After a 24 hour flight across the world, we finally landed in Bali, one of over 17,000 Indonesian Islands. We stepped outside and my shirt clung to my warm skin as sweat slowly dripped down my spine. We crammed 4 large suitcases into a small cab and made our way southwest towards Uluwatu. Uluwatu, derived from two words “Ulu” meaning “Lands End” and “Watu” meaning “Rock.”
For 30 minutes, we gazed out the window admiring and observing a completely new culture. Clusters of scooters sped past us on each side and rode off into the night. Our cab abruptly took a turn down a windy 8’ wide dirt road, leading us to the edge of a cliff. It was hard to see anything but the sound of the waves hitting the shore as the moonlight sparkled off the water. Our flashlights lit up the pathway as we lugged our heavy bags down over a hundred steps that were carved into the cliffs. After navigating a maze of stairs we then climbed up a ladder that led to our rooms. We were unaware of what the view would be in the morning, but we could sense that this was the beginning of a beautiful adventure.
The sun sparkled through the foggy glass doors, condensation from the heat and humidity filled all the mirrors and windows in the room. We opened the linens that softly draped over our bed to find lush greenery, cliffs, rocks and crystal blue sea. Locals were digging in the sand for clams and fishing for their dinner. Surfers were climbing over rocks and paddling out to find the perfect barrels of waves far in the distance.
Hot and humid, I could feel my hair frizz up but it didn’t matter. I put on my lightest linen shirt, grabbed my Turkish towel and sun hat and made my way down to heaven. Natural paved steps imperfectly carved into the cliffs were hot and bleached from the beaming sun leading us to a modest salt sprayed beach where hammocks overlooked the water and palm trees blew in the soft breeze. Salty air and sun beamed down instantly putting us into island mode with no worries in the world. We ate local fresh fruits, drunk Bintangs and fresh coconut water, and passed time diving into the crystal blue water, collecting sea shells.
One Sunday we made our way to a private beach club nestled at the bottom of a cliff (and a lot of stairs) where the shore was crystal blue. We baked in the sun laying on bean bags chairs, drinking cocktails. We notified the waiters we wanted another drink or more food by holding up a flag. After getting massages in a small hut while hearing the ocean waves softly lap the shoreline, the rest of the day was spent going back and forth in the ocean. As the sun began to set we followed the last light into a cove where we collected shell and coral treasures. A drink in one hand and a shell in the other, we dipped into the water as the day came to a close.
45 minutes north of Uluwatu is Canguu, another surf town but more bustling than Uluwatu. Black sand covers the beaches, dogs roam around and streets are filled with endless cafe’s, restaurants and shops.
As the sky turned gold we would walk along the beach to La Brisa. Just moments down the beach we found a jungle pathway where lights sparkled between the palm trees, making a perfect golden hour. It quickly became our favorite place to grab drinks, small bites and to listen to the water crash along the shore as the surfers flocked towards the waves and the sun set on the Indian ocean.
Driving into the center of the island the landscape gets more lush and green, the temperature drops and you find yourself in the jungle. A symphony of insects, birds and roosters awoke us each morning and led us into our Airbnb yard where the lush jungle and tropical flowers rustled in a gust of hot and humid breeze. Our days started bright and early but time went slow and so did we. There was no reason to rush or pack everything in. We wanted to relax and simply let our senses be overloaded.
From lush jungle to mountain peaks, from monkey filled trees to bustling streets, Ubud has it all. As we drove through the winding roads, with packs of people on scooters zooming pass us there was a constant soundtrack of beeps and horns bothering no one. We would walk past local farmers picking rice in green terraced fields, and then pass by beautifully elaborate temples and doorways, all the while dogs roamed the streets befriending other wandering dogs.
Hiking Mt. Batur
Our morning started way before sunrise. The sky was dark and we were half asleep as we began to hike into the jungle towards Mt. Batur. A trail of flashlights lit up the mountain into the sky. Our breaths were getting heavier and our hearts were racing. As time went on and we had a moment to take our eyes off of the ground, we saw the sun begin to awake over the mountains. Pink and gold painted the sky and suddenly we were above a blanket of blush toned clouds. Upon reaching the summit a modest little shack with a group of local friends offered us some snacks, fresh coffee and tea. A deep sense of excitement & fulfillment overwhelmed us. As the sun rose over the peaks, we sipped on iced coffee served to us by our mountain guide in glassware on a silver tray. I wish moments like this could last forever, but this view is instilled in my mind forever.
Other Notable Experiences
Milk and Madu, Ubud
Uluwatu Surf Villas
The Slow, Canggu
Kinoa Cafe (Handmade Vegetabe Leather Bags)
Haze and Glory
Yoli and Otis
Swim at Sunset
Tour Gaya Ceramics
Take a Surf Lesson