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8 things to add to your Bali bucket list

From its fascinating culture to breathtaking beaches Bali is crafting its own unique brand of cutting-edge

Jenny Hewett

Published: Updated:

When it comes to island escapes, living in the Middle East means we often overlook Bali for the Maldives and Sri Lanka. After all, four hours flight time to Bali’s nine-hour slog seems like a no-brainer. But it’s worth going that extra distance, the Indonesian island has plenty to offer and it’s fast making a name for itself as one of the hippest destinations in the South East Asia. From its fascinating culture to breathtaking beaches, world-class dining, one-of-a-kind bars and Instagrammable waterfalls, Bali is crafting its own unique brand of cutting-edge. Here, we countdown 8 very cool things to add to your bucket list on the Island of Gods.

Dine on seafood and sunflowers at Sardine

Bali’s Petitenget is home to some of the island’s most talked about spots, but none is more spectacular than the sunflower-laden Sardine. This open-air seafood concept has one of the most breath-taking settings in Bali, plus the décor, food and service to match. Affording rice paddy views as far as the eye can see, in recent months, the fields have been planted with sunflowers, and framed with traditional Balinese umbrellas and giant clay pots. Arrive before sunset and watch the magic happen. Bookings are essential.

Sunflowers#yellow#bali#sunnyday

A photo posted by Sardine Restaurant (@sardinebali) on

Lunch time!

A photo posted by Sardine Restaurant (@sardinebali) on

Tune up at a wellness retreat

The island is in no shortage of yoga hang-outs and fitness retreats to cross off your bucket list. It’s a matter of finding the right one.

Intense: Bali Lifestyle and Fitness Retreats
Instafamous Australia-based fitness duo Ben Seymour and Monique Craft put guests through their paces at this intense retreat combining animal body movement, strength training, motivational workshops and yoga. Founder and yogi Amanda-Jane Williams has years of experience in the industry and hosts a variety of themed retreats from a pool villa so swag even the Fresh Prince would approve. Join the gang for the next retreat on February 4.

Bespoke: The Pineapple House
This little gem in the centre of Canggu offers boutique surf, yoga and fitness retreats, tailor made for each individual guest. Founder Rachel Fearnley and her team feel more like friends than hosts, making it one of the warmest places for solo travellers to rest their heads in Bali. There’s no rigid schedule, all activities are done at venues outside the villa and you can choose to do how much or how little you like.

Skate and sip at Pretty Poison
This edgy Canggu skate bowl and bar should come with a warning: hipsters are in high volume here. A venue that’s as unique as its name, locals and expats descend on Pretty Poison, set back on a road known only as the Shortcut, every Thursday and Saturday to get all sorts of rock n’ roll. Watch as skaters carve up the bowl, or get a tattoo and groove to tunes on the exposed concrete floor. Don’t say we didn’t warn you.

Bliss out at Rob Peetoom Hair Spa Bali
Affordable pampering is one of Bali’s major draw cards. While most spas on the island won’t break the bank, there are the exceptions. All trickling water features and black-tiled ponds, this luxurious salon in Petitenget will sweep you off your feet before you’ve even begun your treatment. The blissful one-hour hair treatment (complete with head, foot and hot stone massage) takes place on a private outdoor terrace, where it’s all too easy to melt in the hands of your therapist as you watch the reeds sway in the rice fields before you.

See and be seen at Amalfi-inspired Da Maria Bali

Bali gets a lesson in glam from Sydney’s most coveted hang out, Bondi Icebergs. The Sydney restaurateur behind Icebergs’ Da Orazio has opened his first overseas concept in Bali’s Petitenget, inside a mammoth restaurant and bar that hosted Sydney’s Sneaky Sound System for its first NYD bash. The Amalfi-inspired eatery is filled with natural light, courtyard-style indoor fountains and a summery palette that’s heavy on yellow, blue and white. The pizza is good, but the drinks and vibe are even better.

Play with the cool kids at Katamama Hotel

Villas and beachside bungalows are a dime a dozen in Bali, but there’s a new boutique stay vying for the cool kids’ attention. Katamama Hotel shares real estate (and ownership) with Potato Head Beach Club and not surprisingly, the service is on point, the architecture has a contemporary industrial vibe and the décor is part Balinese part Scandi-cool. As well as an Instagram-worthy pool, the rooms are massive and have a bespoke feel, while the hotel’s lower level is home to the award-winning Australian tapas import MoVida in Bali.

Canyon down Git Git Waterfalls

If the thought of hovering down a sheer 20m drop while water pummels your face freaks you out, then look away now. Offering a rush worthy of any thrill seeker, this bucket list experience sees you jump, slide, shimmy and cannonball down Git Git’s numerous waterfalls, deep in Bali’s jungle. We promise it’ll leave you speechless.

Wade in the rockpools at Balangan Beach

The Bukit Peninsula is popular with surfers, but there’s more to do here than ride waves. Balangan Beach is particularly easy on the eye, with sheer cliffs framing the sandy shores at either end and moss-laden rock pools to explore as the tide goes out. Grab a spot at one of the warungs overlooking the beach and order a jaffle (that’s Aussie for cheese toastie) to gawp at the sunset and board riders.