It was in Bali while sitting by the pool with a vodka tonic and a lime (50 cents for a good-sized bag of limes) that I read Melbourne was so cold that day you might as well be sitting in your fridge. It was a great line and a sobering reminder of why we had come to Bali for a two-week escape.
The challenge of Bali these days is trying to do everything you want to do in limited time, so you need to organise carefully, especially booking into the hot restaurants. Or, on the other hand, just arrive and do nothing. Both plans work.
Flights from Melbourne to Bali take about six hours, 15 minutes. Getting to Melbourne Airport will get a lot easier thanks to the new SkyBus StKilda Express – a direct service connecting Tullamarine Airport with St Kilda.
SkyBus’ modern, WiFi-equipped buses will run 365 days a year, with services averaging every 30 minutes on weekdays. Single tickets cost $19 and can be purchased online at skybus.com.au/stkildaexpress
Alila Seminyak Bali
- Jl Taman Ganesha No. 9, Petitenget
The Alila Seminyak is a luxurious five-star newcomer on the Petitenget scene. It’s a brilliant location on the beach between the Seminyak strip around the W Hotel and the action-packed area in the other direction around Motel Mexicola and now legendary Sisterfields cafe. You’re walking to all of that.
The Alila is also a short walk to restaurants La Lucciola – with that view, still one of the best places for breakfast on the island – and elegant Petitenget. And it’s a short trot along the beach down to beach club Potato Head.
The Alila is top-end accommodation with stylish rooms, many with sea views. Rooms are superbly and subtly appointed and staff go out of their way to help.
The hotel has three pools or there’s the beach. The Restaurant at Alila offers great dining and The Beach Bar is a perfect place to sit with lunch or a drink and watch the waves.
As anyone who’s visited Bali recently knows, the island has become a food mecca. Our “discovery” on this trip was this superb place in Canggu, about 30 minutes’ drive from Seminyak, which puts a modern spin on Japanese food.
Just a couple of hundred metres from Finn’s Beach Club, One Eyed Jack is a cool, stylish diner with an enticing menu including crisp soft-shell crab sliders, pork belly, tuna/salmon tacos, miso black cod and quail egg.
We also did what any self-respecting Australian traveller is doing and visited Frank Camorra’s newest Movida in Seminyak (great), Sarong (satisfying as ever), Saigon Street Bali (endlessly good food in a vibey atmosphere), and Mamasan (never fails to turn on a great night).
Canggu, a half-hour drive from Seminyak, is Bali’s new hot spot and there are some fun things to do apart from surfing the several breaks along this stretch – much easier surf for beginners to intermediate than the breaks on the Bukit, such as Bingin and Balangan, which are awesome for more experienced surfers.
I rented one of the many quality Malibu boards on offer for $10. It’s crowded but fun.
Uluwatu, where the world’s best surfers tackle awesome breaks, is an easy day trip from Seminyak. Watch in awe from the warungs that spill down the cliffside.
Grab a beanbag on the sand and have a drink or dinner at Finn’s Beach Club, Canggu, while you watch the surfers. It’s cool and laid-back and a DJ pumps out some chilled tunes as you enjoy pre-dinner drinks and nibbles. There’s also night surfing under floodlights.
Have a beer at Old Man’s (Jl Batu Bolong Beach) at Canggu. Full of surfers and backpackers learning to surf, it has a relaxed vibe with unpretentious food and cool tunes at night.
Motel Mexicola, in Seminyak, is more a party than a restaurant. The food is just OK but the vibe – it’s a garishly decorated, supercharged outdoor Mexican cantina not afraid to play Tijuana Brass – is fun. It’s at Jl Kayu Jati No. 9.
Consider a day at the Waterbom park in Kuta. It has mellow, moderate and extreme rides and slides – the kids loved it.
Bad weather? Try Amo Spa (Jl Petitenget No. 100X, Seminyak) for the best mani-pedi or facial in Bali.