AFTER ELEVEN PLANE RIDES, 2 1/2 months in Asia, and a stolen debit card, I had just enough SPF, space in my suitcase, and cash to last me one more full week in Bali. My 10-day yoga retreat was taught with joy and pride, and I was all on my own again... juuuust how I like it.
Allow me to take you on a personal journey through five of my favorite, hand-picked spots in Uluwatu, a quaint peninsula and surf-lover's paradise in southernmost Bali that I dared not depart for its charm, small-community feel, and health-focused culture.
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Seno Guest House and Cafe
If you are a solo traveler or couple looking to stay in Uluwatu, this luxurious and affordable boutique-guest house is the perfect pick. I wandered into the property one day before my retreat began, enticed by the goddess Lakshmi who stood protector. Each day the grounds are blessed by a resident with incense and chants to Hindu deities. For only $25 USD/ night I stayed in a chicly appointed private room with a spacious bath and patio. Sliding bedroom doors open out to a serene pool and chaise lounges, which are refreshed daily with rolled-up towels. It is possible to rent a scooter from the front desk for $4 USD/day so that you may cruise around the quaint surfer's town. Prefer not to venture away from the cozy property? There is a cafe right behind the accommodations with free WiFi, fresh tuna poke, and plenty of seating.
Morning Light Yoga + Mana Restaurant
My body, mind and spirit could hardly wait to wake up in the mornings and zip on my motorbike to Morning Light Yoga, an open air, seaside yoga studio that offers classes every day at 7:30a.m. and 4:00p.m. There is no music necessary at these classes, as the sound of the nearby ocean waves crashing creates a gentle reminder to drop into the breath as your guide. I relished in the feeling of my body becoming stronger and healthier as each drip of sweat fell and hung in that island air. After a 90-minute class participants are invited to hike upstairs to Mana Restaurant, where a complementary cold coconut awaits. No better way to start your mornings than with this routine (unless there's surf, of course).
Feeling alive after my morning practice, I zipped over to Outside Corner, a creative and funky outdoor cafe featuring local artist murals, hanging plants, and even a skateboarding bowl in the back. I dreamed at night of their frothy iced vanilla lattes with coconut milk... only to arrive back home dumbstruck at how my re-creation could bare zero resemblance. Breakfast items are only 50,000 rupiah (a little over $3 USD), and you can rest assured the food you are consuming is of the highest and freshest grade, as you will rarely find any processed, packaged or frozen food in Bali. My favorite? "Overnight oats" with baked plantains, strawberries, home-made granola, and mint leaf. You can even reunite with best friends from college (Adam, pictured above) who now live in Bali and whom you haven't seen in five years!! Love you Adam!!
I ventured to the Loft when I felt like seeing & being seen. It was also my spot to plug into the World Wide Web and catch up on some emails, until, of course, I became wonderfully distracted by the delicious food and drink they had to offer. Now with two locations in #Changgu and Uluwatu, this hip communion spot serves a scrumptious 'Vida Bowl' featuring grilled halloumi (an incredible brined goat-sheep cheese), roasted coconut sweet potato, sliced avocado, purple cabbage, poached eggs, beetroot and chickpea hummus. (I went back twice for this bowl.) And just when I thought this spot couldn't get any "cooler," they delivered my Moscow mule in a copper mug, ice cold.
Drifter Surf Shop
Surfboards and surf clothes line the walls upon arriving at Drifter, but venture in far enough and you'll discover a lounge-cafe with coffee, homemade desserts (Oreo cheesecake anyone??), and fresh-pressed juices such as the popular 'Jamu,' which blends life-sustaining turmeric, ginger, honey and black pepper into a sunset-colored beverage. Violin and cello covers of contemporary songs were a most tasteful backdrop to the well-appointed surf shop and cafe, complete with hemp pillowcases, velvet couches, gemstones, a library, and even a couple of the neighborhood cats. Espresso in hand, I pleasantly browsed their occult and alternative-health book selection. To my delight, the Shop would host a film night that night to celebrate the rich roots of Bali, quickly transforming their outdoor dining space to a cinema by replacing the long picnic tables with puffy white pillows. I came to find out this occurs every Friday night at "Drifter Film Nights," and wondered when I would be back for more.
White Monkey Surf Shop + Thruster Club
Ahhh... the comfortable and familiar White Monkey, for both myself and my wallet. This surf shop has tons of old and new surfboards for you to wish you owned and some really cute shoes, bikinis and clothing to peruse and perhaps (probably) purchase. They share space with Thruster Club, an organic cafe offering coffee, fruit bowls, stiff drinks, movie nights every Wednesday, and live music every Friday night. The shop owner, Eddie, a mere-22 year old expat surfer from CA, encouraged me to return one evening for a film night. Rarely declining an invitation in a foreign country, I hopped upon my motorbike and rode in the dark with my new high-heeled flip-flops back to the shop. As I squatted among a group of strangers, munching on free popcorn, sipping a gin and tonic at half the price it would cost in the U.S., and marveling at the big-wave surfers being projected up on the movie screen, I felt proud of myself for creating a life I love.