Bali | Weekend Fun

Bali | Fun Weekend Getaways

One of the main reasons we chose Bali as our home base for the year was the ability to do so many different things within a couple hours drive from the city. Our previous Bali post was mostly about our daily life in Sanur, a neighborhood we chose to live in since it’s close to Andy’s awesome school. But while the pun of “Sa-nore” used by many underwhelmed expats might be a bit harsh, it’s true that the real drawcards here are definitely outside of Bali’s urban core. Thankfully, this year’s dry season has lasted almost 2 months longer than usual thanks to a strong El Nino, so we’ve been able to do a ton of exploring.

Waterfalls are pretty ubiquitous here, and the ones with “obstacle course” trails to get to them are always a hit with Andy. The route to the falls at Goa Raja involved at least a dozen bamboo bridges crisscrossing the valley, a particularly memorable scramble for our kiddo. But perhaps Andy’s favorite waterfall wound up being at Tegenungan, not because of the (rather impressive) cascade, but rather the fancy day club called OMMA nearby! He’s gained quite a taste for bougie clubs since we left Texas, and was definitely in his element at OMMA, helping us celebrate our amiga’s 40th Bday while visiting from the States. Much to our amusement, he kept yelling “Buy her a shot!” to anyone who walked by us.

bali fun weekend getaways

But as far as day clubs go, the one we found randomly in the mountains of northern Bali has got to be our fave – and one of the most unique experiences we’ve had to date. We’d hired a driver to explore a lake area one day and our intel on kayaking turned out to be very wrong – so our driver suggested a hot spring instead. Where we wound up was far more than that! Toya Devasya is a series of multi-layered geothermal pools overlooking a volcanic crater lake, complete with swim-up bars, beer towers, and waterslides. Tripadvisor had loads of negative reviews for it, I think mostly from yogis seeking a spiritual healing experience and not an Indonesian Margaritaville. But that’s exactly what we never knew we were looking for! We had so much fun there that we took some visiting Hawaiian friends back for Thanksgiving. It may have been the Bintang talking, but one of them said that was the best day of his life 🙂

Although we’d mostly gotten our fill of temples just by going about our day-to-day life in Sanur, there were still two heavy-hitters on the tourist beat that I still wanted to see. I’d last been to both with my family in 1996, and the nostalgic pull was strong. We hit Uluwatu first to see their famous sunset fire dance – that would have completely lost Andy’s interest without the dude dressed up as a monkey and causing mischief. Later in the show, the other performers tied the monkey’s hands together and put him in a fire ring – which Andy referred to as the naughty monkey being in “time out”. Ha! Overall a bit crowded and chaotic, but the views over the ocean were pretty spectacular nonetheless. The highlight for me there was recreating a picture from so long ago that geologic time had passed! That rocky promontory above my head on both pics had been pounded down to a nub in the 27 years since I’d last been there – so cool.

The other major temple complex we hit was at Besakih – up on the slopes of Mt Agung (a still active and currently grumbling volcano). We had fun recreating this pic too, despite Andy having a bathroom crisis immediately afterwards – always fun in the developing world! Most of the time this area is covered in clouds, as it was when I last went in the 90’s – but our day with Andy was quite fortuitous and yielded rare and beautiful views of the entire mountain.

Among the best day trips we’ve had so far was up to Ubud for the Monkey Forest – which lived up to the name! Even though one jumped on my back and stole a bag of sanitary wipes from my backpack pocket, the setting is otherwise pretty tranquil. I like to think that monkey just had to poop really bad! We made an unexpected pitstop nearby too at a coffee farm where they produce the world’s most expensive brew – kopi luwak. Made famous by Jack Nicholson in “The Bucket List”, the coffee beans here are eaten and “processed” through the gut of a civet – which we got to meet up close and personal before trying the special coffee. It was good to be sure, but the price tag is a bit excessive for our pedestrian palates. We’ve made several trips to the Ubud area over the past few months for toobing down irrigation canals and riding ATVs through waterfalls- which were super fun but difficult to keep a camera dry!

For beaches, tourists to Bali are often disappointed as they only see the ones near the highly developed areas of Southern Bali. Sanur is no exception, but the postcard-perfect sands often associated with Bali are just an hour or so south of here on the Bukit peninsula. Melasti Beach checked all the boxes – clear water, soft sand, and a dramatic cliff backdrop, with the added bonus of a random pirate ship! There was also no shortage of Instagram influencers here setting up their perfect beach pics, so we copied a few of them for our blog.

The best of the beaches within striking range of here, however, require a 30-40 minute boat ride from Sanur over to the islands of Nusa Lembongan and Nusa Penida (known for pics of the “T-Rex” shaped beach). The former is a world away from southern Bali in terms of traffic chaos and urban sprawl, with killer snorkeling just offshore and floating bars – perfect for a few nights away. Sadly, we’ve only seen Nusa Penida on a somewhat rushed day trip and need to go back soon to see what it’s like when the calm returns at night.

But for us, the real charm of Bali is in the tranquil mountain villages. We stayed a few nights in a town called Munduk, which had air nearly cool enough at night to need a jacket, views all the way to the sea, and nothing but the sound of crickets and water rushing through irrigation canals. Andy absolutely loved walking through the terraced rice fields in search of butterflies, the kind of simple and memorable family experiences we’d hoped to have on our year away from our 9-5’s. Hoping many more to come before our time in Asia comes to a close…

bali fun weekend getaways

bali fun weekend getaways

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  • Marianne BrockDecember 13, 2023 - 2:16 pm

    Your photographs are amazing.  Tara, you are very talented!  Your Andy has changed so much, it looks like he is very adaptable.  What a sweet little guy.  Thank you for sharing this with us, great blog!  Miss you!ReplyCancel

  • Marianne BrockDecember 13, 2023 - 2:20 pm

    Your photographs are really beautiful.  Tara, you are very talented!  Your Andy has changed so much, it looks like he is very adaptable and you do look like you are three best friends. What a sweet little guy.  I also must mention that Kevin is quite the model.  Miss you!ReplyCancel

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