Sun­shine. Cock­tails. Toned bod­ies all around.


Bali is a place that knows how to party. But look beyond the scoot­ers and sou­venir stubby hold­ers and you’ll find an is­land that not so long ago was the do­main of en­light­ened trav­ellers who wanted to (re)con­nect with na­ture and them­selves. Pop­u­larised by El­iz­a­beth Gil­bert’s book Eat, Pray, Love, Ubud re­mains the isle’s spir­i­tual and cul­tural heart – its name is de­rived from obat, the In­done­sian word for medicine, and refers to the area’s long his­tory of healers and heal­ing – yet sanc­tu­ary can be found through­out the is­land. It’s there at sea level. It’s there atop moun­tains, vol­ca­noes and cliffs. It’s in the si­lence... and the sun­down­ers. Here’s where to find it.

Best sun­set spot

Coastal po­si­tions to watch the sun re­treat? The Is­land of Gods has plenty, the hills and beaches of Uluwatu of­fer­ing par­tic­u­larly rich pick­ings. But as an al­ter­na­tive, con­sider Bambu In­dah (bambu in­, an en­vi­ron­men­tally minded bou­tique ho­tel 20 min­utes from the Ubud town cen­tre. Set­tle into a chair on the wooden deck and mar­vel at stir­ring views from the Sayan Ridge – a gin and tonic with cu­cum­ber from the gar­den is op­tional but highly rec­om­mended. Early riser? Mak­ing the two-hour as­cent of Mount Batur for sun­rise is a fine start to any morn­ing (and a sure-fire way to hit that magic 10,000-steps-a-day tar­get).

Best spa in­dul­gence

Many spas place their faith in Spo­tify playlists awash with New-Age sound­scapes but an open-air treat­ment at Çan­tika Zest (can­tikazestspa­ is scored with the sounds of the

sur­round­ing jun­gle. It’s not the only way this health and beauty spa con­nects with its sur­rounds: owner Ke­tut Jasi and her team make the sham­poos, scrubs and other prod­ucts us­ing flow­ers and herbs grown in Çan­tika Zest’s gar­den. Their hand­i­work is de­ployed in re­lax­ing treat­ments such as the Meu­rut and Lu­lur, an ex­fo­li­at­ing massage and scrub fol­lowed by a per­fumed bath.

Best silent re­treat

Bali Silent Re­treat (bal­isi­lent re­ is ex­actly what it sounds like: an es­cape where guests take tem­po­rary vows of si­lence in the name of self­dis­cov­ery. No mat­ter how long you’re stay­ing (a five-day spell is rec­om­mended, although you’re wel­come to stay for as lit­tle as one night), all guests are asked to do away with their smart­phones and small talk and re­place them with yoga, med­i­ta­tion and an ex­plo­ration of Ba­li­nese cul­ture. Sim­ple but com­fort­able wooden bun­ga­low ac­com­mo­da­tion of­fers calm­ing views of rice pad­dies and moun­tains while or­ganic gar­dens sup­ply the build­ing blocks for nour­ish­ing veg­e­tar­ian buf­fets. It all makes for an idyl­lic, dis­trac­tion­free en­vi­ron­ment for re­flec­tion.

Best health re­treat

Spear­headed and in­spired by Como Shamb­hala Es­tate (ho­tel. qan­­moshamb­hala es­tate), Bali has es­tab­lished it­self as a global well­ness su­per­power, with health re­treats and spas pop­ping up across the is­land. Set within the jun­gle and be­side the sea in Te­jakula in Bali’s north-east, Spa Vil­lage Re­sort Tem­bok (ho­tel. qan­­lagetem­bok) con­cerns it­self with the life less com­pli­cated. From the wel­come (cue re­fresh­ing drink, cool towel, foot-wash and shoul­der massage) to dis­creetly lock­ing out tech­nol­ogy (each of the ho­tel’s 31 plush rooms are wi-fi- and tele­vi­sion-free), ev­ery­thing about your stay is fo­cused on pro­mot­ing mind­ful liv­ing. Daily ac­tiv­i­ties cover the phys­i­cal and cul­tural. In be­tween mul­ti­ple out­door yoga ses­sions, guests are taught the ins and outs of ev­ery­thing from mak­ing es­sen­tial-oil heal­ing prod­ucts to lon­tar (tra­di­tional palm-leaf manuscripts) draw­ing.

Best cul­tural ex­pe­ri­ence Best yoga

With a broad range of classes and an on­site café that serves nour­ish­ing food and smooth­ies, The Yoga Barn (theyo­ is a well­ness hub with all the el­e­ments nec­es­sary for yoga en­thu­si­asts to plan their dream get­away. As well as the di­verse sched­ule cov­er­ing all prac­tices, in­struc­tors also of­fer lessons in med­i­ta­tion and mar­tial arts move­ments. A vi­brant pro­gram of monthly work­shops in­cludes ev­ery­thing from ad­vanced yo­gain­struc­tor train­ing to med­i­ta­tion ac­com­pa­nied by gui­tar. It’s the sort of com­mu­nity that ev­ery­one wishes they be­longed to but one that could only ex­ist in Bali. Bali’s nat­u­ral beauty has given rise to a strong eco-con­scious­ness through­out the is­land. One of its best-known pro­po­nents is The Kul Kul Farm (kulkul­farm­, a per­ma­cul­ture hold­ing com­mit­ted to teach­ing oth­ers how to lighten their en­vi­ron­men­tal foot­print. In ad­di­tion to a cal­en­dar of in­ten­sive gar­den-de­sign and build­ing-with­bam­boo cour­ses, the school also holds tours around the farm on Mon­day morn­ings. These 2.5-hour guided walks are an ex­cel­lent in­tro­duc­tion to Kul Kul’s green phi­los­o­phy – and the Ba­li­nese at­ti­tude to­wards na­ture – and in­clude a ve­gan lunch pre­pared from in­gre­di­ents grown there.

Best on-wa­ter ex­pe­ri­ence

While the is­land’s beaches are renowned, not all of its wa­ter­based at­trac­tions are fringed with white sand. A former re­treat for the Karangasem royal fam­ily, Tirta Gangga de­serves a place on any eastern Bali itin­er­ary. Fed by a holy spring, the fresh­wa­ter swim­ming pools may be a cou­ple of de­grees cooler than your av­er­age re­sort pool but are stun­ning. And the man­i­cured grounds are equally wor­thy of your at­ten­tion. Tirta Gangga is pop­u­lar with lo­cals on week­ends so it’s bet­ter to visit the wa­ter gar­den dur­ing the week, prefer­ably as the fi­nal stop on a moun­tain-bike tour through nearby ham­lets led by lo­cal guide and vil­lage chief Mudi Mu­di­ada (mudi­goestothe­moun­

Best pri­vate villa

Ital­ian ar­chi­tect Valentina Au­drito thought of ev­ery­thing when she de­signed Lala­land (qan­ airbnb), her five-bed­room home on Bali’s south coast. The villa’s roll­call of at­trac­tions reads like the stuff of do-noth­ing, fam­i­ly­hol­i­day fan­tasy. A tree house, home theatre and two swim­ming pools will keep kids happy. The gar­den teems with trop­i­cal fruit trees and in­gre­di­ents for use by the in-house chef. If cabin fever does (in­ex­pli­ca­bly) strike, Canggu’s cafés, bars and world-class surf are all within strik­ing dis­tance.

Best sun­downer

An or­nate space filled with art and live jazz, Casa Luna (casalun­a­bali. com) is suave yet re­laxed. Visit the down­stairs bar on a Sun­day to make the tran­si­tion from the week­end to Mon­day eas­ier, thanks to dishes from a kitchen that’s as pro­fi­cient with Ba­li­nese clas­sics as it is with Ital­ian com­fort food. Or­der the ace dough­nuts filled with Nutella cream, a fun, Sun­day-only ad­di­tion to the menu.

Best place for med­i­ta­tion

Kuta may seem like an odd choice for taking time out but Te­bing Karang Boma – the Karang Boma cliff – in the area’s south­ern reaches has noth­ing in com­mon with the crowded, party-cen­tral beach and re­sort hub. In­stead, peace and un­in­ter­rupted, sigh-out-loud views of the ocean are the clifftop’s pri­mary stocks in trade. Just one catch: it isn’t the eas­i­est spot to find and re­quires in­ves­tiga­tive work (hint: look for the se­cret path run­ning off Jalan Batu Le­sung). Although the vista is cap­ti­vat­ing all day, the golden light at sun­set makes this cor­ner of the is­land per­fect for med­i­ta­tion at the end of a beau­ti­ful Bali day.

Go to trav­elin­sider.qan­ for: The 23 most lux­u­ri­ous re­sorts and vil­las in Bali Bali’s hippest Airbnb rentals Bali’s new­est It neigh­bour­hood – Canggu The 10 best restau­rants in Bali right now... and more.

(Clock­wise from left) Man­dapa re­sort; each room has a free­stand­ing bath; a Re­serve Two Bed­room Pool Villa

Wind down at The Lawn Beach Lounge (above); Nyang Nyang beach is worth the trek

Fish be­ing grilled over a char­coal fire (top); the lush wa­ter gar­den at Tirta Gangga

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