Destination Guide: Southern Bali
Where does a couple go for their honeymoon when her idea of bliss is having delectable five-star spa treatments each and every day while he needs to surf to stay sane? Heading to a luxurious Balinese resort will keep both parties happy, with an abundance of world-class spas and surfing found in this magical part of the world known as Island of the Gods plus the bonus of superb dining, spiritual adventures, perfect weather and the kindest people on the planet.
Where to go
Well away from Indonesia’s nightclubbing district of Kuta the serene south-western corner of Bali, in either Jimbaran Bay or around Uluwatu, has beautiful five-star resorts built to cater to your every need and make you feel like the most special couple in the world (and let’s face it right now you are!). Similarly a resort on a South-eastern island such as Nusa Lembongan takes you away from any hustle and bustle, instantly bringing a sense of calm and relaxation that can take weeks, even months, to achieve elsewhere.
What to do
Couples treatments at the resort spas such as Ayana Resort’s Thermes Marins Bali Spa (which recently won the 2010 Conde Nast Traveller Reader Spa Awards and boasts the world’s largest Aquatonic Seawater Therapy Pool) are a must. Try the Blissful Love Package or head to their secluded Spa On The Rocks treatment villas for a Diamond Miracle treatment which includes a rose bath using petals from 500 red roses and comes complete with plates of strawberries and chilled champagne.
Among those to book in at Lulur Spa at Batu Karang Lembongan Resort are the body treatments using the seaweed farmed around the island – hailed for its rejuvenating qualities – and hair treatments which are perfect for reviving hair that’s taken on the stresses of the wedding day.
For those that want to surf, Uluwatu is a legendary surf spot but there are many more breaks along the coast. If you want to do it in style have your resort book a car and driver who will know all the best surf spots and be able to take you both on mini-day trips – plus meet you with towels and bottled water once you’ve finished.
Lembongan has three surf breaks – two of which are best reached with a five minute ride by one of the ‘water taxi’ boats which are always at the ready. These multi-tasking boats will also take you on tours of the island and its neighbours and give you some of the best snorkelling experiences you are ever likely to have – ask to be taken to Mangroves, Wall or Crystal Bay. Scuba diving can also be arranged.
Take a spiritual adventure to a temple to appreciate the heritage of the Balinese people. In Southern Bali the most breathtaking is Pura Luhur Uluwatu which is built on the edge of a dramatic 300-foot high cliff and has its own population of cheeky monkeys running around (they are known for their snatch and grab techniques so be sure to remove sunglasses, jewellery etc). Watch the Kecak and Fire Dance, which is accompanied by a choir of seventy men and tells the story of a beautiful princess kidnapped and later saved thanks to the assistance of an army of monkeys. Sunset is an amazing time to visit this spot.
Be sure to allocate time for just lying around the pool or on the beach too. Batu Karang has a ‘pool bar’ that works well here thanks to your chilled out mood. Similarly the five swimming pools and secluded Kubu beach at Ayana Resort are convenient options.
Where to stay
Ayana Resort (view gallery of images) seems to have been made for couples in love. Ask for an Ocean or Cliff Villa at Ayana Resort – each has an 11-metre plunge pool plus a relaxation gazebo (a great spot for room-service to be delivered), 24-hour on-call butler service (you are handed a mobile phone that allows you to reach them from wherever you are for assistance) and golf buggy transport around the resort plus complimentary breakfast at Dava restaurant where the staff take great pride in spoiling you with delicious treats. Ask the resort to arrange transfers from the airport – you’ll be feeling like royalty from the moment they greet you at the airport.
Batu Karang Lembongan Resort (view gallery of images) is owned by an Australian family who have gone to every length to maintain the highest quality of food and service on what is a very small, secluded island. Winning features include villas with outside showers and bath with views of the ocean and the knowledge that it’s an eco-friendly resort with its own desalination plant and even a non-chlorine pool thanks to advanced technology (your hair will be happy). A boutique sized resort, there is one honeymoon suite which needs to be booked at least 3-6 months in advance. Travel to the island is via boat from Sanur – be sure to book the fast boats; both Scoot and Fast Cruises are recommended (the resort will help you to organise transfers if requested).
The Knot also recommends Bulgari Resort which is near Pecatu and the Uluwatu Temple.
Where to eat
Ayana Resort will set up special ‘Romantic Dinner Experiences’, ocean-front tables for two with your own personal chef, surrounding candles and a love serenade that is perfect for honeymooners. The Rock Bar offers cocktails and light food and is great for sunset drinks, after which head to Kisik Bar and Grill for the freshest seafood with tables on the sand (be ready to slip your heels off).
Muntigs Bar and Restaurant at Batu Karang is the spot for breakfast, lunch and dinner – their Indonesian Banquet requires 24-hours notice and is worth the wait. Also have reception book you into the newly opened Indiana Kenanga restaurant on the island – you’ll be picked up by the cutest Balinese girls on scooters and the French chefs, who have worked in some of the world’s best five star restaurants, have created a wonderful combination of French cuisine with local produce. Foodies will be in heaven here. http://www.indiana-kenanga-villas.com/
Destination Weddings: Both locations are popular for their destination wedding facilities as and such are well prepared for looking after the bride, groom and guests’ needs. The Ayana Villa (Presidential Suite) is something seriously special if you can afford the best.
Before You Go: Need-to-know info
Entry requirements: Passport with more than six months validity and full blank page, plus a return ticket
Language: Bahasa Bali, Bahasa Indonesian, English
Currency: Indonesian Rupiah (IDR)
Flight time: 6.5 hours from Sydney and 4 from Perth if flying direct
Getting around: Taxi, bemo (minibus), rental car (keep left!), motorcycle, bikes
When To Go: Bali at its best
Best weather: April and May, September, October and November
Best prices: Rates are fairly consistent year-round
Festival highlights: The Balinese follow two local calendars, the Hindu saka and wuku. The 10-day Galungan Festival in July, during which mythical lion-dog creatures scamper from temple to temple, is the highlight of the wuku year. Nyepi, a day of silence when the island closes down in fear of evil spirits flying in from the sea, is the saka calendar’s New Year’s Eve and falls on the vernal equinox. Independence Day is celebrated on August 17, with sports events and cultural performances.