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Recreation - page 8

Must-see places and can’t miss things to do from Malé to Bali

Tabanan – So you think you’ve seen Bali?

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Nature lovers, serenity seekers, golfers and explorers of ‘the real’ Bali, will love Tabanan. In this Indonesian regency, founded in the 14th century and covering almost 850sqm of south-west Bali, stretching from the sparkling black sands and craggy cliffs of the coast, to the soaring heights of Bali’s tropical hinterland, there is much to explore. Balinese Hindu culture remains strong in this peaceful part of the island, where small villages are bound by customs and colourful religious rituals. Early mornings see fishermen heading out to sea in their colourful wooden jukung (fishing boats), while farmers in bamboo hats plough their rice fields. Tabanan is also the setting for some of Bali’s most beautiful temples, and home to a world-renowned golf course.

Tabanan is known as Bali’s rice bowl, and you don’t need to look far to find picturesque rice fields, whether sloping gently down to the sea or clinging to steep terraces as the land rises sharply toward the majestic volcanoes of central Bali. The famed rice fields of Jatiluwih are a protected UNESCO world heritage site located in Bali’s lush foothills. Sign up for a tour and explore this scenic region by bicycle, foot or land cruiser.

If you are seeking a soothing vista of emerald green, check into Kaba Kaba Estate which is gloriously located close to the coast, amidst a seemingly endless sea of rice fields. This palatial eight-bedroomed villa is a treasure trove of antiques and makes a truly luxurious hideaway.

Nearby, two other luxury Tabanan villas are close enough to visit Canggu and Seminyak for a meal or shopping spree, yet rural enough for that away-from-it-all experience: the delightfully peaceful six-bedroomed Maya Retreat is set amidst enchanting gardens on the banks of the Penet river and makes a magical holiday base. While five-bedroomed Arsana Estate has sleek modern buildings sprawled over two beautiful hectares of terraced hillside and boasts a home theatre and games room.

One of Bali’s best-known and most-photographed attractions is Tanah Lot, a mystical sea temple that clings to a craggy island just metres from the shore. Sunsets here are magnificent, but often rather crowded. Staying in a nearby villa means you can wander down for an equally stunning sunrise and avoid the crowds. Just up the road from the temple, the Greg Norman designed Nirwana Bali Golf Course is considered the best 18-hole course in Indonesia.

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thailand i love you

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Phuket has long attracted travellers seeking a tropical beach escape, but as Thailand’s largest island with a rich history, dining and marine scene, there’s much more to see and do beyond lazing on the sands. From vibrant nightlife to spectacular seascapes to beautifully restored Old Town streets, an island holiday on Phuket can unwind in some delightfully surprising ways.

But first, the beaches.

Kamala Beach, on the central west coast, is one of Phuket’s quintessential postcard-picture beaches, its soft sands and shallow waters are among the island’s best places for all ages to swim, surf and sunbathe. Hints of its fishing village past remain with traditional long-tail boats gliding across the calm bay, while a string of casual restaurants lining the sands offer seafood barbecues and breezy spots for watching the sun go down.

The smaller Surin Beach is another fine sunset spot, with its beach clubs and seafront restaurants serving up creative cocktails along with the sea views. Hemmed in by two lush headlands, Surin’s fine sands and swaying palm trees add a tropical idyll that invites you to linger, whether indulging in the beach club scene or not. Nearby Laem Singh is a small cove found between Kamala and Surin reached via a steep path, where silken sands and colourful snorkelling sites await.

With its position along an ancient Andaman Sea trading route, Phuket has attracted seafarers for centuries, though these days superyachts and cruise vessels are more likely to be spotted on the horizon than merchant ships. Whether you get there by private yacht charter, or by kayak for venturing deeper into its hidden caves and lagoons, no visit to Phuket is complete without exploring the magnificent Phang Nga Bay with its tall limestone karst islands.

The Similan Island archipelago west of Phuket is a protected marine wonderland for divers and snorkellers, while Racha and Coral Islands are an easy day-trip from Phuket, brimming with sea life for snorkelling and white-sand beaches for relaxing.

Phuket’s interior is looking more urban these days, but discovering its traditional rural side and jungly bits is simply a matter of straying off the island’s main roads. Walk a path through towering bamboo and giant leafy tropical plants of the protected Khao Phra Thaew National Park up to Bang Pae waterfall, or cool down in the stream.

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24 hours in Batu Bolong

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Having settled into your exquisite villa on this island paradise, it’s time to head out and explore Bali’s hippest ‘hood – Batu Bolong.

While Canggu is a cool collection of gorgeous green tropical tracts of rice paddy with smatterings of sacred cows, Batu Bolong is blooming into the hottest locale for chic bohemian lifestyle.

Think organic market and chichi yoga meets beach-bum couture accessorised by celebrity-anointed designers. The food is fab too.

Secure that chauffeur-driven car and kick the day off with a tres authentic French breakfast at the holy shrine of Monsieur Spoon, or graze on the most amazing Nagu Bomb breakfast bowl of sweet local fruit, coconut milk and granola at Betelnut Café. Cool cafés are a growth industry on this strip, so check out the super buzzing Crate, the uber healthy Avocado and the recently opened Bro – an intriguing mash up of ‘awesome Chinese and authentic French’ – while you’re here.

Machine-porn at Malamadre is where custom-created motorcycles are produced from a tiny workshop, while over at the epic Deus ex Machina they are customised alongside surfboard shapers, a barber, live music and food.

Artist types longing to embrace Bali’s creative realm will adore silver smithing at the House of Alia where professionals share their painting and jewellery-making skills at workshops for small groups, including kids from age seven.

If the main game is retail therapy, the starting point is near the ‘Deus’ intersection.

Twentyone/Degrees stocks swimwear, jewellery and clothing ranges, while Flow & Yonder is a smokin’ hot surf-wear institution up some super-steep steps.

Puravida has non-resort-style women’s casuals while Asmara offers fashion with a Balinese spin. Nearby Horn has concept street-wear while a hop across the road to Bottle Avenue will secure some grape-based libations and vinyl music is sold next door.

Kiki’s Kloset has gorgeous beach-bum wear and smashing dresses. Blak is for the little ones and The Berawa Art House is worth inspecting, while opposite is Moon Rocks and 69 Slam – famous for teens.

Batu Bolong blooms restaurants like so many flowers, with a clutch being the chilled siblings of swank Seminyak outfits.

Kitchen Rustica offers classic Italian take-out made with love while inside the pod of shops at Love Anchor is the Roman restaurant Pinsology, dedicated to dishing pinsa – a type of pizza from Rome – plus tiramisu.

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Romantic Hideaway: 7 Hidden Beaches in Bali

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Looking for a little romantic adventure? Jump on the scooter and explore some of Bali’s hidden, picture-perfect beaches.

Green Bowl Beach

Finding this secret gem is not easy, but trust me, it will be worth the effort. After you’ve paid your IDR2,000 entrance fee, you’re in for a serious cardio workout heading down the concrete steps until you reach the beach. Result – your very own private stretch of sand with world-class surf.

green-bowl-beach-4

How to get there.

Pandawa Beach

It may no longer be quite so hidden, but its stretch of white sand and turquoise waters make Pandawa Beach one of the most beautiful on the island and definitely not as crowded as Seminyak or Kuta. We know a picture speaks a thousand words, so take a look for yourself.

Pantai Pandawa, Bali 2013--14

How to get there.

Karma Beach

This well-kept, exclusive private beach is a perfect place to spend a romantic day together enjoying the stunning views and soothing sounds of the Indian Ocean. Excellent Mediterranean cuisine is also served here. Entrance fee applies.

photo by Karma Resort

How to get there.

Balangan Beach

Bordered by two cliffs, the skirt of Balangan beach stretches for about 1km. This also means that there are great swells for surfers. An amazing mixture of white and black sands on some spots of the beach, the unique green and dark brown musty stone texture on the shore, and the pond-like hollow spaces filled with clear water (and sometimes with little fish), are among the features you can expect to find in this paradise.

photo by Balangan Seaview Bungalow

How to get there.

Geger Beach

Geger Beach is famous for it’s seaweed. It’s worth peeking in on one of the many seaweed farms nearby after frolicking about in the crystal clear waters.

source unknown

How to get there.

Nyang Nyang Beach

Another gem requiring some physical activity to reach, but totally worth it. Follow the dirt track close to Uluwatu Temple and keep a lookout for a sign saying “Nyang Nyang Surfing Beach” before alighting the flight of 500 steps that finally open up to the beach. This beach has amazing photo spots.

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Jimbaran and The Bukit Peninsula – Bali’s southern belles

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While Bali is perhaps best known for its verdant and picturesque rice-terrace landscape, The Bukit Peninsula possesses a very different kind of beauty. Towering limestone cliffs, thick coastal forest, timeless fishing villages and legendary surf breaks typify this rugged lemon-shaped headland marking the island’s most southerly point.

A narrow land bridge separates the sprawling southern plains of Bali from The Bukit, and it’s here that you’ll find the peaceful fishing community of Jimbaran. The wide, gentle curve of Jimbaran Bay is protected by a reef, which creates a calm lagoon of sparkling turquoise water. Safe swimming conditions and beautiful soft white sand make this lovely beach a hit with families. Colourful jukung (traditional fishing boats) rest on the sand, and casual restaurants line the beach. Jimbaran’s nightly seafood barbecues regularly top ‘must do’ lists in Bali. Choose your fish or seafood, then take a table on the beach while it is basted in Jimbaran’s famous spice mix of garlic, black pepper, kaffir lime leaves and chilli, and grilled over coconut husks. Those in search of a finer dining experience and bespoke cocktails can head up to the fabulous beach club, Sundara, tucked into the corner of the bay, while foodies shouldn’t miss Cuca, one of the island’s most innovative restaurants.

Situated on the gentle rise of Jimbaran Hill, with charming views over the bay, (best enjoyed from a roof-top Jacuzzi,) the light and spacious Villa Aiko is well set-up for families. Nearby are two more fabulously equipped villas, each with ocean views and walking tracks down to the beach: Villa Jamalu is equally suited to jetsetters in search of a luxury pad and families looking for a quite holiday retreat, while the popular, highly contemporary Villa Adenium boasts a massive gym and games room.

Further up the hill is the area known as ‘millionaires row,’ an exclusive neighborhood boasting million-dollar views and some of the island’s most exclusive villas. Early mornings reveal central Bali’s dramatic chain of volcanoes, while evenings see the island’s southern plains ablaze with twinkling lights. The Longhouse clings to the mountainside, with a stunning design by renowned Balinese architect Popo Danes, and bedrooms showcasing some of the many rich cultures of the Indonesian archipelago.

Back on the coast, golfers can play a round at the New Kuta Golf Course,

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