Bali can be a tough nut to crack.Some people complain about the increasing development of the island and say that it has become ruined by tourism. As a frequent visitor to this wonderful place, I beg to differ. I’ve spent the last couple of years doing my research to uncover the special spots of this Indonesian island and I have now shared them all in my new book ‘Lost Guides – Bali’ a unique, stylish and offbeat travel guide to Bali. Here are a few of my favourites.
Bukit Peninsula, or ‘The Bukit’ as it’s known, has been a magnet for surfers since the ‘70s, who travelled from afar, drawn to the region’s endless string of perfect Indo-waves. While nomadic surfers still descend on these shores in droves, the cliffside villages have now become a retreat for a new wave of bohemian traveller looking for a laid-back side to Bali.
Sal Secret Spot
The most heavenly hideaway, Sal is affordable and intimate with only ten rooms. With whitewashed walls, outdoor bathrooms and a perfect pool, it feels like a Mediterranean retreat set up in the village of Bingin. You can choose between a cliffside room with panoramic views over the Bukit surf, or a bungalow by the pool. Salbalihotel.com
Beautiful Bukit Beach
Featuring soft white sand, crystal turquoise waters and a distinct lack of crowds, Bingin could easily become your favourite beach in Bali. Located at the bottom of a steep limestone cliff, it’s great for a swim and is a lovely place to come and surf; being suitable for all ranges of experience
Known as the most happening place in Bali, Seminyak has grown up from being a small village, to one of the most stylish spots in South East Asia. The two most exciting sides to Seminyak are the food and shopping. Worldclass chefs have hopped over to the shores of Bali and you’ve got designers from across the globe working with talented Balinese artisans to produce high quality clothing and accessories.
Uma & Leopold
Brazil Meets Bali
Brazilian born Lara Braga works with local craftsmen to produce feminine but edgy summery clothes. Items can take a month to create, using techniques such as Indonesian Karawang embroidery, hand beading and leather weaving. Channel your inner glamazon with their sleek and chic pieces. Umaandleopold.com
Smokey South American Grill
Barbacoa brings the asado-style atmosphere of an Argentinian social gathering to Bali. The tapas type dishes encourage you to try a big portion of their menu, from Cuban pulled pork sliders, Peruvian snapper ceviche to the more meaty charcoal-grilled beef rib eye. Barbacoabali.com
Seminyak’s trendy and low-key next-door neighbour, Canggu is a cool and casual area to hang out in. Mornings start at the crack of dawn, when half the ‘hood hop on their bikes down to Batu Bolong or Echo’s to tackle the swell. Salty-skinned surfers and golden-limbed honeys then gather over cups of caffeine at one of Canggu’s hip coffee hangouts.
Life’s Crate at this Cool Cafe
Like any café in Bali worth its salt, Crate is serious about their coffee and serves up an in-house blend. The breakfasts just as strong. With names like ‘Why So Cereal’ (frozen banana and goodies), ‘Hipstar’ acaibowls and ‘Goldiloc porridge, this place is all about being young and fun.
Lovely Lifestyle Store
Bungalow Living is a gorgeous homeware store that cleverly doubles up as a charming café. Stock up on pom pom fringed embroidered cushions, Indian cotton bed linen, handmade banana leaf storage baskets and colourful quilts. There are cosy corners in the café where you can sit down for a coffee or dragon fruit super smoothie while deciding on how much you can take home in your suitcase. Bungalowlivingbali.com
Ubud is best known as the spiritual centre of Bali. Located in the heart of the island, it has long attracted the arty types drawn to its rich cultural heritage. The area surrounding Ubud is gorgeously green. Think thick foliage weaving down river valleys and chirpy birds singing in the treetops in a jungle-like setting.
If there is one restaurant you need to visit in Bali, it’s Locavore. Creating innovative European dishes using local ingredients, during the seven-course tasting menu you might have cold crab salad with fennel mayonnaise, pan-fried scallops and Jerusalem artichoke sauce, or organically-fed pork with mulberry jus. Locavore.co.id
Mask Making in Mas
For a truly special token to remember your time in Bali, visit Wayan Muka’s mask-making studio in Mas to pick up one of his unique creations. Like most craftsmen on the island, his skills have been passed down through generations. The amount of time and skill that goes into making a mask is unbelievable; one piece can use up to 350 coats of paint to make it a finished product.
(Sandy Bay Beach Club)
(Mask Maker - Mas)
A cluster of islands situated off the south east coast of Bali, Nusa Lembongan and its sisters Nusa Ceningan and Nusa Penida are a quieter and more rustic alternative to mainland Bali. The main activities on these islands are snorkelling and surfing. Days are laid back, simple and always with a dose of adventure.
Sandy Bay Beach Club
Scenic Beach Restaurant
This all-day dining hangout has the most scenic setting on Sunset Beach. Serving up crowd-pleasing grub like burgers and BBQ grilled seafood, it’s a lovely place to come for lunch, where you can wander on the white sand before settling in for a long and lazy eating session. Sandybaylembongan.com
Perilous Beauty Spot
Make your way by bike to the south west of Nusa Ceningan Island, where you will find the beautiful Blue Lagoon. It may sound like a serene swimming spot, but don’t be fooled; although lovely to look at, Blue Lagoon is a wild and treacherous rocky cove with bright blue waves crashing fiercely against limestone walls.
Author & photographer Anna Chittenden’s book, Lost Guides – Bali is a new travel guidebook, focusing on five happening neighbourhoods – Bukit Peninsula, Seminyak, Canggu, Ubud and Nusa Lembongan. The book contains highly curated recommendations for the modern traveller gathered from extensive experience and a network of locals in the know. Available to buy online at thelostguides.com & in selected stockists.