We just spent two weeks in Bali and overall enjoyed it but probably wouldn’t work hard to come back. The people are lovely; kind, gentle and very talented musicians and artists. The culture is interesting and the temples and architecture fascinating. I had higher hopes for the beaches, which were pretty, but nothing amazing. The reef sits just off shore and that was neat to see as the waves crash out there encircling Bali. Reminded me of the desert island books where they can never get across the reef in rafts!
We stayed in Sanur, which is on the south east coast and the “sleepy” side of Bali.
I am so glad we did, as trips to the hectic west side of Kuta and Semanyak were unpleasant. Packed beaches, people pushing you to buy their wares, and far too many westerners. Jake and Ben went to Kuta for one evening and were actually shocked by the amount of drugs that everyone tried to sell them. Pills of all kinds, weed, mushrooms – all openly displayed and pushy taxi drivers/bartenders/servers and of course the general public on the street trying to coerce them into buying. This happened even with police sitting on motorcycles clearly watching and not caring. So much for the “drugs carry a death penalty” notices that you get when entering the country!
We had also toyed with staying in Ubud, which is inland and known for the arts. But I sensed it was a little too “precious” as this was the town featured in Eat, Pray, Love. And sure enough, a visit there provided support for this. There were way too many westerners in search of Zen-like experiences or alternative healing. Streets were so crowded you couldn’t walk well.
But Sanur was just right. We had a hotel across the street from the beach, which meant a 5 minute walk. The main road is filled with restaurants and small shops and bars so we had plenty to do and eat. On the beach there are multiple water sports available and we did jet ski once. But it wasn’t the best as the water is quite shallow inside the reef break and was a bit nerve wracking seeing rocks and coral reef clearly visible from a jet ski.
Lounge chairs under umbrellas are available to rent and cost $2.50 per day complete with a towel. They also have drinks and food for sale at many. We found one nice guy and stuck with his area. He had worked on cruise ships out of the US for 10 years so was interesting to chat to.
Good restaurants were plentiful but most have very similar offerings of Indonesian highlights then some pasta, pizza, burgers, and various grilled fish and meats. One of the best is The Three Monkeys, which used local foods in more creative and new ways. Two of our best meals were there.