In an archipelago of over 17,000 islands, each more stunning than the next, Bali has secured its spot on many people’s bucket lists of places to visit this year. The tropical island has retained its ability to enchant visitors thanks to its naturally blessed combination of stunning scenery, a spiritual thread which runs through every street, rice field and temple and some of the friendliest locals a traveller could ever meet.
There’s so much to see and do in Bali that a short stay just won’t cut it. The island is extremely diverse geographically, from coastal shorelines to rugged mountains and lush rice-growing terraces. Give yourself at least a couple of weeks to fully immerse yourself in this magical isle and you’ll discover why for so many visitors it sets the gold standard in offering the complete tropical island holiday experience.
Back to black
The first thing you realise about Bali when you arrive is that this is an island dominated by its volcanic past and present. Mount Agung is an active volcano and responsible for some of the black sand beaches you’ll see around the island. It’s kind of a switch-up from the usual white sandy stretches of coastline you may be used to and provides for some gorgeous unusual photo opportunities. There are limestone cliffs too, world-class surfing breaks and dramatic water spouts which form out to sea at certain times of the year.
Head off the beaten track away from the popular Kuta and Nusa Dua strips and discover your own perfect remote beach along the Candidasa and Canggu coastlines. Villa Zelie, a heritage chic holiday home is just 150m from Canggu Beach and is holiday living on a grand scale. You’ll love the beautiful teak and ironwood buildings, inspired by traditional Javanese joglo pavilions, with handcrafted furniture and treasures selected by the owner on every wall and around every corner.
Head for the hills
After experiencing the beach life for a week, it would be a crime not to spend time getting to know Bali’s cultural heart – Ubud. There’s a completely different vibe in this delightful town in the island’s interior. You would already be familiar with a temple at every corner but in Ubud, the innate creativity and islanders’ dedication to their culture finds its most glorious expression.
Every surface, doorway and chair is carved and made beautiful, the scent of incense and piles of offerings at temple gates make you feel like you’ve wandered into a film set. Artistic ability seems to pour out of the Balinese effortlessly – and Ubud is a great place to pick up a truly unique work by some of the town’s many artists and artisans. Don’t miss the chance to join a culinary masterclass in Balinese cuisine – Ubud hosts many such classes and you’ll soon be an expert in spotting the best babi guling (roast suckling pig) on offer – and a lifelong fan as a result.
If you get a taste for living at altitude, book a stay at Pandawa Cliff Estate – it’s the ideal choice if you’re travelling with a group of friends or family as it’s a collection of four exceptional private villas, sleeping up to 42 guests. Located high above the ocean on Bali’s southernmost tip, this is one of Bali’s most sought-after wedding and special events venues. Unforgettable.
Food glorious food
Thanks to Bali’s naturally fertile landscape and frequent tropical rainfall, it is the perfect place to grow all manner of produce including rice, exotic fruits and vegetables, and catch sensational seafood. Street food is a popular option (don’t miss satay sticks fresh off the grill and charred sweetcorn, the perfect snack to enjoy as you explore on foot), and there are also many top-class international restaurants. Bali has long been a drawcard for famous chefs from around the world who are attracted to create new dishes on this verdant and ingredient-rich island.
One of the great benefits of renting a villa is the option to relax and enjoy delicious food – Asian and western – prepared where and when you desire. If you’re keen to experience Bali’s delicious cuisine, a long stay at Bendega Villas comes highly recommended. Allow yourself to be pampered by a full-time chef and a cook who will delight you with beautifully presented dishes – from roasted vegetable salads and Balinese chicken curry to nasi goreng (fried rice) and perfectly cooked steak and chips. The desserts are not to be missed either. Bendega also has its own pizza oven, which produces some wonderful gourmet pizzas to order. If you prefer to eat out on occasion, the villas are just a short stroll from Canggu’s hipster cafes which have a growing reputation for serving up some of the island’s most delicious food.
Rest and reconnect
Of course, it’s possible to spend your extended stay in Bali at one of our beautiful villas. For instance, Villa Simona Oasis in Canggu makes it almost impossible to drag yourself away; it’s surrounded by two sacred streams with the ever-present tropical jungle and tiered rice terraces nearby.
Reconnect with your loved ones at this five-bedroom retreat spread over 5000 sqm, a private, cloistered paradise designed by Elaina Myers. The cool, contemporary villa also has a 13-metre pool with plenty of opportunities to enjoy dining alfresco thanks to the dedicated staff ready to look after your every whim. Relax, rejuvenate, get a massage (or a few), and spend long days and elegant evenings reconnecting with your inner self and the people who matter most to you. Why rush around when you can stay awhile?
Plethora of activities
If you’re itching to do something a little more active than enjoying cocktail evenings and gazing at sunsets (who tires of those?), Bali has plenty to keep even the most extreme thrill-seeker occupied with water sports like jet skiing, surfing (including lessons for newbies), wakeboarding and even jetpacking, as well as more leisurely water-based activities like snorkelling and stand-up paddleboarding.
Yoga is big in Bali too, thanks to the deeply spiritual vein running through the whole island. We can arrange for a specialist yoga instructor to come to your villa for private lessons in tranquil surrounds. For animal lovers, head to nearby Menjangan Island, also known as Deer Island, or a little further afield to Komodo to spot the fearsome ‘dragons’.
Why limit your trip to one island? Stay longer and spend a week in Lombok or Nusa Lembongan after you are done exploring Bali. Unspoilt and pristine, these islands offer a slower pace of life, uncrowded beaches and pristine reefs to dive and snorkel over. Get an additional discount when you book a second villa for the same vacation – the perfect excuse to island-hop. Why not turn one vacation into a series of mini-holidays? We can’t think of anything more exciting.
Spirit and faith
The Balinese are extremely spiritual people with a temple in every house which is honoured and decorated each day without fail. Take a temple tour and you’ll discover insights into this fascinating, ancient culture. There are sea temples, simple urban shrines and stunning complexes overseeing the mountains. Tours are a great way to discover aspects of Bali’s history and culture and the Elite Concierge will be happy to arrange a half or full-day excursion during your stay.
Instead of rushing in and out, staying in Bali for a while will reveal so much more about this unique destination to you. In truth though, it would take a lifetime to fully immerse yourself in the Balinese experience, no amount of time is too much. So, make a start on this journey of discovery – it will be one of the most rewarding vacations of your life.
Keen to book a long stay in Bali? All bookings save up to 30% on all villas for 2022 – and for longer bookings, there are significant savings to be made. If you stay longer and add a second villa to your booking, you also get an additional 5% off the second villa. Just ask the friendly Elite Havens Reservations Team for details.