Bali is easily my favorite place in the world. It's a yoga mecca, has beautiful beaches and surf, amazing jungle hikes, and delicious healthy food. I loved it so much the first time I went, that I ended up going twice in the same year, and ended up spending over a month in Indonesia in 2016. After traveling to Bali, I typed up a travel guide, and over the past few months I've shared this travel guide with so many friends, yogis, family, and coworkers (over 100 people), which inspired this blog. I hope you enjoy my recommendations!
How to plan your trip:
Fly into Denpasar, go straight to Uluwatu/Bingin, spend a few days there, that's where the best surf is (reef break). Then go to Canggu for 2-3 nights, this is a hipster surf and yoga town with an easier beach break. Then taxi to Sanur and take a fast boat (Rocky Fast Boat) to Nusa Lembongan Island (surf) or the Gili Islands (party) for about 2 days. End your trip in Ubud, which is the yoga capital in the rainforest.
- Don't spend much on places to stay unless you want to stay at nice resorts. You can airbnb a villa for around $80 a night. Most of the places I stayed were only like $20-$50 max and they were perfect!
- Start in Bingin/ Uluwatu (close to airport, go to Canguu after because it's nearby)
- Avoid: Kuta/ Seminyak - both are pretty trashy and touristy
- Get around by scooter, don't let the taxi drivers rip you off. Should never cost more than 25/30 to get from town to town or from the airport to where you are staying. Always make sure to negotiate your rate before getting in the taxi.
- Eat local food from the side of the road. It looks sketchy but it's not and it's so cheap and delicious!
- Fly EVA Air if possible
ULUWATU & BINGIN
VIBE: Bali in a nutshell, best surf, surf/ beach-centric area, start trip here, prettiest beaches. You'll rent a scooter and scoot around from Bingin to Uluwatu. Uluwatu has the best surf scene and party scene at Single Fin, and Bingin is the best place to chill on the beach by Kelly's Warung.
MUST GO: Single Fin - Sunday session at sunset time, the best party in Bali. Kelly's Warung is a must-go in Bingin for a chill beach day and a delicious breakkie or lunch.
STAY: Stay in Bingin, Kelly's Warung is a great spot where Jordan and I stayed, right on the beach. I think it was like $19/night. ask for the ocean view room and make sure to email so you can book in advance! it's so amazing, if you look at my instagram (@sanfranciscoyogi) you will see the view from our room. Jordan woke up every morning and just cruised paddled out in front of our room to surf, and I would walk up to the Temple Lodge to practice yoga. Other great and more nice/expensive places to stay are Uluwatu Surf Villas and Temple Lodge.
FOOD: Cashew Tree & Kelly's are my favorite chill spots. You can hang out at Kelly's all day and drink smoothies and hang at the beach. I also love Buddha Soul for a super healthy lunch. Yummm. Go to Cashew Tree on Thursday for dinner and live reggae.
VIBE: Hipster, young beach surf and yoga area, I would live here, cool art, rice paddies. It's a beach break and there's an amazing yoga studio called the Practice. The coffee shops and lunch places are amazing, and there's a huge Australian scene here.
OVERALL AREA: There is a main drag to the beach with cute shops and some organic cafes (Crate Cafe is so amazing and healthy you'll die). Deus has a big shop/cafe which is cool too. You can easily get to Seminyak for a night out (I'd cab there) There is good local food scattered about. It's a beach break, but it's firing! The waves are small in front for beginners or first-timers but there is also a bigger break by Echo Beach.
GOING OUT: Old Mans (MUST GO)- on the beach, tons of cool art, great bands play on Fridays. They have Happy Hour every day (half off drinks) from 4-6pm. Deus Temple (they have a Sunday party with live music - so fun and movies under stars on Thursdays).
STAY: Anywhere on the main street where Old Man's is (the street is called Pantai Batu Bolong). Coconuts Guesthouse was AMAZING! Stay here if possible - it's cheap, beautiful, centrally located, and
EAT: Shady Shack (must), Milk & Madu, Old Man's, Crate Cafe for brekkie
YOGA: Go to The Practice! Beautiful Bamboo studio, honestly the most beautiful yoga studio I've been to in my life. Take a class with Wanda, she is fantastic, and Octavio is the owner - he reminds me of Russell Brand from Forgetting Sarah Marshall.
NUSA LEMBONGAN ISLAND
VIBE: Beautiful island off of Bali with locals everywhere and great surf at a surf break called Shipwrecks
MUST DO: You absolutely must go on the manta ray snorkeling trip. It was about $15 USD for a few hours of snorkeling around the island by boat. We got to swim with massive manta rays and it was easily the coolest thing we did.
TO DO: Rent a scooter and scoot around the ENTIRE island. so many cool places to explore. We went on a soot ride through the jungle and just stopped at local eateries on the side of the road and ate all of the local dishes. there's also a surf break called Playgrounds, you take a boat out to the surf break and theres a floating playground and bar behind the break on the ocean. So if you have a friend or travel companion who doesn't surf, they can hang out there while you surf!
EAT: WARUNG BUMBU for dinner. omg. Get the whole fish... it's right on the beach and all the surfers hang out there and drink beer and eat amazing fresh cooked fish.
STAY: We stayed at a place called Agus Shipwrecks. It was chill, nothing special at all but it was literally right in front of the surf break so it was convenient for Jordan to just paddle out front.
VIBE: Such a magical yoga and jungle place, gorgeous rice paddies, yoga/ spiritual/ soul-searching vibe, tons of organic restaurants and things to do, great shopping and cheap good spas.
MUST DO: YOU MUST go take a class at Ubud Yoga House and then walk to Sari Organik for breakfast or lunch afterwards. MUST!!! It's a beautiful walk through a field of rice paddies, the studio is super cool, and Sari Organik is this amazing restaurant on a farm, and all the food is insane.
TO DO: Look up Cambutal Ridge Walk, it's a great short hike to go on. If you have time, hire Authentik Bali Trekking to go on a day trek into the untouched rice paddie fields and waterfalls. This was one of Jordan's favorite activities, because we trekked with a local through local villages and towns. I also would recommend going on the short nature walk to Karsa Spa... it's a beautiful hike with amazing views, and when the hike is over, you end up at this AMAZING spa that's so cheap, and has a beautiful place to eat a meal on a rice paddy field.
EAT: Kafe, Atman Cafe, Alchemy Cafe
STAY: Sri Bungalows - well priced in the center of a field of rice paddies, clean, free breaky and so central on Hanoman st and also a short walk to Yoga Barn. Also has a beautiful pool! I also stayed AT Yoga Barn for the last part of my trip and had a magical experience there. Met a lot of cool yogis and did yoga every day. You can also stay outside of Ubud in a jungle hut, just make sure you rent a scooter so you can get into the city center easier.
VIBE: Parties, lots of people, beautiful turquoise water, insane beaches, sunsets every night, cocktails
TO DO: Rent bikes and just bike around the island during the day. Lots of cool shops. You must go to Ombok Sunset, or any sunset bars on the sunset side of the island, find the sunset swings and take good sunset swing pics with a cocktail in hand... so fun :) Also I would recommend doing a snorkeling tour of all 3 islands (Gili Air, Gili Meno, and Gili T). Don't go on one of the huge group trips, pay the extra $10 to ask for a private boat... so much better! We swam with turles and saw beautiful fish, it was so fun.
EAT: Go to the night market! Find the main lady in the middle, where you can pick out an entire tray of food and it ends up costing about $2. So yummy.
STAY: Stay at Le Pirate!!!! Seriously so worth it, it's the best place on the entire island. Book in advance. I fell in love with this place, it's so dreamy, and it's on the best side of the island where the sunsets are.
Enjoy and let me know if you have any questions!