Our very first Christmas together, 4 years ago, Chad got me a travel book for Bali & Lombok and wrote “It has always been on my bucket list to fall in love and travel to Bali. I’m halfway there! Let’s keep dreaming!” The dream finally became a reality this past August when we spent 2 1/2 weeks exploring, playing and generally having the time of our lives. This trip holds such a sweet place in my heart – it was the first time in my life (encouraged by Chad) that I let go of the need to control and just surrendered. We didn’t have an agenda or set places we needed to be, we just booked our places a day out and left when we felt ready. It ended up being far better than I could have ever planned!
We started in Uluwatu for the first few days. We were mesmerized by the vistas where the ocean met the cliffs. We would have cappuccinos at Single Fin every morning, Chad would make his way down to surf and I would sip from a coconut, relaxing – swimming – watching him catch his dream waves. We stayed at a yoga center – the first few days I was waking up early from the jet lag and I would head upstairs to the studio, a beautiful wood platform surrounded by jungle, I would sit and meditate or do a short practice then I would journal as the sun came up. In those early hours it felt like magic, watching the world wake up around me in this new and beautiful place. We cruised around on a motor bike for a few bucks a day and visited the Uluwatu temple (we loved the monkeys!) we surfed together at Thomas beach and Dreamland and spent a lot of time going up and down the stairs to pass through the cave at Suluban to get to the surf break.
A few days in we headed north to Canggu, to a super cool airbnb and took some time to explore the town and for Chad to hit the waves. He surfed at Echo beach, we took our first aerial yoga class at Serenity (I nearly peed my hammock laughing with Chad)
and enjoyed the drinks and views at La Brisa. The weather was overcast and the swell was inconsistent so we headed north to Ubud.
I was so excited to visit Ubud, I heard from podcasts and friends that it was magical and I couldn’t wait to experience it for myself. Our taxi driver had trouble finding the airbnb, he made a million stops and turns before finally dropping us off and when he finally did I should have listened to my instinct that something felt off…we walked up the pathway to discover we were at the completely wrong place and the airbnb we had booked had no availability! We had to get another taxi and find another room but I knew when I walked in, it was meant to be – the space was perfect and we basically had the whole compound to ourselves. The room had a long balcony that overlooked the pool, jungle and rice fields. It felt like the perfect place to relax and restore so immediately we decided to get massages in the room for a whopping $15. I do not exaggerate when I say it was the best massage of my life.
The next day we went to the Sacred Monkey Forest and explored (can’t get enough monkey) and watched them play, feed and steal from tourists backpacks for a few hours completely amused. Afterwards we went to a spa and got ANOTHER massage (because why not?) and followed it with up with an epic flower bath. Sipping hot tea, eating fresh fruit surrounded by petals and a view of the gardens. That night we explored the traditional art market and had so much fun shopping for family and friends. The next morning we headed out early to Pura Tirta Empul (Holy Water Temple) and one of Bali’s most sacred sites. This was top of my bucket list and I’m so glad we went early before busses of tourists descended. We rented sarongs and with the guidance from a local about how to perform the ritual we stepped into the freezing water. I felt a release take place when I went through this ritual, I felt an attachment slip away as I extended forgiveness to those who had caused me pain and the need to reach out to those I love, to affirm just how much they mean to me. It was a beautiful moment, experiencing this sacred, age-old ritual with Chad. I will treasure it forever.
That afternoon we made our way to Tegalalang rice terrace and were mesmerized. Although touristy, the place still felt like magic. Especially off the beaten path as we walked along the terraces and sat on a platform taking in the view. The bright greens, the peaceful jungle, we explored and enjoyed the life and growth around us. As we jumped on our motor bike and headed back to Ubud the timing worked out perfectly for me to take a vinyasa at the Yoga Barn (another bucket list item)! Chad dropped me off and I took class in their main, upstairs studio.
The next day we took a taxi to Sanur to catch a fast boat out to the Nusa Islands. We started on Nusa Lembongan for the first few days. It was raining but we ventured out anyway and checked out Devil’s Tears – which actually ended up being perfect as the storm caused a massive swell that would crash against the rocks and spray thirty + feet into the air and we had the entire place to ourselves!
The next morning we hired a private boat to take us snorkeling. Our guide took us to Nusa Penida and we jumped in at Manta Point. I had no idea what to expect when out of the blue came a giant Manta Ray, mouth wide open, headed straight at me…I’m pretty sure I screamed but at the last second he changed direction and glided right underneath me. As I calmed down more and more rays appeared, gliding together – right under me, beside me, so close I could reach out and touch them. They were gentle and playful, sneaking up behind you then changing directions. When we pulled ourselves back on the boat we were completely lit up from swimming with the beautiful animals. We snorkeled a few other crystal clear coves and as beautiful as they were it was hard to beat compared to the manta’s.
The next day we crossed the yellow bridge to Nusa Ceningan (it connects the two islands) and absolutely loved it. Small, uncrowded and relaxing, we gaped at Blue Lagoon (the bluest water I’ve ever seen), Chad surfed at Secret Point and I was able to perch above him at the restaurant, we explored tide pools and watched the sunset with a Bintang. The next morning I got up the courage to cliff jump at Blue Lagoon before we caught a boat and headed over to Nusa Penida.
Before the trip I thought Nusa Penida was going to be my favorite, the photos I had seen were jaw dropping but when we arrived I felt off energetically. The island has an interesting history and a reputation for black magic and I had trouble sleeping. Our experience there, while it was beautiful was also unlike the rest of Bali. We made the most of our time explore Pura Goa Giti (temple cave), Atuh beach and Kelingking (definitely my favorite on the island). We only stayed on Penida a night before heading back to the mainland.
For the last few days of our trip we decided to treat ourselves. We got an oceanfront place at Bingin beach and it was magic. Chad got the best barrels, I got some sun – we had smoothies and good food and just slowed down and relaxed.
The last day we moved over to Uluwatu and booked a room at the Yoga Searcher. By far, my favorite place we stayed, I would go back in a heartbeat! We got massages, laid by the pool and enjoyed the peaceful space before heading to Ulu Cliffhouse for our last sunset in Bali. We toasted as the sun went down and the sky turned beautiful shades of blue and pink. We reminisced on our amazing adventure and let the gratitude and joy fill us up as the stars came out.
As we came home we missed family & friends but agreed that wanderlust is forever. We already can’t wait for the next adventure.