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