A Guide to Bali

After a very action-packed 10 days in Bali with my best friend Sophie (@coconutandbliss) we have come away with some incredible memories, lots of stories to tell and many tips to share.

Of course, our trip revolved around seeking out the best health food cafes, quality coffee shops, cocktail bars and day spas, and I can tell you now (spoiler alert) we found some serious winners.

We spent most of our time in Seminyak and Canggu but we did also manage to squeeze in an overnight trip to Nusa Lembongan and Nusa Ceningan.  A huge thank you to Grace from Social Luxe for helping put together this incredible adventure for us.

We hope these tips will be useful for anyone planning a trip to Bali. Please feel free to leave any comments with additional suggestions/comments!

Seminyak

Where to eat and drink

Hands down the best coffee there is in Bali. We went here almost every day for our almond milk piccolos and every day we sat there silently in pure awe. The staff were always warm and friendly which always adds to the experience. It is located right in the heart of Seminyak so there is no excuse not to pop in if you’re in the area.

Pink Room at Revolver Cafe

Best ever coffee from Revolver

A cafe with an all-day breakfast menu is always a keeper. It is rather stressful because everything on the menu sounds and looks so good. After a solid insta-stalk we opted for the smashed avo (amazing). They also have great coffee… I’m going to say second best coffee we had in Bali.

Sister fields smashed avo

Visiting Kynd Community cafe was a serious highlight for me. The pitaya smoothie bowls were delicious and the cut out mango letters spelling “Bali Vibes” and “Bali Baby” made it all the more exciting (and all the more insta-worthy).The staff were also so lovely.

 

Kynd Community

Pitaya and mango smoothie bowls

If you love a thick smoothie bowl with that ice cream-like consistency (as we do) then this is your place. The acai bowl was on point and the “Hippie Lane” peanut butter bowl was something else… The recipe is from @talinegabriel (one of my biggest insta crushes) so I knew it was going to be incred.

Pitaya bowl and “Hippe Lane” peanut butter bowl

When you’re in need of a vegan ice cream fix, there is no where quite like madpops. The peanut butter & banana is extra delicious. It is a tiny hole-in-the-wall style shop so there can be a bit of queue.

Vegan ice cream

Mama San was recommended to us many times so we knew it was going to be something special. The dumplings are an absolute must.. amongst the best I’ve ever had. The vegetarian sides are also really delicious. They tend to get very booked up so be sure to make a reservation.

Mama San

This restaurant/bar/club called us in as soon as we walked past. The decor and music creates a fun ambiance which is topped off by the great Mexican style food and delicious cocktails. At night it turns into a club but during the day it has a more chilled vibe. They do a fab chilli margarita and guacamole with homemade corn chips. Perfect for a grazing afternoon snack or light dinner.

Guacamole with homemade corn chips

This was a truly unique dining experience that we saved for the last night of our trip. We wanted to go somewhere with traditional Balinese cuisine and a good atmosphere and this certainly ticked both boxes. We shared the vegetarian tasting platter, the roasted pumpkin and the dumplings. I can’t fault anything about our experience at Bambu.

Bambu restaurant

Vegetarian platter

Sadly we didn’t get to try the savoury food at Sea Salt… however we did make it in for dessert (twice to be precise). I’m not usually tempted by dessert but if there’s one thing I can’t go past its a quality dark chocolate fondant. This one is quite small so even if you’re feeling full after your main course you should be able to squeeze it in! I clearly got a bit too excited about it because I forgot to take a photo – sorry!

Where to stay

This beautiful villa is conveniently located in the heart of Seminyak (about a 5 minute walk to Mama San restaurant and 10 mins to Revolver coffee… tick tick). It has 3 large bedrooms, a fully equipped kitchen which guests are invited to use and spacious living and dining areas… Not to mention the stunning pool.

If safety is a concern for you, you will be well taken care of at Villa Mimi with their attentive security guards out front from 7pm – 7am.

I cannot recommend this place highly enough!

Villa Mimi

Poolside

This one is for the lovers of all things luxe. Alila is a beautiful 5-star resort, located right by the main shopping/restaurant district. It has multiple pools with comfortable deck chairs and the staff are all very friendly and incredibly accomodating… They make you feel like royalty. You are also very safe here with 24 hour security.

You can also order drinks by the pool… An ideal location for a fresh coconut in the morning or an afternoon cocktail overlooking the sunset.

Make sure you check out the Alila Sea Salt restaurant, too.

Coconuts by the pool at Alila

What to do

If there’s one thing people told me to do in Bali it was to take advantage of the well priced massages… and that we did. Bodyworks is one of the best known spas in Bali so you know you are in good hands (pardon the pun).  A one hour full body massage is about $27, a mani-pedi is $30 and there is a range of other fantastic treatments. They also have a great little shop in the reception area with skincare products, jewellery, swimwear and Balinese chocolates.

Therapy was also recommended to us and it is seriously up there with one of the best massages I’ve ever had. It feels more like a day spa in Sydney in that you have to fill in consultation forms prior to your treatment (unlike others where you are just taken straight through!) so it is ideal for those who have skin sensitives or allergies. Prices are very similar to Bodyworks.

  • Seminyak shops

When we first arrived in Bali we were quite overwhelmed by the craziness of the Seminyak streets with people constantly beeping and yelling out ‘transport’, the lack of footpath, and the stray dogs everywhere… but it is amazing how quickly you adjust and become accustomed to new places. Once we had warmed up to it, we had a great time exploring the main strip of shops on Jalan Oberai. There is a diverse range of shops from expensive international designers to little boutiques and market stalls where you can haggle with the locals to bring down the prices.

Relaxing at one of the many pool day clubs is an absolute must when in Bali. With only a short amount of time we sadly couldn’t see them all but we did spend a good few hours soaking up the atmosphere at Mrs Sippy, ordering food and drinks to our beach chairs and taking a dip in the pool. The chairs are free however you are required to spend $5 per person (50,000 IDR) which is very easily done.

Mrs Sippy

Canggu

Where to eat and drink

The Lawn was a bit of a favourite of ours… so much so that we went back for 3 of the nights we were away. It has such a great atmosphere and attracts a good crowd. We recommend arriving at the Lawn early afternoon to get a spot on ‘the lawn’ where you can order cocktails overlooking the sunset (I recommend the Pomelo Margarita). There are often events on Friday nights with live music so keep your eyes peeled! If you feel like kicking on after the Lawn, head to Old Man’s, located just across the street.

The Lawn

The Lawn

Peloton Supershop is another place we loved so much that we went back 4 times in our limited time in Bali. For lunch, try the salad bowls (the falafel bowl and the “powerhouse” bowl are both insanely good). The smashed avo is also delicious (best smashed avo we had in Bali, especially if you add a side of pesto). They have an entirely vegan menu and I am confident anything you order here would be amazing.

Tabouli and falafel salad bowls (with sweet potato chips)

“Powerhouse” bowls

There is clearly no shortage of smoothie bowl cafes in Bali! Nalu bowls was high on my priority list after seeing it all over Instagram. Sadly they were out of acai when we visited but the “uluwatu” bowl and the “pipeline” bowl were both crazy delicious.

Nalu bowls

Incredible pizza, great cocktails and a fun vibe. Ticking all our boxes. Da Maria also have “Disco Sundays” which kicks off at about 10pm with live music, a dance floor and late night pizza.

This was our last breakfast in Bali and it’s safe to say it ended with a bang. I highly recommend trying the chia/nice cream parfaits… They are as delicious as they are pretty. We tried the pitaya and the blue spirulina chia and loved both. The mango smoothie bowls were also to die for… so maybe just do what we did and order everything!

Pitaya and blue spirulina chia parfaits and mango smoothie bowls

Crate cafe

Where to stay

After hearing the name of this villa I was automatically a big fan. It only got better when we walked in and saw the stunning pool with the signature hanging chair. The interiors were also beautiful with lovely bedrooms and a spacious living/dining area.

The location is slightly out of the way from the main area of Canggu but taxis are so cheap that it’s not an issue.

Ariana Grande Pool

After staying at the Jungle Room for 2 nights we became very attached to our villa (“villa mango”). We had so much space to get comfortable with 3 bedrooms, our own bathrooms, a big pool and a huge living space.

We were welcomed with fresh coconuts from the Jungle Room Juice Bar (breakfast is also included with a delicious superfood menu).  Daily yoga at 9am is also included in your stay.

Jungle Room juice bar

Villa Mango outdoor bathroom

Sophie’s room at Villa Mango

Villa Mango at Jungle Room

Nusa Ceningan / Nusa Lembongan

Before arriving in Nusa Ceningan, I don’t think either of us knew quite what to expect… It is very underdeveloped (when compared with Seminyak) so if you are looking for a true cultural experience then it is definitely worth a visit.

Nusa Lembongan

A few practical notes for anyone planning to visit Nusa Cenigan/Nusa Lembongan…
  • Nusa Lembongan is an island approx. 40 minutes by boat from Sanur (Sanur is approx. a 1 hour drive from Seminyak).
  • We used Scoot fast cruise service. Check the online schedule to find out what times the boat is departing. From there you get a car to the notorious yellow bridge (which collapsed in 2016). This bridge connects Nusa Lembongan and Nusa Ceningan.
  • If you’re staying in Nusa Ceningan you will need to cross the bridge. From there you should be able to find transport to your accomodation. We struggled because we hadn’t pre arranged transport so I would recommend contacting your hotel in advance so they can assist you.
  • The best way to get around is to rent a motorbike. This is the most common mode of transport on the island. We got around by foot which I would NOT recommend. At night there are no street lights, there is no footpath and we were confronted by some aggressive wild dogs… Luckily we were rescued by a local lady who let the two of us jump on the back of her scooter while she sped off quite literally ‘barking’ at the dogs to get them to back off… Makes for a good story but probably best avoided!
  • Bring insect repellant…. lots of mosquitos.
  • There is not a lot to do so you don’t need to spend very long here, I think 1 or 2 nights is enough. The water is absolutely beautiful though and there are some incredible snorkelling spots.

Yellow Bridge

Where to eat and drink

Sandy Bay Beach Club is a restaurant in Nusa Lembongan which has good food and a great ambiance. It is located right on the water. From what we have been told and from what we saw, this is one of the most happening places on the island.

Sandy Bay Beach Club

Also in Nusa Lembongan, The Deck is a great spot for any meal of the day (make sure you bring your camera because the smoothie bowls and the beach setting makes for a very insta-worthy snap!)

Where to stay

We stayed in a “beach box” room at Le Pirate which has a beautiful outlook onto the water… but is quite literally a box, as the name suggests. So much so that we couldn’t open our suitcases (best options were to open them in the outdoor bathroom or on the bed!)

It has a very cool vibe, a beautiful pool and a great cocktail bar which adds up to a fun time… Just don’t expect anything too flash.

Le Pirate Pool

Restaurant at Le Pirate

“Beach box”

What to do

  • Visit Sandy Beach

Seriously blue waters!

  • Day trip to Nusa Penida (if you’re staying for an extended period of time)

There are lots of beautiful beaches to see in Nusa Penida. Don’t miss Broken Beach and Kelingking beach which has an incredible lookout.

  • Chill at Le Pirate

While there is always lots to do and see while travelling, sometimes it is nice to just sit back by the pool, order a drink and soak up some sunshine. Le Pirate has a really cool cocktail bar right by the pool so we had to factor in some chill time.

Sunset at Le Pirate

A few tips for getting around in Bali 

  • Getting taxis in Bali is very cheap – a ride across town is about $3 (although the price will depend on your negotiating skills!) Make sure you set a price before getting in the taxi to avoid paying too much, or alternatively you can request for the meter to be used.
  • If you feel comfortable I would suggest getting a motor bike. They can be dangerous so be wary but they are by far the most common and most convenient way of getting around, especially at night when it can be difficult to find a taxi.