There’s plenty to love about this sleepy seaside town, not least its unpretentious air and laidback charm. Once the playground of the rich and famous – Mick Jagger and Jerry Hall exchanged vows here in a traditional Hindu ceremony in 1990 – these days, it has all the allure of Bali’s flashier resort towns without the congestion or the crowds. Just 30 minutes from Ngurah Rai International Airport on Bali’s south-east coast, Sanur stands out with brilliant white sands, clear waters, shady trees and a small, flat-water beach protected by a reef. There’s a good mix of bars and restaurants fronting the sea, and a gorgeous walkway that skirts the coastline. It also delivers spectacular sunrise views.
The book, Eat, Pray, Love may have put it on the map, but lovers have been making the spiritual pilgrimage to Ubud for years. This spellbinding place of ancient temples and shrines, sacred rivers and coconut groves, deep in the mountains, is full of poetry and beauty. Intense green jungles of hanging banyan trees and palms abut sweeping rice paddies that descend the mountainside like steps. It’s also Bali’s cultural heartland: a creative hub of antiques, arts, wooden carvings, beading and textiles. These days, there’s a definite health aspect too, with organic cafes, yoga studios and alternative therapies on offer. Cooler than the coast thanks to its high elevation, with cloudy skies and misty rains common, things here move at a less-hectic, more-tranquil pace.
In the 1980s, Candidasa lost some of its sparkle when mining of the reef caused much of its white sandy beaches to wash away. These days, the beaches have returned, but not the crowds. Tucked away in Bali’s east, this seaside village is a picture of pretty tranquillity. Surrounded by undulating low-rise mountains and white sandy beaches, a stunning, lilypad-clad lagoon sits in its midst while gentle turquoise waters lap its shore and the frontline of hotels and resorts offers sweeping views of the sea. The views at sunrise are spectacular too.
Romance goes five-star at Nusa Dua. Named after the two islands it sits on, this gated luxury resort town on the peninsula of Bali’s south exudes exclusivity, elegance and style. It’s breathtakingly beautiful, with manicured gardens and lofty palms framing golden-white sands and the blue-green waters of the Indian Ocean. A coral reef provides a gentle breakwater, while meandering walks past temples and shrines lead to majestic clifftop views and hidden waterfalls. It’s stunning and the perfect place to exchange vows as the sun dips into the sea. Far from the bustle and crowds, this private beach enclave is home to sumptuous beachfront resorts and villas, some with their own wedding chapels.