I am eagerly waiting to return to Bali this weekend where I can surf, eat organic food and catch up with friends.
Bali has become a second home of sorts, with me traveling there 9-10 times in the past 3 years.
Bali had never been high on my travel bucket list but after doing a food documentary pilot for a TV show in Ubud, I fell in love.
The people are spiritually sound and grateful. Very caring and gentle despite the harrassment that sometimes occurs on the more popular beaches and tourist stretches of Kuta and Seminyak.
I like to stay in Canggu. It is the beach area further around from Seminyak and was the old surfie part but like most of Bali has been a little over run by hipsters and families.
If you ask anyone where Old Man’s Pub is you will find Batu Balong.
The place is very laid back. Sports a little temple, which commands a big crowd on Sunday with worshipping from the local Balinese.
I like going surfing here. It is a reef so can get gnarlly on low tide. Actually the beach is quite steep so getting out of the surf can be precarious.
There are a couple of surf board hire places in the car park and both are friendly establishments. You can leave your valuables in a basket and the guys will look after them. Boards cost $5 for 1-2 hours.. no one really runs a clock. You can organise a coach easily enough, on the spot – usually $35 which includes board hire.
Regardless of whether you have surfed before or not, Batu Balong is a great place to catch some waves. If you have surfed a bit you might find it a bit crowded but for novices it is easy!
If you are heading to Lifou Island here are some great ideas to do that are kid friendly.
For the second time the children and I are ferried across from our floating hotel (the P & O Cruise Ship, the Pacific Dawn) to the one of the islands that belong to the Loyalty Islands, in New Caledonian, called Lifou.
Lifou is part of Micronesia and the islanders are knowns as Kanaks, with the main language spoken being French.
Most people understand English but there is something sexy, something adventourous and something special about speaking French in the South Pacific.
Seeking connection with nature and some underwater experiences we discovered the following and would recommend the following with your day ashore:
Five things to do on Lifou:
Snorkel at Jinek Bay
Jinek bay is a marine reserve a twenty minute walk from where the cruise ship anchors and comes a shore. We purchased our pass on board for $20 per operson or you can buy them there for $10. Apparently the numbers are capped each day but I didn’t really see evidence of that in the bay and the guy taking people’s money seemed happy to give coloured wrist bands to who ever came along.
2. Hire a stand up paddle board
Stand up paddling or SUP is a fun easy water activity. I SUP at home for exercise and at $10 an hour it was too good to pass up. Skimming over the beautiful azure waters was breath-taking and there were plenty of moments to reflect on an often manic life back “home.”
The only thing I would caution on SUP if you haven;t done it before is falling off over the coral. You can weave your way through the coral but if you are not great and confident on the board, try to paddle through the sandy, areas so if you do fall off you don’t velcro yourself to a coral shelf.
3. Drink a coconut
Coconuts grow in abundance on the Pacific Islands and offer incredible nutrients. The juice was once used as a blood volume expander and they can be really good for hang-overs. I just love the fact you can climb a tree and lop open a self made drink that is refreshing and nutritious. The locals use papaya stems as straws as they hollow and non toxic. A must!
4. Visit the church
Built in 1895 the church is a beautiful piece of achitecture from yesteryear and is a landmark you can see pulling in and out of the harbour. There are actually a couple of churches on the island, with one up on the right of Easo Bay (where the ferry docks) and is only a modest 30 minute walk past the turn off to Jinek Bay, or the other one on the way into town, also a 30 minute walk.
As with all churches around the world, you can walk through, marvel at the stained glass windows and climb to the nook where the church bell is rung. I like this little church, it is a bit run down but colourful and happy.
5. Grotto and villiage experience
You can do many tours (organised on board the boat) or simply by walking into town. Most activities will cost $20 and will include a mini van driving you to a spot. Last visit we did the blue grotto cave experience. It was great for the kids as they were shown how to huntfor food, make bows and arrows, and see how the locals exist. Most still hunt for their food and frown their own crops.
There are plenty of other touristy things to do such as braiding your hair, getting a massage, buying pearl necklaces etc. The locals will do a traditional dance as the cruise leaves wishing you well and hoping to see you again.
Snorkeling and swimming anywhere on the island is stunning but as with most parts of the world the colour from the coral has been bleached away. The fish are still incredible and you will usually see a turtle and the water is a stunning tourquise blue.
Negotiate away on the advertised price but be respectful.
I was embarrassed to hear so many people from the cruise not use basic manners such as please and thank-you, it’s really not that hard. Merci Lifou!
There’s a special clarity in the air at Coolangatta that sends me into holiday mode every time I hang out down there. And it is a hang-out. Coolangatta (Coolie) lines side by side by some of Australia’s most gorgeous beaches; Snapper, Greenmount, Kirra Beach.
The water is always blue-green and pristine.
Clear waters, safe beaches and golden sunsets.
My friend is staying in an apartment on the beach and I am pretending I am in the south of France – why not?
Today was typical Coolie stylin’.
Small little waves rocking into the beach.
The long beach had just the right mix of children playing, random people sun baking and people lapping up the water. NOT Bondi-stylin’ nor Surfers styling”…. just Coolie-Style. Even a man with a metal detector wanders around!
Did I mention the azure blue waters.. Hypnotic, delicious just like a blue parfait.
This is a picture of the water… Yes I ramble but the bubbles in the water jingles down here, like fine crystal.
Off to George’s Paragon for lunch. Long standing restaurants generally get things ok. This time started off rusty but came good. Not great but good.
Seafood restaurant and I order steak?! Hey I was craving meat. It was good. The garlic prawns on top just enough. 5/10..
The raw caramel slice on the way home was perfect and the Geisens topped off a perfect afternoon.
When ever I am here I feel away.
Long walks, dopey walks, golden sunsets.
Coolangatta is GOLD. Cheesey but I think it puts the ” Gold” in Gold Coast.