For an island so beautiful it seems surreal, the Balinese are remarkably modest. When I’d arrived on the island the night before, none of the staf members at Jimbaran ’s RIMBA Resort gushed about the view of emerald-green jungle and vast ocean that I’d awaken to in my room, or the oasis-like pools set around the resort, all tucked into secret tropical gardens alive with bright fl owers.
Instead, the resort unfolded at its own pace, delighting me with smells, sights and tastes that I had, seemingly, discovered on my own. Even my treatment at the resort’s rooftop spa was fi lled with surprises, like a bath, fi lled to the brim with rose petals, that removed the last traces of the jasmine-scented rice powder that scrubbed away a winter’s worth of dry patches. Bali moves at its own pace, and there always seems to be time to squeeze in one more perfect moment.
At the AYANA Resort, we rushed to the dramatic Rock Bar — it sits atop 50-foot-tall volcanic clif s — to catch the sun setting over the Indian Ocean. Arriving, breathless, we discovered that the island’s equatorial location turns every sunset into an hourlong spectacle of color and light. As night set in, we made our way to Kiska restaurant, where we sat with our feet in the cool sand and feasted on grilled local fi sh.
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Sunset lovers watched the show from the resort’s serpentine Ocean Pool, cut into the clif -side and facing the horizon. At night, I washed of the sand and seawater in my villa’s outdoor shower, where I gazed at the sky through the billowing steam. After four days at the beach, I headed north, to Ubud, Bali’s ancient artistic and cultural hub.
Ornate temples stand next to art galleries, jewelry and clothing stores, where sarongs and hand-dyed batiks fluttered from open shops. I couldn’t box up the intoxicating fragrance of frangipani blooms, so I made do by purchasing a pretty handmade porcelain dish bordered with delicate blossoms . I settled at Viceroy Bali, which sits on the edge of a jungle valley amid centuries-old terraced rice fi elds sprouting shoots of green in the rainy season. Entering the resort for the fi rst time was dramatic; I stepped into a sanctuary of refl ecting pools, tall palms and a breezy but elegant outdoor dining room. My villa, hidden behind a plain wooden door, turned out to be a haven of marble and dark wood that opened to an infi nity pool overlooking the valley and, in the distance, Mount Agung, a dormant volcano. The friendly staf was just as impressive: One night, we wanted to search the sky for shooting stars after dinner, so they served us champagne, turned of the lights and left us alone with the constellations. Jimbaran’s RIMBA Resort from $375 per night. AYANA Resort from $450 per night. Viceroy Bali from $680 per night.