9pm, welcome drink in hand, the distinctive sound of the ocean somewhere in the darkness but we can’t quite make it out. I’m getting my itinerary and all my breakfast options explained to me, but I’m actually calculating how long it will take to shower off and get to the beach bar (the Puri Bar) for a drink. We started our trip at the Belmond Jimbaran Puri which is on Jimbaran beach, traditionally known as Puri Beach.
I actually really enjoy getting to hotels after dark. You get there, and it’s not quite bright enough for you to really see the grounds and get the full effect, so you get all these ideas in your head of what you think it looks like. And when you wake up the next morning, you get surprised how much it actually looks like you imagined, or how much it looks completely different.
We had originally planned on arriving in Bali just before noon, however what turned out to be an inaugural flight by Singapore Airlines on their brand new LA to Singapore route turned back due to mechanical issues, and we missed our connecting flight. So all the model airplanes and Hors d’oeuvres at the gate before boarding did not make twenty four + hours en route any more pleasant than it sounds.
I’m pleased to announce that we showered in record time (sweet relief) and arrived at the beach bar in record time for drinks. We even caught the end of some fireworks in the distance, and as it was rainy season, some spectacular lightning. It was kind of really atmospheric to nibble on bar snacks (I don’t know what they coat their nuts with, but I will not be sharing them with the squirrels) and watch it drizzle from the covered seating at the outdoor restaurant. November is the start of rainy season, and while we were initially worried about the weather, it was actually for the most part sunny most days during the day with showers at night.
Balinese villas have the coolest entry ways. We had goldfish frolicking about in the twin ponds flanking our door, and the wooden door opened to the most beautiful traditional entryway and pool area.
We stayed in a deluxe pool villa and it was everything I wanted in a pool villa. I definitely recommend springing for the private pool. First of all, it’s never crowded (even though the main pool was hardly crowded throughout our entire stay). Second of all, the walls are pretty high. I’m just saying.
My favorite feature of the villa was the little gazebo by the pool where we had breakfast our second morning there. Great place for a poolside nap.
We usually have one breakfast at the hotel restaurant so we can check out the whole buffet spread, and the other in our villa which is a little more private.
Breakfast is served every morning at the Tunjung Restaurant. They have a pretty great spread with both a western breakfast and traditional Balinese options. Everything is covered with a what looks to me like a bird cage. You should try the dragonfruit if you never have. They’re also known as pitaya, and you can find them in ‘pitaya bowls’ at organic juice places around health conscious cities like LA. This particular variety is bright pink in color, so hard to miss.
They make a killer pancake. The fruit is embedded in the pancake. It looks great. It tastes great. This is coming from the girl who orders pancakes every time she goes to brunch. They are also very generous with the pastries and fruit in their in-villa breakfasts, which suits me because I like carbs, and then like to balance them out with fruit to “make it healthy”. Don’t ask me how I make that mental gymnastic believable.
The grounds are so beautiful – we went for a wander after breakfast. I accidentally tripped on a snail which made me feel so bad, but judging by the other poor snails we saw around, I wasn’t the only one. It was all I could do not to give it a ritual burial. I am telling you this because hopefully, it will spare another poor abnormally large snail from being a tripping hazard on a path one morning.
Coconut tree climber must be one of the coolest jobs here and the guy we saw was definitely a pro. I could workout every day for a year and not be able to shimmy up a tree trunk like that. We were told that many of the hotel staff have been living in this area for generations and that many of the staff at the hotel are in fact married couples who have lived here and worked at the hotel for most of their lives. Every time I visit Indonesia it always strikes me as the kind of place where it is truly possible to gain an appreciation for the local.
Did I mention the bar snacks at the beach bar? Worth mentioning again. Dangerous. Delicious.
I thought I would never say this, but there are only so many coconuts one can have, so we retreated back to our villa to be recluses a.k.a subject my boyfriend to quality time and deep and meaningful conversations. This is also where, as I note with amusement, that I would opt for the novelty of the outdoor shower, while he would insist on the indoor one, and I would open divider door between the two and spray him with water. And here lies the beauty of choice.
I also need to point out that they seem to do an excellent job of keeping water moving and not stagnant here despite all the water features around, because I was not bitten by a single mosquito during my time here. And in Bali, that is worth its weight in gold. This might have something to do with the garden/grounds staff that we passed every single time we walked anywhere, who always always greeted us with a huge smile.
One of the most unique parts of our itinerary was the Indian Ocean Sunset Cruise which took us to Uluwatu Temple, or Pura Luhur Uluwatu, along some of Bali’s most stunning coastline. We waded out slightly and were helped on board, amidst jokes that we were going to be made to swim out. From abandoned cliffside houses, to an elevator being built into the cliff, to all kinds of surfers and long boarders, there’s a lot going on at the Southern-most tip of the island. We had brought offerings along – and as we rounded the bend to Uluwatu Temple, we released them into the waves and I burnt myself on a stick of incense (don’t ask me why I find that worth documenting, it’s ok, it didn’t scar permanently).
They had prepared champagne and a little bento box picnic of spring rolls, rice paper wraps and other treats and it was all I could do not to spill champagne over myself in my excitement (in my defence, the waves had also picked up).
We had a really lovely lunch experience at the hotel restaurant, Nelayan, however didn’t eat at the hotel the entire time. As beautiful as it is, sometimes it’s nice to explore the area! A plus is that the hotel is walking distance from essentials such as a pharmacy and a spot where you can pick up sim cards if you neglected to do so at the airport. For me, the convenience of having google maps on hand at all times in a foreign country makes it worth the trouble of setting up a local phone service.
Luckily, the Belmond is well situated in a happening part of Jimbaran, so we have a few recommendations when it comes to other food options.
Cuca has really beautiful tapas so if small plates and beautifully plated dishes are your thing, definitely check out this European fusion vegetarian-friendly restaurant. The flavors and textures are phenomenal and I do not say this lightly. The best part, is it is walking distance from the hotel!
If you walk along the beach either way, you will come to some seafood restaurants like Bawang Merah Beachfront Restaurant. We were recommended these places for seafood by the hotel concierge!
I’ve been to Bali twice now – once for three weeks while I was traveling with the cast and crew of the travel documentary I was a part of, and this most recent trip, and this was one of my favorite stays. It has one of the most wholistic experiences in terms of large beautifully-landscaped grounds with a shared pool area, spacious villas with private pools and beach access.
Thank you Belmond Jimbaran Puri for hosting us and for organizing such an incredible itinerary of experiences – it was an absolute pleasure from the start to the finish. ❤