Did you take a vacation in 2016?
If you had meant to but for some reason – be it a new job, a kid in tow, or health concerns – you could not, 2017 is the year to do it. If you are using every single excuse not to, then you should stop wondering why you have been so stressed lately.
It is important to deal head-on with the stressors in your life, but it is also enriching to take a break. If you are to travel to only one destination this year, consider Bali. Despite being a popular destination, it’s still cheap. If you are traveling solo, all the better. I have found Bali to be a perfect spot to have exciting adventures and real relaxation at the same time.
Bali is an island that has too much to offer. To help you plan for that major getaway, here’s a suggested itinerary for those who want a taste of adventure but who also want to experience the beauty of doing nothing, ‘Il bel far niente,’ as Elizabeth Gilbert puts it.
First Stop: Nusa Islands
Choose late night or early morning flights, so you don’t waste time resting in a new place after being in transit. When you arrive in Bali in the morning, you can go straight to the Nusa islands. The trio of islands can be reached through a quick boat ride from the south of Bali. Probably, you haven’t heard much of it in travel blogs, and this is because it’s not as exposed to mass tourism as the other Bali destinations. That doesn’t make it less spectacular though – quite the opposite, actually.
For the mermaids at heart, the Nusa Islands have great diving spots both for beginners and experienced divers. Nusa Penida offers experienced divers the chance to practice drift diving while seeing rich marine biodiversity, and beginners can choose to visit mangrove dive sites in Nusa Lembongan and Ceningan. For the ultimate adventure, cliff-jump into clear blue waters and get washed by waves at Mahana Point in Nusa Ceningan. If you are not that confident yet, you can always opt to snorkel and swim with beautiful sea turtles.
If heart-pumping activities aren’t your thing, you can just relax and get a shimmering tan on the beaches of the islands. Bali is popular for its gray and black sands, but if you’re in this part of Bali, you are in for a treat. Head over to Dream Beach, Paradise Beach, or Mushroom Beach with your sand-repellent blanket and sunscreen, and enjoy some fresh coconut juice while lounging on powdery white sand beaches.
Dine and Drink
It doesn’t take so much for health nuts to find a safe haven in every part of Bali. When in Nusa Lembongan, visit Bali Eco Deli to get your smoothie fix. They also have salads, wild rice bowls, fruit popsicles, yoghurt, and pastries.
An ideal spot to laze around while waiting for sundown is The Deck in Nusa Lembongan. You get the best view of the open sea while enjoying house music while sipping cocktails.
Second Stop: Ubud
If there’s one place in Bali that you should never miss, it’s Ubud. Unlike the Nusa Islands, foreigners flock in Ubud, but if you know where to look, Ubud is a charming place that you would never want to leave. It is the cultural heart of Bali, and it’s also been a hub for local artists and craftsmen. The healthy-junkie, peace-loving, and tree-hugging can easily find a home here.
Ubud is more than just rice terraces and lush vegetation. That is the thing though, it’s hard to pick what activity to do. A unique and exciting way to see Ubud beyond the Monkey Forest and souvenir shops is to join one of those bike tours that take you to the countryside, which gives you the perfect opportunity to explore the forests, pass by temples, and meet with the locals as they go about their day. It seems like a leisurely way to explore Ubud, but be prepared to cycle through mud and encounter heavy vehicles along the way.
Ubud offers several wellness and yoga retreats, but if you don’t have the luxury of time, an alternative would be to attend either morning or night yoga classes at Yoga Barn. The Yoga Barn is most accessible from Ubud centre. You can choose from a number of yoga and meditation classes available every day. Most of their classes are in big groups, which might work better with experienced yogis.
Dine and Drink
It’s easy to spot a healthy restaurant just by simply walking the streets of Ubud. A promising cafe close by Yoga Barn is KAFE. Kafe offers a wide variety of wholesome and healthy food. It also has a great selection for vegetarians. For telecommuters, you can take advantage of their free internet.
For coffee addicts, you might want to find yourself in Atman Kafe, and be sure to order the house specialty, a locally grown and roasted organic Arabica, served with milk – regular, skimmed, raw, or coconut. Now, after a full day of going in and around Ubud, you can check out Laughing Buddha Bar for a couple of drinks. You can listen to live gigs and meet other travelers. Be ready to put your dancing shoes too and grace the stage when you hear the funky drums beat.
Third Stop: Canggu
Most tourists go for Kuta or Seminyak for their final stop as it’s closer to the airport. However, if you’re completely avoiding these tourist traps, you can make a swerve and choose to spend your last couple of nights in Canggu. Canggu is a popular surf town, but it’s less crowded than Kuta. At first glance, Canggu seems like another sleepy Balinese town, but as you get nearer the beach, it slowly comes to life. You start seeing incredible graffiti just across the rice fields, and you hear folk and indie music blaring from hip and cool bars.
Ride the waves in Echo Beach, Berawa, or Batu Bolong. For beginners, the easiest of the three is Batu Bolong. For more advanced-level surfers, find a spot in Echo Beach and enjoy stronger and bigger waves. Lastly, Berawa makes a good spot of intermediate-level surf breaks.
Dine and Drink
Smoothie bowls are a big trend in Bali. A popular smoothie bowl joint, called Nalu Bowls, is becoming what Starbucks is in the Philippines. They have several branches around Bali including the one in Canggu. It is packed any time of the day, but honestly, coming from a big coffee drinker, if you could have a serving of fresh smoothie bowl every day, you may no longer need coffee for that much-needed energy boost.
Another healthy cafe that is constantly crowded is Betelnut Cafe. They have an impressive breakfast, lunch, and dinner menu for everyone. If you want to impress your friends with a kick-ass healthy meal, this is where you bring them. They serve raw food options, such as the raw version of the classic gado-gado – an Indonesian salad mix of veggies, tofu, and eggs – among others. You can also enjoy a vegetarian fare; the vegetarian Mexican plate looks so appetizing. Be prepared to come here often when in Canggu.
Seasoned travelers would tell you that you would have to make peace with the fact that when traveling in a short amount of time, you can’t just do it all.
With the itinerary above, you would have to skip other popular places such as Kuta or Legian, but it sure is a great way to have an exciting adventure and fuse in a little bit of luxe relaxation in seven days. After all that 2016 has put you through, you deserve it. So book that roundtrip tickets now, and block a week off your New Year’s calendar.
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