BALI: Where On Earth Would You Rather Be?

Published 01 February 2013   


If you’ve lived here too long or are aghast at the rampant island development, then you need to remember why you were lured to this Island of the  Gods in the first place. From numerous glorious options Katie Truman reflects on her top five inspirational places that best epitomize Bali’s magical charm.

Anywhere up Bali’s east coast is lovely and the further north you go the greater the distance from the madding crowds. Hidden in Bali’s ‘remote’ northeast corner, the small fishing community of Tembok is typical of this idyllic coastline. Sitting beside volcanic black sands dotted with outriggers and bent-over coconut trees and dominated by Mount Agung, it’s no wonder Spa Village Resort Tembok (part of YTL’s Spa Village Resort series) chose this secluded spot. Immersed in gentle spirituality and age-old traditions, this award-winning haven helps weary souls detox, rejuvenate and celebrate traditional Balinese culture with ancient remedies and wellness and cultural activities. For ultimate inner-peace, don’t miss sunrise Hatha yoga instruction lulled by crashing waves, or starlight gazing sessions lying on a floating platform in the infinity pool, an iPod pumped with ultra-meditative soundtrack, while appreciating a galaxy of stars above in clear black skies.

Apart from luxe resorts, Bali throws up places which perfectly define that tropical island moment, making you feel smug to be here and making friends back home extremely envious. One such spot is La Lucciola, a simple yet stupendous open-sided thatch and bamboo café-restaurant that’s island casual, yet extremely refined alongside a quiet patch of Seminyak Beach. Gaze out over manicured lawns studded with coconut palms rolling towards the wild Indian Ocean surf, with added distractions of romantic fine-dining on the upper deck at sunset, scrumptious sunshine-filled Sunday brunches, or a mid-afternoon indulgence of passionfruit and banana granitas. Fanned by ocean breezes, attended by amiable sarong and regal shirt-clad staff, and bathed in rustic splendour, even the gods would be content here. Petitenget Beach, Seminyak, tel: +62 361 730 838

Once the rocky domain of seaweed farmers, die-hard surfers and worshippers at sacred sites, Bali’s south coast now boasts some of the world’s finest real estate and escalating land prices. True, there’s been an invasion of five-star super deluxe resorts tottering along the coat’s limestone cliffs, but as modern development goes, these are heavenly places to hole-up. Bali’s new hot property ticket or not, the south coast’s wild natural beauty and revered sea temples still emit a spellbinding end-of-the-world feeling and ancient mysticism – from its dramatic cliff-top plateau to beyond, an infinity of rolling surf breaks. Favourite “living on the edge” moments include soaking in Karma Kandara’s cliff-edge Himalayan Crystal Salt Jacuzzi(synchronized at sunset), lazy days at Robinson-Crusoe-style beach clubs on white sand coves and traditional kecak dances, performed at dusk at Uluwatu Temples’ cliff-edge amphitheatre.

La-Lucciola-restaurantLa Lucciola

Bali’s inspiration lives on in many ways, far beyond the development, traffic and mayhen, the essence of the island still remains the same as always.

Alongside Canggu Beach, boho boutique Hotel Tugu Bali is a living, breathing museum, dedicated to preserving Indonesia’s unique spirituality, art and culture and is infused with artwork, antiquities and evocative recreations of the archipelago’s traditions. Tugu’s Waroeng Djamoe Spa celebrates centuries-old Javanese and Balinese rituals and treatments combining spirituality with healing which are administered in rustically-chic chambers. Try the signature Mantra Massage, a profoundly meditative, deep healing massage, combined with ancient mantra chanting and a Hindu blessing. Historic and atmospherically-charged themed rooms coordinated with Balinese dining rituals include Bale Sutra, a 300-year-old reconstructed Chinese temple within a stunning red room, while open-sided, Balinese kitchen Waroeng Tugu serves up traditional home-cooked cuisine by oil lamps. Signature suites are dedicated to Indonesian-based European artists of old, including Puri Le Mayeur Villa, suspended over a lotus pond – a red-themed, dreamy tribute to Belgian Le Mayeur.

Australian Chelsea Hunter had a dream to establish Asia’s first all-female surf and yoga camp in Bali, believing that surfing is also a state-of-mind and female tool of empowerment. A decade later and Surf Goddess Retreat, based in a luxurious villa sanctuary in Seminyak, is recognized as one of the world’s top women’s surf spa retreats. Since 2003, SGR has not only inspired and introduced thousands of women to surfing on Bali’s beaches, attracting all ages, nationalities and emotional states including those seeking new adventures, the recently divorced. After only eight days, novices are nurtured into bronzed ‘surf goddesses,’ empowered by conquering waves to conquering anything, with renewed energy and new BFF’s. Additionally, SGR introduces their surf sisters to Bali’s carefree island living: spa pampering, garden yoga instruction, home-cooked tropical gourmet cuisine and Seminyak’s ultra-glam cocktail scene.

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