HAPPINESS. This one word sums up the general feeling of being in Bali. The island has been a popular destination for beach-goers, surfers and yogis since the 1980s. The west coast and its surrounding islands are more chill than other areas that draw crowds of tourists.

With many options, it can be difficult to choose a base-location in Bali. We planned our travels around culture, relaxation and surfing. The best time to visit is during the dry season from May to September.

Fly into Ngurah Rai International Airport in Denpasar just south of Kuta. Take a private car or taxi (Blue Bird Taxis) to your base location. Note that traffic can be very congested!

JIMBARAN & Seminyak


Cuca Restaurant Tapas-style dining using local ingredients. Highly recommend.

Kayumanis Resto Modern, traditional Indonesian dishes.

Sea Circus Bali Go to brunch spot in Seminyak sporting a colorful, vibrant atmosphere.


Finns Beach Club Trendy beach club in Canguu.

Rock Bar Bali Scenic sun-downers in Jimbaran.


In both Nusa Lembongan and mainland, we recommend renting a scooter to check out the hidden beaches and restaurants. Our must-dos are below and other ideas pinned to the map:

Badung Beach

Bingin Beach Hidden swim and surf spot near Uluwatu.

For a little retail therapy, check out Jalan Petitenget street (From the W to Potato Head) or Jalan Kayu Ayu in Seminyak or several contemporary, beach wear boutiques selling unique prints.

Uluwatu Temple A Balinese Hindu temple on a steep cliff offering beautiful views of the Indian Ocean. Experienced surfers can catch a break here, but there are strong tides.


Kayumanis Jimbaran Private Villas & Spa this tucked away gem is five minutes from the beach and offers a five star experience. Think private pools, spacious (super comfy) rooms and outstanding service. It does not get any better! 

Blue Karma Seminyak A boutique resort and spa in the middle of Seminyak. Note: Seminyak is a bit more commercial than other locations.



Hai Bar and Grill Dinner near Mushroom Bay.

Indiana Kenanga Restaurant For a change of taste from the local cuisine, this European, waterfront spot will not disappoint.


Sandy Bay Beach Club Waterfront beach cafe.

The Deck The BEST views in Nusa Lembongan. We can promise no Sunday scaries here; the bar has live DJs and craft cocktail specials on the weekends.


The island is best toured by scooter and offers surfing, swimming and beautiful beaches. It is a bit less crowded than mainland Bali.

Klungkung Beach

Dream Beach Swimming and relaxing.

Lacerations and Shipwreck For experienced surfers.

Manta Rays Hire a local boat and captain to explore the islands, snorkel and swim with these gentle giants.

Monkey Surfing Beginners can head to Monkey Surfing for lessons.

Mushroom Bay Another day, another white sandy beach.


This island is southeast from Bali and best reached via boat from Sanur (45 minutes). Our recommendation is to stay at the Batu Karang Lembongan Resort.



Fair Warung Bale Casual restaurant in Ubud where 100% of the proceeds support the local community.


Smiling Coffee Bali refreshing stop after a visit to the Tegalalang Rice Terraces.


Mount Batur For some physical activity, opt for the sunrise hike. We organized this excursion through our villa.

Sacred Monkey Forest Sanctuary It’s touristy but who doesn’t like monkeys? Go during non-peak hours to avoid the crowds and don’t feed the monkeys!

Tegalalang Rice Terrace Scenic views of rice paddies featuring traditional Balinese irrigation. Go early to beat the heat and crowds.

Ubud Palace Iconic landmark in Ubud and a lovely example of traditional, Balinese architecture


We highly recommend Purist Villa, a luxury boutique resort with a relaxing atmosphere, great food, and friendly staff.


A tropical island in southwestern Thailand on the Andaman Sea, Phuket is prized for its clear beaches, jungle trekking and high-end resorts. It is well positioned as a gateway to smaller, surrounding islands, with ferries leaving daily to the Phi Phi Islands, Similians and James Bond Island.

Winter is the best time of year to visit to avoid monsoon season. The water is calmer and clearer between November to January.

If you want the freedom and mobility to explore the island on your own, scooter rentals are popular. We recommend only renting through your hotel, versus a local shop in town, to guarantee a fair price and to avoid thievery.

Tuk tuks are another popular way to get around. Be prepared to negotiate price up front and never accept the first offer.


Kata Beach One of the more popular beaches on the island, Kata is a great for restaurants and nightlife, and has a handful of spots right on the beach. It is more sophisticated than its seedier cousin, Patong Beach.

Mama Seafood Casual little restaurant serving up fresh seafood and overlooking sleepy Nai Harn beach.


Kata Beach As mentioned above, Kata has a good nightlife scene and beach bars.

Nai Harn Reggae Bar Chill, laid-back spot with live music.


Karon Beach One of the larger beaches on the island, it has a long strip of sand and is more commercialized than Kata Noi and Nai Harn.

Karon View Point South of Kata Noi beach, this view point has lovely vistas of the jungle, ocean and sunset.

Kata Noi Beach A smaller, quieter beach south of Karon.

Nai Harn Beach A quiet beach at the tip of the island that is a bit off the tourist track. Consistently ranked one of the prettiest beaches in Phuket.

Phuket Weekend Night Market The largest market on the island, it runs Friday through Sunday evenings.

Promthep Cape Watch the sunset and snap a few photos.

Walking Street Located in Phuket Town, this old Sino-Portuguese has interesting architecture and is a popular shopping area.


Most of the luxury resorts are on the northern part of the island. These are a good bet for relaxing away from the hustle and bustle. Angsana Laguna Phuket is well known for its long pool that snakes throughout the resort.

If you care less about staying in a five star resort, we recommend staying near Nai Harn beach. Check out the four star All Seasons, an Accor hotel.

Western Sicily (San Vito lo Capo, Trapani, Marsala)

Western Sicily is, simply put, stunning. It’s clear, calm water, rugged Mediterranean landscapes, medieval towns, delicious seafood and rich red wines are deserving of a four to five day road trip. Best of all, this region hasn’t quite yet been found by international tourists. Enjoy the sleepy beaches and towns of San Vito lo Capo, Trapani and Marsala.

Fly into Palermo and then head west two hours along the coast by rental car to San Vito lo Capo.


Morsi e Sorsi Dinner in San Vito lo Capo. Try the seafood busiate pasta.

Caffè Savoia Ice cream and sweets overlooking the Santuario di San Vito Catholic church in San Vito lo Capo.

Pasticceria Maria Grammatico Pastry and sweet shop in Erice.


Donnafugata A family owned winery and historic cellar in Marsala. A tasting includes several traditional Sicilian foods. Try the nero d’avola red blends.

Ni Mia Beer bar a block from the beach in San Vito lo Capo.

Cantine Pellegrino A family-owned winery known for its sweet Marsala wine production. They also produce dry reds and whites.


Catamarano Alien Boat Tours A daylong boat trip off the coast of Trapani and around Favignana Island. The water, views, quiet coves and cliffs are incredible. Hosts Isa and Ale are incredibly generous and serve homemade, traditional meals and snacks.

Erice A well-preserved, hill-top medieval town overlooking the Mediterranean and Trapani. Take a cable car from Trapani or drive.

Riserva Naturale Orientata dello Zingaro A national reserve with seaside walks and hikes. Bring water and food!

San Vito lo Capo Do not miss this sleepy beach town. It has a truly world class beach.

Scopello A small village and beach town down the east side of the peninsula from San Vito lo Capo.

Trapani Tours A daylong tour of the region, including two wine tastings, tours of Trapani and Marsala, and a local salt flat. Guide and owner Aldo is incredibly knowledgeable of Sicily.


A few suggestions by area:

San Vito lo Capo The town is small and anything near the beach will be close to restaurants and night life. We loved Poseidon Residence.

Trapani Stay in Old Town. Secret B&B is a boutique hotel with beautiful touches in an old, traditional Sicilian building.

Hawaii (The Big Island)

The largest, youngest and driest of Hawaii’s islands, The Big Island has some of the world’s most beautiful beaches, miles of lava fields and active volcanos. It is still growing from eruptions and lava flows from the Mauna Loa and Kiluaea volcanoes.

Fly in and out of the Kona International Airport, located just 15 kilometers from Kona’s town center.

A rental car is needed to get from place to place.


Punalu’u Bake Shop Pick up malasada donuts from this bakery in Na’alehu on your way to Volcanoes National Park. These sugary, pillowy balls of goodness were brought to Hawaii by Portuguese immigrants.

South Side Shaka Restaurant & Bar A simple restaurant and bar along Mamalahoa Highway in Na’alehu serving up authentic Hawaiian comfort food. It calls itself the “most southern bar in the USA”.


Kona Blue Sky Coffee A shop and roastery in Holualoa offering tastings and tours of the tiny plantation next to the shop.

Kona Brewing Company Craft beer microbrewery in Kailua-Kona. Also has good food!


Anaeho'omalu “A-Bay” Beach A stunning white sand beach sprinkled with palm trees.

Body Glove Cruises This sunset, dinner cruise from Kailua-Kona to Kealakekua Bay and back features a local historian who shares background on Hawaii, the island and historic sites along the coast.

Hapuna Beach One of the most beautiful beaches in the world! Do not miss its bleached sand.

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park

Holualoa Village An eclectic, artsy little village in the hills above Kailua-Kona. A special ukulele shop that offers ukulele-building workshops lives here.

Magic Sands Beach Local beach south of Kailua-Kona town. Sea turtle spotting here.

Mauna Kea A dormant volcano with astronomical observatories at the summit. Go for sunset and stay for a bit of star-gazing. Bundle up, because of the elevation the temperatures are incredibly cold!

Puukohola Heiau National Historic Site Ruins of temples built by King Kamehameha.


Stay in Kailua-Kona town if you want to be close to restaurants and night life. Or one of the numerous resorts that dot the coastline nearby.

For a more authentic experience, consider renting a home with a view in the hills. We stayed at Hale Akala in Holualoa, a charming and historic Hawaiian plantation home and guest cottage. The Hale Akala ranch and main house were built and owned by Lindsay’s ancestors in the 19th century.



The smallest and oldest Hawaiian island, Kauai is also the most laid back and rural. Called the Garden Island, it rains nearly every day and is covered in lush rain forests. Head here for quiet beaches and rugged landscapes away from the maddening crowd.

Kauai is remote and the beaches and trails are a distance from each other. Rent a car for your visit to the island.


Foodland Princeville Get groceries before heading to your rental in Princeville or Hanalei Bay.

Pono Market This small, humble market on the Kuhio Highway in Kapaa has incredibly fresh poké.

Tiki Iniki Tiki-style bar and grill in Princeville with Hawaiian food and fun cocktails.


Tahiti Nui Polynesian dive bar and restaurant in Hanalei. Go for happy hour or dinner.


Anahola Beach Quiet, locals’ beach on the northeastern face of the island.

Hanalei Bay This natural bay is stunning. Spend an afternoon at the beach and then walk south a few blocks into Hanalei town for happy hour.

Queen’s Bath This natural tide pool in Princeville is beautiful, but can be a treacherous hike and dangerous. Admire the pool versus swimming in it, as this spot has been responsible for dozens of deaths.

Kapaa Town Quiet town on the eastern shore with a handful of shops and restaurants. Visit the the Wailua and Opaekaa falls, both just off the road.

Kalalau Trail Starting from Ha’ena State Park, this 11 mile trail is not for the faint of heart. While difficult, the hike rewards with stunning views of the NaPali coast and is the only way to access its lookouts and hidden beaches, including the beautiful Hanakāpī‘ai Beach.

Kayak Wailua Take a guided kayak tour through the rain forest and down the Wailua River.

Kealia Beach Long beach north of Kaapa Town.

NaPali coastline Kauai’s ancient, jagged coastline is eerily surreal… and familiar (it was featured in Jurassic Park). To appreciate it’s magnificence, take a catamaran day cruise and snorkel trip with Captain Andy’s.

The Sleeping Giant Another hiking trail. However, the Sleeping Giant himself is best viewed from a distance.

Waimea Canyon The “Grand Canyon of the Pacific” is seriously awe-inspiring. Admire the red canyon walls and waterfalls from one of the look-outs, hike through the Waimea Canyon State Park, or take a helicopter tour through the canyon.


Rent a house or condo in Hanalei or Princeville depending on the size of your group. Both are near world class beaches, restaurants and nightlife.