We get it. Planning your Vacation to Bali can be overwhelming. I remember the very first time trying to work out where on earth to stay on the island and why everyone was telling me the same areas to stay in, knowing that there must be more to Bali than ‘Legian, Kuta, Seminyak & Ubud’! And that there is my friends…
The island of Bali might be small (Around 150km x 120km in size) but it sure is diverse! You can holiday any which way you like it from Jungle trips to all night parties, cliff top Michelin Star dining to $1 street food delights. White water rafting, Scootering through lush Jungle, Visiting Ancient old temples & learning about the Balinese Hindu Culture, visiting Guru healers, Tropical Island Hopping, Surf trips, Endless Shopping for all budgets, Day Spas, Beach Clubs, Black Sand Beaches, White Sand Beaches… Whatever type of Holiday you are after… I’m almost certain there’s a version of it waiting for you in Bali.
It’s just trying to work out where & what that looks like right?!
To help make planning your trip to the tropical island of Bali 92% easier, I have put together a little list of some of my favourites spots to stay on the island, their Pro’s & Con’s and what makes each place amazing. From here, you can decide what sounds right up your alley and plan your own trip to the magical island of Bali! (This is by no means a complete list of every location on the island but it sure ticks a few of the ‘hot-spots’ that I personally have discovered and loved in my 10 years on the island).
So grab your Pen & paper, it’s time to start planning friends!
Perfect For:Those who love Beach Clubs (there’s a few to choose from along the beach including Ku De Ta, Potato Head, Cafe Del Mar, The W Hotel & Bar) Shopping, and the Hustle & Bustle… Seminyak was the hip spot 5 years ago but is slowing down now as people and the action heads slightly north to Canggu. It’s still a good spot to visit if you like to be in the action. There are a few family friendly activities here such as the Escape Room / Paddle tennis etc that teenagers might like more so than shopping!
Pros: Delicious food, some great shopping spots, Footpaths (Yep, it’s a luxury!)
Cons:Hard to access the beach! Can be very busy with traffic when it’s peak season. We suggest walking places if you can & /or choosing a scooter over a taxi!
BERAWA, CANGGU (Canggu is the larger Suburb, Berawa is 1 half of it):
Perfect For:Families, and those looking for a mix of it all. Berawa has some shopping, great food (Mosto, Synkonah, Nude Cafe, Ruko, Neighbourhood, L’Osteria, Riviera, Sababa) home to the hectic Finns club which has a Waterpark, Tenpin bowling, a Beach club for those more into the ‘Package’ scene.
Pros: The Bakery scene in Berawa is next level! (Top 5 = Farine, BAKED, Butterman, 7 Islands and Gron.) Every afternoon you will find local street carts surrounding the Soccer field which is a great place to get acquainted with the local cuisine! Berawa also houses Milk & Madu Cafe which is an old school classic cafe (Open for all meals) that is kid friendly with a playground and serves great Western-style food + coffee (They also have Free face painting and live Music on Saturdays!) Finns Beach Club… if you’re into spending your day beachside with a price-tag attached! Be sure to stop into the lovely ‘Cove’ store as well as get a Facial at the new ‘Face Day’ Facial Only spa! There’s lots of Spa’s in Berawa, I love getting my nails done at Colors of Canggu (They also have a 2 4 1 deal every Friday!) For those with Kids, There is a little playground that’s shaded at the Tamora Gallery just up from the beach. Lovely Sunsets although you will be listening to the pumping Finns Beach club while you enjoy it…
Cons: Small streets meaning it’s often full of traffic, They have recently demolished all the cute little Warungs along the beach to make way for a huge Mall called ‘Hollywings’... Watch this space as Berawa is changing and developing at the speed of light!
ECHO BEACH, CANGGU
Perfect For:If you are looking for a mix of it all and don’t mind the busy-ness, Canggu is definitely worth 3-4 days of your time (Or longer if you’re into Surfing / Eating Great food and partial to a late night or 3!) Despite the madness of this area, you can still find beautiful Hindu temples and when there's ceremonies on (every 2-3 days), expect a vibrant display of culture in amongst the madness of development & shopping. It's a wildly cool experience.
Pros:Great Sunsets, Beach Walks, Lots of options for working out (The Body Factory, Canggu Studio, Zin Fit, Canggu Avenue, Samadi Yoga, The Practise Yoga) Echo Beach area has best Shopping spot (ie Our store & a number of cool indo Bali brands such as The Bali Tailor & Les Basics), amazing places to eat (We love Mason for Dinner, Azoria for dinner, Santorini for Lunch/Dinner, Copenhagen for brunch, Vida for any meal, Shady shack all day every day, Canteen for an old-school classic (It was one of the first cafes in Canggu!), Luigi’s for an insane Margarita Pizza… Ok, I’ll stop there! In Canggu, Echo Beach area there is also the wee gem of La Brisa. This ‘day club ft restaurant’ iin my opinion, a Must visit ‘Beach Club’. Even if you’re not that into beach clubs this one is worth a visit! They currently have a Sunday Morning Market too :) If you’re into Beers, Check out the Black Sands Brewery on Batu Bolong also! A lovely Day trip from Canggu is to head North up to Kendungu Beach (Good spot to learn to surf) and Tanah Lot temple - Especially stunning at sunset!
Cons: Busy, lots of scooters / traffic, be wary of the location of your accommodation that it’s not too close to a ‘party’ venue or the Batu Bolong road as it’s busy and the noise may just keep you up a little later than you like…
PERERENAN (Just North of Canggu):
Perfect For:Those who want to be close to the action but prefer quiet streets, local temples, a more traditional vibe. Great for families as the streets arn’t too hectic for walks, the beach is a little quieter with less riff-raff being sold to you… As an Expat, Pererenan is a top pick!
Pros:Quiet, Great food (Touche, Woods), a 5 minute scooter to the hustle & bustle of Canggu for when you want a night out, spot of shopping or a fancy dinner out! Beautiful Sunsets without any noise pollution, especially if you head to the beach and walk right. (It’s the same beach as Legian, Seminyak, Canggu etc just the next part along) Lots of local temples so you will be immersed in the local culture / daily offerings without ever realising, the best part of any trip to Bali!
Cons:I can’t think of any!
Perfect For:Shopping lovers, Jungle / Mountain Holidays, Families, People looking for some self-healing & introspection time, Solo travellers.
Pros: Lots of Handicrafts are made in this region so expect to come home with a trinket or 3! Ubud has great footpaths, Lots of trees & nature, cute pockets of rivers and rice paddies all around to explore nature. From Ubud you are close to White Water Rafting adventures, Waterfalls, Rice Paddies and Jungle trekking opportunities. Ubud has a huge range of delicious & healthy food options to choose from, Lovely day clubs such as ‘Jungle Fish’ to enjoy swimming at with a view… There is also plenty of Yoga & meditation on offer up this way too. Ubud seems to attract a lot of single travellers so it’s easier than most other places in Bali to make new friends :) Don’t be fooled…Ubud town centre is very busy with lots of traffic and day trippers but if you sleep just outside of this area you will be treated to the quiet sounds of nature, beautiful Balinese jungle and immersed into the local Hindu daily offerings.
Cons:Transport is very beneficial to make the most of the area, There is no night life so don’t expect to party here! Central Ubud can be very congested with traffic.
Perfect For:Nature lovers, Romantic Getaway, a Quiet holiday, if you want to sit back, relax, unwind & read a book. There is not much else to do here but relax!
Pros:Sideman is a real slice of Bali culture. Think Rice Paddie terraces, rivers, locals sitting around chewing the fat, farmers at work, fresh mountain air, cheap loacl cuisine, quiet streets, no (or very limited) shopping... You can sit in your accom overlooking local rice farmers working the fields, experience the kindness of the locals, fishing in the local stream etc. You can also use Sideman as a base to hike either of the Volcano’s on Bali (Mt Agung or Mt Batur). To me, Sideman is a ‘vision’ of Bali in a nutshell and I would absolutely recommend 2 nights here on your trip to the island.
Cons: Limited food options but you will not go hungry - I promise you that! It’s around a 2 hour drive from the airport (But most places are). If you want action, you could be bored…. To be honest, for someone heading to Bali for an actual holiday there’s not many cons to Sideman!
Perfect For:A stay on your way North to Amed or from Ubud heading South. Candi Dasa is slow & relaxing and a far cry from the hustle & bustle of Southern Bali (Seminyak, Canggu etc). Candi Dasa is a popular expat town for Older crew and you will quickly see why due to the fusion of coastal with Jungle - it’s a stunning part of Bali island!
Pros: The entire town is located along the coast line making for great views wherever you choose to stay & eat. Lots of Local places to eat with lots of fresh Seafood on offer. The lovely ‘White Sand Beach’ is 10 mins North and makes for a great day trip, as does a trekking tour around the area. Candi Dasa is small, slow, relaxed and easy. I would recommend visiting (and staying) at the local Ashram there, it’s a real beach-front treat to be immersed in for a few nights!
Cons: It’s pretty small, in fact around 1km of beachside road which is also the main coastal highway North. Small doesn’t mean bad though! Be wary of your accommodation that it is not ON the road as it can be noisy with traffic all night.
Perfect For: Families wanting to stay in a resort and looking for all inclusive packages. Sanur seems to be a really popular place for older expats and those looking for a ‘slice of island life’ but some home comforts.
Pros:It’s quiet, slow & easy, wide streets, footpaths, lots of food options (Although, in my personal opinion they’re not as good as the options in Canggu/ Seminyak area). There is a good surf break out the front, there is a lovely Yoga Shala on the beach where you can hear the waves crashing… Lots of Old school big 90’s luxe resorts, if that’s your vibe, Sanur is 100% your spot! Sanur is also where the boats leave to Nusa Lembongan & Nusa Penida so if you want to leave early to the islands it’s a great spot to rest your head for the night.
Cons:The amount of 70year old + in Speedo’s down the main beach walk…. It’s a little dated, so don’t expect ‘cool Bali’ that you see on Instagram…Oh, and you won’t be out late partying in this neck of the woods although the Kareoke bars in Denpasar are just a 15 minute taxi ride away….
NUSA PENIDA (An Island, 40 minutes via Speed boat from Sanur)
Perfect For:Couples & Groups of friends.
Pros: Stunning Beaches, lots of beautiful lookout points and photo opportunities, Nusa Penida is a fun island to explore.
Cons:The State of the roads are terrible! The one main loop road is at the top of the cliff so it is quite tricky to access the beaches. Requires a lot of steps and a lot of them are down off-roads that are not super safe…It can make for a very hot day out of the scooter… and then walking up & down the stairs but - the beaches & views are worth it of course, just come prepared that you’re not going to be driving up directly to a beach like you can on most places on Lombok, Bali & Nusa Lembongan.
Perfect For:Families, Older Travellers, First time to Bali & looking to take it slow…
Pros:Wide main streets with footpaths, lots of shade. Jimbaren is a lovely Golden Beach, with a couple of good surf breaks out further that you can catch a boat out to. There are a lot of Large Old school resorts that sit just back from the ocean shores as well as some stunning ‘fancy’ resorts such as The Intercontinnental (Check out their amazing Sunday Long Brunch, even if you’re not staying there!). Jimbaren is a fishing hub and is home to the ‘famous’ Beach BBQ. Be wary of these however, often the fish is not caught fresh daily although the prices suggest it was hand caught minutes ago! There are some stunning cliff top places in this area that are great for a Sunset drink (Jump onto Google, zoom into Jimbaren & take your pick!) Beautiful Sunsets. If you have a few friends I recommend hiring a boat to go for a Sunset cruise - it’s an amazing way to see the coastline from a different view point and of course, enjoy an incredible Bali sunset! You can pack your own drinks & snacks too.
Cons:It is right next to the airport so Air Noise can be niggly… This is also a Pro as its the closest place to stay from the airport (Without putting yourself through staying in downtown Kuta!) Mainly resorts in this area. Sundays are very busy with lots of people visiting the beach and BBQ area, there is not too much variation of places to eat in Jimbaren compared with other areas in Bali (Although, you will never go hungry!)
ULUWATU / BINGIN (5 Minute drive from each other)
Perfect For:Fitness Holidays, Surfers (And Girls trips looking to suss out hot surfers!), Those wanting a slice of it all (Yoga, Surf, Party, Shopping, Food) Bingin / Uluwatu area is perfect for those looking for a Beach focussed holiday as there are many beautiful beaches within 10 minutes of each other. There’s lots of Yoga available & the super Popular Gym inside ‘The Cashew Tree’ restaurant that has daily drop in classes. The Uluwatu area is a great spot to party Thursday - Sunday at the cliff top Single Fin restaurant + the beach shacks below. More & more shops are popping up in this area and more cafes & restaurants opening every week! I predict that this area will soon be as busy as Canggu :)
Pros: Delicious Food options (Drifter, The Cashew Tree, Mexican), the most beautiful sunset in Bali at Uluwatu, The incredible Uluwatu Temple (Head here for their sunset performance most nights - it’s BUSY but something to remember from your Bali holiday!) also lots of day-clubs in the area such as El Kabron, Sundays, Ulu Cliff HouseKarma Kandara…If you’re heading to stay here, I suggest treating yourself to at least one fancy Dinner / Day or night at somewhere beautiful on the Cliff. It’s 100% worth it for the views at Sunset! Oh, and be sure to check out the new ‘Cave’ restaurant for a unique experience.
Cons:Everytime you head to a beach you will be climbing down a minimum of 100 steps… and then back up them! Riding a scooter is pretty key, a car would work too although parking is limited in a number of areas. But in order to make the most of this incredible peninsula, you do need to have a way of being able to get around.
NUSA LEMBONGAN (Island, 30 minutes via Speed boat from Sanur)
Perfect For:Surf Trips, Chilled Girls Trip, Beach Focussed Holiday, Families with Kids a little older (A lot of time in the sun here can make it tricky for small babies, but not to say you shouldn’t take them!)
Pros: Snorkelling with the Manta Rays is an absolute MUST do on Nusa Lembongan. There’s Great Surf here, Beautiful Sunsets & limited Rain on the island, The Beaches around the island are all very easily accessible. Nusa Lembongan is very much a slow paced island vibe and exactly what you think of when you think of an ‘island holiday’. I would highly recommend 3-4 nights on the island during your Bali trip. It’s a true slice of relaxo, tropo holiday vibes!
Cons:An extra effort to get there, Nusa Lembongan is a 30 minute fast ferry from Sanur Harbour. To make the most of it, you will need a bike to get around on the island (although you can go by foot, just make sure your accommodation is on the main beach). It’s also always very hot on this island.. So pack a couple of Bikini’s and Over-shirts or you’ll be a lobster in no time!
LOMBOK (An Island)
Okay it’s not on Bali but it’s most certainly an island to consider when you’re planning your Bali / Indonesian trip! You can either take the Car Ferry over from mainland Bali to Lombok (You can go with your own car, scooter or walk on), The Speed Boat from Serangan OR you can take the 30 minute flight from Bali domestic airport and get a scenic trip while you’re at it :)
The island of Lombok is Perfect For: Surfers, If you have visited Bali many times & looking for new ground to explore thats really accessible!
Pros: Lots of varied Surf waves. Beautiful untouched beaches, delicious local food served to you under the shade on the sandy shores, clean water, lots of beautiful view points over the coast lines, wide roads making driving your own car on Lombok a real treat (Unlike Bali where it’s slightly hectic and hiring a driver would be the more relaxed option). There are different islands you can explore from Lombok too such as the Gili Islands & Nusa Penida. There are so many Pro’s to Lombok I could go on forever…. Personally, I prefer The Koeta side of Lombok (Selong Beach specifically!) however Sengigi is also nice for a verrrryyyy slow resort vibe.
Cons:I don’t have any - Book! Lombok is a little extra effort from Bali but well worth the trip!
Perfect For: Diving & Snorkelling Holidays, Groups of friends. Amed is a great place to ‘end up’ at after a stay in Sideman or Ubud on your way North. There are also some beautiful temples (such as Besikih which is inland) or a little Chocolate Factory on the coast (Charlie & The Chocolate Factory) to stop and enjoy on your trip North to the beach of Amed.
Pros: Different Dive & snorkel spots, You can stay on the beach for relatively cheap, lots of great local restaurants all along the streets and often beach front, you can take a morning sunrise or sunset boat trip (and possibly see dolphins)! The views back to Mt Agung are stunning, especially at sunset!
Cons:The diving scene can be quite intense. It’s also a big drive up there, around 3-4 hours (but takes longer with the stops needed!)
Perfect For:Surfers, Beach lovers who don’t need shopping / food options and just want to chill beachside.
Pros:Quiet, Relaxed, relatively untouched, you can go for nice walks without getting tooted at.
Cons: Black (hot) sand, not much to do other than relax, surf, swim, read, sleep! It is located 2.5 hours from the airport and most people here are only here to surf.
Well, there you have it…A good summary of some of the places that we love and would recommend choosing to stay at when you next visit the island of Bali. Sure there are 101 other areas to stay and this is by no means an entire guide on the island but hopefully it helps make some of your planning decisions a little easier!
If you’re not already booking flights to the island of Bali then what are you waiting for?! Can’t wait to see you soon (And be sure to come & visit us in our new store at Echo Beach opening in August 2022!)
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