“We travel not to escape life, but for life not to escape us.” Anonymous
The fifth and final stop on our Bali adventure was Seminyak. I had read lots about the different areas of Bali as part of my research and whereas Ubud was described as ‘artistic’ and Kuta earned the title ‘krass’, Seminyak was labelled ‘soulless’, a reoccurring opinion in many different articles. I didn’t really have any real expectations but I did have a list of ‘to dos’ from various sources and I was looking forward to just relaxing after a hectic ten days.
Another reoccurring theme was Seminyak’s traffic congestion and while I disagree with the area being described as characterless, the traffic situation is pretty dire. With that in mind it was a relief to find our final abode, The Amala was tucked away from the centre in a wonderful tranquil location. The biggest surprise about Seminyak was the abundance of trendy fine dining establishments catering for those with a discerning palate and serving designer cocktails, all of which wouldn’t look out-of-place in Dubai (albeit half the price) and you can see while many expats have made their home here. Lots of shops (designer boutiques,clothes, jewellery and tourist) sit alongside retro stores and galleries, pavement and beachside cafes and of course a beautiful wide sandy beach with great surf which certainly all add to Seminyak’s appeal for visitors and expats alike. We really didn’t do it justice in our short visit (not helped by the other half struck down with a bout of food poisoning) so will need to return to finish the job!
What we did……
Using my previously saved “I did a mountain trek’ advantage the other half was encouraged to indulgence in a spa afternoon (think he got the easy option) for a couples ‘relaxing romance’ massage and then a yoga class at our hotel with the very flexible Mr Budi (read about our experiences in Hidden Retreat: The Amala Review).
We took a little excursion with our trusty driver Dewa to Tanah Lot Temple in West Bali. An extremely popular location at sunset (aka heaving with people and traffic) Tanah Lot sea temple is apparently the island’s most visited and photographed temple and it’s a revered spiritual site for the Balinese people. Set on rock surrounded by crashing waves it’s certainly picturesque but having to access it through hundreds of vendors selling identical tacky touristy wares is not so great. It was an amazing and memorable spot to enjoy our last Bali sunset but really busy with bus loads of Asian tourists.
Seminyak has a fabulous stretch of beautiful sandy beach lined with cafes and bars, loads of rentable sun loungers and surf schools/board hire. Not too crowded either it’s the perfect spot to rent a sunbed, grab a cold beer (Bintang) from one of the many vendors and chill-out to the sound of crashing surf, it’s also a great spot to wander along and choose a cafe for a spot of lunch. The surf is incredible and the high crashing waves are a fixation, you can literally waste hours marvelling at the massive waves and those brave enough to attempt to ride them. La Plancha is a vibrant colourful beach bar offering hundreds of primary coloured bean bags to chill out, grab some tapas and enjoy the sun. At night it holds legendary beach parties and movie nights.
Where we ate/drunk…..
Seminyak comes alive at night and offers visitors an abundance of options from high-end trendy beach clubs to simple bars with live music and happy hours. You really are spoilt for choice of where to go and what cuisine to eat with all budgets catered for in the lively streets, high-end resorts and beach clubs.
Top of my Seminyak ‘to-do’ list was Potato Head Beach Club and what better time to go than sunset. This upscale beach club is a real crowd pleaser and really lived up to my expectations on all levels. The quirky old wooden shutter covered exterior opens up to a fabulous beachside location set around a central lawned area that leads directly to the stretch of sand and ocean beyond. Just as popular in the day (families welcome) as at night it’s a great experience and you find yourself asking ‘I’m I actually still in Bali?’. Alongside the central lawned area and pool surrounded by day beds there is a lounge and upper terrace where we enjoyed cocktails and sunset views. They offer all-day dining options and an extensive cocktail menu filled with Potato Head’s own reinvention of classic cocktails.
Currently sitting at the number one spot on TripAdvisor best restaurants in Seminyak, Bambu was recommended to us by our hotel manager Amelie as a ‘must-do’ for dinner during our trip. The chic yet traditional decor of this fine dining establishment is complimented by its fantastic setting that feels like you are floating on its different water features filled with large koi carp. Bambu offering classic fresh Indonesian cuisine with a modern twist and a somewhat hefty price tag (expensive in Balinese terms but cheap compared to the UAE). Service is efficient and the staff were dressed immaculately in traditional Balinese sarong’s and head-gear adding to its authentic vibe. Owned by the same people who run La Lucciola (fine dining Italian fusion) it’s very popular and you must have a reservation. The ambient venue is divided into different sections and offers a fine selection of cocktails and good wines that are a perfect accompaniment to the interesting menu. I tried Jack Fruit curry, a different dish for me that was tasty if not a little spicy!
Ku De Ta was another must do that I saved to savour as our finale romantic dinner on our last night. This upscale multi-level beachfront venue is amazing and oozes wow factor from the moment you arrive. Definitely a place to see and be seen, it’s contemporary open-air design is both trendy and elegant and the whole place is quite breath-taking, I loved it! It encompasses a chic day-to-night beach club, fine dining options and nightlife centred around a beach, garden deck, central lawn area (DJ booth here) and views out across the Indian Ocean. Three U-shaped modern structures offer different areas to dine, drink and chill out and the international menu is fancy but not cheap in Balinese terms. We enjoyed some signature cocktails and a lovely three course dinner, a perfect end to an amazing holiday. While Ku De Ta is a perfect spot for a romantic dinner it’s equally as good for families, lunch, brunch and holds lots of regular charity functions, supporting and raising money for local causes. They also have an English-speaking KDT radio too so you can get your Ku De Ta fix on the airwaves. A MUST DO for sure, book in advance to be sure you don’t miss out!
Red Carpet Champagne Bar is an old school glam bar that’s open to the street on a busy street in Seminyak’s main drag. This drinking spot offers a large collection of champagne for every palate and wallet from Moet to Cristal, I think even the most discriminating champagne guzzler would be impressed with the selection available. Oysters and cigars are also available but fear not if you don’t like bubbles you can order cocktails, wine and beers too. As the name suggests a red carpet runs along the restaurant floor and the friendly and efficient staff are decked out in matching red and gold costumes (some might say they are a tad tacky) with a steady stream of 70s, 80s and 90s tunes adding to the overall feel good factor. This iconic Seminyak establishment is another ‘must-do’ in my humble opinion.
Wandering along Seminyak beach we stumbled across the open fronted Hitana Restaurant at the Bali Niksoma Boutique Hotel which was a perfect spot for a bite to eat before our final temple visit. The menu is a mix of Western and Asian cuisine and I enjoyed a lovely fresh mozzarella and tomato caprese (standard for me) and a lovely glass of pink wine while enjoying fab view out across the beach and surf beyond.
Others recommended but not tried (yet) were Sardine, WooBar at the W Retreat and Spa and La Flavela to name a few.
Where we stayed…….
We stayed at The Amala in Seminyak in a one-bedroom villa with a private plunge pool and butler service. This accommodation was a perfect spot to relax at the end of our trip and a great location to explore the local area (read all about this amazing hotel in Hidden Retreat: The Amala Review).
We used Dewa Ketut Putrawan again as our driver for the Tanah Lot Temple trip. Contact Dewa on +62 81 7470 3555 if you need a reliable and knowledgeable driver.
So that brings our fabulous adventure on the Island of the Gods to an end, we sadly packed our cases and headed for the airport agreeing that we will most definitely will be back, so see you soon Bali. Read more about our Bali travels in my previous posts In Pictures – A Postcard From Bali, Discover Bali – Jimbaran, Beachside Beauty: Intercontinental Bali Resort Review, Rumah Desa: A Balinese Home and Cooking Studio, Discover Bali – Ubud, Boutique Style: Ayala Resort Ubud Review, Rainforest Retreat: Bidadari Private Villas and Retreat Review, Discover Bali – The Mountains, In Pictures: Faces of Bali and Discover Bali – The North.
Unless otherwise stated, all photos on this page © Jo Brett 2015. All rights reserved.