When my boyfriend Josh surprised me with a romantic trip to Bali for our first anniversary, I was more than pleasantly surprised, especially when he told me we were going to stay right on the beach.
Following a painfully slow two-month countdown to our holiday in the sun, I was in for another surprise when we touched down at Ngurah Rai International Airport. Displaying a hitherto unexpected thoughtful streak, he had actually gone ahead and booked us a private villa.
Throughout the drive from the airport to Berawa Villa, my eyes were glued to the stunning scenery that I could still make out through the settling dusk. After passing endless terraced rice fields, we finally arrived at the villa, and I couldn’t wait to explore. I raced from one room to the next overcome with excitement. We even had two bedrooms to choose from and Josh later told me that even though the villa slept four people he had chosen it because he wanted to make sure we had our very own pool.
After a dreamless sleep in one of Berawa’s incredibly comfortable four poster beds, we decided to spend our first day on Bali relaxing by said private pool. The friendly staff who worked at the complex (Berawa is small complex of eight villas) took care of us like royalty and after an afternoon of little more than refreshing coconut shakes and chicken satay in coconut sauce, I could already feel myself falling in love with Bali. The next day we lounged some more, then took a leisurely stroll to the beach, which was only a five minute walk from our villa.
By then we both felt we had recovered from our jet lag enough to do some real exploring and to inject a little adventure into the holiday, we decided to hire a scooter (Josh has one at home) and see the beautiful island at our own, or at least his, pace. Winding our way along the coast, we never lasted long before stopping to take photos of the quaint villages and striking coastal views that characterise this part of Bali. Having done a little research before the trip, I made a visit to the floating temple of Tanah Lot a priority. At the breakneck speed my Josh drove, we reached the temple within about twenty minutes.
Although the area leading up to the temple was quite touristy, once we picked our way through the market stalls we were greeted with the impressive vista of the ancient temple itself. Perched on a rock right on the edge of the rolling sea, the site is an important part of Balinese mythology and one of seven sea temples situated on the coast of the island. As legend has it, poisonous sea snakes live in the waters at the base of the temple to protect it from evil spirits. After exploring the site and taking a ton of photographs, it was time for us to hop back onto the bike and carry on exploring this idyllic island paradise.
Relishing the Reward
Later that day, following hours of sweltering sightseeing on the bike, all I could think about was gorging myself on a huge seafood feast at one of the restaurants in the area. After freshening up back at Berawa villa, the staff organised a taxi to take us to the Sardine restaurant. Despite its close proximity to commercial Seminyak, the restaurant has a distinctly traditional Balinese feel about it, and was a great place to watch the sun set over the sparkling expanses of paddy fields. After trying some of the locally brewed “arak” cocktails in the relaxing lounge, we moved across to the dining area. I started with a delicious yellow fin tuna carpaccio, before feasting on roasted Peking duck with potatoes, unfortunately finding myself too full to manage a dessert, although my Josh somehow managed.
As a retailaholic, the next day required another trip on my Bali agenda, this time to the legendary shopping districts of Kuta and Seminyak. We had heard that the streets of the town areas got very congested during the day, so we opted to rent a motorcycle again in order to make getting around a little easier. After parking and wandering around in both places, I found that I much preferred the laid back atmosphere of Seminyak to the hustle and bustle of Kuta. Whilst browsing the upscale boutiques along Jalan Laksmana I found it hard to believe that only ten years ago this had been little more than a small fishing village. I found some divine hand-crafted leather sandals and also splashed on some bespoke jewellery from a delightful boutique named “Indigo & Rose”. My Josh and I then explored some of the art galleries in the area. Our favourite by far was the Kebbath Studio, which housed the works of Made Bendesa, a young Balinese artist. After a quick late lunch, we head back to Berawa villa on the motorbike to soak up a few more hours of sun by our private pool.
Ease the Pain
Much to my devastation, our last day on Bali arrived far too quickly. I always enjoy a massage before I spend 20 hours in a cramped aeroplane, so we got the staff at Berawa to make some reservations for us at a nearby spa, Casa Day Spa. We opted for the Duet package, which included a sixty minute full body massage for each of us, and a pedicure or manicure. As my Josh wasn’t interested in either of the latter treatments, I got to have both, and left the spa feeling thoroughly rejuvenated, although admittedly still not ready to leave Bali.
To cheer me up on our last evening, Josh excelled himself once again by making reservations at Metis, a classy restaurant nearby. I felt like a million dollars after a day of pampering at the spa, and was fun to get dressed up for a nice meal. We decided to go all out and gorge ourselves on the sumptuous grilled seafood platter, which included lobster, crab, prawn and scallops, accompanied with a bottle of crisp Chardonnay. Maybe this grand feast was too much of an over-indulgence for the night before a long journey back to the UK, but I was glad to celebrate our last evening on this incredible island in style, looking out over Metis’ stunning views of the rice fields.
As our plane took off the next day, I couldn’t help but hope Josh knew he had a lot to live up to when it came to celebrating our next anniversary.
Here are some tips to keep the love flowing throughout your holiday on Bali:
- If you are staying at a private villa, ask the staff to help organise your transport (unless there’s a car included). Having return taxis booked to and from bars and restaurants will save you the trouble of bartering with persistent drivers on the street.
- If you are interested in purchasing anything from any of the market stalls near the tourist hotspots, make sure you agree a fair price rather than accepting the asking price. A good starting point for a bargain is one third of the original price you’re offered.
- Despite the idyllic location of many Bali villas and all the fantastic facilities, there is no facility in the world that will keep away mosquitoes. Be sure to pack some repellant or pack an anti-mosquito plug-in.
- If you want to indulge in some freshly caught seafood on the island (which is definitely the most delicious I have ever tasted) it is best to get it at a proper sit-down restaurant. Eating seafood from street stalls that may have been left in the sun for some hours greatly increases the risk of getting Bali Belly.
- Though we were on a romantic break, Josh and I kept public displays of affection to a minimum when we were out sightseeing. Bali has a more conservative culture than western countries, so it is best not to get too touchy feely. The same goes for clothing, and if you are visiting a temple it is respectful to wear garments that keep your shoulders covered.