ROMANCING THE ISLAND
Every corner of Bali offers an abundance of sights and activities. Eve Tedja shares her itinerary checklist for a fulfilling journey.
Explore Bali like a local
Travel adventures or misadventures have a way to bring a couple closer together. For every lost luggage or arduous jungle trek, there are also moments of great joy, discovery and laughter.
To say Bali is a must-do for every couple is not overstating it, whether it’s for a wedding celebration, dreamy honeymoon, anniversary getaway, vow renewal, or an escape from the monotony of office meetings. Go on a silent ashram-style retreat, sign up for a five-star glamping experience or eat your way through Bali’s best restaurants. Here, we explore the rugged north, rocky east, verdant west, and the artful centre of Bali. Hire a car, set up a navigation app and get ready to fall madly in love with the island. NORTH
Far from the hustle and bustle of South Bali, the North used to play a more significant role as the main port and capital of the island during the Dutch colonial days. If you pass by its capital, Singaraja, the colonial remnants are still visible in the form of wide streets and old houses with big verandahs, giving the city a quaint feeling that differs from the other towns in Bali. The North is also blessed with dramatic landscapes made of hills, scenic routes, lakes, waterfalls and a stunning coastline which make driving in Bali a worthwhile experience.
Pack a lunch box on your way up north and have a leisurely balmy picnic under the big trees at the Bali
Botanic Garden (Jl. Kebun Raya, Candikuning, Baturiti). If you happen to have a special interest in botany, make sure to check the garden’s vast collection that includes orchids, ferns, medicinal plants, cactus greenhouse, begonia, and many others. Located 800 metres above the sea level, the surrounding area called Bedugul
provides a cooler climate from the rest of the island, as well as access to nature that is still not overrun with urban developments.
Then, head to Munduk, where mustachioed Dutch administration officers used to visit to escape from the heat. The landscapes remain dotted with forested hills, tiny villages and cocoa trees. There is almost no better place to have a cup of strong and aromatic Balinese coffee than at the dreamy MIMPI Restaurant, which is housed within Munduk Moding Plantation Nature Resort & Spa (Jl. Raya Asah Gobleg, Buleleng, Singaraja, M: +62 811385059). The luxurious ecoresort is also renowned for producing specialty coffee from its surrounding plantation.
As you travel further north, the black sandy coastline will be your constant company until you reach Puri Ganesha
Homes by the Sea (Desa Pemuteran, Gerokgak, Singaraja, Tel: +62 82237724060). Founded by Diana von Cranach who is renowned for her raw and living food creation, the English hotelier-cum-raw-food consultant, has created a peaceful retreat for those who seek to rest and rejuvenate. Book an all-inclusive Clean Break & Rawfully Good Retreat which lasts from three to seven days, and allows you to experience von Cranach’s distinctive flavourful creation of vegetarian, vegan or raw dishes. Stay at one of the beachfront villas where your only concern is when to have massage or join a cooking class.
Venture west and prepare to get enchanted by the vast land and marine biodiversity that belong to the West Bali
National Park. The protected forest and sea is the last bastion of wilderness in Bali and dramatically covers 19,000 hectares of rainforest, savannahs, mangroves as well as the top diving destination of Menjangan Island. Gnarled trees and empty roads signify that you are near the entrance of the park where 17 species of mammals as well as 160 species of birds are free to fly and twitter.
The Menjangan (Jl. Raya Gilimanuk Singaraja Km.17, Desa Pejarakan, Buleleng, Tel: +62 362 94700) will be the perfect hideaway to rest in the midst of nature. Does’ bleating can be your wake-up call since they are known for being
fond of splashing on the beach where the Beach Villa is located. Located in the heart of the park, the eco-boutique resort offers myriad activities to suit all interests, from bird watching to horse riding. Alternatively, it also boasts one of the best gourmet offerings in this part of the island with two of its restaurants – the wondrously high Bali Tower and the beachfront Pantai Restaurant.
Don your wetsuit and join a scuba diving trip at Pasir
Putih Beach Club, Diving & Watersports. Managed by the experienced Bali Hai Diving Adventure, the five-star PADI dive resort centre at Menjangan Dynasty Resort
(Pejarakan, Gerokgak, Buleleng, Tel: +62 362 3355000) offers professionally-guided diving or snorkelling trips to stunning sites around Menjangan Island. Take your other half to experience Bali’s most beautiful underwater gardens and its habitants that include manta rays and sea turtles. End the trip by having an intimate five-course dinner for two by the tranquil bay or head to the tented Pasir Putih Spa overlooking the blue Banyuwedang Bay for a relaxing couple’s treatment. CENTRE
Ubud’s increasing popularity means that the artsy town sometimes get crowded by tourists. However, if you know where to look, there are quiet pockets of refinement and luxurious experiences still to be found. Splurge on a lavish stay at Ubud’s romantic Four Seasons Resort Bali at Sayan’s Riverfront One-bedroom Villa (Sayan, Ubud, Tel: +62 361 977577) where the soothing sound of the river will be your sole company. Sign up for a restorative session of Sacred Nap at the open-air Dharma Santi Bale within the resort for a peaceful cocooned nap inside a hanging silk hammock, far removed from any disturbances. Make a lunch reservation for two at Mozaic Restaurant
Gastronomique (Jl. Raya Sanggingan, Ubud, Tel:+62 361 975768) for an exquisite dining experience in the comfort of an interactive restaurant. Go for either the five-course or seven-course lunch menu with Mozaic’s signature style of combining European cooking techniques with the flavours of Indonesian cuisine. Treat your spouse with 150 minutes of Royal Spice Ceremony at Mandapa Spa
at Mandapa, a Ritz-carlton Reserve (Jl. Kedewatan, Banjar Kedewatan, Ubud, Tel: +62 361 4792777). Inspired by the rituals given to the bride and groom prior to their wedding, let your bodies be pampered by the blissful four-hand
synchronised massage among other exquisite treatments, in the idyllic suite by the Ayung River.
You can also have a breakfast by the rice field and then go on a hot air balloon flight at The Chedi Club Tanah
Gajah, Ubud, Bali (Jl. Goa Gajah, Ubud, Tel: +62 361 975685). Soar up to 50 metres above the resort’s ground, enjoy the stunning view of the green rice fields below and Mount Agung in the distance. Take an easy stroll around the town in the evening and get ready for a nine-course provocative and decadent dessert menu by Will Goldfarb at the legendary
Room4dessert (Jl. Raya Sanggingan, Ubud,
Tel: +62 361 977002). Arrange your transportation back to the hotel and make sure to book a seat at the bar. Ask for Komang Sukradayasa, the suave in-house mixologist, for the perfect cocktail pairings. EAST
Ever wondered how sea salt is made? Stay at the colonial inspired Rumah Luwih (Jl. Prof Ida Bagus Mantra Km.19,9, Lebih, Gianyar, Tel: +62 361 2005899) and ask the friendly concierge to take you to visit a sea salt farmer in the
neighbouring village of Kusamba to discover the timehonoured tradition. Renowned for its powerful waves and black sanded beach, the east coastline of Bali is a sight to behold. Relax and sit back at the resort’s ocean facing charming veranda of Andrawina Restaurant and enjoy the authentic flavours of Peranakan and Indonesian dishes.
A snorkelling trip to watch the wreck of USAT Liberty cargo ship, which was torpedoed by Japanese submarine back then in 1942 in Tulamben, is also something that you must not miss. Go there early to beat the crowd and swim to the wreck, located not far from the shore. The reefs are growing healthily on the wreck, ensuring a rich marine life where colourful tropical fishes, unafraid of humans, will swirl and merrily swim around you. Head back to the soulful village of Sidemen afterward and rest in the comfort of One Bedroom Pool Villa at Wapa di Ume Sidemen (Banjar Dinas Tebola, Sidemen, Karangasem,
Puri Ganesha Homes by the Sea is an intimate retreat for bo d y n d so u l .
Bali Tower at The Menjangan is the perfect place to enjoy the enchanting vista of West Bali National Park.
Inspired by the surrounding and ancient Balinese traditions, treatments at Mandapa Spa are results-oriented and natural. Dessert of Mankind, one of Room4dessert’s creation by Will Goldfarb.
A time-honoured tradition, sea salt making on the coast of Kusamba is a must-see experience.
Soulful and romantic, Wapa di Ume Sidemen is a lush hideaway far from the madding crowd. Tel: +62 361 973178). Marvel at the panoramic verdant hill and enjoy each other’s company as the island envelopes you in a warm embrace.