As the plane descended for it’s landing, the blue Balinese Sea stretching out below us came closer and closer. Our wonder gave way to confused WTF’s (the F censored to fudge for obvious reasons) as the sea never seemed to give way to land. Water was rushing fast and the entire collective of eyes on the plane seemed to hold their breath. Just as the wheels seemed to be skimming water, we felt the jolt of them touching land and the whole plane erupted in laughter at the floating runway punchline. Just by that landing, we knew that Bali was going to be an experience of a lifetime.
Bali was an obvious choice for the meeting of two cousins. You see, Zoe was going to be meeting Adam to celebrate his First birthday, a cousin she had not seen in months. So Zoe’s excitement was as palpable as cotton candy and the “are we there yet” came every alternate second. Look out Bali, Zoe and Adam are gonna paint the town illegibly red.
Seminyak at The Traditional Pool Villa
I had heard about Seminyak with it’s luxurious experiences, shopping and amazing food. So we headed there first. We stayed at the Villa Seminyak Estate & spa, which took our breath away. Private villa, our own pool, garden and more. It was our own small piece of paradise on earth, that was ours for those three days. Coming from apartment complexes like breadboxes, it was quite an experience to have so much space and our own personal pool and we all took complete advantage of it. Viva la midnight swim! The weather was hot enough to keep the water warm, but windy so it wasn’t unpleasantly hot. I loved the traditional architecture of the villa and the spacious lawn for the kids to frolic in.
The rooms are huge and the bed was comfortable, but nothing compared to the palatial bathrooms with the large tub to soak in and the Balinese robes. It was an added benefit to have our own kitchenette to heat or cook simple food for the baby. The food selection in the hotel was limited, but everything was delicious and kid friendly too. If you are travelling with an infant you will need to bring their formula or baby food that they are comfortable with. The last thing you want is a hungry baby who’s not interested in sampling the local fare. Zoe totally loved the local Nasi Goreng Kampung and wanted to eat it every day. Just make sure to tell them not to put the Shrimp Paste or Shrimp crackers.
Seminyak is a feast for the eyes. Around the beach there’s entire streets lined with shops with superb local products, clothing lines as well as international chains. Being a surfers paradise you have Ripcurl, Billabong, Quicksilver all over the place with great prices. Late afternoons, when the sun is generally behind clouds was the best time to walk, and these shopping streets are a window shoppers dream.
The beaches of Seminyak are great for boogie boarding and even just splashing in the waves at sunset. There were quite a few people with their little puppies frolicking in the sand. We just ventured in the shallows with Zoe, but we longed to go into the deep to be tossed around by those giant waves.
Just a walk down from the beach is ‘What the Truck’, a food truck with the best taco’s.We loved the Beef Rendang one. If Beef is not your thing there is chicken and pork. No veg though. The Mojito’s were great too. There was several little cafe’s with some great artisan food and ice creams. A gastronomical adventure if you know where to follow your nose to and stop. Indonesian food places were strewn about, but several had tempered down food for Tourists. We spoke to a few locals and did sniff out a bunch of authentic holes in the wall for Indonesian food.
Many people go to Bali for the shopping and while their style and boutiques are unique and varied, I didn’t find the prices as low as I expected. Its comparable with the prices in India. The surf brands and swimwear are at great discounts so do indulge in that. there are supermarkets every turn and corner so you can buy water, medicines or snacks easily.
What you will also find in Seminyak are great restaurants with specialized cuisine. People there are quite passionate about their restaurants and try to give you the most authentic experience of the cuisine. Ryoshi the Japanese restaurant we visited was unforgettable and the memory of that beef Teriyaki burger (without a bun!) is tempting me even now. Kzu was also an interesting concept where you pick your portions of veggies and meat from a counter and build your customized meal with rice or salad burrito’s. The green tea ice cream is an acquired taste but if you’re adventurous, its worth a try.
Nusa Dua – Luxury by the Sea
After 3 days of exploring the nooks and corners of bustling Seminyak, we headed to the lap of luxury to relax in Nusa Dua which is about half an hour away. The Inaya Putri Hotel is an extravagant property perched on the white sands of Mengiat beach in Nusa dua. From the vantage point of the Reception we could see the expanse of the pools and lawns. And finally, the shimmering water of the sea beyond beckoned us to just run into the crashing waves. Most of the beach resorts here are in the protected Bali Tourism district with clean manicured lawns and streets you can stroll through at leisure. We chose this one for the fantastic triple infinity pool, beach facilities, award winning restaurants that certainly lived up to their reputation and also the kid friendly menu.
The check in process at this huge hotel was very tedious and dampened our spirits a little. However, we were in much higher spirits after all the cocktails and sangria’s we had at the Ja’Jan cafe. The estate is so large that they take you to your rooms in a golf cart. And once you plonk down on that magical fluffy bed… you will never ever want to leave. Those of you with infants know what its like to have sleepless nights. Folks, this is just the tonic for you! I guarantee that your kids will sleep though the night while they slumber on this floating carpet of luxury.
We hit the beach on the first day itself, and made sure to swim within the safety flags posted on the beach. I had never seen such deep cobalt blue water with iridescent white surf before. While we built sandcastles, and splashed in the waves, we saw corals strewn on the shore and Zoe chased after the sprightly little crabs scuttling around them.
The highlight though, was enjoying an espresso gelato while lounging in the infinity pool looking out at the sea, the wind in your hair, floating in the warm water.. Yes please!
Accessible from most of the resorts on the beach, you can walk down to Waterblow. An area much like an alien landscape with huge waves crashing against the rock face, white surf flying high. The power and height at which these waves crash has eroded the rocks around to scraggly, but yet an eerily beautiful sight.
After all that walking I needed a bit of pampering. So I hit the spa at Inaya Putri which really hit all the right spots. The spa experience was sublime. I was sulking at first because they did not allow me to use my phone. All of that sulk melted away as the massages and the oils put me in a spa coma. I came out feeling like a new person and immediately made a beeline for nice righteous soak in the tub. Glorious.
Unlike most holiday goers, we didn’t opt for the usual tours and sight seeing excursions this time. When you travel with young kids, you have to keep their routine in mind and enjoy the destination at their pace. I’m sure we’ll be back for a more adventurous experience next time. With Bali there’s so much to choose from, the rainforest, the beaches, watersports, temples, art and cultural sights, hiking etc. It’s the perfect place for an energizing family vacation. If you’re staying in Nusa Dua you should walk down to Bali Collection for some great restaurants and the mall too.
For our last night we took off to the cliffs of Uluwatu to bid farewell to beautiful Bali. Having a date night on that last day was really special and it did make us realize that we need to do more of these romantic getaways together. We went to El Kabron to watch the sunset by the infinity pool and taste Spanish food. It was a magical evening that perfectly summed up our enchanting holiday to Indonesia.
- Choose good hotels. A 5 star hotel is cheaper in Bali than anywhere else so just go for it. It makes a difference with the food quality and service for the kids.
- You will need a connecting flight for your travel to Bali from India, so keep at-least a 3 hour layover in between flights.
- You are allowed to carry liquids and baby food on the flight so pack some snacks for the kids. A change of clothes are also useful.
- Don’t pre book tours and activities. You can get it cheaper on site and also plan your activities as per your child’s requirements.
- Carry mosquito repellent. There weren’t any mosquitoes in Nusa Dua, but Bali is a tropical country so go prepared in case there are mosquitoes elsewhere.