We arrived at Bali International Airport after dark and took a bus ride to the other side of the island so we could get to our first villa in Lovina.
The long drive in the bus made most of us fall asleep so when we arrived in the dead of night to a darkened road down which the bus could not fit we were a little bit concerned to say the least.
We stood on the corner of the road, luggage in hand, totally at a loss as to what to do next. We couldn’t walk the road to the villa because the night was pitch black, there were no people about to direct us and we had no idea how far down the road the villa was.
For some reason, I think it was our tired state, my cousin Faatimah and I found this hilarious and started scaring everyone else by saying zombies were going to come and eat us.
Anyway, after much giggling on our part, Liyana had organised with the people of the villa to send down transport to collect us. The men all hopped onto the back of scooters (a popular mode of transport over there) and whizzed away. For us ladies, they sent a rickety minibus with a door that wouldn’t close. I got in last which meant I would be the first to tumble out should any sharp turns be taken. My aunt Faiekha grabbed on to me and held tight.
Of course Faatimah and I found this even more hilarious and started making up the plot to a horror movie. Tiredness makes you do funny things and lose some fear that should have existed in this dark, unexpected situation.
The dark and bumpy drive ended and we arrived at the villa and we were blown away. It was a beautiful place and even though we couldn’t see the ocean at that time of night the sound of waves excited us. We were well and truly on holiday.
In the morning we woke in paradise. The villa was right on the beach.
Here is my guide to finding your bliss in Bali.
Book a villa rather than a hotel
So often we choose hotels on holiday because that’s just how it’s usually done. But when you’re on an island, try to find a place at the beach. In our case, Liyana found gorgeous villas in bother Lovina and Kuta. The one in Lovina was right on the beach. We literally stepped off the porch and stepped onto black sand. Apparently the sand is this colour because of volcanic ash.
Our villa in Kuta was a bit of a drive away from the beach but still beautiful and serene.
Villas provide all the amenities that hotels do and have the added advantage of no other guests around. It’s perfect when you’re a big group. You get your own space to sleep but the common areas are great for hanging out.
The villas also provide catering so your breakfast is on the table by the time you’ve woken in the morning. And your dinner is waiting for you after you’ve woken from your late afternoon nap (usually taken outside in one of the shady spots).
Many of the villas have spa menus and the best part about it is that the spa comes to you. You don’t have to leave your private paradise to relax.
Just spending time lazing in the pool was a great form of pampering. Don’t forget your sunblock!
Spend time on the beaches
Lovina’s beaches were calm and quiet and perfect for alone time. No surfers in sight taking over the waters. You can take a morning stroll or jog before the sun’s heat really hits the shore and just feel at peace with your surroundings. You can also do some yoga on the beach if you’re so inclined.
Go dolphin spotting
I skipped this because there were no life vests, but Faatimah, Liyana and Moegsien went dolphin spotting and found it to be really relaxing. So relaxing that they nearly fell asleep on the way back to shore.
Shop, shop, shop
What is a holiday without some shopping? There are many bargains to be found and the markets near Lovina’s beaches. There are also locals walking around selling wonderful curios. One of our drivers also took us to an indoor market where great bargains could be found. I got some rather lovely place mats for my dining room table.
In Kuta, we visited the Discovery Mall and browsed around there. The prices weren’t as high as I thought they’d be, especially tech accessories, so if you’re looking for a cellphone cover, powerbank or selfie stick, this mall is the place to find it.
Have a sunset dinner on the beach
Our last night in Bali was spent having dinner on the beach. There are tables on the sand and you’re served dinner while the sun is setting. Lots of fresh seafood and salads are served. It was possibly one of the most amazing dining and sensory experiences I’ve ever had. The weather is perfect – warm and balmy and no wind so there’s no chance of getting sand in your delicious meal. Fresh seafood is somehow more enjoyable when you hear the sound of the waves crashing to the shore.
There are also Balinese dancers performing traditional dances. We took a walk over to one of the stages after dinner to take in this magnificent spectacle.
Later, after we’d feasted on our meal, we spotted a man selling corn on the cob. Now, I’m not a huge corn on the cob lover, but it’s definitely worth buying this warm mielie to sink your teeth into.
It was a bittersweet going back to the villa knowing it was our final night but we were looking forward to our flights back home because we knew we’d all be left with the best Bali memories and the hopes of returning one day.
The whole experience is something I’d do all over again given the opportunity.