After years of just never being on our list of places to go in Asia, we finally decided to give Bali a shot. Staying in the heavily-touristy area of Seminyak, our assumptions of the island were pretty much confirmed as soon as we arrived: tourist-trap-tastic. Despite the abundance of Billabong/Rip Curl/Quiksilver stores and western restaurants, we still managed to find lots of things to love about the Indonesian Island and this trip will go down in my books as the most memorable holiday of our 9 years together. Here's what we loved:
Lilin at Potato Head Beach Club
Ignore the fact that this place feels like one gigantic tourist trap, Potato Head Beach Club is one of the coolest spots in Bali to just be in. Serving up fusion-ish Indonesian food amongst an outdoor, beachside setting, Lilin's tapas style plates are perfect when you don't feel like settling on one thing. The beef salad and crab curry were BOMB.
Another tapas place, Cuca's setting is romantic, quiet and ideal when you're feeling just a little bit fancy~. OOOOMG dishes include ceviche with watermelon ice and bbq octopus with fresh apple - both super refreshing and pairs perfectly with Bali's balmy heat. On your way out, don't forget to pick up a tin of Cuca's signature salt rubs so you can at least attempt to recreate that yumminess when you cook at home.
This was our last dinner of our trip and by far the best. Everything from the retro, tacky decor to the fun atmosphere and addictive food makes this place a must-go in Bali. The fresh guacs and grilled fish tacos from their Taqueria were some of our favorite things, but really, anything you order will no doubt be served with a gigantic serving of friggin nomz. For those that are feeling extra zesty, order the Acapulco Tropicale cocktail, and don't forget to bring your sombrero!
There are, no joke, a gazillion villas and hotels to choose from in Bali. We decided to go with a smaller, lesser known boutique choice. Tucked away on a quiet lane in the middle of Seminyak, Amana Villas is personalized luxury done right. Decked out in a minimalist, contemporary style, the villas come in 3 tiers: Pool Villa, Waterfall Villa and Signature Villa. Each one comes with a pool of your own, a butler and amazing service. Before you arrive you're asked to fill out a guest menu to tailor your experience exactly how you want it (into hip hop music? Let them know and the iPod in your room will come preloaded with your kind of beats). The premise doesn't have any facilities yet (no restaurant, communal pool or gym), but all of that doesn't even matter when you have the luxury of in-villa dining and a spa that will put you to sleep within 10 minutes. My complimentary Balinese massage was SO relaxing I had to book another one in on my last day.
If you're looking for a home away from home while you're in Bali, Amana Villas is your place. It's so private that during our 5 days there, I think we only saw 1 other couple walking around the premise even though it was almost fully booked during our stay. Room tip: a Pool Villa is enough for when you just want to enjoy some privacy, but if you're feeling splurgy then pick the bigger Waterfall Villa (but be prepared to walk up and down stairs from your bedroom to the living room).
Pro Surf School, Kuta
Again, there are tons of surf schools to choose from in Bali but we chose Pro Surf School because I'd read good reviews about it. We enrolled in a Beginner's semi-private class, and was lucky enough to get 1 instructor for the both of us, so it felt pretty private. The class is 2.5 hours and after 30-45 mins of theory and practicing standing up on land, we hit the water and got right into it. Within 15 minutes of water time, we were already standing up and it's one of the most satisfying feelings ever. Okay so the ride only lasts like 5 seconds, but when you're up there, it feels pretty damn good. I've always wanted to try surfing and Bali is one of the top surfing spots in the world - so I'd highly recommend to give this a shot if you're a newb like me, you'll still come away with a pretty amazing experience.