I visited Bali with a group of friends and family in 2014. While the trip there was long, the visit was definitely worth it.
Bali is a country of beauty. The landscape ranges from beautiful beaches to tropical rain forests in the mountains. And the people and the culture are one of the friendliest and most giving I have encountered.
We decided to stay out of the hustle and bustle of the south shore near Denpasar and Seminyak and instead wanted to explore the north shore – specifically Lovina and the Singaraja area. I prefer to travel a bit off the beaten path and try to stay away from the extreme tourist areas which is what the south shore is more known to be.
We rented a home (more like an estate) from a French chef, right on the ocean, private pool, on about an acre of land. It had 6 bedrooms and outdoor showers in each. There was also a huge yard with enough high end furniture to have a 30 person party and complete with 3 cabanas (2 oceanside), and an outdoor bar and BBQ. It was fully staffed with 2 cooks, a house cleaner, a landscaper, 2 security guards, and 2 drivers with 2 cars. It was HEAVEN! And it was not expensive. We paid about $80/night per room which covered everything except the cost of food and tips. I would highly recommend.
We spent some time in Lovina, doing the morning dolphin excursion which was a blast! We saw hundreds of dolphins and also watched a beautiful sunrise. The panga boats were entertaining as well!
We also went scuba diving about 2 hours west of Lovina. The reef we dove on was beautiful however it was a relatively shallow and amateur dive site. We were close enough to the surface at points where we ran in to snorkelers. I have heard that Bali has amazing diving, I would recommend thoroughly researching dive sites to make an educated decision on where and with which dive shop you want to dive. Its also important to have a good idea on location and timing. With the dive site being 2 hours away we really didn’t want to dive again due to distance. So if you are planning on doing a lot of diving, definitely do your homework.
While a few of our group went out on excursions to see the markets, elephants, and tour the island, a group of us stayed back and went on a waterfall hike very close to our house, as well as spent the evening at The Damai eco resort up in the mountains which overlooked the ocean and had a stunning sunset. The restaurant, food, service and view were definitely worth the higher than average cost to dine there.
We visited the Git Git Waterfall via a 15-20 minute “hike” (not strenuous) through rice fields and the rainforest. There were little village “shops” along the way which helped with much needed gifts.
We also went golfing at Bali Handara Golf Club “in” a dormant volcano. The course was beautiful and surrounded by rain forest. We all each had our own caddy as well!
Bali is a destination I would recommend and visit again. Some of the people in my group had a hard time with the poverty and living conditions within the country, but if you can look past that, and truly delve in to the culture and the beauty of the island, you will have a beautiful experience.