Never did I ever think a place would steal my heart the way Bali did . . . Incredible Indonesia, you are one of the most magical places I have ever been too . . . Is it tooooo soon to go back??
As the planning part & all the details aren’t the most interesting bits of info to update you all on, I will do a “details” post at the end where I will tell you exactly how and where I booked, all the tips & pointers and of course the route we did . . . So if you wanted to do a repeat of our trip, it will be at your finger tips.
Once I started writing the post about our trip I soon realised there was no way possible for me to fit EVERYTHING into one post, so I decided to break our trip down into chapters, so expect a few chapters coming your way 🙂
But let’s get back to the trip . . . Bali! BREATHTAKING! Beautiful! BALI, as my 30th birthday present from my amazing mother dearest. Damn lucky to have her & spoilt beyond belief with a present like this! Choosing an experience over a lavish party or physical gift. I couldn’t wait to explore Indo & to be able to tick another country off the ol’ list.
In a nutshell I took on the challenge to beat & better the travel agents itinerary for us, seriously bad reviews and beyond average accommodation options that was given to us, I spent a few weeks eating, breathing & sleeping all things Bali. Researching surf breaks (As this was the highlight and main point of the gents trip) to zooming in onto booking.com maps, to reading a million reviews, researching travel times, google mapping routes . . . It was a full time job, but for a trip of a lifetime and because I am a perfectionist I wanted everything to be INCREDIBLE, it was all worth it! A few weeks later, we had ridiculously cheap flights & a route that took us around Bali seeing all the must see places, the best surf breaks the spot has to offer and staying ( if I have to say so myself) in theeee raddest of rad spots for the best prices! We had another couple who were just as keen as us to see this amazing place and before we knew it everything had been booked and D Day for our trip had arrived! BANG BANG!
The Bali Crew consisted of me, Duck, one of our close mates Greg & his girlfriend Kath. We left Durban on Wednesday morning 26th July, a quick flight to OR Tambo, a few hours wait that side and then we were off to Doha, Qatar and then eventually Denpasar Bali . . . Ahhhhhh YEAH! Needless to say that was an eventful & incredibly long 48 hours of travelling ( Yes we had some crazy layover times but I will share all those details in my final post of the travel details) After 48 hours of travelling & covering 10 different time zones we had landed safe & sound . . . Our biggest concern now was hoping our luggage aka the surfboard bags made it one piece ( OBVS the most NB) so like kids at Christmas we sped through passport control (*Quick note – you now get a FREE 30 DAY Visa so no need to budget for a visa when entering Bali) grabbed our luggage and made our way out of arrivals to look for our shuttle, where the sweetest Balinese man was waiting, sign in hand, we were one step closer to island living.
We now had 30 minutes to get to Sanur, which is the port our ferry was leaving from as first stop on our list was Nusa Lambongan. An island just off the mainland of Bali. We had full faith in our driver because he said there was no way we were missing the 10am departure . . . The minute you leave the airport, there is an electric hustle & bustle . . . Dictated by thousands of scooter drivers, a million beep beeps & toot hoots, speed in the right lane and snail pace drivers to the left . . . All a whirlwind but our driver got us to Sanur, backpacks on, location sticker tags on ourselves, all that was left to do was buy a few Binnies ( Binnies = Bintang which is the local beer & what will become a staple in your diet ) & get ready to hop onto the fast ferry to the island.
A short 30 minute ride (If you get seasick definitely pop a tablet, because there aint no lagoon water out at sea) But nothing a few Binnies can’t sort out . . . Before we knew it we had arrived to PARADISE!
The most incredible turquoise water leading the way, where the shades of blue changes with the depth of the ocean, becoming the most crystal blue shade as you arrive onto the white sandy beaches where the shore is lined with the most amazing coral & delicate seashells . . .
We have arrived to what can be described as a piece of paradise & a place you didn’t want to leave anytime soon. YAY!!!!
The staff grouped us up into the different area hotel drop offs, we hopped onto the back of a Suzuki Shortbread Bakkie (Which was transformed into a taxi / shuttle / tuk tuk) and off we went to find our hotel . . .
The tiniest single lane roads which worm its way around the island, somehow manages to work with the locals, one hoot I’m passing, 2 hoots move over, patience as a few tuk tuks make their way through the narrow alleys and a smile and a wave and you off again. The roads and alleys, half tarred, half sand, where the most beautiful Frangipangi trees line the way . . .Passing through the most beautiful temples, the most incredible details even found outside their homes, just so much beauty and pride taken in every design aspect, each place being its own work of art.
Before we knew it we had arrived to Puri Nusa Beach Hotel, which was going to be our home for the next 2 nights . . .
Situated right on the beach, yes literally on the white beautiful beaches of Nusa Lembongan. We first walked through the most beautiful garden and villas to get to the reception, where we were met by theee most friendly staff. Our rooms were right in the front, overlooking not only the swimming pool, but the beach and of course the surf spot Shipwrecks. THE DREAM! It took the guys a whole 2 minutes before their boardies were on and they were in the water. Have we been travelling for days? Never felt like it because the excitement kicked in and we were in full holiday mode . . .
This side of the island is renowned for its breathtaking sunsets and your toughest decision would be which spot to pick for your sundowner . . . So many hotels & restaurants line the beach, so we took a walk until we found “the spot”. A whole lot of colourful comfy bean bags, beautiful traditional Balinese umbrellas & huge day beds . . . Seemed like the perfect place to end our first day! Sipping on Pineapple Daquiries, snacking on the tastiest food! Life was great and we definitely couldn’t complain . . . We saw the sunset & the moonrise in paradise.
Waking up to the most incredible view, the contrast of the dark grey clouds against the turquoise water . . . Banana pancakes & the freshest watermelon juice would be the choice for breakfast (and would be the choice for breakie for the remainder of the trip haha! You truly don’t get anything better) Sitting on the beach whilst eating our breakie, getting ready to have a morning of snorkelling . The hotel was amazing & sorted everything out for us, all we needed to do was pay R200 for everything! So off we went on what can only be described as an eventful, no doubt entertaining, snorkelling experience. . .
I am quite a “wuss” when it comes to certain things, so when you say “snorkelling”, I picture a beautiful lagoon type area, no waves, no swell, just calmness and serenity. . . However, we get to our first stop, MANTA BAY . . . Surely this can’t be right, the swell is huge and there are about 30 boats and a hundred peeps just kicking it about trying to find these mantas . . . He stops, everyone gets in and waits for the loud screams of MANTA! MANTA! MANTA! You then see where he points and like a school of fish would swim for that piece of bread in the water, we all freestyle our way to the point, take a look under and find the Mantas. . . In my situation, I was scared! I saw the odd person nearly get taken out by a boat due to the swell. Everyone seemed ok, so I chilled out and put on my big girl panties and hopped in! Before I could even get used to this whole environment, our guide screams MANTA! MANTA! MANTA! & points to Dyl and I . . . WTF!!!! I put my head under the water and right beneath us is the most ginormous Manta, elegantly cruising past us, internally screaming due to shock but yet when you are underwater there is some calmness that comes over you while you watch this amazing creature in its natural habitat. I conquered a fear, saw the Mantas which meant I could get my ass back on to the boat, yay! We then missioned to another 2 bays, which was a lot more PG & definitely more of what I had envisioned! Our next stop was Crystal Cove, WOW! Crystal water in a magical cove, the name says it all and then onto Mangrove Point. Diving in the crystal blue waters, viewing some incredible fish of all shapes and colours . . . It was worth it!
Back to the island and our afternoon was spent relaxing by the pool, reading on the beach or exploring the roads & alleys the island has to offer . . . Just to prove how small the world can be, whilst surfing Ducky & Greg bumped into a friend from Durbs, Matt, who just happened to be there doing a diving course. So the more the merrier and nothing beats bumping into friendly familiar faces on a trip like this, so we all made an afternoon mission to the other side of the bay to enjoy the sunset . . .
We went to The Deck, an amazing cocktail bar with the most beautiful views of the island. ( Added bonus : They offer a free pick up from your hotel ) Taking a walk up to The Deck almost gave me the feeling of walking the tiny cobble streets in Greece, where bright pink & shades of red Bouganvillea flow over the walls, lush greenery, banana trees & coconut palms fill the pathways and then magical sunset colours of peaches, pinks, oranges and lilacs that fill the sky with the contrast of the grey clouds. BREATHTAKING! Sitting on comfy couches, with your good mates watching the sunset whilst sipping on the most delicious cocktails, life is GREAT! After a few drinks and dinner time hunger sets in, all you need to do is take a stroll down these beautiful pathways and stop at one of the restaurants found on the cliffs of the island . . . Dinner is served under the stars by candlelight . . . After dinner strolls, passing the only vibey late night place open on the island, quickly pop in for a night cap and continue the stroll along the beach to your hotel . . .
And just like that 2 nights at Puri Nusa came to an end . . . The in house restaurant made an awesome Nasi Goreng (Duck tried & tested this Balinese dish at every spot so if you want to know the feedback and reviews he is the person to chat to haha). Banana pancakes were the BEST! They always had cold Bintangs, unfortunately only Bintangs. Sometimes all a girl needs is a cocktail! Our rooms were awesome, the staff were amazing and with a view like that we definitely couldn’t complain. We were off to the other island for a night, Ceningan, connected to Nusa Lembongan by a yellow scooter pedestrian bridge. At least our travel time was going to be a short one . . .
Our next spot was Twilight Lembogan on Ceningan Island . . . The owner & manager were such legends, they came and picked us up from our hotel and got us and all our luggage to the next dream location. Ceningan was INCREDIBLE! Lined with hundreds of Palm trees, and hotels situated on the cliff sides of the island, you can’t help but pinch yourself a couple of times when walking across the yellow bridge to paradise. Yes I know I say paradise a million times, but it truly is!!! Its hard to describe something, that is so perfect, still so natural with beauty and lush vegetation . . . its perfection, for me! so its PARADISE 🙂
Our hotel was amaaaazing, these awesome surf style huts made from local wood & palm leaves, an outdoor shower and a swimming pool on the cliff side overlooking the islands surf break of Ceningan Point.
We hired scooters and went exploring, we only had one night here so we wanted to make the most of it! Secret beaches tucked away in coves, cliff jumping, waves crashing into the cliffs, creating the most magical blowholes as the water shoots through the caves. This island was incredible! Blue lagoon view points, while coconut palm trees silhouette the sky line . . . MAGICAL!
We found an awesome spot to spend some downtime while the boys surfed. Ceningan Palm, where the guys could walk down the cliff and get to the break, whilst us girls could get massages pool side (R180 for a full body aromatherapy massage for over an hour & this was “expensive”) or watch them surf from the rim flow pool. Lunch eaten pool side at our hotel which was DELICIOUS!!! Mango & Prawn Salad, with crispy calamari aaaand of course, what would a meal be without the local Nasi Gorang! Sunset surf missions were made, sipping on pinacoladas, taking pics, while Duck surfed to his hearts content. Exploring is definitely whats meant to happen on this island! With so much hidden beauty and opportunities to find all things magical , scooter missions are the only way forward! That and of course cocktails poolside or what became a favourite at this stop was the Bintangs Radlers, lemon flavoured beer hmmmm mmmm!
After a refreshing shower under the stars and an early dinner, you fall asleep to the sound of the waves crashing against the reef and the sounds of the infamous Indo ghekkos. . . We had an early start as we were sadly leaving the island and had to catch a ferry back to the main land, as next stop was the long awaited Karamas . . .