Located literally just above Australia and reachable in just over the time it takes to get from Melbourne to Perth, Bali is a very popular holiday destination for Aussies, so much so that many talk about it in a rather uninspired fashion. Of course, being from the UK it’s a real novelty to have these once-distance lands now on our doorstep. We’d heard a lot about the various areas of Bali (good and bad) and decided to try a couple of different spots on the island which offer different vibes: Seminyak, a tourist-savvy beach resort on the south coast with an evolved hotel and restaurant scene, and Ubud, a more remote destination amongst Bali’s jungle and rice paddies. I thought it would make sense to split the content up into two posts so this one will cover our first stop: Seminyak.
We decided we’d prefer to stay away from a big and busy hotel complex so booked a little villa at a lovely boutique resort called Uma Sapna, which offered seclusion and privacy yet was still located close to all the action in Seminyak. It had just the right amount of space for two, with an outdoor eating area, sunloungers and a little plunge pool.
Despite the forecasted threats of thunderstorm after thunderstorm (followed by, you guessed it, another thunderstorm), the weather was surprisingly kind to us in Seminyak, so the pool was very welcome on hot and sticky, 34 degree days (we even had a couple of cute little frogs hop over to enjoy the cool water).
A real highlight at Uma Sapna is the Kilo restaurant which serves really very good food (and room service should you need it, which we took advantage of when we arrived). We had a lunch and dinner there as well as breakfast each day, and we weren’t disappointed once.
The breakfasts were gorgeous. You could take your pick from freshly-made juices, fruit, toast and cereal together with really unusual and delicious made-to-order dishes such as this Moroccan-style breakfast with spiced lamb sausage, hummus, flatbreads and poached egg.
It’s so hot and humid in Bali that we quickly learned trying to walk anywhere was futile (you’d literally have sweat dripping down your back after two minutes), and taxis are so cheap it was worth a couple of dollars for the precious blast of air con alone. We hopped in a taxi to Seminyak beach one day, which was, on the scale of beaches I have been to, really beautiful. I’m not a huge fan of the ocean but the waters there were reassuringly warm, clear and shallow, almost like bathwater. However, the waves were pretty strong (Bali is, after all, a favourite for surfers), so I didn’t venture too far! There were lots of locals trying to sell their wares on the beach from kites to foot massages, so be prepared with either cash if you’re looking to buy, or a friendly and firm refusal if not.
Something I’d read about before we went to Bali was Uluwatu Water Temple (pictured above), an ancient temple perched on the cliffside on Bali’s southern tip, so we hired a car one day to pay a visit. The temple is notorious for the resident monkeys which roam around the area – although cute from afar, you have to keep your wits about you as these cheeky fellows will happily swipe your sunglasses, earrings or whatever else you may have unsecured! Bali is a Hindu country and most family houses have their own temples, while the streets are lined with ‘canang sari’ – small offerings of flowers, incense and food placed in palm leaf baskets.
There is an abundance of sophisticated places to dine and drink in Seminyak, so we were spoilt for choice in the evenings. Luckily we were given some ‘must-dos’ by friends so we didn’t go far wrong working from that list. The Indian food at Sarong was incredible (probably one of the best curries I’ve ever eaten), and the setting was beautiful; the vibe at Mexicola was super fun (Mexican food with salsa dancing), and the Fire restaurant at the W resort (pictured above) was well worth the visit. There are also several very cool beach clubs to visit for sunset drinks, including the famous Potato Head and Ku De Ta.
I’d definitely return to Seminyak for a relaxed beach-style holiday, as the weather was wonderful, good food and nightlife is guaranteed and the Balinese people are so warm and welcoming. However, having enjoyed the first part of our trip I was eager to learn more about the ‘real’ Bali away from the crowds and the resorts. Onto Ubud!