A Pocket guide to Bali

Bali has long been a drawcard for artists, intrepid travellers, surfers and, more recently, yogis, drawn by the Indonesian island’s supreme natural beauty, laidback lifestyle and rich spirituality.

With so much to do it can be hard to know where to start, so take a look at this Broadsheet pocket guide for your visit to the “Island of the Gods”, and scope out Qantas Luxury Holidays for curated exclusive offers that are available for a limited time only.


The Cave
This subterranean restaurant, which opened in May 2022, is set inside a 25,000-year-old cave at The Edge resort in Uluwatu. Expect a seven-course degustation by chef Ryan Clift, while projections light up the stalactites and natural stone ceiling.

Seafood is the calling card on a menu that includes tuna tacos, lobster and fried oyster, while a vegetarian option replaces tuna tacos with beetroot, and oysters with oyster mushroom, along with faux foie gras. After you eat and enjoy the light show, you’ll have the chance to grab a headlamp and explore deeper into the cave.

Poppies Restaurant
Easily overlooked due to its location, Poppies is an oasis of waterfalls and hanging gardens hidden among Kuta’s busy laneways. The restaurant opened in 1973 and retains the charm of “old Bali,” offering a respite from the hectic thrum of the town.

Many menu items remain unchanged from the day it opened. The rijsttafel (rice table) is a Dutch adaption of Indonesian cuisine that features multiple small plates of different dishes from across the Indonesian islands. Leave room for the sweets such as black rice pudding, banana pancakes and klepon (sweet rice cake). Make sure you order the restaurant’s speciality Pina Colada, which comes served in a coconut carved as a barong, a mythical creature known as the “king of the spirits” in Balinese culture.


Kuta Social Club
One of Kuta’s newest hotels, Mamaka by Ovolo is a welcome addition to the town’s famous beach strip and boasts a neat rooftop bar, Kuta Social Club. An infinity pool is perched above the palms, and DJs spin tunes under an airy canopy thatched like a village hut.

You can take part in a cocktail mixology class and then drink your creation as the sun sinks over the Indian Ocean, while local tropical fruits add an island punch to the bar’s “spiked juices.” Try the Passioned Rita, with tequila-infused chilli, three types of fruit juice and vanilla syrup. There’s also a comprehensive wine list that combines both well-known favourites with local drops such as the Sababay White Reserve chardonnay (did you even know wine was made in Bali? We didn’t).

Motel Mexicola
Mexican restaurant by day and evening, raucous nightclub after dark, this Seminyak hotspot is a melting pot of mayhem for tourists from around the globe. If you’ve come just for the quesadillas you’ll know it’s time to finish up when people start dancing on your table.

DJs pump out mash-up hits with a retro vibe (anything from Queen to Nirvana to Spice Girls) and cool mist is sprayed liberally to ensure holiday-makers don’t overheat with tropical sweat. The themed decor makes for the most photogenic backdrop for your Insta-worthy party pics and there are plenty of hidden nooks in which to chill and escape the noise. Start your night with a frozen Margarita or tequila Negroni, but this place is really as much about the vibe as the drinks. Despite the crowds the atmosphere is friendly, and there’s always room for one more person on the table.


Sunrise climb of Mount Batur
A sunrise ascent of 1.7-kilometre Mount Batur in the Kintamani district in the north-east is achievable for any early risers of reasonable fitness. Several trekking companies lead early morning climbs of this active volcano, some of which include breakfast cooked in the ground by the heat of the volcanic activity.

The climb starts in total darkness and takes about two hours. Most tour companies give the option of exploring the mountain further after sunrise, visiting nearby coffee plantations or swimming at Toya Devasya Hot Spring Waterpark.

Scuba diving USAT Liberty
The USAT Liberty was an American army cargo ship struck by a Japanese submarine torpedo in 1942, before being towed to Tulamben on Bali’s east coast and beached. It is now one of Bali’s most popular dive sites.

Part of the appeal is you can walk straight in off the beach and explore the ship with a basic scuba-diving PADI licence (or even just a snorkel). Expect to see hundreds of species of tropical fish, along with turtles, eels, manta rays, seahorses and live coral. To avoid the crowds, it’s best to visit early morning or late afternoon. You can even try a night dive.


Alila Villas Uluwatu
Part of the Alila Signature collection of luxury accommodation, designed by Woha Architects, these contemporary-styled poolside villas sit on a limestone clifftop above the Indian Ocean in Uluwatu, just a 30-minute drive from the airport.

Each villa has a private pool with cabana and a 24-hour butler service, and the resort has a comprehensive activities program, including yoga classes, surfing lessons, cooking lessons, ocean cruises, cycle tours and visits to local temples. As part of Alila’s regenerative approach to tourism, guests can opt for a Positive Footprint booking. This includes a tour of foundations providing housing and health care to local communities.

Jumeriah Bali
Jumeriah Bali combines the architecture and spiritualism of Balinese Hinduism with ornate luxury. Inspired by the designs of the Majapahit empire and opening just last year, this five-star hotel in Uluwatu features towering columns, gorgeous gardens and shimmering pools, all set on terraces that flow down to the ocean.

There are six types of villas, including a two-bedroom option for families, each with a private pool and exclusive beach access. Dine at two restaurants, Segaran Dining Terrace and Akasa, or at the Mantra clifftop pavilion. There’s a resident master yogi, and you can even receive a blessing at the resort’s private shrine.