Bali is the wellness capital of Southeast Asia, where you’ll find as many healthy eateries and active pursuits across the island as you will beeping tuk-tuks in anarchic Kuta.
Home to the retreat holiday, Bali’s paradisal climate and beauty means there’s something for every traveller – MMA to gong bath meditation; protein pancakes to ayurvedic smoothies.
Make Canggu, Uluwatu and Ubud the base from which you see Bali and you’ll struggle to go far wrong in the hunt for wellness activities. Nonetheless, here’s a little guidance from us to get your trip started.
Yogis are, of course, advised to partake in at least one practice at Bali’s sacred paradise, The Yoga Barn. Should you be seeking to sustain practice throughout your trip, though, roll out your mat at Desa Seni. The eco yoga resort offers a selection of packages within its unique art village, and a schedule of Vinyasa, Hatha, Restorative, Yin and more from its serene open-air studio.
Surf the Uluwatu Waves
Bali is a surfers paradise, with waves to cater to every level of experience. It’s down in the southwestern peninsula of the island in Uluwatu where you’ll really want to mount your board though. The wide reef is set below a stunning cliff face, from which you can watch onto surfers from the beautiful accommodation at Uluwatu Surf Villas.
Hike Mount Batur
It’s an early start for those who choose to hike Batur, but one that’s well worth it. The steep ascent takes around two hours, lit by hard-hat lamps, but you’ll catch a sunrise like no other and enjoy banana sandwiches in the company of some particularly cheeky monkeys.
At Bali’s largest CrossFit box, WODs are all the more enjoyable for their outdoor warm-ups, on-site tailored nutrition and the knowledge that recovery can be done on Canguu’s nearby beachfront thereafter. Signing on to one of CrossFit Wanderlust‘s unlimited passes may seem like the antithesis of namaste life, but it’s a sweat you’ll feel all the better for working up.
Just across the street from Wanderlust is Bali MMA, Indonesia’s top mixed martial arts academy. Since 2014, elite coaches have provided quality instruction in martial arts disciplines from kickboxing to Muay Thai and Brazilian jiu-jitsu for every level. Why not try them all in a day for just 250,000 Indonesian rupees – less than £15.
The Slow is a hotel not like many others. Its in-house radio station is a channel for great music discovery, and it hosts regular art exhibitions showcasing local and international artists. Then there’s its own range of bottled juices, mylks and smoothies available in its restaurant and bedroom minibars. Be sure to try the E-05 – a punchy blend of tomato, pepper, carrot, pineapple and coriander – alongside the full vegan breakfast one morning.
Visiting Give Cafe for lunch is about more than simple midday nourishment. Yes, you’ll get your pick of a delicious plant-based Balinese buffet, but the real choice comes after your meal when you can choose which of the three charities Give has partnered with to support. There’s an option for people, planet and animals respectively.
Yellow Flower Cafe
For the best smoothie bowl in Bali, look no further than Yellow Flower Cafe. It’s a family-run business offering the showcasing the Balinese characteristic warm and friendly service standards at their finest. Grab a seat outside overlooking the rice fields and enjoy a Mellow Yellow, made with jackfruit, mango and turmeric.
Peloton is a bike shop/cafe hybrid that boasts some of the best vegan food Bali has to offer. Epitomising Canguu’s laid back beach vibe, start your day with a plant-based Marathon Breakfast Plate and a freshly-brewed coconut cappuccino before taking to the waves or indeed, going on a bike ride.
The Avocado Factory
No prizes for guessing which ingredient reigns supreme in this Canguu establishment. At The Avocado Factory, all dishes pay homage to what is considered “Mother Nature’s most perfect food”, from the poke bowl and smashed avocado hummus to the avo and chocolate mousse.
Venture down towards the relative bustle of Seminyak and Bali’s most Instagrammable food awaits at Kynd Community. By that, we mean indulgent vegan freakshakes, plant-based waffles topped with scoops of coconut ice cream and vegan burgers stacked to the heavens – plus a whole lot of millennial pink interiors, of course.
Bali is an island that’s not lacking healing spas, but few are quite as tranquil as Fivelements. This eco-retreat is a champion of plant-based cuisine (jackfruit tacos and vegan panna cotta are particularly amazing), which can be enjoyed between lounges by the riverfront pool, massages and reflexology, or a revitalising superfood facial.
The Temple of Enthusiasm by Deus Ex Machina
Aussie brand Deus Ex Machina provides a very different kind of temple in its Canguu flagship. The custom motorbike, surfboard and skateboard shop is teeming with great merch and is about the coolest place on the island to buy a board. It’s also home to one of Bali’s most trusted barbershops.
Of the three Gili islands off Bali’s west coast, Gili Meno is the most tranquil and a perfect retreat for those looking to head further from the beaten track. The slow pace makes unplugging, recharging and relaxing all the easier, so be sure to pack a good book. Might we suggest Ryan Holiday’s Stillness is the Key?
If you’re going to treat yourself to one night of luxury, Canguu’s Como Uma is the place to do it. It’s swimming pool has to be a contender for the best in Bali, plus the Indonesian fried rice and jackfruit chia pudding in its breakfast buffet are delicious enough to break even the most dedicated of fasts.
Pretty Poison is one of Canguu’s coolest hangouts, with its bowl-style skate pool for skaters in its backyard, born out of surfer frustration during down-periods at sea. By night, music plays until the early hours, live or otherwise. By day, it’s a great spot for some shopping, and you’ll catch some pretty nifty tricks from local skaters.