Sharing my ABCs: Aruba, Bonaire & Curacao Travel Guide

Bon Bini!!

This means Welcome in Papiamentu (see below for more on this).

The ABC islands are three of the most Western Islands in the Caribbean, part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. Rich in Colonial history, including slave trade, these islands offer cultural diversity.

Even though they are grouped together as the ABC islands, they are not indicative of their geographical location. From West to East lies Aruba, Curacao and then Bonaire. This was the order in which we visited these vastly different islands.

Dutch is the official language of these islands, with Papiamentu being one of the unique creole languages that developed (a mix of Spanish, Portuguese, Dutch, French, English, and some Arawak and African influences). English and Spanish are also spoken in these islands. While there, I experienced a mix of all the above tongues making it a linguist’s delight.

While the Dutch culture overlaps between these three islands, the landscape, flora and fauna are different. Curacao and Bonaire are surrounded by reefs while Aruba is relatively flat. The first two are rich in flamingo swamps and patches of cactus.

I was fortunate to spend a few days in each of the islands so I will share with you some of my highlights and recommendations.



My interest in Aruba was predominantly for one reason- the flamingo beach. While I admit that this may be a cheesy item to have on a bucket list, it was on mine. I am aware the flamingos are not indigenous to Aruba, but the idea of them flocking around the beach had a certain appeal.

I admit I was hesitant about this as I was concerned about the implications to the flamingos. As I have become more conscious of animal cruelty and captivity over the years, I try to avoid aquariums, zoos and any other ‘tourist’ attraction that involves caged animals. But from the research I did, and the observations I made, it seems like these 6 pink flocks have the freedom to roam around the beach and well taken care of.




This flamingo beach is not accessible to the public. It is on a private island owned by Renaissance Aruba. Guest passes are available for approx. $100USD to those not staying at the Renaissance but they are not guaranteed, especially during high season. As we were travelling during high season, the hotel could not guarantee non guests access. Passes in advance were not available at the time we went so we either had the choice of trying at 7am to get passes for the first boat over to the island (10 minute boat ride) or stay as a guest of Renaissance. We opted for the latter for one night.




The Renaissance Private Island offers 2 beaches, along with a variety of cabanas and water sports. And of course they are home to the 6 flamingos. We chose to get the first boat out at 7am right after checking in at 6am, which was perfect for having uninterrupted access to our pink friends.  We were able to peacefully feed the flamingoes and let them come to us to take crowd-free photos. After witnessing tons of tourists chasing them later, we were happy with our decision to venture out early. We spent the day on the island enjoying the sun (and rain), having lunch on the beach and frolicking in the crystal clear waters. And for your convenience, there are plugs and wifi available on the beach!




While larger franchise hotels are not my typical choice, I enjoyed our one night, 2 full day stay at the Renaissance.  It did feel very American with a Starbucks on site but I totally admit to enjoying a daily tea from there. Additionally we lounged by the pool (unexpectedly as our flight to Curacao was cancelled) and I had a couple workouts in the massive hotel gym (massive win in my books).



Renaissance Pool and view of the ocean


For more information on Renaissance Aruba, please check out:


For the initial part of our trip, we stayed at an Airbnb. Truthfully I wasn’t expecting much but it ended up being a great experience. The photos online do not do the place justice- it is actually much cuter in person. The host picked us up from the airport which was nearby.  The accommodations was located in a residential area, but there was a grocery store within walking distance. As the property was equipped with a private kitchen and pool, we were able to spend time there relaxing (and acclimatizing to 30C weather) .



Poolside of the Airbnb


The link for the airbnb is:


As I mentioned earlier, the main reason for going to Aruba was to visit the Flamingo beach. As such we didn’t explore Aruba. We ate in the surrounding area of the Renaissance Marketplace, which is in the district of Oranjestad.



Curacao is an island that unexpectedly wowed me. There are very few places in the world I want to re-visit (in large part because I would like to travel to 100 countries in my lifetime) but Curacao is a place I would like to return to.

The experiences, the people, the culture, the landscape all can contribute to making or breaking a trip. For me, a large part of my love for Curacao stems from my experience at BijBlauw Boutique Hotel.




Britt and her team created a unique concept in the capital town of Willemstad. In my opinion, the hotel is an Instagrammer’s haven. Bij Blauw  means “by blue” in Dutch, referring to the blues of Caribbean Sea and sky.  The property consists of only a few rooms and suites, a sea side restaurant, and an on site concept store. Each decorated with attention to detail representing island life meets romantic elegance. Personally I could have stayed on the property my entire holiday as I was that in love with it.



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The seas side restaurant of Bij Blauw



The concept store selling the cutest decor and clothing


Unexpectedly, we were given the suite for our 3 night stay. This generous offer shows how much Britt wanted to ensure we had the best experience.



On the balcony of our suite, with oceanfront views





The decor of each suite is minimalist beach style


We ate a lot of our meals at the restaurant. The cuisine was on point, with staff and ambiance to match. What better way to start or finish your day that a meal with great company with ocean views. You don’t have to be a guest of the hotel to dine, so if you are in Curacao, I highly recommend coming here for a meal.



Breakfast with a View



We started each day off right with a breakfast spread



And a sunset dining experience is a must


The ambiance is romantic yet relaxing all times of the day. I couldn’t get enough of the decor. If I ever owned a cafe, it would emulate this style.







For more information on Bij Blauw, please check out:


Curacao is a great country to explore. I recommend renting a car and driving around the island. It is fairly straightforward, but downloading a map of the island onto a smartphone would be fairly useful.

Willemstad is a picturesque city with a town centre and pastel-coloured colonial architecture. Walking around and exploring is a must! Be sure to also experience the array of fused cuisines. For example, we enjoyed dinner at “Ginger”, a Caribbean Asian fusion restaurant within minutes of our hotel.




Curacao is also known for diving and snorkelling. The beaches there are pristine with 50 shades of blue. Some of those include Lagun, Kenepa and Playa Santa Cruz.



Kenepa Beach


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 Lagun Beach



Playa Santa Cruz


There are also many look out points driving along the coast of the island. Santa Martha Bay is one of the nicest ones I’ve seen.




If Curacao wasn’t on your radar before, the hopefully it is now.



Bonaire is an island I didn’t have on my radar, but since I was travelling to the region, figured it was worth checking out. It is definitely under rated and not as popular as it should be.  Like Curacao, it is recommended that one rent a car. What is unique about driving here is there are no traffic lights!!! And for the most part, there is only one main road. Oh and the width of the road is the wide of a small car, if you are lucky. That made for a fun driving experience. You can drive around the entire island in 2-3 hours.


If you are a diver, then Bonaire is your mecca. At any point in the island, one can simply step into the shore and go diving hence known in the Caribbean as the number one shore diving destination.



The waters are so clear yet filled with marine life that even near the shoreline, you can snorkel and dive.


Diving aside, the landscape is unique for the Caribbean. With its drier temperatures, expect to see lots of cactus, lizards crossing the street while driving (there are even signs warning you of them) and pockets of flamingos.



There are pockets of cactus and dry Earth scattered throughout the island



Observing a couple flamingos in the wild


Bonaire used to be a salt producing slave colony. One of the coolest things we saw there were these pink salt flats (it is a private company so be careful not to trespass).



The salt flats making for a pink lake


Our experience in Bonaire was also a special one in large part to Eff and the team over at Sunrentals Bonaire. They made arrangements for a car rental at the airport on arrival, making it convenient for us. Our accommodations included a 2 bedroom apartment equipped with a kitchen and both a pool and ocean view from a large balcony (the sunset views are out of this world). There are a variety of properties to choose from, so you can rest assured that your needs will be met.



  Sunset from our balcony



  We enjoyed lounging by the pool right before we had to catch our return flight home


If you are a diver, then Sunrentals Bonaire has a Dive shop, so you can purchase a dive package along with your accommodations. The team is willing to offer a discount code (“JessyandPippa”) to my followers, pending the season and availability. Be sure to include this when you book. You can email Eff at



 Our 2 bedroom loft at Sunrentals Bonaire


For more information on Sunrentals Bonaire, please check out the link:



Enjoying a quick dip in the ocean at Bellafonte Bonaire


I hope this blog piece has opened your eyes to the beauty of the ABC islands. I will have more photos filtered throughout my Instagram feed showcasing some never before seen photos, so if you have Instagram and aren’t already following, then please check out @scrubs2sweats.

Additionally if you have any questions or comments, please feel free to add.


Thank you for reading!









Barbados Travel Guide: Where to Stay

Welcome to part 3, the final segment to my Barbados travel guide. The focus on this post will be on where to stay in Barbados.

While I am fortunate to have my own house on the island, I wanted to offer travelers a variety of options who may not have this option. I have strategically chosen some places based on location, price point, and amenities.


  1.            Personal touch – AirBnB


This year I had my first experience using Airbnb in South East Asia. And once I swallowed that Kool-Aid, there was no turning back. In addition to the much cheaper prices and unique accommodations, there is also that added bonus of a personal touch provided by the host.




There are two newly renovated 2-bedroom apartments on the south coast of the island (central to shops, night life, restaurants), minutes from the beach. Less than 1 year old, these modern apartments offer guests comfort with AC, laundry and dryer, wifi, all included in the nightly rate. In addition guests can enjoy a fridge stocked with Bajan snacks and beverages (including daily Turkish coffee), pick up from the airport, and the host will help prebook a variety of tours (Harrison’s cave, catamaran rides, private tour of the island).








The links for both apartments are:



2.                  Island escape  – Santosha Barbados 


Ocean breeze. Serenity. Peace. Tropical. Nature. These are some of the many words that can be used to describe Santosha Barbados. Located on the eastern part of the island, in St Andrew, these self-catering studios offer the perfect escape. Only 40 minutes away from the airport or Bridgetown, one can still access nearby attractions.






The property offers panoramic views of the coast, suites equipped with kitchenettes and balconies, salt water pool, BBQ as well as access to Bathsheba beach. These beaches are not ideal for swimming but are perfect for any surfer. There are bath pools in the ocean, where one can sit and enjoy an ocean soak.








I had the pleasure of spending the night at Santosha. The solitude provided distinct sounds of the waves crashing and smell of salt water air, which provided the perfect recipe for a great night sleep.




And the sunrise over the coast is like no other. I highly recommend staying here, at least for a weekend, to experience a truly relaxing holiday.




For more information on Santosha:



3.                Guest House Rentals – Eden on Sea  & SeaForth Barbados 


If you are looking for more private housing, that is central to dining, shops and of course the beach, there are 2 neighbouring properties near St Lawrence gap.


The first, Eden on Sea, offers the perfect beach front property. It is a 4 story villa, with 3 en-suite bedrooms.






For more information on Eden on Sea:


The second property, SeaForth Barbados, is minutes away from Eden on Sea. This 2200 Sq ft property also offers beach front access. It boasts 4 bedrooms, but is capable of sleeping 6. The outdoor verandah gives a tropical view with swaying palm trees and bright blue ocean.




For more information on SeaForth Barbados:



4.                All Inclusive- Sugar Bay


While I have never stayed here, and can’t make comments regarding the hotel rooms, I can comment on the property. The hotel is a mix of minimalist vibes with tropical beauty.




It is located in the Southern part of the island, near the Garrison Savanah (within 10 minutes of the properties listed in 1 and 3 above) and central to many shops and restaurants.



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A 10 minutes drive to Bridgetown and 20 minutes from the airport makes it an attractive all-inclusive- one of the few on the island.



For more information on Sugar Bay:


If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to add them below. Also be sure to check out part 1 (where to eat) and part 2 (what to do) of my Barbados Travel guide series.







Barbados Travel Guide: What to do

Welcome to part 2 of my 3 part Barbados travel guide series!

This section is dedicated on various activities you can do on the island, ranging from physical activities, places of interest and unique spots to check out.



As fitness is part pf my lifestyle, as it is for many, being active while on vacation is important. Some of my favourite activities include:

1. Crossfit- Limitless Performance

One of my favourite things to do whenever I travel is to check out various crossfit boxes. Limitless Performance is my go to on the island. Founders Levar and Renee Greaves created a box that encourages “breaking out of your limits”.



The industrial area provides the perfect location, with coaches that add a level of island warmth to their teaching style. One of the coaches, Kim Sealy, is a childhood friend so I am partly biased when I say write that her classes are a must.



In addition to being a crossfit certified coach, Kim is an attorney and was recognized by Reebok Crossfit Games in 2014 and 2015 as the “Fittest Woman in Barbados”. If you are looking for some one-on-one coaching,  Fit Appeal by Kim Sealy can get you sorted.




For more information on Limitless Performance or to contact Kim , check out:


2. Gym- Surfside Wellness Centre 

Surfside is my go to for a conventional gym workout .Their memberships include weekly passes, which are ideal for travellers. Members can have access to a variety of equipment and  group classes, as well as personal training, if desired.




Surfside also has a high performance weight room so for me its the perfect location to practice some olympic lifts and crossfit movements.






They also started a new initiative last week called “hike grill and chill” whereby members and visitors to the island can enjoy a hike of the East coast followed by a gourmet healthy BBQ by Chef Scott Ames. Contact the centre for more details and possible upcoming dates.


For more information on Surfside Wellness Centre:


3. Paddleboarding – Paddle Barbados SUP 


One of my favourite activities is paddle boarding, which I also try to do whenever I travel to a lake or ocean and have access to a board.



Located on my favourite beach on the island (Pebbles), Paddle Barbados offers a variety of paddling including SUP, surfing, yoga on a paddle board AND paddle boarding retreats (how is that for a wellness escape?).



For more information on Paddle Barbados:


4. Workouts on the beach

When you have access to sand and ocean, you take advantage and take your gym outdoors!



If you can get access to weights, take it to the shore and have a workout on the sand. It is a different sensation and offers a challenge (balancing on the sand). Do some sprints, swim a few laps or practice some yoga.






1. Harrison’s Cave

One of Barbados’s greatest wonders lies a limestone cave 15 metres high in its largest cavern. It is an active cave as the stalagmites are still growing (the thickness of a piece of paper each year).



For $30USD, you can experience a 1 hour guided tram tour with local experts. You get to enjoy both the sights and sounds of the streams inside the cave.




For more information on Harrison’s Cave:


2. Animal Flower Cave

Animal flower cave is located under the cliff of North Point, the most Northern part of the island. It is the only sea cave on the island, and one of the cave chambers offers the opportunity to swim.




For $10USD, local guides can take you on a tour of the cave, including swimming. The tours are not set time, so in true island style, come whenever you want! The surrounding property offers some magnificent views of the ocean, so be sure to stop by their restaurant for some Bajan cuisine, and if you are lucky, maybe spot some Humpback whale at the cliff tops.





One of the many Iron Cannons scattered throughout the island from the 17th and 18th century, as Barbados used to be a military base for the British.


For more information on Animal Flower  Cave:


3. St Nicholas Abbey

St Nicholas Abbey is a plantation that is 350 years old! The property is over 400 acres including the main estate, a rum distillery and over 200 acres of sugar cane fields.


It is a great property to explore, so when not closed to the public as a wedding venue, you can check it out (Sundays to Fridays).




For more information on St Nicholas Abbey:




1. Morgan Lewis

Located in St. Andrew (on the way to St Nicholas Abbey and near Bathsheba), Morgan Lewis is the only intact sugar mill on the island. From December to April, you can see grinding of sugar cane into cane juice.





Row of palm trees at the bottom of the hill from Morgan Lewis


2. Speighstown & Holetown 

Speighstown and Hometown are towns on the West coast of the island. They offer an array of colourful houses (chattel houses- see below), architecture dating back to Barbados’s first settlement, beaches, shops, hotels and restaurants.



3. Plantations e.g. Society Plantation

Barbados has a number of plantations dating back to the 17th century. In the 18th century, the island boasted over 600 of them, producing tobacco, sugar and cotton.

Plantation houses, or great houses, often took a Georgian or Victorian style architecture. Two that have been restored to their original state and are for public viewing include St Nicholas Abbey and Sudbury Plantation.

But there are many other plantations on the island, which are distinguished by the double rows of palm trees on either side of the road, marking the entrance way to the plantation. Society Plantation, for example, is one visible from the street and offers an opportunity for photography as shown below.




4. Codrington School

While not an official place of interest, Codrington School is an International high school on the island with a gorgeous property. On the weekend it is worth stopping by for a few minutes to take a few photos.




5. Codrington College

Codrington College, not to be confused with Codrington School, is the oldest theological school in the Western Hemisphere.



It was built in the 1700s and was originally part of a sugar cane plantation. While not advertised, the grounds equipped with a pond and beautiful architecture provides the perfect setting for photos.








6. Bathsheba

Bathsheba is located on the East side of the island. As the waters are the Atlantic Ocean (versus the Caribbean Sea on the west/south), it tends to be a bit rougher. Swimming here is not advised. However, the many shallow pools near the shore are perfect for cooling down and hanging with friends.


Soup Bowl at Bathsheba is where many pros go to surf. It’s the perfect spot to watch, especially during competitions.


With the exception of competitions and the island’s Boxing Day Lime (many locals drinking and hanging out aka liming on Boxing Day), this side of the island tends to be fairly quiet. It’s the perfect place to escape and enjoy the sounds of the waves crashing. I stayed at Santosha for a night (more to come in Part 3: where to stay) and feel asleep to the cool breeze and the sounds of nature. Watching the sunrise over Bathsheba was nothing short of breathtaking.



View over Bathsheba from Santosha


7. North Point 

North Point is the most northern part of the island, in St Lucy. It offers a great view of the ocean and the rocky coral of the coast. It is near Animal Flower Cave so may be worth checking them out together.









1. Sunsets on the beach

While on the island, it is recommended that you experience a sunset on the beach. I recommend viewing this at Accra Beach, and taking a walk along the Boardwalk.





Photo taken from the Boardwalk by Accra Beach


2. Tiami Catamaran Cruises

This is my top recommendation for the island. What better way to experience Barbados than a boat ride along the West Coast of the island, listening to soca music, feeling the salt water air against your skin, enjoying some Bajan food, swimming with the turtles and frolicking in the blue waters?







They offer unlimited drinks, buffet style lunch so you can try your hand at some Bajan delights, and snacks throughout the trip.




IMG_2964                       Another opportunity to try flying fish! (see part 1 for food guide)




For more information on Miami Catamaran:


3. Chattel houses

Chattel houses are unique to Barbados, meaning moveable property. Originated from the plantation days, the idea was to be able to move these wooden houses from one property to the next.



They are scattered throughout the island and come in an array of colours. Many locals still occupy them.




4. Rum shops

There are over 12,000 rum shops across the island. You can drive by and see many locals and tourist listening to music and enjoying rum in some of these tiny little bars.

Our island is famous for Mount Gay rum, dating back to 1703, the official rum of Barbados and known worldwide. You can also book yourself a rum tour at Mount Gay or  Malibu.



A  typical rum shop in Holetown


5. Spa- Coral Reef Club

If you are looking for a Spa to relax and have a bit of pampering, the one at Coral Reef Club comes highly recommended. The colonial inspired property is on the West side of the island and offers a tranquil escape. They also offer Wellness retreat packages for foreigners, so be sure to check out their website for more details.

I am personally a huge fan of the hydro pool at the Spa.


IMG_6680                   Disclaimer: the pool is actually blue but I edited it to look teal green


For more information on Coral Reef Club,


While this list is not the most comprehensive, to me it offers a variety of culture, unique experiences and of course some wellness related activities.


Stay tuned for Part 3 of my Barbados travel guide, which will cover where to stay.

If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to add them below.






Terre Bleu Lavender Farm

If you are on Instagram and follow any big travel or lifestyle account, you may have seen an influx lately of lavender field photos. They are currently in bloom in several countries.

Prior to last summer, one of my main bucket list items was to go to Provence in France specifically to check out lavender fields. I wasn’t aware that they existed in Canada ( I have since learned that you can also go to a lavender farm in Prince Edward County and Montreal). By chance one of my friends asked me if I would like to go to a Lululemon sponsored yoga and meditation event on a farm. I of course said yes without knowing much more.




To my great surprise, this event became one of my most memorable experiences for last summer and one I would often share with people. Mind you anything to do with yoga and meditation usually leaves me feeling very zen. Imagine being surrounded by nature, breathing in the smell of lavender and laying on the grass at dusk whilst listening to a calm voice walk you through a guided meditation? Add to that the unique character of a yellow door in the middle of the fields with a message that reads ” Walk through the door, your worries behind you, your joys are ahead”.



I knew without a doubt that I would be returning to Terre Bleu Lavender Farm, located less than 1 hour from downtown Toronto.  It is the kind of place that you can enjoy with  your friends and family with more to do than just meandering the lavender fields. Please refer to the link for the website which will have information of various events. Some of these events include Joie de bleu Lavender Festival, equestrian shows, yoga every weekend and much more.

This past weekend I returned to Terre Bleu with some friends. It took a few attempts as it was their lavender festival so they were at capacity all day Saturday but our trip Sunday did not disappoint. The setting is perfect for photos (especially family portraits or engagement shots). As you can see by the images below, we certainly had our fill of collecting some content for our blogs and social media.

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Photo inspired by Lisa Homsy




Aside from wondering the property and snapping insta worthy photos, enjoying some fresh lavender ice cream is a must! You can also experience a guided tour of the farm including the Terre Bleu apiary (beehives)  or pick your own lavender!



And before you leave the farm, don’t forget to pick up a few treats. I personally am obsessed with lavender earl grey tea and lavender vinaigrette. In fact I have been counting down the months until I could get my hands on some of these. The lavender vinaigrette goes really well with kale, so for all of you who hate the taste of kale, this compliments it nicely in a salad with goat cheese and blueberries.

I have since learned that you can shop online so my remorse over not buying the lavender honey is short lived. You can shop the link below.


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Featured: fresh lavender that I picked ($5 for 20g), lavender vinaigrette and Lavender Earl Grey Tea.

Keep in mind the farm is only open for a few months in the summer (June to August, 11am-4pm) but if you can’t get out there this year, make it an event for the following summer.  Weekdays will be less busy so if you want to enjoy yourselves without the crowds, this would be the more optimal time. If you do get to visit, I hope you enjoy your time there.





Fitcation in Bali: Travel Guide

Earlier this year I had the pleasure of travelling through Bali in Indonesia for 3 weeks. I spent the first week in Ubud at a yoga retreat, followed by a night in Kuta, a few nights in the Gili Islands (Gili Trawangan), a couple nights in Seminyak and then back to Ubud for the remainder of the trip. Without a doubt, Bali quickly became one of my favourite destinations.

This lush island offers something for everyone. There is an abundance of culture, spirituality and adventure. One can nestle in the quiet of the jungles, roam through rice paddies or frolic on the beach.

In my travel guide, I will share with you some suggestions for where to stay, what to do and places to eat, with special emphasis on a holistic fit approach.

“The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page”


Bali is known for inexpensive villas with private pools. Accommodations can be cheaper than transportation and food. With the exception of the yoga retreat, all of my accommodations were found using Airbnb.

One of my biggest travel rules, when  feasible, is to do so during the off season. Accommodations will likely be cheaper and there is an increase chance of better selection.

  1. Blooming Lotus Yoga Retreat was hosted at Ubud Corner 88 in Ubud.

My friend and I booked the shared deluxe option but we ended up getting our own villa with a private pool (case in point about travelling during low season).


Each villa has a plunge pool, large living room and a fully equipped kitchen. The property sits above a holy river so one can wake up to the sound of it flowing, accompanied by birds chirping.

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Bali provides the perfect setting for a yoga and meditation retreat. For more details, please see the next section “what to do” or refer to their website:

2.  Villa Mahayoni  in Ubud

This hidden gem was discovered on Airbnb. It is a family operated villa (only a few on the property) that provided a tranquil escape nestled between rice fields and the jungle, yet only 10 minutes from the Ubud market.

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Villa Mahayoni is central to many attractions in Ubud (waterfalls, the Monkey forrest etc) but for me, the main purpose was to wind down after weeks of travelling and to practice some of the meditation tools that I learned from the retreat. I enjoyed daily journaling while looking out into the jungle and listening to the sounds of nature (plus bonus included visits from a few habitants of the forrest- but they were mostly harmless).

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3. Les Villas Ottalia in Gili Trawangan

Another great find on Airbnb, Les Villas Ottalia is the perfect spot for an island escape. Sleeping in a bamboo bungalow was a #BaliBucketList for us. The property is approximately a 7 minute bike ride to the main street.

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And again travelling in low season proved to be beneficial with yet another offer for an upgrade to a larger bungalow with a private pool.

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For more details, refer to their website:

4.  D’wina villas in Kuta 

Although not my intended accommodation,  D’wina villas was an upgrade provided by the same property management from my original booking. Without a doubt, this was the nicest place I have stayed at and certainly more space than 1 person needs.

The villa is  two-stories with the upstairs comprising of a master bedroom with an ensuite jacuzzi and stand up shower, and overlooking a private pool. A living room, dining room and fully equipped kitchen make up the lower level.

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For more information on this property, please refer to their website:


1. Yoga Retreat

Bali is the largest retreat yoga site. And after I visited there, I can totally understand why many are drawn here to engage in this practice.

I chose Blooming Lotus for many reasons:

  • Price- double occupancy in a super comfortable villa with daily yoga and meditation plus breakfast and dinner was less than $800USD per person
  • Daily yoga and meditation – I don’t do nearly enough so I wanted an opportunity to emerge myself in it twice a day. And I also specifically wanted the meditation component so that I can learn tools to aid in my practice.
  • Location – I wanted to be surrounded by lushness so chose Ubud. There are, however, options in other parts of the island if you prefer to be near the ocean.
  • Time frame- I wanted a package that was 1 week long but you can always choose to do shorter or longer both here and other places.

Every day we practiced sunrise and sunset salutations as well as meditation. The retreat also included some workshops, which I found particularly useful for adopting into my holistic practice in Canada (such as Ayurveda).

As my focus was yoga and meditation, this was the style of retreat I was drawn to. Bali offers many types of fitness retreats including beach workouts, surfing, adventure etc. Be sure to do your research, talk to people who have been and contact the hosts. Don’t be afraid to find the perfect fit (pun intended)!

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2.  Crossfit (or any other gym establishment)

When I travel, I like to check out the local gyms and other fitness establishments especially Crossfit boxes. As luck would have it, I was in Bali during the time of the Crossfit Opens. I got in touch with the Owner of Crossfit Wanderlust (Dave Driskell, pictured below) who happily invited me to his box and judged me for the open. Unfortunately it was 2 hours from where I was staying so I couldn’t enjoy more time here, but everyone was super warm and friendly. If you are a crossfitter, be sure to add this to your #BaliBucketlist.

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For more information please refer to their website below:

3. Swimming and Poolside WODs

I welcomed the break from my routine of indoor gym workouts and my body did too.  My workouts while in Bali consisted of poolside WODs (workout of the day) and swimming laps. The WODs were any combination of push ups, squats, lunges, jumping jacks, Turkish get ups with a full water bottle, mountain climbers and any other body weight exercises. On your smartphone, download the Tabata app and get creative with your exercise combinations.

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4. Tegalalung Rice Paddies in Ubud

No trip to Bali would be complete without a trip to the infamous rice paddies. Entrance fees are in the form of donations. You can spend the day roaming the terraces, stopping for a beverage along the way and taking some really picturesque snapshots.

Bali has a wet and dry season. I happened to visit during the wet season but lady luck was in my favour as the day we chose to go, the sun came out. The ground was mushy in few areas but the experience would have been quite different if it was raining. I am not sure we would have been able to walk through the terraces or seen much. Be sure to keep this in mind as you may have to be flexible with your itinerary.

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5. Tegenungun Waterfall in Ubud

Tegenungun waterfall is one of the more popular attractions in Ubud. There were literally hundreds of people so the only options of taking a photo sans people is either at the entrance (pictured below) and down by the falls at the side. If you go early in the morning, the odds are better.

To access the falls, you pay a small entrance fee then walk down some stairs (quite a few). Be sure to wear appropriate shoes as the stairs closer to the falls can be slippery.  If you want to go for a swim, come prepared wearing your swimsuit as there is no place private to change. I strongly recommend getting into the water but be mindful that there can be a bit of a current. With the Bali heat, a dip can be refreshing!

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6. Kanto Lampo Waterfall in Ubud

Kanto Lampo waterfall isn’t one of the more popular falls but in my opinion one of the best. It may take a while to find as it’s not well known amongst the locals but it is void of crowds so well worth the effort. Sitting under the cascading falls and feeling the warm water is one of the best sensations. This picturesque attraction costs a small donation and should be on the top of anyone’s #BaliBucketListt.


7. Pura Tirta Empul in Ubud

A major aspect of travelling is learning about and immersing yourself in the country’s culture. The Balinese are very spiritual and devout, with their beliefs stemming from Hinduism. It is often stated that Balinese people have reached self-contentment.

Interacting with the Balinese and respectfully visiting their temples is a great way to immerse in their culture. Pura Tirta Empul is one of their most important temples for blessings in holy water. The Balinese believe that they can go for ritual purification by immersing themselves in either of the two holy ponds. This spiritual cleansing allows them to let go of the past and make a wish for the future. As they are strong in their faith, being around them can make you feel like their beliefs can transcend to you onto a higher power. As I stood under the holy water (pictured below), I could feel the energy and truly believed that I was being blessed.

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If you are planning on visiting this water temple, please be sure to bring with you a sarong to wear in the water and cover up your swimsuit to show respect. If you are planning on visiting the grounds of the temple, be sure to wear a shirt that covers your shoulders.

8. Biking around Gili Trawagan

Transportation on the Gili islands is in the form of either horse carts or biking. Our hotel (Les Villas Ottalia) provided bikes for us which was a great way to explore the island and keep active! The dirt roads can be a bit bumpy but for the most part manageable.

Near the stretch of sunset bars and restaurants is an outdoor mini gym set up (see photo below). For any weightlifter, this is an instant attraction of old school set up that can help you get your pump on while at the beach.

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Of course, no trip to Gili T would be complete without climbing onto one of the many infamous water swings. At the time when we went, there were floods the week before so many of them were torn down but I understand from some folks who have gone recently that they have been repaired.


9. Massages and flower baths

Bali is also well known for their holistic practices. Massages and other spa treatments can be fairly inexpensive. I enjoyed quite a few while I was there including a hot stone massage, which was a fraction of the cost than what I would have paid for in Toronto. From the places I went to, 1-1.5 hour long massages in Ubud ranged from $10-$25USD.

On my last day in Bali and prior to over 30 hours of travelling, the host at Villa Mahayoni kindly organized a massage therapist to come to the property. As a bonus, they organized this beautiful flower bath in the outdoor bathroom of my villa. It was a perfect way to end an amazing experience in Bali.

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One of the main attractions for me in Bali was the food. Everything was so fresh and as a holistic nutritionist and someone who is very conscientious of what I consume, I loved that many places focused on organic healthy meals. Even other travelers I interacted with who were foodies and not particularly keen on the health kick would also comment on how amazing some of the cuisine was at the places I have highlighted below.

1. Yoga Barn in Ubud

While this place is well known amongst yogis world wide for their classes and yoga teacher training, their restaurant offers some of the best vegan dishes I have ever had. I do not particularly gravitate towards vegan dishes so for me it was huge to be wowed by the menu. I wanted everything and had to order extra items to take away.

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Pictured above is garden pad thai (left), raw garden coconut curry (right) and the beverages are the blackcurrant smoothie and watermelon hydrate.  To access their menu, please refer to their website below:

2. Clear café in Ubud

Clear cafe’s motto aligns perfectly with mine- why should healthy food be boring? Already they have drawn me in as a customer but the décor and layout of the café belongs on Pinterest.

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Clear café is located downtown Ubud near most of the major attractions (Ubud Marketplace, Monkey Forest, Puri Saraswati Temple.

Please refer to their website for more details:

3. Mr Wayan Balinese Cuisine in Ubud

This restaurant came highly recommended prior to my trip to Bali so we made sure to hire a driver to take us there.  And it did not disappoint. In fact, I dare say it was my best meal in Bali.

The restaurant is rated as one of the best in Bali by Trip Advisor and the service is impeccable. It sits above green rice paddies so the view is an added bonus.

Please refer to their website for more details on the restaurant and menu:

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The restaurant is located at Wapa di Ume Hotel. As it was low season, we got the fortune of having a private tour of the property. It certainly makes for the perfect honeymoon location. And they have a luxury spa which many companies site as one of the best in Bali.

Please refer to their website for more details:

4. Casa Vintage in Gili Trawangan

We were literally biking around the island when this romantic set up caught our eyes. We got off to explore and discovered it was a beachfront restaurant called Casa Vintage. It had a beach bohemian theme decorated with colourful throws, pillows, flowers and lights embedded in the trees.


The week we were visiting the islands, the Indonesian government apparently ordered all beach front properties to vacate from the shorelines in an effort to preserve marine life. The owner of Case Vintage told me they would be moving across the street, as were all the other businesses. I’m not sure it will have the same feel without having the sand in your toes and hearing the ocean crash, but I don’t doubt it will still have the romantic atmosphere.


5. La Plancha Beach Bar in Seminyak

This infamous beach bar is known for grabbing a colourful pod, having a drink, listening to music and watching the sun set. And that’s exactly what we did. We had a couple fruit smoothies which were super healthy and refreshing, but there are alcoholic beverages if that is more your style as well as a mix of Indonesian and Western food.

La Plancha is a typical cliche tourist spot but I still recommend the experience.

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6. Revolver Espresso in Seminyak

Coffee shops and cafes are notorious for being Instagram worthy and Revolver is no exception. Tucked in a side street in central Seminyak, this pink theme cafe is worth the visit. I don’t drink coffee (I’m more of a tea lover) but Bali is known for their superb quality and taste in coffee so I don’t doubt one would enjoy their drinks.


Please refer to the website for more details:

7. Nalu Bowls in Seminyak

For the love of smoothie, this place serves a variety of possibilities. If not here, your trip to Bali wouldn’t be complete without trying a smoothie bowl. It’s like a meal meets ice cream wrapped into one.

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Please refer to the website for more details: