Flying from Sydney to Denpasar on a Garuda airlines is the best option, as it is a full serviced carrier with 30kgs of luggage and arriving in day light hours is much better than the late-night arrival.
We arrived mid-afternoon in Bali and travelled directly via a private transfer to Padang Bai, a small coastal town on the East Coast approx. 1.5-hour drive. We had two very relaxing nights here. There is great snorkelling at Blue Lagoon Bay which was a 5-minute drive from our hotel. If you can find the Secret beach its worth spending the day there also, it is a beautiful white sand beach and there are Warungs that still sell great local food and very cheap beer!
We then travelled via boat to Gili T on the Eka Jaya. The pier was only short 2 – 5-minute walk from the hotels.
You should only book a reputable company to do this (I can help you) as there so many that will offer cheap, but small unreliable boats. This trip is roughly 2 hours and you must be patient with embarking and disembarking as it can be tricky.
We stayed 4 nights at Dive Trawangan Resort on the north eastern side. This is a Dive resort and they offer courses from beginner up to professional level including technical diving and coral reef restoration study. If you don’t want to dive there is no pressure, you can stay as a non-diving guest. They have two pools one with a pool bar and good lounge area. Clean, spacious rooms with buffet breakfast daily. A great choice of western / Indonesian options. There is a café onsite and the Fat Cats restaurant is one of the best on the island- it is beach front and all meals are big and great!
The resort is only a five-minute walk to many restaurants and shops.
The next four nights was staying at the Bale Sampen. A small intimate boutique style resort that focuses on simple home comforts and fantastic service. This resort is located on the North-East Side of Gili Trawangan and opposite the best snorkelling and sunbathing beach. We stayed in the Pool View Room, which is beach front, the Garden View Rooms are all decorated beautifully and surrounded by beautiful tropical gardens. They have a freshwater swimming pool and an amazing breakfast included that you can order form the menu daily. It is only a 5-minute walk to restaurants and bars.
Being located beach front the resort has their own beach chairs but there is not a lot of shade!
You can use all areas of the beach for free, no charges for deck chairs and umbrellas like Legian or Kuta. We always had lunch or drinks on the beach.
You can take your own snorkelling gear and fins if that’s your preference, but we hired ours each day for $5pp which saved carrying extra kgs. They were clean and in excellent condition but choose wisely. This island is a non-motorised so you can only walk / ride bikes or take a horse and cart which is part of the beauty of the island. We rode bikes every day- hire cost $5pp. You can actually ride around the entire island which takes roughly an hour including a few stops for fresh juices for $3.
Seeing Turtles was the main attraction. Turtle point is where you need to snorkel and on high tide, we saw so many turtles every single time we snorkelled. Truly amazing!
Boat trips out to a variety of snorkelling points were also very good. It can get busy, but you see so many fish, some turtle and even a shipwreck! We booked a private tour with a guide which was a good option- and they throw in a Go Pro and take pictures for you! There are few good snorkelling spots you can manage yourself though if you prefer to do it yourself.
Stand up paddle boards are also popular, cheap and easy.
Food was reasonable in prices and lots of options all over the island.
We loved our time on Gili Trawangan.
We then head back to Bali for 4 nights in the mountain area of Ubud.
There are many options of things to do in UBud depending on your interests. There are health retreats, Yoga, Mediation, Monkey Forest, food, shopping, swings, rice paddies, temples, water falls….. the list goes on!
We discovered the waterfalls via a private tour, and it was an unexpected beauty. A must to visit but there are lots of stairs to walk. Tegalalong Rice Terrace is a popular tourist attraction in Bali situated in the Tegalalong Village, north of Ubud. It has amazing and picturesque cliff rice terrace paddies and great shopping away from busy Ubud. It was my favourite. There are also a few cafes to enjoy a meal and swimming in cliff hanging pools- so take your swimmers and relax and take on the spectacular views! I found it hard to leave.
The famous monkey Forest is always fun to meet the cheeky monkeys- just don’t feed them and keep your valuables away in a bag.
There are endless food options in Ubud for all Vegetarians, Vegans and any tricky food intolerances.
Next, we moved on to Balian for 4 nights.
We stayed at Pondok Pattay which is a surf/yoga retreat. It is a very chilled resort on a black sand beach. There is not much to do here but surf, yoga and eat so you are forced to relax!
Accommodation varies and suits small and large families plus surf groups. It is decorated with old style teak Indonesian furniture facilities a little old but good as it’s a remote area.
The view of the surf is beautiful from this resort. It has a great restaurant with so many options and few other good ones in the area to choose from. Local massage was amazing we will definitely go back there for a relaxing holiday.
Lastly, we moved to Seminyak for some serious shopping. We stayed at the Puri Saron in a deluxe superior pool view room overlooking the beach and pool area which is in the newest wing. They have a great buffet style breakfast daily and loads of good pool side snacks all day long. The pool area was great to laze around. This resort is right on the Seminyak beach with a variety of restaurants out front. Choose a bean bag or a deck to sit off the sand and watch the world’s best sunset daily. It’s a very good 4-star option in a great location for restaurants/ shopping I would highly recommend it.