Finally got our asses to Bali! As some of you would have seen, Jord and I eloped last April (just in little ol NZ) so figured we deserved ourselves a little a honeymoon! Direct flights from Auckland are between a sweet $700- $900, and it’s cheap as chips when you get there, so it’s easy to see why so many kiwis are flocking to the Island of the Gods.
Bali truly is a beautiful place that has a slice of everything I love. Beaches, clear waters, amazing sunsets, mountains, forests, and some of the BEST waterfalls I have ever seen. A bit of a photographers dream really. It’s no wonder so many of us photogs head there and you can now barely scroll through your gram without seeing a pic of this place pop up.
There is of course a very apparent dark side to Bali due to their rubbish issue. It really is everywhere. While it is widely believed that tourists are to blame here (I mean, they do contribute) it really boils down to an in-effective/non-existent rubbish collection system. This means that most rubbish created on the island, stays on the island. It’s disposed in rivers, buried in the ground, but mostly ends up in the sea. It’s not even an exclusive problem to Bali - it could be due to the number of tourists that visit that it gets a little more attention. And worthwhile attention at that. We saw so many businesses doing their best to tackle their waste problem. It has a long way to go, but the people there mostly spread a very strong a positive message to the locals and tourists.
Anyway, little dose of awareness there. You all know how I feel about the ocean, so just be mindful if you go and visit! Story time now. We spend two weeks experiencing, tasting and relaxing our way around Bali. Because it was our first time, we didn’t mind hopping around a little bit to see a slice of everything. Bingin Beach, Nusa Lembongan, Nusa Ceningan, Ubud and Canggu were our hits for this trip. Read on to see what we got up to!
We absolutely loved this spot. Easily the favourite of the trip. Super chilled, great waves and not too many people around. It also meant we were close to Uluwatu so we could hit Single Fin (epic to watch the sunset and surfers with a beer in hand) and Sundays Beach Club. A pretty trendy ‘treat yo self’ kind of spot that can only be accessed by cable car. While this spot is a little more expensive than the rest of Bali, it was so worth the luxury. Similar pricing to going to a nice bar in Auckland really. The food was A++, would eat again. Perfect swimming spot too. A day well spent if you can get down there for sure! Also do yourself a favour a get a Nalu Smoothie Bowl in Uluwatu. Thank me later. Throw in heaps of Bintangs and sunsets and you’ve got yourself a good time.
NUSA LEMBONGAN & NUSA CENINGAN
This was a seriously beautiful place, but man did we pick a seriously wrong time to visit. When we went to check-in for our ferry ride, we were told there weren’t going to be any boats run on the day we planned to come back to the mainland. In fact, no boats would be allowed on the water at all that day due to the name of a holiday I don’t remember. Not a worry, we can just come back a day earlier and have an extra day in Ubud - a blessing in disguise. Fast forward to that day earlier saw us on the beach at low tide with hundreds of other people trying to get off the island a day earlier. Low tide also meant that the ferry couldn’t come right in, so everyone had to be transferred on much smaller boats back and forth to the big boat. Including all of the luggage. These tiny little boats had so many bags piled on top of each other, I was convinced all my belongings were destined for the bottom of the ocean.
Communication was at an all time low and we couldn’t even figure out how the staff even knew how to get our bags onto the right boat. Due to the madness of it all, I think everyone was thinking along the same lines as us “how are all these people going to get transported across in time, how are we going to all fit, pretty sure they have overbooked the ferry.” This resulted in the classic pushy frantic nature you see in so many travellers in the world. If we weren’t stressed before, all that energy from everyone else panicking definitely put fuel on that fire.
Fast forward to now, we clearly made it off the island, didn’t sink and somehow collected all of our belongings. One of those fun travel days. We loved these islands, but the travel logistics alone made me feel like I’ve ticked that box and may never return. What made it all worth it was swimming with our first ever Manta Ray. Also insert frantic tourists here. Never seen so many people in one body of water in my life. Chasing one poor Manta Ray. I observed the pattern the Manta Ray was swimming in and hung around the back of the group and just waited while it came my way. This resulted in a really cool moment where I dove down and swum along side it for a few seconds. That was the “worth it” moment.
So we didn’t actually do a lot in Ubud, but more used it as a bit of a gateway to some of the things we wanted to further north. Hey hey waterfalls and rice terraces! First mission was Gerombong & Sekumpul waterfalls. About a 2 hour drive from central Ubud you’ll find 7 waterfalls in one area. We started our journey at about 5am to get there before the crowds and had the whole place to ourselves! Falling from a height of nearly 100m, Sekumpul is one of the coolest waterfalls I’ve ever seen. And I’m big on falling water.
I wrote a little caption on this a few weeks ago, but basically: water in motion produces abundant negative ions. It’s believed that negatively charged ions produce biochemical reactions that increase serotonin levels, helping to alleviate depression, relieve stress and boost our energy.
The air around a waterfall can contain anywhere from 30,000 to 100,000 negative ions per cubic centimetre. An office or car can contain zero to just a few hundred. They are literally nature’s anti-depressant. So as you can imagine, surrounded by 7 waterfalls makes ya feel pretty damn good.
The road on the way into the waterfall has a bunch of stalls/stops that have signs saying that’s where you need to buy admission. These are fake. Just keep driving until you get to the entrance. You pay the fee on the walk down. You’ll also be told that the only way to get down the path is with a guide. You absolutely do not need a guide. The walk is not hard to navigate. It’s just got some steep as shit stairs on the way back up. However, it’s cheap, supports the locals, they know some cool stuff and can handle a camera. Handy if you need someone to take some snaps for you. There’s a cool drinks shack on the way along the track - well worth a stop for an ice cold coconut on the way back up!
Tegallalang Rice Terraces
Another early start for this one. It’s the best way to skip the crowds and also means you make the most of your day. Mission in the morning, chill in the arvo. Perfection. If you walk yourself up to the back of the terraces (away from the main entrance and over the hill) you’ll find a pretty special spot that sees magical light rays beam through the palm trees as the sun rises. We were there in September and found the light was best between 7-7.30am.
Note there is an old dude there that likely owns the terraces and gates them off. If you give him some money he will let you go explore. Again, not a hard thing to do to support a local. We saw people ignore him and be completely dismissive and rude over what would be about $5-$10NZD. Pretty stink if you ask me. Imagine if you had something beautiful in your backyard and just had people walking all over it and ignoring you for “content”. It did get entertaining when he started throwing rocks at their drone.
Fast forward to about 8.30am and the red dresses started arriving, so we headed on out for a chill day and a little visit to the monkey forest. I’d like to take this opportunity to say: I fucking hate monkeys.
At first I thought they were really cute and had soft little hands. I let them climb all over me and laughed at their grabby curious nature. Until one started biting me. Then it bit me HARD. So I completely panicked (knowing well that the monkeys there don’t have rabies and are regularly tested) and I fuckin’ THREW that monkey. Far away from me. Bad idea. It screamed super loud and suddenly I was surrounded by hissing monkeys. You’re not meant to run in these situations because they chase you. So I’m just standing there freaking out with my bag raised as a soft, shitty, semi-useless weapon. One of these damn monkeys had a dead milky eye which tripled my fear. They eventually left me alone and I power walked the fuck out of there. I will never, ever return.
Last stop was Canggu. A relaxing end to the trip and somewhere to hang for my birthday! Canggu was cool. As in trendy as. And honestly, a little “sceney”. We really loved how Canggu was set up, it’s shopping and all the incredible food. We enjoyed the sunshine, massages, the surf and regular feeds at The Loft. Didn’t take my camera out with me a lot here and just chiiillleddd.
And that therein ends our honeymoon trip to Bali. Funnily enough, I was actually invited along to go back to Bali again with the amazing Carmen Huter… just three days later, lewl. I came home briefly to NZ to celebrate my birthday, do some washing, and then jumped on a plane again! Carmen was on assignment for Marriott Hotels and I was lucky enough to assist for her. Here’s some of what we got up to. In amongst all of our constant rambling. All images of me taken by Carmen - do yourself a favour and go check out her gram!
A super weird experience was visiting the Bali Swing. Carmen had seen images of a swing over a jungle and it looked incredible. So we showed the hotel staff and they said “oh yes Bali Swing!” and sorted us a driver. Upon arrival, we realised that this place was far from what we were expecting. The only way I can describe the phenomenon we saw is “CONTENT FARM”. Holy cannoli there were about 10 swings and a gizzillion gals in pretty flowy dresses swinging back and forward, while their significant other snapped away. Every once and while all the staff would yell in sync “WELCOME TO BALII SWIIINNGGG!” and scare the living shit out of me. Like, you do you boo. Enjoy your holiday whichever way you please. But how bloody interesting that this Instagram culture has created a place that is purely to get an image - there is barely any experience involved! What a spectacle it was.
After standing gob smacked and dumb founded for a little while, we decided to try make the most of being there and had a little swing ourselves. Fun-ish, yet so very odd. Look at us influencing and all. Also, super fun when the skirt you’re wearing flies up on the swing-back and flashes your ass to the line of people waiting behind you (definitely not pictured). What a fine moment during my influencer modelling debut.
We finished our trip at Sundays Beach Club. Hard day at the office that one!
And that’s that. Can’t wait to head back again soon and explore more of the island! If you have any questions about the places we visited, feel free to DM or email me! Ta ta for now!