With numerous world class beaches, a varied landscape of hills, mountains and lush green rice terraces, a colorful, spiritual and unique culture, Bali is the perfect holiday setting. Add to that some truly amazing resorts and holiday villas and you have a paradise for the luxury traveler. Below are 5 things that should be on any Bali itinerary.
Spa and massage
Bali is a spa loverís paradise. No matter where you stay in Bali you donít have to look far to find a place where you can get a spa and massage treatment. Some of the more classy places youíll find in the Seminyak and Ubud area. Stepping in to one of those is like stepping into an elegant world of peace and quiet ensuring you are relaxed even before your treatment begins.
Spa treatments come in many colors and flavors Ė just take your pick. Chocolate is a natural aphrodisiac and provide nourishment for the skin. Avocado is a rich source of vitamins, minerals and natural oil while milk of honey reduces wrinkles and prevents dryness of the skin.
A round of golf
Bali offers some great golfing opportunities. The most famous course being the Greg Norman designed Nirwana Bali Golf Club that rates among Asiaís very best golf courses. The Nirwana course takes you through green rice terraces and tests your accuracy as you drive along rugged cliffs leading down to the Indian Ocean.
The Nirwana isnít the only great golf course in Bali though. New Kuta Golf Club, situated on the limestone cliffs of the western part of the Bukit peninsula overlooking the famous dreamland beach, provide golfers with equally spectacular views of the Indian Ocean and its dramatic sunsets. On the opposite side of the Bukit peninsula, at the Bali Golf and Country Club you can play a round that takes you through rainforest, giant coconut groves with view of the oceans and Baliís largest mountain Ė the volcano Mt. Agung in the background. At the time of writing Bali Golf and Country Club is undertaking a major renovation and is expected to open early in 2013.
No holiday is complete without a good dining experience and Baliís culinary scene has evolved within the last decade offering something for everyone.
If you are looking for traditional local specialties, Babi Guling (suckling pig) and Bebek Betutu (roast duck in banana leafs) can be absolutely mouthwatering prepared right. Local, but far from traditional, chef Plasmeijer at the Plantation restaurant in Ubud only uses local ingredient in his creative dishes. Ubud is also the place where you find Baliís most awarded restaurant, Mozaic that serves several tasting menus.
Seminyak is another hotspot for good restaurants and bars with legendary Ku De Ta among the top spots for enjoying a drink while the sun is setting into the ocean. Another great sunset and drink venue is the glamorous Rock Bar, that sits on a rock 14 meters above the ocean in the Jimbaran Bay. If wine is your favorite drink, Sip wine bar in Kuta is where you find the best selection of grapes in Bali.
Luxury traveler or not Ė a visit to Tanah Lot, Baliís signature temple should be on any Bali travelers itinerary. The temple is situated off shore on a small rock making it accessible only when the tide is low. The temple that dates back to the 15th Century is probably the most photographed site in Bali. Especially in the late afternoon around sunset when the temple is bathed in orange light, youíll be given the opportunity to take home a postcard perfect shot of Tanah Lot. The photo opportunity comes with a price though, as the site, especially in high season, can get very crowded in the late afternoon, so it is worth considering visiting Tanah Lot early in the day.
Diving and snorkeling
Baliís pristine waters have some spectacular underwater life and plenty of operators that will take you exploring Baliís many dive sites.
The 120-meter long Liberty wreck Ė a Second World War transporter – located off the coast at Tulamben is Baliís most well-known dive site. The wreck is placed on a 90 degree angle from the beach. The end of the wreck closest to the beach rest at a depth of 3 meters making it accessible even for snorkelers, while the other end of the wreck lays at a depth of 30 meters, a depth only reachable for experienced divers.
Other famous sites are Padang Bay, Lembongan Island, Nusa Penida and Menjagan where you can dive with unique sea creatures like pygmy seahorses, reef sharks, sunfish, frogfish and bumphead parrotfish.
Stefan Russel is Co-Founder of Vilondo.