Island guide: Bali
Love sunsets, beach life and lazy afternoons spent by the water’s edge? This is the island for you. Bali’s gentle soul draws visitors seeking solace, and wellness retreats are a speciality. Yoga fans can find studios offering all styles from mysore to ashtanga: sign up for an hour or a week. Take a look at wellness retreat Samadi Bali (samadibali.com), which also has a vegetarian cafe and market.
The streets are awash with offers of massages: Seminyak’s Jari Menari (‘dancing fingers’) constantly wins awards for its all-male team of masseuses, while Bodyworks, also in Seminyak, is always busy and always first-rate ( jarimenari.com, bodyworksbali.com).
Catch a traditional dance, whip up a Balinese treat in a cooking class or tap into the island’s mythical history. Taken from the epic poem
Ramayana, the Kecak Fire Dance is a dramatic evening performance by up to 50 musicians and dancers. The most famous location is at Uluwatu Temple, down on the Bukit Peninsula, so plan an afternoon trip south. Driver and dance packages are available from every hotel, or turn up at Uluwatu before it starts around 6pm to buy your tickets.
Bali is a predominantly Hindu island and religious festivals are plentiful all year. New Year is heralded in with Nyepi Day, a day of silence, which means there are no flights or ship arrivals, no work and no travel around the island: use it as day for reflection and relaxation. Next year, it falls on March 7. The day before sees parades of huge ogoh-ogoh puppets and ‘ fire wars’ in the villages, to frighten away evil spirits.
The Dean Fisher Cooking Class in Seminyak Square takes you through the markets and through Hindu culture and cuisine as part of its one-day classes (deanfisherbali.com).
Indonesian style ... a quiet beachfront seat at Canggu's Hotel Tugu.