Around a million Australians are now holidaying in Bali every year. From tranquil forest havens to raving beach hotspots, this hugely popular destination offers a range of environments and activities to suit a variety of tastes – and it's extremely soft on the wallet.
One of our favourite photographers/Instagrammers, Jewels Lynch (aka @Jewelszee), recently explored Bali with her two daughters, capturing a whole range of experiences through the lens of her camera. Her trip was filled with delight and wonderment and we asked her share her favourite moments.
Was this your first time in Bali?
In 2012 I visited Bali for the first time with my partner, so this was my second visit. This time I went with my two teenage daughters and it was their very first time overseas. I thought it was a beautiful, affordable and easy introduction to their first time travelling to another country. We all love adventure but, as teenagers do, I knew my girls would also like a lot of pool side tanning time with not much else on the agenda. I figured Bali would give us a great balance of both relaxing and exploring.
Did anything take you by surprise or was anything different to what you expected?
To be honest, our accommodation at both Peppers Sentosa in Seminyak and Sofitel Bali in Nusa Dua really took us by surprise. Both were beautiful beyond what we had expected and quite different to each other, which was really nice. We loved every minute of both and I would recommend either.
Tell us about Uluwatu temple and beach.
Uluwatu Temple is high on my list of 'must sees' while holidaying Bali. It's such a beautiful location and the energy there exudes Balinese culture and history.
If you can go at sunset, even better. We witnessed a beautiful sun setting on the ocean's horizon, with cheeky monkeys scampering all around us! Unfortunately, due to the weather (there was quite a lot of rain being the wet season) we didn't get to enjoy much beach time, but there are really beautiful beaches around Uluwatu.
Luckily we did manage a very brief visit to Finns Beach Club and even in the rainy weather it was still such a great place to hang out and drink fruity mocktails for an afternoon.
How was Pura Tanah Lot different to Uluwatu temple?
Each of the temples in Bali, whether by the sea or on land, all have their own sense of place and aesthetic. Pura Tanah Lot and Pura Uluwatu are both important sea temples built, I believe, in the 16th century to protect the island from evil spirits. Both, however, are really different geographically and in appearance, and offer different experiences. I wasn't going to miss seeing either of them on this trip, that's for sure!
Tell us about Ubud. What did you enjoy there?
Ubud is one of my favourite places in Bali. I know, I know, a lot of people say this, but not many can articulate exactly why. There is just a certain vibe in Ubud that feels like, what I would say is, 'old Bali' or 'real Bali'. Does that make sense? It's so lush and so high in the hills, this is where I truly felt like I was in another world!
Aside from the amazingly lush landscape and more traditional style village dwellings, and the famous or should I say infamous cheeky monkeys of the Monkey Forest, there are also some really fantastic warungs (eating dwellings like cafes) and um...wow!
The spas and retreats up there are to die for. We were lucky enough to visit Hanging Gardens Villas for the day, even though we didn't stay (although next time I will for sure) and have a frolic in that world famous pool. When I saw it on Instagram in someone else's gallery, I knew I had to see it with my own eyes! My daughters absolutely fell in love. I had to bribe them with deep fried bananas to lure them out. Haha!
What was your favourite beach experience in Bali?
Oh geez 'a favourite' anything is always a question I find impossible to answer. I love everything! If I have to choose one though, I'd have to go with the sunset on Kuta Beach, or sunrise on Nusa Dua Beach. I'm a serious sunrise/sunset junky, I just can't choose one!
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Of all the activities you did, which was your favourite?
I can never go past snorkelling. Nusa Lembongan did not disappoint either! That little island offered up pretty much the best snorkelling day I've ever had. The clarity of the water was absolutely incredible and the colours in the coral and the marine life were like nothing I've ever seen before.
We had a great day organised for us by Tania at The Lembongan Traveller, cruising around the island in a colourful spider boat with Captain Wayan, who was such a beautiful soul, stopping at all the best snorkelling spots and just floating down shore with the currents.
All day long we were told that the weather had turned perfect just for our visit. As soon as we headed back at the end of the day, the storms rolled in again!
What are five words you would use to describe Bali?
Fun, vibrant, friendly, authentic and magical.
What wildlife did you come across?
I like to see animals in their own natural habitat and those darned cheeky monkeys in Ubud and around the sea temples just drive me crazy (in the best way) with their naughty antics and human like behaviour! They were really taken with my youngest daughter, I'm sure she was a monkey in a past life. Haha! There is also great birdlife over there, the marine life we saw snorkelling was spectacular and those curious luwaks that make a great coffee!
How does Bali compare to or with Australia?
Bali offers a sense of cultural authenticity that isn't found in Australia, unless you visit certain areas where the indigenous culture is present and respected. Obviously affordability is something to compare also as really nothing beats Bali for a cheap holiday!
Describe the flavours of Bali – were there any dishes that stood out?
Mmmm deliciously spicy and full of flavour! I love the traditional Balinese foods and while there are so many amazing dining experiences in Bali now, I prefer to eat at the more authentic Bali warungs, particularly the classic Nasi Goreng, Babi Guling and Ayam Betutu.
Other dining that stood out the most though would be the seafood at Jimbaran and, for something completely decadent, the world famous brunch a la Francais at Sofitel Bali in Nusa Dua, rated by NY Conde Nast Traveller magazine as one of the top 10 brunches in the world.
Who would you recommend Bali to?
Honestly, I'd pretty much recommend Bali to everyone. It all depends on what kind of experience you want. Maybe not my grandparents, they are in there 80s though, but I think Bali makes a great destination for families wanting an affordable fun filled holiday, couples wanting a romantic rainforest or beach hideaway, adventure seekers wanting to climb volcanos at sunrise and those just wanting to zone out by a pool and forget about the rest of the world for a while.