Well that was quite the adventure, thanks for the great lessons and memories, Bali! Yes, we survived traveling far, far, away with a baby and I dare say at times we thrived and at other times we really were miserable. Like that time when we all had an unforgettably bad date with Bali Belly. It took us some time to find out where we belonged, to settle into vacation mode, which doesn’t look the same as pre-baby. Albeit I did manage to read a book and a half in a month, which is more than I’ve read in a year. However once we committed to changing our mind set to experiencing Bali for what it is, instead of what we wanted it to be, Bali opened up to us in unforgettable ways.
So I want to share with you an outline of what we enjoyed most from where we stayed, ate and how we got around. People are already asking me my recommendations for their Bali adventure and my hope is that this lengthy post can serve as a comfort to you on your travels, as it’s always nice to visit a place and have a friend show you the ropes.
Our first stop was in laid back Jimbaran. Situated a short cab ride from the airport yet far enough from the highly touristic Kuta and Seminyak area. The beach here is known for dining, where one can eat fresh food on the sand, mostly seafood but also corn from a cart and fresh coconuts and beer from all of the eateries. We loved relaxing on the beach, watching the sunset here and enjoying a meal in the sand.
Villa Astari– Was our first lodging accomodations after the long flight over to Bali. We booked through Agoda before arriving and made an excellent choice for under $60 a night. The villa has an Infinity pool, excellent service, breakfast, garden, quiet location and is walking distance to beaches and restaurants. Downside was that it’s in a more expensive area so fees are higher for taxis and touristy things mostly due to high season. If I came back to Bali I would start my trip here again. As you can see we were happy as toast here! 😉
After two days of relaxing in Jimbaran we were antsy to see what Bali had to show us so we moved. Looking back we wished we stayed one or two more nights easing into the adventure. Because little did we know we were headed to the ever popular Ubud.
Ubud: Not my favorite place due to being highly touristic, but good to visit for a few days. Pro is that it’s central which makes it a great home base to explore the island. It’s full of health foods, raw and vegan, and overall a melting pot of culture. Also, I was able to easily find things such as sim cards, feminine products and ukulele strings without having to look hard, convenience is very good here. The downside to Ubud is that there are so many people all over during high season, lots air pollution, traffic and haggling.
Yoga Barn– Beautiful spot for yoga classes, meditation and community events, delicious ayurvedic, raw, vegan organic food, movie nights and weekend dance sessions and buffet. We stopped by this place for breakfast nearly every day we were in Ubud. We’d hang out to use the internet and enjoy the grounds and great company. I loved the acro yoga class, we worked in groups and pretty much everyone in the class was flying by the end of the class. I left the class feeling empowered, ecstatic and light, highly recommend the experience.
Soma– Is a hip raw, vegan, organic restaurant which has energetic live music, and a nice selection of books, making it a warm and welcoming hang out spot. Especially if you perch yourself upstairs in the tree house, you might just find it hard to go anywhere else once you settle into the comfort and peace that Soma offers. Order a coconut drink and everything on the menu, trust me it’s easy to do there!
Earth– Is a quite and unexpected luxury and comfort to have access to, full of healing health foods in the middle of Bali. The store even has a raw cafe, gift shop and movie theater upstairs, showing family friendly flicks, documentaries and classics. What I love here is that the food from the cafe can be brought up to the movie theater and the cost of the food offsets the ticket price.
Kafe– This spot served excellent morning beverages, had kid friendly toys,super friendly staff and a fully delicious cafe menu with everything on it that you’d expect and hope a good cafe to have. Seating is comfortable and the place really fills up. Great spots upstairs for relaxing, reading a book and taking some time to get caught up on emails.
Bali Buda– Another great yogi spot, this place is part of a chain around Bali. However the Ubud location has a kids play area whereas other locations did not. It’s also a market to pick up those specialty health food items one just can’t live without.
Touristy things we enjoyed:
We took advantage of Ubud’s central location and took a scenic drive to the volcanoes Mount Batur & Mount Agung. We were on our way to the hot springs over looking Lake Batur. Along the drive we also passed temples and rice paddies.
Monkey Forest was a bit scary for us. The monkeys are not afraid to jump on us humans and will certainly do so if you are wearing sunglasses or carrying food. I was scared to take out my cell phone at times thinking that the monkey’s would try to grab it from my hand in the same abrupt fashion as Nova. At one point a monkey snatched a stick from Nova’s hands so Alex without pausing reacted and snatched the stick right back, well the monkey reminded him very quickly where he was at and who was in charge by snarling and showing his most fierce face. If you go to Monkey Forest I recommend not having anything on your head or in your hand and certainly being aware that if you have food they will get it.
Fashion Market can be very overwhelming and exhausting, everything you can find there you can find on the main streets in Ubud. The deals are no better and you’ll save time not getting haggled as much or pressured into a shop. I bought a few things from the main market but really couldn’t bare more than 10 minutes of it and did the rest of my shopping at the individual stands on the main streets. However, I am very happy to have experienced the market, and to have found it to be a colorful and bustling shopping experience. It might just leave you needing some spa treatments afterwards.
Sedona Spa offers affordable, quality care in a peaceful environment. Go there! We tried other places that offered services $2-3 dollars less and you really do get what you pay for. I wish I didn’t waste time trying out other places and visited Sedona sooner.
We stayed at the homestay/guesthouse of Suràs family. Sura also owns a Warung right beside the family compound. The homestay was a great option for us as we wanted to find a budget stay ($25 a night) and have a safe area for Nova to roam around. Jalan Kajeng is a charming side street with plenty of homestay options and speedy access to the rice paddies when looking to escape the crowded city vibes. We stayed here for 10 days but looking back wished we only did 3 days as the city really consumed a lot of our health and energy. If it weren’t for the excellent food options I don’t know that I’d ever revisit Ubud, it just wasn’t my speed.
We hired a local driver named Sura Baihaqi who was kind, didn’t haggle us and helped us out when we needed to take an emergency ride to the hospital in the middle of the night when Nova caught Bali Belly. We all caught Bali Belly even though we were being extra careful to not drink ice, nor brush our teeth with tap water, but we were obviously meant to get it and luckily it only lasted 24 hours for each of us. When we needed a helping hand to ensure Nova was hydrated during the vomit fest, Sura took us to the local hospitals and translated for us. I recommend Sura for all of your tour guide and taxi needs while in Bali. He’s a safe driver, speaks great English and has good taste in music. There were a few drivers that tried dropping us off at places where they’d make a commission in which we had no interest of going but Sura did not do that and we greatly appreciated his integrity. Don’t hesitate to contact him when you are there! He can be found
Sanur: ahhhh, relaxation at last! After 10 nights in Ubud it was a retreat to spend a couple of nights enjoying the great food, relaxation, big beaches, boat rides and other babies around Sanur. I would say the most family friendly and walking friendly place we’ve visited. You can rent bikes in Sanur with baby seats for a very low price. The pace and vibes are slower in Sanur a refreshing place to explore by foot or bicycle when needing a true vacation.
Kembali Lagi Guesthouse was our favorite place to stay during the whole trip. Again we booked through Agoda. It is a great value, serves a full and excellent breakfast, is furnished with beautiful style and an eye for design, super comfortable bed and extra helpful staff. We regret not having booked more nights in this place, when we tried they were fully booked. Excellent location tucked back on a side street with great art. Not far from dining, beach and shops as we walked everywhere and loved every bit of our time here.
Dusk Blue– delicious healthy meals, cafe items, refreshing drinks with a great sense of style and design. Cute gift shop inside and toys for baby to keep busy with while reading one of the many good cookbooks lying around.
Bread Basket– european style bread in Bali, go early because well, it’s bread and they close at 5.
Bali Buda– cafe and store great spot for health convenience items. Raw desserts and healthy bites. This location does not have a play area for kids.
Manik Organik– Vegan cafe offering open mic and retail, along with acupuncture and alternative medicines and body work services.
From Sanur we took a boat ride arranged by the hosts at Kembali Lagi Guesthouse on Lumbung Sugriwa Express. They boat company picked us up at our guest house and taxied us to our next location on a neighboring island.
Nusa Lembongan and Ceningan Island looking for relaxation and the feel of an even smaller island then I highly recommend checking out these two islands. They are connected so you can cross the bridge via motorbike, by foot or boat. These islands offered us the getaway we were dreaming of and the luxury without a hefty price tag. The surf spots were abundant and delicious good food was everywhere! The vibes on these islands were really mellow, simple and pleasant… we had trouble leaving this spot and kept extending our stay. By the time we did leave we felt as if we savored every bite and moment here.
The Deck– A stunning aqua blue view whilst enjoying fresh kelapa coconuts, spirulina shakes and fresh baked breads. Dream spot for a cocktail, cake, coconut or meal!
Bali Hai– Beautiful views of mushroom beach, delicious food, pizza, salads, soups, fries, not so healthy but prepared well with fresh ingredients and attention to detail for a reasonable price for quality dining. The staff were the sweetest with Nova and there are kids all around as the restaurant is connected to the outdoor pool and lounge area of the Hai Huts.
Bali Eco Deli– This place is a gem and a gift to the island. Its offerings of health and eco-conscious faire includes salads, delicious coffee drinks, shakes and smoothies along with fresh baked treats. This place really won my heart with it’s recycling program in which you can check out more of that here.
Planet Nomadas– Freshest salads, fun staff, delcious green juice and spanish tapas. The owner has some of his daughters toys around that Nova got to play with while eating there. This place offers yoga, scooters and rooms for rent, diving resources and hosts a part on Tuesday nights.
Rama Garden Retreat– Great spot for juice, smoothies and small sharing plates. They have games, books and a tv playing epic surf footage. Great place to go after spending some time at the beach. They also have a smoothie social media rewards program. Take a photo and ig it for a free smoothie. This place also has rooms for rent we didn’t stay there but they looked comfortable and conveniently located to the beach.
We stayed at Lumbung Bali Huts right on Mushroom Bay and loved our time there. Listening to the waves at night, rising to the sun over looking the ocean, and walking half of the island on a hidden passage. The place could afford to have new linens and better breakfast but overall for the budget price for a hut on the beach we really have no complaints and kept extending our stay. We enjoyed many days on the beach at Mushroom Bay and a couple of days on a secret little beach just at the next cove. There is also a beautiful sunset lookout point to the left of Mushroom Bay.
As I mentioned earlier you will find all of your favorite water recreations on this island. We mostly enjoyed riding our motorbike around and walking the islands often. The most adventurous things we did was take a motorbike all the way around the islands and discovered that Cennigan Island is the place to go to see kelp farming in action. This tiny island depends on the kelp business, as we traveled around I hopped off the scooter to learn about the process of kelp farming. I highly recommend this self guided adventure to anyone visiting the area.
Canggu-This little gem of a beach town had home like Venice vibes which is why I’m calling it Balifornia. Ironically we ran into a fellow Venitian unexpectedly when down by Echo Beach. We fell in love with all of the delicious eateries, the family guesthouse we stayed at, the mellow scooter rides to the beach and through the rice fields. This town is young and alive, bustling with healthy foodies, surfers, nightlife, art and beach babes abound.
We stayed at Bona Kubu Guesthouse a 2 minute scooter ride from Echo Beach and the deliciously healthy Beetlenut cafe (out favorite hangout and eatery). I can’t recommend this lodging accommodation enough. For the price, location, service, pool, breakfast and friendships that will undoubtably be made by staying here.
The Balinese have many worship days and for us relying solely on eating out during our time in Bali that meant a lot of unexpected days of showing up to a cafe to find a note explaining why they are closed and when they will reopen. Luckily this helped us not get into a routine and exploring many other delicious dining options in Changgu. Changgu is full of expat eateries including an impressive French Patisserie/ Boulangerie called Monseiur Spoon, in which we enjoyed many traditional favorites such as pain au chocolat, almond coissant, mousse au chocolat and unashamed to admit many more treats. They even offered charcoal activated croissants- it just doesn’t get much more Southern Californian than that.
For traditional Balinese cuisine with an Alice in wonderland meets Kundalini Yoga vibes we dined at the most charming of places called Warung Dandelion. With the crescent moon high above our heads, crickets chirping so loud one sitting by the bushes would need earplugs, bunnies frolicking under the tables, and between the many feet planted in the grass that lay beneath the tables. The bunnies entertained the children as the kids were given caggabe leaves to feed them (no babysitter necessary when you have bunnies at dinner). Kundalini music played softly amongst the candle and moonlit night. The feeling one gets here is of cafe gratitude hospitality with authentic Balinese friendliness. They even have live music on certain nights. This felt like something one would experience in a place like Topanga,CA. The food was delicious and for two drinks, two starters, two entrees and two desserts we spent a small fortune of about $20 USD.
Avocado cafe was noteworthy for a nice setting to read a book, grab a green juice and eat a light lunch.
Crate Cafe– has a Venice/Abbot Kinney vibe in which I would think the owners of the popular Gjelina were behind this spot. The food is farm fresh, beautiful and the place is bustling with beautiful people, urban seating and is a great place for people watching.
The Chill House– This relaxing spot full of good vibes offers the biggest salads in town! I also loved the green juices! We didn’t take any yoga classes here but I know they offer them. The pool has a large day bed overlooking it where you can chill out in shade, read, watch and snooze. There’s also a gong poolside for ultra relaxing vibrations should you or your baby decide to touch it.
Desa Seni– This enchanting place is an eco smurf village. I found it to be the most beautiful and relaxing spot for good food, yoga and relaxation. If I had a bigger budget I surely would have loved to stay here and likely would never want to leave. What’s great about this spot is that you don’t need to stay here to enjoy the amenities, classes and food!
Betelnut Cafe– The goodness that this place creates made me want to eat there every day I was in Canggu and guess what I did just that. There wasn’t a menu item that I didn’t love and the dessert case is just about the most tempting fridge I’ve ever come across in which I blame all of my vacation indulgence on. I got to meet the owner (Gypsy) and meet many wonderful, creative and loving patrons at the communal table. If you visit just one cafe in Canggu make it Betelnut.
Canteen– This pit stop was an excellent choice for a great lemonade and a strong iced chai tea. Cool hangout with delicious salad options.
We had a great time visiting Tanah Lot Temple. This temple is situated on a large rock in the ocean. The village surrounding the temple is full of shopping stalls and the road to Tanah Lot from Canggu is a lovely moto ride. Nova loved splashing around in puddles by the temple and we enjoyed observing the worship and offering festivities take place.
Bingin Beach– We spent a couple of hours exploring Binging Beach area and loved
Kellys Warung, The Cashew Tree and Temple Lodge. If we had made reservations in advance we certainly ould have splurged to stay a few nights at Temple Lodge and enjoy all of the beauty and surf Bingin offers.
Bali certainly wasn’t the easiest place I’ve ever traveled to. In fact it showed me a lot about myself and for those of you who follow me on my social sites such as Facebook and instagram you know a bit about the transformation and discovereies that took place. I’m grateful to have had this life experience and see the necessity of putting myself into unfamiliar situations in order to grow and see more clearly. I’ll continue chasing the sun light around this beautiful planet, just not necessarily during high season. Thanks for joining me on this journey and please let me know if you have any questions about my trip that I can answer for you in the comments below.