TRAVEL:

Sa­man­tha Nun­ney tracks down the best sun­sets in Bali, while Jane Cramer does a mouth-wa­ter­ing culi­nary cruise from Tahiti.

The Australian Women's Weekly - - Contents - AWW

par­adise dream­ing in Bali and Tahiti

A blood or­ange sun dips be­hind deep indigo ocean. Bali’s Sun­set Coast is stun­ningly beau­ti­ful and named for its nightly nat­u­ral light show – hot pink, ery or­ange and deep red skies – views that feel heal­ing to the soul.

One of the most renowned spots for sun­set watch­ing in Bali is the clifftop at the south­ern­most end of Jim­baran Beach. Right there, tucked away in 90 hectares of clifftop gar­dens, is Ayana Re­sort and Spa, the per­fect an­ti­dote to a stress­ful world.

The re­sort is a se­cluded par­adise with 12 pools, 19 res­tau­rants and bars, and ac­com­mo­da­tion op­tions that range from pri­vate vil­las to ocean-view rooms.

A trip on an in­cli­na­tor down the rugged cliff face leads to Ayana’s pri­vate beach and a breath­tak­ing seascape. It’s a glimpse of un­tamed Bali among the oth­er­wise man­i­cured re­sort and the per­fect spot to rein­vent the art of lazy. If you’re lucky, you’ll only be in­ter­rupted from your book by a thirst-quench­ing drink or foot mas­sage (roughly $A15).

More re­lax­ation is on of­fer in the hy­drother­apy pool, or you can in­dulge in the spa menu – the Seven Chakra Dahra mas­sage feels al­most spir­i­tual.

The re­sort’s cook­ing class in­volves a trip to the mar­kets for in­gre­di­ents, which is a wel­come in­fu­sion of cul­ture and colour. Just make The Weekly proud and come top of the class, like I did.

And if the bank bal­ance al­lows, you may have a “but­ler phone” – a hot­line to one of the charm­ing Ayana staff who, at the touch of a but­ton, will trans­port you from your villa via buggy. Per­haps you’ll ven­ture to the River Pool, one of the re­sort’s fa­mous In­sta­gram spots, and then to the Rock Bar for a sun­downer.

Cruis­ing the Paci c, vis­it­ing Tahiti and the other beau­ti­ful is­lands of French Poly­ne­sia with a pri­vate chef and at­ten­tive staff is the hol­i­day dreams are made of. On Ocea­nia Cruises’ 12-day Pure Poly­ne­sia cruise, the big­gest de­ci­sions you’ll need to make are the cock­tail you’ll sip at sun­set, and which din­ing op­tion to ex­pe­ri­ence. Board­ing the Ma­rina in Papeete, you then visit nearby Moorea, Ra­iatea and Bora Bora be­fore cruis­ing north-east to Nuku Hiva, then south again to Fakar­ava, Ran­giroa, Huahine and back to Tahiti. Wak­ing to the vivid blues and lush trop­i­cal scenery, cou­pled with re­laxed is­land hos­pi­tal­ity and ex­quis­ite din­ing, is what makes this cruise un­for­get­table.

The ship has nine culi­nary ex­pe­ri­ences to choose from. La Re­serve fea­tures nine-course din­ing in an in­ti­mate set­ting. It’s ad­di­tional to the cruise pack­age and well worth the ex­pense. Other op­tions in­clude the Polo Grill, and the Asian-in­spired Red Gin­ger. Go Ital­ian at Toscana or en­joy a clas­sic souf é at Jac­ques French bistro. Wined and dined, you’re rocked to sleep as the Ma­rina glides through the night to your next des­ti­na­tion.

Shore ex­cur­sions are a great way to ex­pe­ri­ence is­land life. On Nuku Hiva we feast on wild suck­ling pig and en­joy tra­di­tional Tahi­tian songs or “himene”. Other ac­tiv­i­ties in­clude swim­ming and snorkelling, sail­ing and shop­ping at lo­cal mar­kets. Tahiti is fa­mous for its black pearls and a visit to a pearl farm is un­miss­able.

Back on the Ma­rina the gourmet ad­ven­ture con­tin­ues with cook­ing classes pre­sented in a re­laxed and fun en­vi­ron­ment. To off­set any ex­tra ki­los, the Canyon Ranch Spa fea­tures a well-quipped gym and per­son­alised group classes. For those han­ker­ing for live en­ter­tain­ment, there’s a pi­ano player, soft rock band, cham­ber mu­si­cians and a team of dancers and singers.

The beauty of the is­lands aside, it’s the friendly Ma­rina staff and out­stand­ing ser­vice that keeps guests com­ing back. The ship never feels crowded, and with 800 staff for a max­i­mum of 1250 pas­sen­gers, your ev­ery need is met.

A 12-day Pure Poly­ne­sia cruise de­parts from Papeete, Tahiti on Fe­bru­ary 10, 2019, priced from $4370 per per­son. Visit ocea­ni­acruises.com.

From top: Bora Bora; the lush land­scape of Hati­heu Bay, Nuku Hiva; div­ing in the re­gion’s aqua wa­ters.

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