A Local’s Guide to All Things Bali

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For the past 3 years, my home has been the stunning little volcanic island of Bali.  Whether you are a surfer, a yogi, or a world traveler, “The Island of the Gods” is probably on your radar.

One of Indonesia’s 17,000 islands, Bali has it all.  From the natural, Volcanic mountains, white sand beaches, terraced rice paddies, fields of towering palm trees and countless world class waves to the creature comforts, hipster coffee shops, tattoo parlors, vegan eateries and peaceful yoga shalas.   There is no shortage of magic here in Bali.

Bali has been on the traveler’s lists for decades.  Often loved as much as it is hated, many are turned off by the busy, overcrowded, polluted and unsustainable realities of the island.  And then there those like myself, who come here and fall so madly, deeply in love that we just never leave.

As a surfer, yogi, traveler and for the past three years a “local”, I am constantly asked where to go and what to see.  It might have taken me awhile, but here I have listed a few basics to start you off on your wave sliding, spiritual stretching and adrenaline seeking adventure.

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Canggu and Seminyak

 Where hipster cafes meet mellow surfing waves.  When people come to visit me (here in Canggu) I always tell them “The beaches are not stunning, the waves are often stupidly crowded, and there are few “tourist attractions” but if you want beaches, surf, yoga, fun, and quite possibly the best food around then Canggu is paradise.  Oh the food!  In Canggu, the menus are diverse and the food is delicious.

Eat:

Canggu: Shady Shack, Crate, Ruko, Vedas, PokePoke, Roti Canai, Koi, Canteen, La Baracca, Lacalita, Cinta, Milk and Madu,   |   Seminyak:  Shelter, Sea Circus, La Plancha, Motel Mexicola. Earth Cafe

Lets be honest.  You can eat pretty much anywhere in Canggu and be blown away.  Canggu has a really high standard of good food so you cant go wrong.

Dont miss:

Party or surf!  Skatepark saturdays at Pretty Poison | Stupidly silly sundays at Old mans and Deus | Sundowners and Surfing at Echo Beach & Batu Bolong | Shop, shop, shop in Seminyak | Sunrise at Tanah Lot Temple (i said sunrise, not sunset)

Stay:

Ayok Surf and Stay.  ( Airbnb listing: here ) near Old Man’s Surf Spot.  If you dont drive a scooter, the dont start in Bali.  Stay somewhere you can walk to surf, walk to eat, walk to party and walk to get a massage.  Stay at Ayoks.

Putu Guesthouse 2:  near Berawa beach  putuguesthouse.com (0361) 8446313

Airbnb has a massive selection of villas to choose from.  Also, there are more homestays and guesthouses that I honestly cant even keep up with names and numbers and prices and whereabouts.  Best of luck!

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For the Spiritual Seekers 

In Canggu, Check out the stunning grounds of Desa Seni.  On Tuesday nights there is a guided meditation by local Balinese healer Pak Merta or one of his students.  They have a few thoughtful workshops on offer throughout the month worth checking out although a little overpriced.  Samadhi Yoga Shala is one of the main reasons I landed in Canggu. With a morning Mysore Ashtanga class offered by one of my favorite yoga instructors (ever!!!) Damien, it is a humble little yogi sanctuary you are sure to love.  They offer many other classes as well as a new hot yoga class at their new shala, Samadi too.  Finally, The Practice has recently set up a monolithic bamboo structure to base their wildly energetic kirtans, full moons ceremonies, and sun and moon based yoga classes.  Think hipster meets yoga.

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For the Canggu Based Surf Explorers –

Salti Hearts: www.saltihearts.com  A small intimate surf and yoga camp run by the extremely motivated and knowledgeable Yani.  Yani not only wakes up to make you a stunningly colorful and healthy smoothy bowl, but she first handedly takes you to get those Bali waves you have been dreaming of.  She has it all set up.  Let me tell you that getting waves in bali is no easy task, especially without the help of a local.  She gets you where you want to be and even has a photographer along to capture the moments so you can prove to all your friends and family that you actually did catch the wave of your life.  She is located in Canggu, so you can get the world’s best coffee and raw vegan cheesecake after surfing some of the worlds best waves.  Sounds epic.  It is!

Wayan Ladra:  Surf guide.  www.balisurf.guide/  So you aren’t into surf and yoga camps?  And you don’t want to do yoga?  And you have tried catching a wave in the ever-crowded Canggu beach breaks?  Yep, I have heard that all before, I will say it again … catching waves without being a super ripping surfer or without local knowledge of where to go can be extremely difficult here in Bali.  From beginners to experienced surfers, Wayan is sure to take you to a spot that you will be stoked on.  I have recommend Wayan to many friends, no one has come back disappointed.  He is an incredible coach and a great guide.  So do yourself a favor and call this guy.  He books up fast. Phone number: 831-1911-9901

Ayok Canggu:  Professional Surfer and Surf Guide. At one of the world’s more annoyingly crowded longboard spot, Ayok is always there out there with a smile on his face.  He is a professional surfer, sponsored by Deus Ex Machina and runs his only family- homestay within walking distance from the break.  If you want to support the locals, you cant get much more local than Ayok.  If you want to learn from someone who walks the walk (as in walks up to toes on the nose) then call the jovial and genuine Ayok.  On top of all that he is just a beautiful human being.

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Ubud

Yogis gone monkeys.  Ubud is a rite of passage for all spiritual seeking yogis.  The yoga is not just good, it is great!  With too many yoga centers, healers, and wildly weird hippy stuff happening, you can keep yourself entertained on your “journey” to enlightenment for years to come (and many do).  It’s also one of the most cultural areas of the island, as far as Hindu ceremonies and cleansing ritual temples go.  No trip to Bali would be complete with an extended stop here.

Eat:  

Clear Cafe,  K.a.f.e, Ubud is famous for its over the top delicious and thoughtful raw, vegan, vegetarian cafes and restaurants. I dont know where to begin actually.

Stay:  

Wenara Bali Bungalows – www.wenarabali.com Jl. Monkey Forrest, Ubud, Kabupaten Gianyar, Bali 80571

Not to miss:

Water Temple north of Ubud | Walk Campuhan Hill | Monkey Forest | exploring all the local’s art shops | indulging in an art workshop | Yoga Workshops, Teacher Trainings, Courses. | Rice Terraces north of town

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For the Spiritual Seekers:

I must admit that the massive complex that is the Yoga Barn brings me back time and time again. They are big and bold and everything I am not looking for in a yoga center, but the teachers are fabulous and offer some well researched and well organized classes and workshops.  While in Ubud, learn Reiki, try a colonic, suffer through a juice fast or indulge in a week long yoga challenge. There is no better place than Ubud for all these things.

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Bukit Peninsula

A Picture Perfect Peninsula with world-class waves.  It is just beautiful.  Really Really beautiful.  When I need a day away, there is nowhere better than the Bukit.  From the spick span clean resort beaches of Nusa Dua to the laid back sunset spot of Singlefin, the Bukit Peninsula is a photographer’s truest love.

Eat:

Bukit Cafe | Cashew Tree | Casa Asia | Ayu Ossy Warung in Balangan | Noodle head | Mango tree | El Kabron Restaurant | Dugong Restaurant

Stay:

Jepun Sari Dreamland Bali | The Temple in Bingin | Sal Secret Spot | Bingin Garden Villas, “Captain Jack’s” in Bingin | or find a stunning location on a clifftop somewhere.

Dont miss:

Thursday night’s open air music at Cashew Tree | Sunset at Singlefin (or for me, any night besides Sunday) | A lazy day on Bingin beach | Explore the magical clifftop for panoramic views | Uluwatu Temple | Pandawa Beach Day | The big statue | Padang Padang (when the surf is massive this is a must)

For the Spiritual Seekers:

At Ulu Watu you will find, Morning Light Shala.  This stunning little shala with a sweet crew of yogis is without a doubt on a holy piece of land.  In fact it is here that Yoga Guru and Godfather Of Bali Surf Gerry Lopez offers his yearly yoga retreat.  In Bingin, The Temple guesthouse and Cashew Tree Cafe both offer yoga classes as well.

For the frothiest of surfers:  On the beach at Balangan you will find some surf schools.  I only recommend beginner’s surfing on the Bukit Peninsula if the swell is really small and even then with the help of a local.  Surfing here can be big, shallow and fast. For the competent surfers,  get out there already!

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West Bali

Point breaks and sharky situations.  Oh my… I find myself wanting to keep all things East and West Bali a bit of a secret. Considering my boyfriend is my web-developer, he will come through and delete anything too revealing anyhow.  So just know:  Go east and west.  It is beautiful, quite, and an adventure lovers dream.

Stay: Pondok Pitaya Hotel | Medewi, Rock Surf | Brown Sugar Medewi |  But look around a little and you are sure to find your own little sanctuary.

For the Yogis:  In Balian on the West coast you can find yoga at Pondok Pitaya where they have a yoga studio overlooking the ocean and a very fun wave.   They offer some quality yoga classes as well as yoga teacher trainings at this magical little spot.  The famous yogini Meghan Currie offers a teacher training here once a year that has been on my list for while now.

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East Bali

The Quieter Side of the Island. Pumping waves, towering temples and a diver’s paradise.  Surf. Hike. Swim. Get back to nature.

Stay and Eat:  It is a pretty penny but Komune at Keramas is pretty amazing. Amed has lots of sweet places on airbnb.

Go:  Amed Beach | hike to Karankasan Temple | Keramas Beach Day

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For the Enchanted Explorers:

There is so much more to Bali than what I have mentioned above.  If you don’t like the tourists and the coffee shop development, then hit the road jack.  Within a few hours and you will find dozens of waterfalls in Munduk, fields of strawberries in Bedugal, volcanic mountaintops of Kintamani, snorkeling wonderlands ofat Pemuteran,  suummit sunrises at Mt. Batur volcano. The options are endless.  And it is always a good idea to explore the nearby islands of Nusa Lembongan, Gili Islands & Lombok too.

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A few spiritual secrets I will reveal to you as a reward for making it to the bottom of this blog:

1. If you have ever wanted to learn meditation, sign up for the week-long meditation retreat/ intensive called Bali Usada Meditation.   I just loved it.  www.balimeditation.com.

2.  If  you are still looking for a silent, zen meditation experience and there isnt a Bali Usada offered when you are here, then go into the stunning Bali Silent Retreat up in the mountaings.

3. Don’t miss the one-day women’s balancing clinic offered by Tina Nance at Yoga Barn.

Bali Blog Surf and Yoga

For the beautiful beach lovers:

Bingin, Nusa Dua, Northern Bali, Amed, Nusa Lembongan, Balian, and all the beaches between.

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 Please message me and let me know if you know of a fabulous addition to this list!  Enjoy your travels wherever the wind takes you.