Melbourne winter was long and tough for me this year – the extra washing, the dark afternoons, being trapped inside with 2 toddlers. By the end of August I needed a break, and so we booked a little impromptu trip to Bali!
I was craving sunshine, Vitamin Sea and watching my babes running around nude by the pool. Because those adorable little peaches will be stinky teenage boy butts before I know it.
Booking the trip.
I’ll be honest, we’re not the most organised travellers. We’re often booking a trip just a few weeks out and our Bali holiday was no exception. The downside to this is that finding accommodation can be tough with most things booked out. I’m not a fan of big hotels and prefer to find smaller villas when we travel. I booked part of our trip with Bali Retreats, who were great in providing me with available villas that met my requirements and dates. And the other part I booked with Booking.com who provide accommodation options ranging from resorts to holiday homes. Use my link below for $25 off your next trip at any of their properties around the world.
$25 off with Booking.com www.booking.com/s/44_6/1d2884ab
Valid until 15 October, 2019
We decided to hire a car as I always find it easier to have our own transport with the kids. Bono Car Rental Bali were recommended to us. The rates were good, they provided car seats for a small charge and the car was delivered to and picked up from the airport.
Travel Tip. Everyone in Bali seems to use WhatsApp so make sure you have it downloaded and notifications turned on for contacting villa managers, tour operators, etc.
We didn’t have any issues driving in Bali, but we also stayed well clear of areas like Kuta and Seminyak where traffic can be terrible. The biggest challenge we had was finding car parks so keep this in mind.
There’s something about showering outdoors that I find so cleansing. It’s one of my fave things about Bali!
Our villa, Sentana Ubud, was Balinese heaven. It was actually 2 separate huts, within the same grounds and a shared pool and garden. So Archie Pie and I bunked together and Michael shared with Flynn – so romantic…
Travel Tip: Archer fell in the pool twice (I was right with him and had him out within a couple of seconds). You can pre-arrange temporary bamboo fencing if your villa has a pool without a fence.
Sentana was about a 5-10 minute drive out of Ubud town centre, which I liked as it was quiet. But it did mean a car ride was necessary to explore Ubud. We did find a great restaurant to watch the sunset over the rice paddies, Sayan Terrace, which I recommend if you are staying in this area.
Sacred Monkey Forest.
You can’t visit Ubud with children and not visit the famous Sacred Monkey Forest. But you do need to be careful. The monkeys are cheekier than Flynn (well, almost) and even walking the boundary outside the forest, they stole my fresh fruit juice!
These two ate their body weight in ice cream on this trip. This was Archie Pie’s first ever ice cream. He was both impressed and annoyed as he realised we’ve been holding out on him for 14 months!
Gourmet Gelato Ubud was one of our fave ice creams of the trip! Natural, organic, fair trade ingredients and lots of yummy flavours to choose from.
Campuhan Rise Walk.
I love hiking. I don’t like hiking with two toddlers. So I had to settle for the short Campuhan Rise walk in Ubud. It was the perfect walk for our young family with lovely views and rice paddies. There was no shade though so its best done early morning or late afternoon. Archie Pie enjoyed his piggy back ride and Flynn requested to “sit on daddy’s head” the whole time.
This was my fave place that we ate in Ubud. Fresh and healthy in a cute setting with lots of vegan/vegetarian options.
Travel tip – Bring your own drink bottle. Lots of cafes will fill your bottle with filtered water for a small fee, helping to reduce plastic waste. Plus it stays cooler a lot longer than it does in plastic bottles!
Other things to do in Ubud.
Yoga. There are no shortages of yoga classes and retreats in the spiritual capital of Bali
Classes. We’ll definitely be doing some craft or cooking classes when the boys are a bit older.
Shopping. Ubud is my pick of places to shop in Bali. I could’ve filled a shipping container with all things rattan! And I could’ve spent the whole week exploring the famous art/craft market and little boutiques lining Ubud’s streets.
Massages/Spa treatments. No trip to Bali is complete without a massage on the top floor at the back of someone’s house!!
Finns Recreation Club. Canggu.
I wanted to drive north to the scenic views and insta worthy swings of Wanagiri Hidden Hills, but I thought the boys would probably prefer a water park so that’s what we did. Plus it was on our way to our next destination instead of an hour and half in the opposite direction. The things I do for them!! Finns Rec club wasn’t exactly cheap, but it also wasn’t super busy, it has a great water play area for younger kids and we could drink cocktails while the kids were splashing. It turns out Flynn was terrified of this giant bucket that dumped water and he didn’t go anywhere near the water the entire time we were there. Archie Pie loved it though, especially this leaf. Michael was like a big kid on the water slides and at least I got my pina colada!
We booked 2 nights in Nusa Dua, as a base to catch the ferry across to Nusa Penida. As it turns out, Flynn and I got VERY sick not long after we arrived, had to cancel our trip to Nusa Penida and spent almost the entire 2 days in the bathroom of our villa.
Travel Tip. Don’t drink the water. Don’t open your mouth in the shower. Clean your teeth with filtered water. Don’t let your kids drink the water. Don’t let your kids open their mouths in the shower. Make sure your kids clean their teeth with filtered water.
Nusa Dua is a strange little gated community for tourists. I found the whole place really odd. But if you like 5 star resorts and peace and quiet it’d probably suit you fine.
The last time I was in Bali was 10 years ago and I stayed around Seminyak/Kuta. I didn’t really like it and I wasn’t sure I’d ever go back. But the laneways and beaches of Bingin have won back my heart and I plan to return over and over as often as we can. If I only had time to visit one place in Bali, this would be my pick. Quieter than the touristy areas of Seminyak, Kuta, Canggu and Ubud, but far more interesting than Nusa Dua.
The surf beaches around this area are the main attraction, and yoga and yummy, healthy food are pretty easy to find too.
We stayed at the beautiful Jabeki Bungalows. on a beautiful little laneway that almost felt more like we were in the Mediterranean than Bali. The location was perfect, with sea views and the back entrance right onto the cliffs. Beach access was down steep stairs but we managed with the kids. The path down to the beach is lined with Warungs serving local food and cold beer.
Jabeki is two separate bungalows with a shared pool. We only shared with others for one night and had the place to ourselves the rest of the time. The boys were pretty pleased to be running around nude again! Our friends stayed at Bingin Beach Villas, which were also beautiful.
Beaches we visited.
Bingin. Surf beach with a nice little strip of sand and quite a few decent Warungs to choose from. Plus the insta famous boulder with the little tree on top (which I didn’t even get a picture of…) Access is via a lot of steps!
Balangan. Not the best swimming beach with kids, but a long left handed break if you’re not busy building sandcastles for a 1 and 2 year old to demolish. There’s sun lounges and a few little warungs to get a cold beer and local style meal.
Dreamland. The surf here was rough the day we visited but still ok for the boys to splash around the shore. Much easier for young kids than Balangan was. Unfortunately this area is being developed by large resorts so it won’t be long before this little strip is even more crowded with tourists. Watching a young woman in heels rolling around in the waves with her selfie stick trying to take a “sexy” photo of herself was one of the more amusing things I saw on this trip.
Plus some others worth a look if we’d had more time and less kids.
Places to eat.
The Cashew Tree. This was the first place we ate in Bingin and we came back at least half a dozen times. The playground kept the kids entertained while we enjoyed coffee, ice cream, raw treats and fresh, healthy meals.
Kelly’s Warung. It’s a steep climb down (and back up) the stairs to reach this little Warung. The views over the ocean for sunset were stunning and absolutely worth the climb with 2 kids.
The Place With No Name, Pecatu. I loved the decor as much as the food. Poke bowls, fresh smoothies, burgers, coconuts and beer – there was something to keep us all happy. Plus Archie Pie looked freaking adorable on this sofa!!
Uluwatu Temple. The temples location atop a cliff provides a stunningly dramatic view down to the wild ocean below. Pre-kids me would’ve sat there to meditate for hours. Instead I chased a toddler up and down stairs whilst wearing a slightly smaller toddler. Fun times.
You need to have your knees covered to enter. Sarongs are available and included in your entry fee. My dress covered my knees so I didn’t take one, then realised half way around that I’d popped a button on my dress and my knickers were showing – hence the strategically placed baby carrier in the pic below. Very subtle. On another note, how does Michael look this good in a purple sarong???
If you like seafood and sunsets, dinner at Jimbaran Bay is for you. There’s a whole lot of restaurants with tables set up right on the sand. You can choose your own seafood and they cook it up for you in an alley out the back. Flynn had the absolute best time here playing with a bunch of local kids. He couldn’t understand what they were saying and they couldn’t understand what he was saying, but that didn’t stop them from playing tag all evening!
Travel tip. Make sure you arrive early to enjoy the sunset over the ocean.
Other places I love in Indonesia.
Lombok. If you like to get off the beaten path, Lombok is perfect. Kuta beach in Lombok is MUCH quieter than it’s namesake in Bali, and gives you a little glimpse into what Bali was like pre-tourist development.
Gili Air. Quieter than Gili T and more interesting than Gili Meno. This is my pick of these islands for travelling with young kids.
Nusa Penida. We didn’t make it here because Flynn and I were so sick and had to cancel our tour the day before. It looks stunning and you should definitely go and send me ALL the pics!
Would love to hear your fave travel tips below!