‘I couldn’t think of anything worse than going to Bali’. I’m not joking when I tell you that I had many variations of this statement when announcing my two week Bali trip to friends and family. Not all responses were like that, but I had a few too many negatives. Maybe they were secretly just jealous..
The big island of Bali gets a mixed reputation, I feel. You either love it, or you hate it. I get it, I could think of a million and one things I’d rather do than spend a week suffocated in Kuta with bintang-singlet-wearing bogans and grey, merky beaches. But trust me, Bali has so much more to offer beyond its tourist hub.
Beaches as pretty as our own, affordable and delicious cuisine from all over the world, culture, the happiest and most generous people and a one stop destination to really rejuvenate you from our fast paces lives.
I’d been to Bali before but this trip in particular really blew me away so much so that I’d consider living there one day. I’ve compiled a little list of things we did, places we stayed, tips and tricks and what to eat. Ok, let’s be real, it’s mostly restaurants and cafes.
Where we stayed:
La Joya Villas & Bungalows
We hopped straight off the plane and were greeted by our smiley driver who drove us about a 35 minutes south of the Airport to the stunning La Joya Villa & Bungalows. We found this gem on Airbnb and I thank the universe because it was a bit of a fluke. Set on Balangan beach with the most beautiful view of the ocean, delicious daily breakfasts fresh cooked to order, coconuts and spa service by the pool and lovely staff.
Highlights: delicious daily breakfast, jaw dropping view, beautiful beaches nearby, very secluded (see also lowlights).
Negatives: secluded, more expensive to get around due to private driver instead of taxis.
Where we ate:
Jl. Pantai Bingin No.9, Pecatu, Kuta Sel., Kabupaten Badung
A mostly vegetarian eatery serving breakfast, lunch and dinner daily. Home to the second best rice paper rolls we had all trip (more on that later) and the best soba noodle salad. Super fresh, massive servings, cheap as chips (probably cheaper), and flavorsome sauces and dressings.
Kayumanis Resto Jimbaran
Jl. Yoga Perkanthi, Jimbaran, Kuta Sel., Kabupaten Badung, Bali 80361, Indonesia
We have Zomato to thank for this one. After umming and arring about going here I’m so glad we did because I wouldn’t leave a future trip to Bali without paying Kayumanis a visit. Think authentic Indonesian cuisine, a gorgeous outdoor patio looking over a lush green garden and magnificent service.
This is the place that sparked our addiction to Jamu, an Indonesian tonic drink made traditionally from turmeric, tamarind, spices and a sweetener. Delicious satay sauce on the Gado Gado and the most delicate barbeque snapper I’ve ever tasted and still dream of.
Can’t forget to mention...
Sundays Beach Club: Pay equivalent $30 AUD to get a day bed by the beach which includes a food and drink voucher that won’t get you that far because they can get away with charging you more. However, it boasts a beautiful clifftop view of the clearest ocean alongside an infinity pool upstairs and I have to mention day bed service and a delicious cocoa, banana and cashew smoothie.
Seminyak / Canguu
Whilst being far from the traditional Balinese culture you would find elsewhere amongst the island, Seminyak has it all when it comes to a one-stop-shop for all your holidaying needs. Due to being inundated by tourists all year around, Seminyak has developed into a complete food lovers hub, shopping heaven and makes for a great base whilst visiting Bali. Easy to get around via cheap taxis, a million and one restaurants and cafes to tick off your list and plush resorts and hotels for all budgets.
Where we stayed:
Duan Bali Seminyak: A little 3 star hotel was all we needed considering how much time we spent outside of our accommodation whilst in Seminyak. Amazing staff, rooftop tanning area, a $1 cab fare to Seminyak Square (unintentional rhyme but I love it) and an effective aircon (note: important feature of any room in Bali – it is hot!).
Where we ate:
Jl. Petitenget No.100X, Kerobokan Kelod, Kuta Utara, Kabupaten Badung
A must visit! Creative Indonesian food with a menu that focuses on both a traditional and modern spin on the cuisine. Upmarket, classy and meticulously detailed from the food, drinks, service and the moment you step inside. It is the kind of place you would save up to go on your birthday if it were situated in Melbourne, but a three course meal for two and a cocktail each only set us back $80 AUD (albeit being our most expensive meal all trip). They were great with dietary needs too. Order the amaranth stuffed tofu after you down the waiter’s recommended drink; kaffir lime and passionfruit cocktail.
Jl. Petitenget No.12X, Kerobokan Kelod, Kuta Utara, Kabupaten Badung
If you haven’t seen the over-photographed pink wall on Instagram, you’re clearly living under a rock. Look I’m not pretend like we didn’t try to get a spot in front of the ‘paradise’ sign too, but we quickly decided our grumbling tums couldn’t wait much longer.
Australian owned, all vegan menu, pink themed interior (cups and all) and free cookies with your beetroot cocoa latte. If you smile, you might get a plate full from the friendly staff.
Order the peppermint iced latte (I was so sceptical but coffee and peppermint makes a strange but lovely duo), toast with your choice of topping or the rice paper rolls with the best thick satay sauce you’ll ever have.
Jalan Drupadi 1 No. 2B,
Seminyak, Kabupaten Badung
Firstly, let me tell you a light morning 2km stroll in Bali isn’t what it seems in Melbourne. We arrived at Shelter Café sweaty and pooped from the 24/7 humidity but let’s just say next time we’d accept a beeping taxi to take us.
Shelter Café sits above a Nalu Bowls so you can get the best of both worlds whilst enjoying the roof top café vibe. Despite stalking the Instagram geotag for over an hour the night before, we still had trouble deciding from the extensive menu. Smoothie or a juice? Or a smoothie bowl even? A coffee? Nah it’s too hot I’ll just get an espresso shot in my smoothie! Ok main, do I want sweet or savoury? Anyone else do this?
I went with a breakfast salad (tempeh instead of bacon with an extra serve on the side because the tempeh in Bali is one hundred times better than Australia) and a cocoa coffee smoothie. All delicious and I would highly recommend – there is something for everyone.
Jl. Pantai Berawa No.46, Tibubeneng, Kuta Utara
One of my favourites of the trip. It is situated in between Canggu and Seminyak – a place called Berawa apparently. We went twice, once for brunch and once for dinner. I think I actually preferred it for dinner just because the breakfast menu is a lot smaller than other places. You’d think that would be a good thing, making it easier to decide but home girl likes choice.
Props to the dragon fruit smoothie and smoothie bowl, potato hash big breakfast and amazing coffee with house made coconut milk. And for dinner, just order anything or everything. We had arrancini balls (!!!), jackfruit tacos in chipotle tortillas (!!!!), waffle fries – a last minute addition and don’t regret (!!!!!!), and the house salad / nourish bowl (!!!!). We took a salted caramel slice to-go and eat in the comfort of our hotel room and it was the best vegan caramel slice I’ve ever had and I dream about it all the time.
The Shady Shack
Jl. Tanah Barak No.57, Canggu,
Hands down favourite of the trip. Potentially favourite café I’ve visited but that could be pushing it. It strangely reminded me of Byron Bay, it had that laid back, covered in plants, half indoor, half outdoor kinda vibe. Are you picturing it yet?
The menu is huge! We had breakfast here one day and came back the following night after sunset cocktails (mildly tipsy) and demolished half the menu. It is THAT good.
Picture perfect smoothie bowl, fresh vegan salads, breaky wraps, extensive smoothie menu and great coffee. I was so impressed with Bali and its coffee scene, better than plenty of cafes in Melbourne.
Jalan Pantai Kayu Putih, Berawa, Canggu,
The funkiest, bohemian style bar set on a huge property overlooking the beach in Seminyak. Stop here on your way to the Shady Shack or Peloton Supershop for dinner for a sunset drink or two. We witnessed the most gorgeous sunset whilst sipping on drinks in coconuts and espresso martinis. A must visit for its super unique and quirky vibe.
Sea Circus: best Mexican style vegan burger (the GF version is served in cabbage and whilst not being GF I can vouch for this alternative)
Mad Pops: Tiny little all vegan ice cream shop in Seminyak Square, delish.
Green Ginger Noodle House: We were lazy and ordered in via Go-JEK (Indonesian equivalent of UberEats and it was some really tasty Thai style food.
Café Organic: A bright and gorgeous space with good breakfast options and the most potent health shots.
Where we stayed:
A bad Airbnb villa that I won’t mention but learn from us and please do your research before booking an Airbnb in Bali.
Kupu Kupu Barong Resort and Spa: We booked our 3 night stay here through Luxury Escapes and it exceeded expectations by far. Anywhere that boasts a 24-hour butler who refills your never-ending supply of water bottles multiple times a day is going to get a good review from me. At night, expect to find your sheets turned down, robe and slippers awaiting you prior to your peaceful sleep in plush linen and a king bed that is far too big for one person.
Where we ate:
Jalan Penestanan Kelod No.75, Sayan, Ubud
All I can say it DIY smoothie bowls. Choose 3 fruits, a smoothie, and 2 or more toppings (we went with more because duh.. chocolate cashews!). All comes in around $5, bargain. Also the coconut milk frappe went down a treat. Come lunch time, the smoothie bar turns into a DIY salad bar and let me just tell you, they’re the biggest salad bowls I’ve seen in a while. Can’t not mention the fact they played Ed Sheeran for 2 hours straight so they get a gold star from me.
Moksa Plant-based Restaurant & Permaculture Garden
Puskesmas Ubud II, Gang Damai, Sayan, Ubud, Kabupaten Gianyar,
You won’t stumble across this hidden (our-driver-escorted-us-down-because-he-was-worried-we-wouldn’t-find-it kind of hidden) restaurant unless you’ve been given a recommendation, so here it is! You’re welcome.
A mix of raw and cooked vegan food with a clear attention to detail. Everything had so much flavour and was so different to other vegan food we’d eaten on our trip so far. We had raw pumpkin ravioli with cashew and dill cheese and cashew parmesan, a meaty tempeh burger with sweet potato caprese and sesame crusted tempeh. We contemplated getting more because it was all so tasty. Also, anywhere that serves complimentary appetisers gets a tick from me.
Jl. Monkey Forest, Ubud, Kabupaten Gianyar
Our last brunch out in Bali was eaten here. Think all day rustic breakfast with delicious coffee and the kindest staff. The staff thought we’d never seen food before due to the sheer fact of how much we ordered but every morsel was devoured.
Kismet Restaurant & Lounge:
27X, Jl. Goutama Sel., Ubud
Another highlight of the trip. Cheap, healthy and interesting vegetarian food with a modern twist on Indonesian cuisine. Home of the best rice paper rolls we had all trip, the most flavoursome jackfruit wraps and the biggest house salad with choose-your-own skewers. Now, that is some claims declarations. Do I exaggerate? Go here and get back to me!
Earth Café and Market: A café amidst a health food store, not your ideal dining setting but the food is worth it. I had a delicious soba noodle salad with soy miso dressing and we shared one of our favourite wraps of the trip – spicy tempeh wrap.
Travellers tip: The make-your-own salad bowls come in handy for a meal on the plane when your airline doesn’t provide, thanks Jetstar! Best plane food you’ll ever have, thank me later.
Clear café: Another never-ending menu. Western food, Balinese food, Asian food of all cuisines and all vegetarian. Really funky, retro interior. We went here by accident and didn’t regret it.
Kokolato ice cream: More vegan ice cream. Interesting flavours and refined sugar free from memory. Worth a visit after dinner.
Tukies: If you like coconut, go here. They serve the creamiest and tastiest coconut ice cream made purely from coconut, topped with fresh coconut, coconut praline and toasted coconut. Drooling yet? Yep, it’s good.
Other Ubud Tips:
- I highly recommend paying a driver to take you around to all the tourist hotspots for a day: waterfalls, rice fields, giant swing (if paying $50 for a swing is your idea of fun), coffee and tea tasting etc.
- Mt Batur Sunrise Trek: Despite half dreading due to the 2am alarm this was an amazing and unique experience that I recommend doing whilst in Ubud. Trekking 2 hours uphill on rocky and steep terrain to see the sunrise over the surrounding mountains and volcanos was truly incredible.
Until next time Bali, you were amazing.