Bali

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

EAT

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.

DRINK

Finns Beach Club Trendy beach club in Canguu.

Rock Bar Bali Scenic sun-downers in Jimbaran.

PLAY

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.

STAY

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.

NUSA LEMBONGAN

EAT

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.

DRINK

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.

PLAY

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.

STAY

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.

UBUD

EAT

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

DRINK

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

PLAY

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

STAY

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

Guanacaste

Guanacaste is the northwestern-most province in Costa Rica. The region is incredibly diverse, boasting volcanoes and green mountains, dense rain forests and airy deciduous forests, lush sugarcane fields and peaceful beaches.

Liberia Airport is the gateway to Guanacaste and offers daily direct flights from major US cities.

Costa Ricans are known for their kindness and laid back personalities. They live by the code of “pura vida” and love using this term in greeting and farewell.

A quarter of the roads in Costa Rica are paved, making long distance travel bumpy and occasionally painful. While many areas are accessible without four-wheel drive, if you are renting a car reserve a four-wheel drive vehicle.

All beaches in Costa Rica are public, meaning that locals and neighbors are welcome on the beach connected to your resort. This is a boon as you will get a better priced massage on the beach than the resort spa.

EAT

Soda Viquez Excellent, traditional Costa Rican food in La Fortuna.

DRINK

Imperial The most popular beer in Costa Rica, Imperial is a home grown, American-style lager. It claims to be the world’s first “water positive” beer, meaning that it conserves water throughout the brewing process.

PLAY

Arenal Volcano National Park While Arenal has been active since 1968, hiking along its base is safe and offers extraordinary views on a clear day.

Balsa River whitewater rafting Admire the magic of Arenal’s forests while white water rafting class II and III rapids in the Rio Balsa.

Buena Vista del Rincon An eco and wellness adventure park near Ricon de la Vieja National Park that offers canopy zip-lining, horseback riding, natural hot springs and mud baths.

STAY

We loved the Royal Corin Thermal Water Spa and Resort near Arenal. While a bit outside of La Fortuna town (10 minute cab ride), it had lovely views of the volcano and a heated thermal water pool.

In Guanacaste we stayed at Dreams Las Mareas, an all-inclusive beach-side resort a few miles from the Honduran border and 1.5 hours from Liberia airport. While the property and our room were lovely, the food was ok. There are many other beach resorts in Guanacaste, but if you are looking for a more authentic trip we heard excellent things about Tamarindo, a coastal town in southern Guanacaste.