Despite spanning only 80 miles in width, the small volcanic island of Bali in Indonesia is known by locals as the 'Island of the Gods' - and for good reason. Ideal for those after a dose of wanderlust, from the iconic emerald rice fields to its white powdery sands and world-class waves, Bali is the definition of natural beauty.
Singapore-based travel writer and founder of the The Lost Guides, Anna Chittenden self-published her first curated guide to Bali back in 2015 after endlessly dishing out advice to family and friends. Designed for stylish nomads with an eye for quality, design and authenticity, Anna's guide is filled with small hidden gems off the beaten track. From lo-fi beach shacks to foodie favourites, boutique retreats to the most deserted stretches of sand - all tried and tested by the 'Brit abroad' herself.
So, to celebrate our current competition to win a week's holiday in Bali (enter here!), we caught up with Anna to ask for her top insider tips on tropical island living...
How would you describe Bali to someone who has never been?
Bali is a really special place with a little bit of everything. In the Bukit Peninsula in the south of Bali you’ll see craggy cliffs, turquoise blue sea, white powdery sand and wild waves. Go up north to Ubud and you’ll find yourself in a peaceful, glorious jungle with mesmerising volcano views. The atmosphere is relaxed but also vibrant, with friendly locals, fantastic food and inspiration to be found around every corner.
Describe your perfect day in Bali?
I’ll often stay in the Canggu neighbourhood, as it has a bit of everything and I have friends living in the area. Mornings in Bali start early, and if I’m feeling energetic I’ll go down to Old Man’s to surf until my arms can’t bring themselves to paddle out any longer. Then I’ll grab a coffee and breakie from Crate Cafe, and then take a moped back through the rice paddy fields to the villa. In the afternoon I might go into Seminyak to do a bit of shopping – I love Kevala Ceramics for plates and bowls to take home with me. For dinner, Mama San does fantastic Southeast Asian food.
Breakfast Out: Shady Shack
Shady Shack in Canggu does the best vegetarian and vegan breakfasts. I love their smoothies bowls and the ‘chickbeans’ with 64 degree onsen eggs with Spanish braised chickpeas and mashed avo.
Lunch Break: The Warung
The Warung at Alila Uluwatu in the South of Bali does fabulous Indonesian food, taking inspiration from Java, Bali and Sumatra, and adding a modern twist. The restaurant also has the most to-die-for views.
Dinner with Friends: Locavore
Locavore in Ubud is one of my favourite restaurants ever. They do a tasting menu using locally sourced ingredients, as well creative alcohol pairings. You need to book at least a month in advance (or longer) to get a table here.
Girl's Night Out: La Favela
La Favela in Seminyak is a really fun night out. It has the most amazing interiors, designed like the inside of someone’s home in a Brazilian favela. It’s like being on a film set.
Best Beach: Bingin Beach
I love Bingin Beach in the south of Bali for swimming, surfing and it's sunset. The surfing is good for beginners and intermediates (as opposed to say pro spot, Uluwatu down the road). The water is also calm enough for swimming. Sunset is best enjoyed from the top of the cliff here.
Best Place to Stay: Sal Secret Spot
Sal Secret Spot in Bingin is a perfect escape. It’s a boutique B&B run by a super friendly team, and is close to the surf too.
Best Place to Shop: Magali Pascal
Magali Pascal in Seminyak has got the Paris meets Bali look down to an art, with vintage inspired light cotton smock tops and stylish dresses made using sheer lace fabrics and silk chiffon panelling. I always come to look for unique outfits for friend’s weddings.
Must-See Tourist Spot: Uluwatu Temple
I like visiting Uluwatu Temple, a Hindu temple known locally as Pura Luhur Uluwatu. The draw here isn’t so much the structure itself (Bali has more impressive temples dotted around the island), but the striking scenery, situated on a limestone cliff 70m above the roaring ocean.
Culture Fix: Artisan Villages in Ubud
Visit the villages surrounding Ubud, where you will find the most amazing artisans, from painters, to wood carvers and mask makers. Each village specialises in its own specific craft, so you will find a silver making village, and even a bone carving village. Spend a day going around and visiting the artisans – they are unbelievably talented and often sell their creations for reasonably prices.
Best discovery: Nyang Nyang Beach
There’s a totally deserted secret beach called Nyang Nyang in the south of Bali. You will literally be the only people there. One reason is that it’s pretty hard to find (read dirt track, fields and 500 cliffside steps). Once you get there, however, you’ll be rewarded with your own little bit of paradise all to yourself.
And lastly, describe Bali in three words: