Oh, the weeks spent agonising over where to stay in Bali with our baby. Planning a vacation with baby in tow is so completely different from how we used to travel. With neither of us having been to Bali, it was especially hard to know where to base ourselves. Pre-child, we would have worried less, knowing that we could easily zip around, but the goal for this trip was more about relaxation. A beachside town sounded right but I didn’t want to miss Ubud so we split the trip in two, starting with 5 days in Sanur.
Sanur seemed like a good choice in that it isn’t too far from the airport (we arrived at night), the beaches are attractive and swimable, it’s developed enough for easy access to supermarkets and medical clinics if need be, and it’s the departure point for boats going to Nusa Lembongan, where the really dreamlike beaches are.
The villa we found on Airbnb had everything on our list – a private pool, air conditioning, a separate bedroom for our son, a kitchen and a full time villa manager to organise massages, cooks, drivers etc. It was located at the south end of the beach, near the Mercure hotel. We were happy enough with it’s location when we arrived, but after exploring further, I would definitely recommend staying at the north end (north of Hardy’s supermarket). There’s more to do there and the beach boardwalk is nicer at that end. Our days were mostly spent swimming in the pool, lounging around the villa and exploring the town, but we did squeeze in a few other activities that made our time there memorable:
Yoga class at Power of Now Oasis
This studio is in a structure that can only be described as part treehouse, part barn. It’s right on the beach, so you get nice fresh breezes even on the hottest days. I honestly can not imagine a more serene or utopian like place to practice. The instructors there are really good too.
Day trip to Nusa Lembongan
I’m so glad we did this despite how nerve wracking the boat experience was. We booked with Scoot which is supposed to be the fastest and safest, but it still operates by Indonesian standards. The surf was pounding as we sped along and the engines failed a couple of times, but we made it there and back without having to swim! We didn’t really know much about the island and my Lonely Planet was badly out of date so when we landed we took a punt and asked a driver to take us to Mushroom Bay for some swimming. The bay was beautiful but obviously many more boats are arriving now and anchoring in this bay, so you sort of have to swim around them. The Hai Tide club overlooks the beach and was the perfect place for us to relax and have lunch and cocktails while bub napped in a stroller (we brought one for just this reason.) After a few hours, we went back to Jungutbatu, explored the back streets, stopped at a bar for a watermelon frappe and then caught the 4:30 boat back to Sanur.
Parents’ night out
We found out that our housekeeper Kadek, whom we’d become familiar with, was also an experienced nanny so we decided to book her for a couple of hours one evening after our son went to sleep. We booked at Char Ming restaurant, a restaurant serving Indonesian food, with French influence. The atmosphere was as the name suggests, although the Michael Bublé-esque singers performing ‘New York, New York’ and ‘The Way You Look Tonight’ was maybe a bit too much. We chose a ten-course tasting menu, which actually meant a soup course followed by a bunch of little dishes that all came at once. It was plenty of food and very reasonably priced. I also think that we would have enjoyed a meal at a ‘warung’ just as much, the key for us was just getting out with the help of a babysitter.
Baby’s night out
Bali was great because it pushed us to do things that we normally wouldn’t – like taking our son out after his bed time. On our third night we visited the Rock Bar at AYANA resort in Jimbaran. I knew this bar would be popular but it was really next level. The resort estate is huge, like a massive park with high level security (they check under your hood as you drive in). The driveway seemed to go on forever before we reached the dramatic front entrance. It was like pulling up to an A-lister club in Hollywood. We then received directions down to the Rock Bar. We skipped the half hour wait for the cable car ride and decided to park the pram and take the stairs. Once we reached the hostess it was only about a 5 minute wait for a table. The view, the cocktails and the nibbles were worth it. Luckily they also had a highchair. Not only did we catch a stunning sunset but we also had the excitement of the occasional wave spray our deck. Oh, and we also got to witness and applaud a proposal at the lookout point just beside our table. Our son seemed to enjoy it as much as us and he happily napped on the long taxi ride home.