As much as we love to spoil and pamper you in our luxurious villas, our secluded beach retreat Bulung Daya and our family villa Adagian near Seminyak, the wonders and beauties of Bali beckon beyond our walls: cascading rice terraces, soaring volcanos, aromatic cuisine, uber-friendly locals and more fascinating cultural pursuits than you can shake a plate of gourmet gado gado at! That’s why we’ve put together this carefully curated list of the island’s ultimate luxury experiences.
Take a bespoke cooking class
Imagine starting the day in the company of a local fisherman as he pulls in his catch from the Bali Sea, or making your way through a rustic farmers’ market searching for the finest local produce. Well, it’s precisely this sort of experience that’s offered by the folk at Bali Asli, who specialise in bespoke, luxury cooking classes that go above and beyond the usual culinary packages.
The programs are run by the masterful Penny Williams, a passionate chef with previous tenures at the Savoy in London and the acclaimed Boathouse in Sydney, and afford guests the opportunity to savour the exotic flavours of the Isle of the Gods while learning how to cook the most famous dishes of the Nusa Tenggara and exploring fascinating sites and local spots at the same time. Expect to go to the heights of Belibis Mountain, sample ginseng coffees and taste the favourite dishes of the Karangasem royals!
See pristine beaches and leaning palms on the unexplored Gili Islands
Sitting like a string of pearls amidst the crystal-clear, turquoise waters of the Bali Sea, the Gili Islands are hailed as one of the most beautiful tropical archipelagos on the planet. Threaded around the edges by endless stretches of ivory-white sand and groves of swaying coconut palms, these paradisiacal enclaves promise untouched natural landscapes, up-close experiences with endangered sea turtles, some of the freshest fish barbecues you’ve ever tasted and an alluring level of privacy.
On this luxury experience, travellers will see the islands from the comfort of their very own private yacht, skipping the more touristy and larger Gili Islands (Trawangan, Air and Meno) and heading instead to lesser known Gili Nanggu, Gili Renggit, Layar, and Asahan, where empty beaches and secluded jungle abound.
See the island from a whole new angle on a photography tour with David Metcalf
Author of three cultural photography books on Indonesia and with regularly published articles in Jakarta Post, Bali & Beyond, NowJakarta and Garuda Indonesia Colors, David Metcalf is the go-to guy when it comes to learning about photography in Bali. His half and full-day photo tours offer to connect travellers deeply with place, people and culture, and will open photographic learning opportunities that will take you to another level of seeing and feeling the subject, whether that’s the tribal townsteads in the Karangasem Regency, the sun-splashed beaches of Bukit, or the sweeping jungle plains beneath Mount Agung in the north.
Lunch with renowned anthropologist and explorer Dr Lawrence Blair
Along the banks of the mystical Wos River, just a 10 minute walk from Payogan Temple in Ubud, a spacious silk-panelled tent awaits visitors eager to explore the deep histories and cultural traditions of the Balinese people. The package begins as traditionally-garbed waiters and waitresses offer a footbath and massage, before serving up a sumptuous picnic with a lavish choice of tea, fruit juice, mineral water, chilled white wine and canapés.
Bamboo flute-playing musicians serenade in the background, while Dr Lawrence Blair shares tales of his adventures throughout Indonesia. Expect to learn about sacred energies, chakras and Balinese occultism along the way!
Soothe the chakras and spiritual energies with Cokorda Rai
The central Balinese town of Ubud is famous for its spiritual shamans and medicine men. Previously reserved only for the Balinese royal family, these masters of the ancient healing arts now offer their expertise to travellers making their way through the Isle of the Gods.
On this experience travellers will meet Cokorda Rai, now more than 86 years old and a member of the royal family himself. Sessions begin with a “reading” of body and mind, followed by a medley of therapeutic reflexology, sacred healing mantras, mudras, and tantric drawings.
Discover inner sensuality on a Tantra retreat
Leave the hustle and bustle of modern Bali behind for a spell and make for the forest-clad hills that rise around Ubud. Here, some of the world’s most celebrated Tantra retreats can be found hidden beneath the canopy; the perfect environment to explore the sensual, sexual mysteries of this ancient art and practice. Couples can choose from a whole host of different packages, all of which include workshops and tutorials run by experts and masters of the Tantric arts.
Expect to delve into the mantras of Taoism, encounter the likes of “Transpersonal psychology”, practice “conscious relating”, explore the nature of intimacy and participate in horizon-stretching group sessions. And as if the Tantra itself wasn’t enough, guests to these luxury getaways get to encounter the wild heart of central Bali up-close-and-personal, with trips to local temples like the Goa Gajah and jungle walking experiences integrated into most programs.
Dine in your own private cave at the Samabe Resort in Nusa Dua
Start the evening cruising across the beaches of Nusa Dua in the private Jeeps of the Samabe Resort, before arriving at your own personal cave just meters from the lapping waves of the Indian Ocean, surrounded by white sands and rugged cliffs. Illuminated by soft candles and dim ambient lights, this unique and unforgettable spot is one of the most romantic on the whole island. As the sun sets over the horizon and the beach glows pink and red, servers present a fine-dining set menu of five masterfully created dishes, all backed up by fine wines and an unrivalled backdrop of tropical majesty.
Go eco-friendly at the Fivelements resort Sakti Dining Room
Nestled deep in the green jungles and misty forests of south-central Bali, the Fivelements resort offers up a gourmet experience like no other in its gorgeous, timber-clad Sakti Dining Room. Dedicated to ethical, vegan and living foodstuffs, the chefs here table artistic plates of foraged and raw vegetables, along with a host of creative plates all sourced from local farmers and producers.
Expect the likes of artisan cashew cheese, hummus-doused flatbreads, aromatic beetroot gazpacho, shitake dumplings and avocado nori to name just a few of the fine options on the dinner card!
Discover your inner spirituality on a yoga retreat
Escape the traffic, pollution and crowds of southern Bali to a secluded location nestled between Sukawati and Purnama Beach on the eastern shores of the island. Here, the Floating Leaf Eco Resort offers acclaimed yoga packages that include everything from sessions in Ayurvedic healing to beachside stretching classes to traditional Balinese massages. Participants will meet like-minded yoga enthusiasts and enjoy the tutelage of some of the most celebrated instructors and wellness consultants on the island.
Dine – literally – like a king at the Bale Puputan
Taking the luxury and gourmet to whole new levels, the Bale Puputan dining hall of the Tugu Bali Hotel comes complete with oodles of mysterious totems, effigies and antiques that were once the property of Bali’s 19th century kings and queens. Oozing a certain colonial-come-regal charm, the spot hosts up to 12 guests per sitting around its single oversized marble table (the largest in the country), while the menu is a mouth-watering medley of dishes once served to the island’s monarchs.
Enjoy lobster three ways on a private pier
Put yourself in the hands of the more-than-capable folk at the Ayana Resort and Spa for an unforgettable evening spent dining right on the edge of the ocean. Guests are escorted to their own private pier that juts its way out from the sheer-cut cliffs of the Jimbaran coast and over the rolling left-to-righters of the Bali Sea. The sun sets to the mellifluous sounds of traditional Balinese gamelans and bamboo woodwind, while the dishes are formed from the finest selection of lobster and come backed up with an array of fine wines. There’s nothing quite like it!
Relax and unwind at the Prana Spa Bali in Seminyak
Immerse yourself in an opulent world of Mudéjar architecture and regal decoration worthy of the north Indian Maharajas at the Prana Spa in Seminyak – arguably the finest spa complex on the entire island. Follow expert wellness therapists on a journey through Ayurvedic rejuvenation, sacred stone massages, herbal facial repairs, Pevonia balancing treatments and more, weaving between the arabesque rooms of candlelit apses, al fresco sunning terraces, indoor and outdoor pools, Mogal steam chambers and intimate dual-person treatment rooms. Expect only the finest-quality products throughout too, from the 24-karat gold pearl facial masks to the gourmet canapes and wine accompaniment.
Hit the skies and get a bird’s eye view from your very own helicopter
From the soaring heights of the Kintamani Volcano to the untrodden wilds of Nusa Lembongan and the temple-dotted coastlines of the Bukit Peninsula, these private helicopter rides promise to reveal a whole other side of Bali island. See the sweeping jungle plains of the Karangasem Regency, witness the crashing waves and chiselled cliffs around Kuta, spot surfers carving the swells and wonder at the dramatic profiles of the Uluwatu Temple – all from above!
Have your very own private party on your very own private yacht
Forget the strips of Seminyak and the rooftop bars of Kuta for a moment because an altogether different party experience awaits luxury seekers in Bali. Jump aboard the Dragoon 130 and crank up the Bose sound system, pop the champagne and hop in the Jacuzzi as this, your very own private yacht, cruises through the waters of the Indian Ocean. The iron wood Indonesian cargo ship was revamped by Italian architects Sergio Supino and Pietro Rizzuti as a ‘Club on the Move’, complete with everything you need to have one downright wild party on the water.
Soak in a bathtub with a panoramic view
Set on the cliffs above the scintillating sands of the Tabanan Regency in western Bali, our very own Villa Bulung Daya offers some of the finest bath-time panoramas you could hope for. Settle down in a volcanic stone tub with bubbling waters and aromatic soaps and wonder at the crashing rollers of the beach below, or watch as the sun dips behind the serrated tips of the cliffs and rocky protrusions in the distance!