We were glad to be diving again. After four months of no diving, I almost forgot how wonderful the underwater world is! For more information about Bali Reef Divers and the Amed dive spots, check out another blogpost.
There’s a lot more to do in Amed than diving though, we also went snorkeling, explored the countryside by motorbike and found a great spot to watch the sunset. Read more about this in another blogpost.
Ubud, the cultural centre of Bali
Ubud is known for being the cultural centre (almost literally, check the map) of Bali. Starting from Ubud we did a motorbike day trip to explore some of the surrounding temples and viewpoints. The highlight of that day was definitely the view at Mount and Lake Batur. However, the shrines at Gunung Kawi were really impressive as well, and we were fortunate to behold the lines of people waiting for ritual purification at Tirta Empul.
We also visited Goa Gajah, tasted the (in)famous Luwak (or poopoo) coffee at a coffee farm and made a quick stop at Tegalalang Rice Terrace for some nice pictures. Honestly, beautiful rice terraces are to be found throughout Bali, so go out and explore! For more detailed information and pictures, read our blogpost about this motorbike day trip around Ubud.
Right in the centre of Ubud there’s Monkey Forest (40,000 IDR entrance fee per person). It’s a jungle in the city preserving all kinds of trees and plants, housing some temples and home to over 600 macaques, Balinese long-tailed monkeys. The monkeys just roam free, so you can walk the jungle among them. I have to admit I was a bit scared to go, as monkeys are animals, so their behaviour is unpredictable. But if you keep to some ground rules and use your common sense, you’ll have a great time and return home with tons of cool pictures. Read up about how to survive Monkey Forest in another one of our blogposts.
Delicious Food & Relaxing Massages in Ubud
If you’re in for a fancy lunch and have some money to spend, go to Locavore in Ubud. You can choose between two set menus: the Locavore Menu and vegetarian Herbivore Menu, each consisting of seven courses. It’s possible to skip two and go for the slightly cheaper five course menu and you can opt for paired drinks. We each ordered a different set menu, all seven courses, no paired drinks and had to pay just over 1,500,000 IDR for the food, which was about $55 per person. We really enjoyed our lunch at Locavore in Ubud, tasting some amazing and creative food. Definitely worth the splurge! You can read about our full Locavore experience in another blogpost.
A massage is the ultimate form of relaxing for a lot of people. Apparently not for us though. We booked a Balinese massage at Spa Hati for 180,000 IDR per person for 60 minutes. Afterwards we had to admit we liked the tea and jacuzzi session, and the unlimited use of the sauna and pool more than the massage itself. It’s not an activity we’ll spent a lot of money on in the future. Maybe a foot massage is more up our alley. Read about our first massage experience in another blogpost.
Other places you shouldn’t miss in Bali
We took a private car from Ubud to Amed, our price from the lucky draw at New Year’s Eve. On the way, we made a stop at Tirta Gangga, known for its water palace. There are plenty of pools, fountains and statues, all surrounded by beautiful gardens. For a small charge, additional to the 20,000 IDR entrance fee per person, you can even take a swim! If you want to read more about our trip from Ubud to Amed, head over to another blogpost.
Brecht found out about an organisation called Bali Sea Turtle Society, a Kuta based non-profit organisation protecting the sea turtle in Bali. They rescue nests from the beach and when they hatch, they’re released back into their natural habitat. Check the BSTS Facebook page for news about upcoming releases. Unfortunately there were no releases during our stay, but hopefully you’ll have some more luck!
Beautiful sunset at Tanah Lot
I had been sick in bed for a week in Amed, so we cancelled our plans of returning to Kuta for some more surfing and visiting the Tanah Lot Temple, in order to not miss out on the dive spots in Amed. Not a big problem, as nothing was booked yet. We didn’t want to miss the sunset at the Tanah Lot Temple though, so we made a detour on our way from Amed to the airport. We found out later that this sea temple (a temple on a rock surrounded by the sea) is not really authentic, it’s been reconstructed because the entire construction was crumbling. Nevertheless it was beautiful!
We arrived a little before sunset and first took a look at the foot of the temple, where professional photographers are waiting to make “a stunning portret of you and the temple” for a “fair” price. We went up the cliff to the restaurants in search for a nice spot at the edge to watch the sunset. Unfortunately it was a bit cloudy, but the sunset still made for some nice pictures of this popular sea temple, supposedly the most visited and photographed temple in Bali. For the nicest pictures you have to go up to the restaurants early and secure a spot right across from the temple, so the sun will go down right behind the temple. We were a bit too far to the left, so the sunset was quite far from the temple from our point of view. The view was still great though!
There is so much to see and do in Bali it’s just not possible to cover them all, not even in the month we spent there. We enjoyed everything we saw and did, and hope our overview helps you to choose the things you wouldn’t want to miss out on when visiting Bali.