gunung batur sunrise hike – central bali

i decided to do this hike the second i saw my brother’s photos from his trip. it should say something that the images alone convinced me. located in central bali, gunung batur is one of several active volcanoes on the island. the hike involves a 2am wake-up call to start the hike at 4am. you arrive at the top in time to watch the sunrise, above the clouds, with a view of another volcano (of course!)

hiking in the dark you have little sense of where you are, but once you clear the clouds you literally feel like you can touch the stars. halfway through the hike there is a temple where the guides make offerings and pray (its believed by the balinese to be a holy mountain). from there you can see a trail of flashlights up ahead,  straight up the side of the volcano. no switchbacks here, its a scramble to the top.

the thing nobody mentions is that hiking up a volcano in the pitch black at 4am is slightly terrifying. the guides were holding our hands and practically dragging us up the mountain half the time (talk about an exercise in trust!) its all worth it though once you get to the top and see the view. it made me understand childbirth: you forget how horrible it is once its over. i’ve definitely never been happier to see daylight.

we took an alternate route back down and explored the different calderas and peaks of the volcano. definitely take your guide up on an offer to explore on your way down, there’s even monkey’s hanging around.

the hike takes two hours each way, with lots of breaks. we booked the trip from our hotel so they coordinated a car for us, booked our guide and took care of the fees. you can also book your own car and get a guide when you arrive at the base of the volcano, and they’ll usually have flashlights you can use. you’re kinda forced into using a guide, and after doing the hike i understand why. be sure to bring snacks, water and layers (its chilly at the top!) there are snacks and refreshments available at the top as well, and if you bring uncooked eggs the guides will cook them for you on the steam from the volcano.

this is one of those life changing experiences that is almost too incredible to explain. if ever you get this opportunity, take it (or go out of your way to make it happen!)


white water rafting – ayung river, bali

spent our last morning in bali rafting on the ayung river near ubud. its about a two hour trip down the river and there are spots to get out and swim, buy beers, sodas, coconuts. you can swim under a mini waterfall and stand under a huge waterfall. at one point there are beautiful stone carvings along a big length of river depicting the story of the ramayana. our guide said they’d been working on it for 15 years and it still isn’t finished. it wasn’t a super intense or extreme trip but definitely fun!

“a true balinese experience,” ayung river rafting
US$50 each, includes lunch, hotel pick-up/drop-off, and lunch. its mostly class 1 and 2+ rapids so a fun trip for anyone. our guide was awesome and there were even showers, changing rooms and towels at the end. (this is the river that runs at the base of the valley that alila ubud is perched atop)

padang padang beach – bukit peninsula, bali

padang padang beach is located in the south of bali on the bukit peninsula, near uluwatu. the small beach sits below a bridge, and is accessed by stairs carved into the cliff (its pretty incredible actually!) its known for surfing, but the surf is far enough out and the shore is protected by coral so the beach great for swimming. during low tide you can explore further down the beach around the rocks and into some of the fun little caves along the water.

there are several little warungs (small family owned restaurants/shops) on the beach and i had easily the best nasi goreng (fried rice) of the trip at one them. you can also get beers, jaffles (pressed sandwiches), rent beach umbrellas, surf boards, or buy a sarong.

we got lucky and missed the start of the annual rip curl surf competition by a day. overall its a peaceful beach and definitely worth checking out.

menega cafe – jimbaran bay, bali

tables on the beach. fresh seafood – you pick it, they grill it. tons of bintang. sweet or spicy grilled corn. the biggest prawns you’ve ever seen. whole grilled fish. crab. and you leave smelling like a full on bonfire.

this has been our go-to spot on the packed restaurant lined beach front. food is always good and you can call to have them book a table for a big (read: 20 people) group. and no matter how much you eat and how much bintang you drink, its still cheap!

menega cafe
jl. four seasons hotel
muaya beach, jimbaran, bali

made’s warung – seminyak, bali

this place is always packed with indonesians, which seems like a good thing to me since its an indonesian restaurant. this is my go to place for solid indonesian food when i’m in bali. i always get the nasi campur special (rice with various meats, veggies and sauces) cause i get a little taste of everything and don’t have to pick just one dish! there’s also a vegetarian nasi campur that the gf greatly enjoyed. and of course, we can’t forget a bintang on the side to help cut some of that spice!

made’s warung
jl raya seminyak / jl. raya basangkasa
seminyak, bali

alila ubud – bali

the entire hotel sits overlooking the ayung river valley, a lush tropical forest filled with birds and monkeys. the dining room and infiniti pool overlook the jungle and an ancient temple across the valley; and the monkey’s come right on over to hang out.

we pretty much stayed in a tree house. literally. our villa sat nestled in the trees at the edge of the valley, with a wrap around porch, indoor-outdoor bathroom, and canopy bed in the center of the room overlooking the jungle and volcanoes. and of course the room is equipped with your own pair of binoculars and a bali bird book!

the food is local with lots made in-house and the cocktails are fresh. start your day with a massive breakfast selection. snack on some spicy roasted cashews while you enjoy a complimentary house ice tea by the pool. grab lunch in the shady poolside dining lounge. book a private dinner for two overlooking the rice paddies.

spoil yourself with a spa treatment.  borrow hotel bikes and take a leisurely tour through the rice paddies and local villages. or book a hotel car to take you into ubud to eat, shop and admire all the local art; that is if you can tear yourself away from how incredible this place is and actually leave. i could have stayed here for a very very long time, and the gf was practically in tears when we had to check out.

alila ubud
Desa Melinggih Kelod
Payangan, Ubud, Bali

damai – lovina, bali

incredible hotel. small. very personal experience. great staff. poolside sunset bonfire. outdoor shower. four poster bed. the mountains. rice paddies. private yoga classes. welcome massage.

amazing restaurant. produce grown on site around the hotel. tasting menus. private dinner in the bale bengong (gazebo.) best tune sandwich i’ve ever had. incredible breakfast spreads. delicious cocktails.

i can’t say enough good things about this place and hope to go back one day sooner than later! everyone needs to go there!

jalan damai, kayuputihlovina
lovina, bali