White sand beaches, bright green rice paddies, stellar surf, amazing food and really strong coffee. Sound too good to be true? Well then, you must be in Bali. My husband (ooh, fun to call him that) and I planned a trip to Bali for our honeymoon. Two weeks touring the island, a few locations on the agenda, and some extra days thrown in to follow the surf. We started our travels at the Ritz-Carlton in Jimbaran. I know, a little splashy, but after a twenty hour flight, we just wanted to crash into a fluffy white bed. Plus, it was close to Uluwatu, and we were curious to check out the world renowned spot.
After we recuperated from our travel, we hired a driver from the Ritz to take us out for a surf adventure. When we got to the car, our boards were already loaded. Sweet! We headed to Dreamlands, which sounded somewhat manageable in the guide books, and was apparently easier to get to for the driver. It was a beautiful place, white, white sand and turquoise water. However, that day it was mostly shore break, which always freaks me out. I wasn’t ready to break my board, or my neck, my first day, so mostly I just paddled around. When we got out our driver was ready with cool hand towels to wipe ourselves down and helped load our boards back in the car (oh, I absolutely love the Ritz). After our surf, we headed out to visit the Uluwatu temple magically perched on a hill, with adorable (and slightly threatening) monkeys all around. We also drove to look at the break at Uluwatu, we knew at that time of year the winds weren’t ideal, but it looked amazing, if not totally intimidating.
After a few more blissful days at the Ritz, we boarded a boat to the little island just off of the southeast coast of Bali, called Nusa Lembongan. Now I am not a huge boat person, so let me set the stage for you.There were probably twenty of us on a too small fishing boat. Luckily, my husband and I got a real seat, everyone else was on plastic lawn chairs in the back. As soon as we got out of the harbor, we hit wake so we were crashing and bouncing. I had to close my eyes, grip my husband’s hand, and take myself to a very happy place. We had heard good things about the surf in Nusa and were recommended to a little bungalow by a friend. Thirty minutes later, we had made the open ocean trek and we checked in to our hotel. Although it was a little rustic, especially coming from the Ritz, with no air conditioning, and only cold saltwater in the pipes, it was still adorable. It wasn’t until that night when I realized that you need air-conditioning to keep the mosquitoes away while you sleep, that I realized I am no longer a budget traveler, but we were only there for two nights. The next day, the manager took us out on the boat around to the other side of the island. We were in this great double outrigger, and it was all hunky-dory until we hit huge wake (again), and when he showed us the surf spot, totally gnarly, with spitting waves, I realized there was no way I could handle it — and there was also no way I was waiting on the boat, bobbing up and down in the killer swells. Luckily, everyone was game to head back around the island to a place that sounded much more my speed, Playgrounds. Turns out Playgrounds was great. It is even slightly challenging and more so on a bigger swell so all of us had fun. After our two nights in Nusa so we took the terrifying boat back and headed to Ubud.
Now there are no waves in Ubud, as it is in the hills of Bali, but it turned out to be one of my favorite places. We took a five mile walk into the rice paddies that was one of the best experiences I have ever had. We ended up staying for four more nights in Ubud and then went back to Nusa Lembongan for more surf, this time we took the public boat, slower and very crowded, but much calmer, and checked into a fancier hotel with air-conditioning! After a few more great surf sessions, and a New Year’s celebration that involved kicking a flaming coconut (I kid you not!), we headed for our final destination, Canguu. A friend who also honeymooned in Bali recommended an exie hotel, the Tugu, and let me tell you, it was one of the most beautiful hotels I have ever stayed in. Plus, we were right on the beach. It was mostly messy wind-swell, but it didn’t matter because all you wanted to do was stay in your magnificent room with the fan on eating from the tropical fruit basket!
We had a wonderful but exhausting trip. I could go on and on about the food, and the people, and the adventures we had, but I will leave those tales for another time.
Wish you were here,