One of our first days, our driver took us to a very touristy area of southern Bali called Nusa Dua, where water sports reign king. We were ushered into a tour company’s shop where we were offered a “deal” to create a package of three water sport experiences. Not that we were ripped off or anything, the prices really were reasonable, but the experience left a little to be desired.
First up was a “glass bottom boat” ride to “Turtle Island”. Can you tell how this played out? It was actually a lovely ride on the boat, but there wasn’t much to the glass. We hadn’t heard of any turtle experiences prior to our arrival in Bali, including any mention in our travel books. This should have been a good indication to stay away from this. All I can say is that it ended up being a horrid tourist trap involving walking around and touching and holding animals in tanks and cages that really should have been left alone.
The entrance to “Turtle Island”. AVOID this “excursion”.
I was very disturbed after our visit to Turtle Island and thus will not post any of the photos. Bottom line is, if you’re in Nusa Dua, feel free to enjoy the other water sports, though it can be pretty gimmicky if you are not a fan of mainstream tourist draws; but whatever you do, please avoid Turtle Island and don’t support it with your business.
This photo looks extremely Photoshopped, but I swear the colors were this vibrant!
Next up were the more enjoyable portions of our day, parasailing. We were excited to do this after our (link) paragliding experience, and it was a lot of fun for the 5 minutes or so we were actually in the air. Other than that, we spent most of the time crisping our skin in the sun on a tiny islet where they took off and landed. I do hear, though, that is pretty normal for a parasailing experience. It was probably just the fact that we were in a large group of about 20-30 people and had to wait a while for our turns.
We also chose to go diving, and though we were a bit nervous about the safety as they were allowing us to go without requiring any training or certification, it all ended up being ok. We first tested the respirator, and the only sanitation used for the communal tester was a bucket of dirty water. Thank God for vaccinations… Anyway, once we showed we knew how to use it, we were off in a boat carrying our guide and equipment to a place close by.
We popped in the water with a vest that could inflate and deflate to control our depth, and we never went farther than 15 feet down or so. Like I said, it was a very safe excursion compared to what it seemed at first. We saw lots of fish as well as other people taking part in silly activities like the “space helmet” – something out of a Spongebob cartoon where you wear an astronaut helmet underwater so you can breath. That was weird.
We also ended up feeding the fish bread, which was also weird. Are animal activists against said behavior? It was only later that I realized that really probably wasn’t good for the fish.
Anyway, enjoy the video below of our water sport adventures for the day:
Jimbaran Bay is a famous area in Bali for an oceanside, sunset seafood dinner. We went to a place recommended by our driver, though now I can’t remember the name of it off the top of my head. However, there are plenty to choose from along the same beach.
At the time we were visiting, the World Cup was going on, and it was immediately apparent that every home and business would fly flags of the countries they predicted to win. We wondered why there were all kinds of different flags flying all around Bali. Turns out it had nothing to do with welcoming visitors, although it was a neat representation of many countries. Is anyone surprised we didn’t see a single US flag?
Anyway, we enjoyed watching the humongous waves and came to understand why Bali is touted as a prime surfing location. J-Mar liked filming the crazy waves for posterity’s sake.
Many of the restaurants offer set menus for a hefty price per person, or you can pick and choose what type of seafood you want, also at a cost. You can go up to the kitchen and pick out, for example, the weight of lobster or prawns (shrimp) that you want. Unfortunately for us, the smallest lobster available was over a kilo which came at a hefty cost as well. We enjoyed a nice grilled lobster and shrimp dinner with plenty of rice and vegetables as well.
After dark came the entertainment, a local band walked from table to table to play for tips. Though it was a tiny bit kitschy, it was still fun and J-Mar even joined in to play the bass!
The restaurant also had some traditional Balinese dancers performing to music. There was a woman dancing on her own as well as a duo, performing to recorded music, but it was mesmerizing nonetheless.
This time I was able to get close-ups of the dancer’s facial expressions, a trademark part of any Balinese dance. Mom and I kept thinking that it must take a lot of eyeball and wrist muscles to be good at it!
Tomorrow, we’re off to another exciting destination for about a week! We’ll be traveling to three cities spanning over 500 miles, but still only seeing half of this country. We’ve got a lot planned, from food tasting to beaches to exploring history, plus a special date to celebrate! Oh, how I wish I could have finished blogging about our trip to Bali. I’ve got a few more things to share and hopefully can get them up quickly after we return. Cheers!