29 Jan 2014

A Luxury Weekend With Friends In Bali

As we were *almost* in their part of the world (Perth) we wanted to meet up with our great friends Stef and Anna for a long overdue catch up and a plush private villa in Seminyak on Bali seemed like a worthy venue. Now we’re not talking five star luxury here but our digs for the weekend were a serious upgrade from the plain rooms we're starting to grow accustomed to. Private pool, double sunbeds, a manicured lawn, huge bedrooms, bathroom and an open plan kitchen/living area plus, a mandatory fridge full of Bintang, prosecco and wine. Everything was in place for a fun four days!

private villa seminyak bali indonesia

By day, we spent a lot of time lazing by the pool, the boys found some child size rubber rings to squeeze themselves into keeping them entertained and more importantly afloat. 

private villa seminyak bali indonesia

We also became pretty familiar with the Spa Bali next door, on our first visit we all opted for massages - Anna and Vicky chose a ‘warm' stone massage which was actually very HOT but still very relaxing so no complaints. Having a gorgeous spa so close meant it was impossible for the girls to resist another indulgence and were soon back again for some manicures and pedicures. Seminyak is full of luxury spas offering all kinds of treatments much cheaper than Australia or the UK so the rules are you have to make the most of it.

On our first evening we dined on awesome Mexican tapas and drank Margharitas at the quirky Motel Mexicolo, the food was delicious especially the Ceviche, Tostaditos and Taquitos, this cool place really reminded us of Wahaca in London. Next we headed to the curiously named and very popular Potato Head, its a cool terrace bar with an infinity pool making it an amazing spot for some sundowners and a swim. 

espresso martinis potato head seminyak bali indonesia
"Perfect after dinner Espresso Martinis!"

We were a little later than sunset so kept our clothes on and enjoyed a round of authentic Espresso Martinis, not the kind Stef was served at lunch - one cup of espresso with one shot of martini bianco! 

espresso martinis seminyak bali indonesia
"Complete fail Espresso Martini!"

As Anna and Stef had only arrived at 5am that morning we decided to not go too wild and were in bed by a respectable midnight, we also needed to be as clear headed as possible for our whitewater rafting session the next morning!

Bali doesn’t offer much in terms of culture but it does offer adventure namely surfing, paragliding and whitewater rafting. Our group eagerly opted for the latter, beside from the fact it was the wrong season for the other two, hurtling down a river of rapids in a dinghy sounded like bloody good fun, and we were not wrong! The day began with an 8am pick up from White Water Rafting Bali and a two hour drive into Bali’s hilly jungle area. Upon arrival at a little shack we were given coffee and dressed in matching red helmets and life jackets before heading down to the ‘launch pad’ for our safety briefing.

white water rafting seminyak bali indonesia
"Ready to ride!"

We chose our position in the boat, front or middle, right or left and climbed in, we were partnered team right and team left and had to paddle when instructed - pretty simple and crucial to us arriving at the bottom in one piece. Obviously we were on opposite teams to our partners for minimal bickering! Once on the white water we were off to a relatively serene start on a slow moving part of the river and it seemed all a little too easy.

Our hilarious guide and instructor sat on the back of the boat, shouted instructions and steered the boat. His most important call was "Boom Boom” warning us to hold on and get ready for impact or lean back to dodge overhanging rocks or trees. There were to be two big drops on our course, which was classified as Grade 3 - a pretty courageous entry grade given that on grade 6 you’re very likely to die! The first drop was too dangerous to ride, it was a six metre high dam wall onto a shallow pool of rocks so we had to disembark to let our instructor push our raft over whilst we climbed down some steep steps to reembark at the bottom. 

white water rafting bali indonesia

The rapids became increasingly quicker and steeper with a lot of rocks jutting out of the water which on occasion grounded our vessel. We got pretty wet, Vicky especially, as Stef was mischievously splashing backwards with his paddle a LOT. Thankfully the water wasn’t too cold and we were all drenched from head to toe within about thirty minutes so that gives you an idea of how lively the water was. The scenery on the route was quite simply stunning, the banks were lush green and we were surrounding by towering cliffs with cascading waterfalls, all we could hear was running water and "Boom Boom!".

After about an hour we stopped for a break ie. Bintang and clambered on foot to a beautiful waterfall, Steve and Stef actually went right underneath and enjoyed another drenching. After the Bintang break we got back on our dinghy for another hour of adventure and a good soaking. The rapids were increasingly bubbly as we bounced our way rock to rock and cliff to cliff down river, at one point we all took a complete soaking from a waterfall whilst lying flat on our backs to avoid crashing into a very sharp overhanging rock face. It was really funny as we were only expecting Stef and Vicky on the righthand side of the boat to get wet!

whitewater rafting bali indonesia

Soon it was time for the main event - a ride over a waterfall! The drop was about six metres with a slight gradient and very fast moving water gushing over it, however from our position at the top we just saw the river end! We handed our paddles to our instructor, leant back horizontal and held on very tightly. Steve and Vicky were at the front, we felt the dinghy tipping over the drop very slowly until the rear caught up and then we dropped quickly with a huge splash and a scream from Vicky! It was brilliant and nobody fell out so we really wanted to do it again but sadly our adventure was almost over and ten minutes downstream we had to disembark. 

We showered and enjoyed a complimentary lunch and another Bintang. It was an exhilarating day and all four of us were surprised at how much fun it was, it wasn’t scary and its impossible not to smile as you bounce about and get a face full of water! Its definitely something we’ll all be trying again and highly recommend you give it a go too. Don't forget to charge and bring along your Go Pro!

sunset seminyak bali indonesia

That evening we hit the town for mediocre pizza and some more amazing cocktails at Potato Head. Another place we loved was La Plancha which we felt was easily Seminyaks best beach bar with gorgeous cocktails, super fresh tuna and tasty burgers. We came here a few times for lunch, evening cocktails and some beanbag lounging on the beach.

la plancha seminyak bali indonesia
"Delicious tuna carpaccio."

During our visit Seminyak beach was littered with rubbish so not quite the tropical beach image your mind congeurs up when you think of Bali. It felt as though Bali’s hotels and bars are not disposing of their rubbish properly or showing initiative to sort it out. There is lots of new stuff being built along the seafront too and the narrow promenade was full of mopeds and more rubbish so not really a place for a pleasant stroll. Maybe its different in the high season but to us the beach front felt a bit dated and grubby.

sunset seminyak bali indonesia
"The sunsets on Bali are incredible!"

Seminyak is full of five star resorts and a few stylish pool bars where you can swim at sunset and be ’seen’, outside of these places Seminyak just didn’t have the ‘luxe’ feel for us. We were visiting in low (wet) season and over Australia Day weekend so there was quite a bit of traffic and tourists, we can only imagine how cramped it gets during high season. It makes sense to go to Bali if you’re nearby but as for flying 16 hours you can find better beaches and a more authentic atmosphere in India or Thailand.

We booked our villa a couple of months in advance via airbnb.com, if you haven’t tried this site yet and are planning a few days away from home we highly recommend it, its an innovative platform that links homeowners with guests for short term stays in major cities and towns all over the world. There are some amazing properties for rent and if you’re in a group its much less restrictive than staying in a hotel.

friends seminyak bali indonesia
"Until next time guys, thanks the memories! xx"

Have you ever visited Bali before? What were your impressions? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.


  1. I nearly killed myself laughing when reading your comment that "Bali doeasn't really offer any culture"! After travelling in SE Asia for a year I's say there isn't many places there that have even half of it. Art, music, dancing, architecture, Temples and their ceremonies and just the daily village life is just dripping with it. But then you did choose to spend a weekend in Seminyak and let's face it there isn't a trace of Bali left in there...What a shame you missed out!! If you're interested, have a look at our blog www.shivasunsea.wordpress.com for stories and pics. Have a wonderful trip you lucky people! We are back at work already and the year just went so fast!

    Sini Korhonen

    1. Hi Sini. Thanks for your comment. We assure you that we are not trying to kill you with our travel writing - ha ha! It's great that Bali has such a passionate ambassador like you. We didn't have the time in our itinerary to experience more of the island outside of Seminyak, we were solely there to catch up with friends for a few days. The great thing about travel is that it subjective to the individual, your time in Bali was very different to ours yet we all had a great time. We are very lucky to be travelling the world and have been able to get our 'culture fix' outside of Bali. Sorry to hear you're back at work, hope that is going well for you!

  2. Bali is a cultural black hole compared to other parts of Indo. But then, it depends on whether you want to see the real culture or just the stuff put on for cashed up tourists!

    Disclaimer: On this occasion I was a cashed up tourist.

    1. Thanks for your comment Stef. We agree that Indonesia is a beautiful country with lots to offer outside of Bali which is often most tourists first and only stop, which is fair enough if you're short on time. We really enjoyed East Java too.

  3. Try £20 executive scenic java train.....when u back in indonesia
    also see the extreme contrast poor and rich of jakarta