Bali is beckoning again! As soon as the temperatures start to drop, my inclination to beat a hasty retreat to somewhere warm rises. And where better to escape to than beautiful Bali? It’s one of Australia’s favourite holiday destinations, and for good reason.
Just six(ish) hours from the East coast of Sydney and only three and half(ish) hours from Perth, this tropical paradise packs plenty of punch for such a small island, with pretty golden sand beaches, lush forests and terraced rice paddies dramatically spilling down mountainsides. Oh, and plenty of sunshine! With so much on offer we suggest planning a 10 day itinerary, but even if you can only stay a short time here are a few ways to beat the winter blues in Bali…
As it’s an island destination, beaches are not in short supply in Bali. And we are all about falling into Bali’s watery embrace.
The Bukit Peninsula is home to some of the island’s best surfing beaches, with Uluwatu, Belangan, Padang Padang and Dreamland amongst the most popular. We are particularly fond of Uluwatu as it is also home to one of Bali’s most iconic temples, so we can get a culture fix between breaks. Jimbaran Beach is another favourite spot for my hungry crew, but more to catch a Balinese sunset and gobble down fresh caught and cooked seafood from the warungs (restaurants) that line the beach.
In the South of Bali, we like Sanur and Tuban’s beaches, which are more protected than Kuta, and better for our kids. Seminyak has some of the island’s prettiest beaches and it’s a top spot to hire a surfboard, take a dip or just pull up a stretch of sand to relax in the warming sun.
Long a favourite of surfers, the village of Canggu, surrounded by rice paddies about 20 minutes north of Seminyak, is becoming increasingly popular for families. Echo Beach offers epic surf, but we prefer Pererenan Beach as it’s quieter with smaller waves and swimming spots more suited to young kids.
Or head a little further south to gorgeous Nusa Dua, where the spectacular beaches are quieter and, with soft white sand and safe swimming, absolutely awesome for families.
Home to Indonesia’s largest Hindu community, the Island of the Gods is a place where everything from prayer to the way houses and resorts are built and orientated, to the making of offerings called Canang Sari (palm-leaf baskets of flowers and incense), is done to achieve harmonious balance between Gods and demons.
There are many festivals and ceremonies celebrated at the thousands of temples around the country. While temples are welcoming to visitors, it is important to be respectful and wear appropriate clothing with covered shoulders and either a sarong or temple scarf tied around the waist.
Our crew can’t get enough of Bali’s cultural stuff, and we highly recommend checking out a Kecak fire dance at Uluwatu temple.
Bali’s outdoor action
Bali may be small in size but it packs a hefty punch in terms of action packed fun. Lovers of the great outdoors can explore its golden beaches, secret canyons, colossal waterfalls, soaring cliffs, rugged coastlines, fire-breathing volcanoes, tangled jungles and terraced rice paddies.
Adventure seekers can try white water rafting, mountain biking, volcano hiking and plenty of wild water sports including kayaking, stand up paddle boarding, surfing and jet packing.
Or take to the trees at the Treetop Adventure Park in Bedugul where they’ll find adrenalin charged adventure circuits with flying foxes and suspended bridges, spider nets and a Tarzan jump.
Kids of all ages will enjoy all the wet and wild fun of Waterbom Bali in Tuban, one of my kids’ absolute favourite spots to get wet. And animal lovers will love the animal parks, though my kids prefer their wild life wild and enjoy watching the Long Tailed Macaques that call the temples on the island home. Just remember to keep a distance, because that snappy selfie is not worth the rabies shot you’ll need if one bites you.
Bali’s accommodation is all about family and whether your crew is on a tight budget or seeking the ultimate in indulgent luxury, you’ll find everything from hostels to budget family hotels to epic beach resorts and luxury butler serviced resort villas, as well as amazing private villas catering for kids, a great option if you’re fed up with trying to squeeze your crew into a tiny room or spending your days battling for an empty lounge by the pool.
Ideal for families, a private villa offers room to move and a home away from home vibe.
To ensure your stay is an amazing one be sure to use a reputable service like Villa Finder, who have more than 600 well-maintained villa rentals on the island, each with stunning private pools, ocean views, unbeatable locations and, if you desire, on-call chauffeurs, fully equipped kitchens and your own personal chef. And, because you’ll talk to a real person when you book, you can be sure your chosen villa is the best fit for your family and friends.
The guest relations team can then organise the details, so you can enjoy your stay your way, whether you desire spa treatments, day trips and baby sitters or a fully stocked fridge on arrival. They can also to childproof your villa with safety gates and pool fences, and can organise car seat, cots and pram hire to keep the littlest members of your family safe and happy. Oh, and you’ll be doing your bit for the environment too as Villa Finder plants a tree in Sumatra with every booking, helping with all important reforestation. Bonus!
Food plays a huge part in the selection of any destination we may visit, and Balinese cuisine delivers. The food of Bali is an intriguing combination of indigenous, Indonesian and Indian flavours, with dozens of must try dishes.
Both my kids love the ikan batar (grilled fish) and other varieties of seafood from the markets at Jimbaran and ubiquitous perkedel Jagung (Indonesian corn fritters) but Sugarpuff is also big on smoky satays (meat on sticks with peanut sauce), ayam goreng (fried chicken with rice) and gado gado (steamed vegetables with peanut sauce). Raffles on the other hand is partial to the bebek betutu (slow cooked duck) and nasi goreng (Indonesian fried rice), though preferably slathered in wads of hot sambal sauce.
Disclosure: This post was written in collaboration with Villa-Bali.com – But all of our Bali experiences were independently sourced and paid for and all opinions are our own.