While Bali usually conjures up images of sun-drenched beaches, those travelling to the island during the wet season are likely to find that such picture-perfect photos can be misleading.
Bali’s rains fall from October to March, with December to February being the greyest, wettest months. Luckily, every cloud has a silver lining, and even the most avid beach bum can find something to keep them occupied during a downpour. Here are a few fun ideas to get you through the cloudier moments.
Bid stormy skies goodbye at one of the island’s ubiquitous spas. While traditional Bali massage is nothing to sneeze at, those in the market for something a little more unusual can try a 24-carat gold facial at Goldust Beauty Lounge in Canggu, or a vinotherapy red wine treatment at Rumah Spa in Nusa Dua. For an extra dose of pampering, St Regis Hotel’s Bloody Mary treatment at Rémede Spa involves a vodka tomato clay wrap; tomato, pineapple and wasabi body reviver; and a vermouth and mineral salt bath. Freshly shucked oysters and an actual, drinkable Bloody Mary are optional extras.
Get out of the rain and into the kitchen with a cooking class that covers the rich flavours of Balinese and Indonesian cuisine. Most workshops start with an early morning visit to a traditional market, where culinary wannabes stock up on the freshest local produce, herbs and spices, before taking the proceedings into the kitchen. Favourites on the menu usually include gado gado (vegetable salad with peanut sauce), sate lilit (Balinese minced meat sate), and pepes ikan (fish in banana leaves). For a very special experience, Jambangan in Ubud offers cooking classes in a Balinese home. Or those looking for an adventure might wish to venture off the beaten track to Bali Asli in Amlapura where food fans can learn how to prepare local dishes in a traditional kitchen, complete with a wood-fired mud brick stove.
A rainstorm creates the perfect atmosphere for perfecting your inner sleuth at the Totem Escape Room in Seminyak. Intriguing sounding rooms such as Locked in the Darkland, Kidnapped and Mission Impossible are just some of the options that require participants to pull out all the stops – puzzle-solving skills, logic and teamwork. Looking for something a little less challenging? Why not get creative at the Dream Museum Zone in Kuta where a collection of 120 life-size murals provides a backdrop to whacky 3D illusions. From Safari and Indonesia to an 18+ area, striking a pose guarantees unforgettable shots. Alternatively, Upside Down World Bali in Denpasar adds a twist (clue is in the name) to mundane everyday settings such as the kitchen, bedroom or dining room – snap some photos and post some gravity-defying pics that will perplex your loved ones back home. Don’t miss the Balinese room, complete with traditional wooden carvings and antiques.
There is a place worth exploring where the monsoon season makes absolutely no difference – under water. Bali’s marine biodiversity is legendary, and what better way to get closer to the sealife that abounds here than on a diving course. Tulamben on the eastern coast of Bali is famous with divers for its picturesque underwater locations, as well as a wreck of a US Army transport ship that lies at the bottom of the ocean. For something a little different why not head to Amed where Apneista runs freediving courses. Go back to basics and learn the best strategies for holding your breath underwater before diving without equipment. Alternatively, try your hand at surfing on the Bukit Peninsula or in the Canggu area. Feeling extra brave? Both Komune Resort on Keramas Beach on the road to Kusamba and Finns Beach Club in Canggu offer night surfing in a stretch of water illuminated by powerful floodlights. For a change of pace, Seawalker in Sanur has tours that allow participants to walk on the bottom of the ocean thanks to special helmets connected to oxygen tanks on the boat above.
Shopping up a storm
Increasingly more developed, Bali now has its share of glitzy shopping malls, with Kuta’s Beachwalk and Discovery leading the way as first stops for many shopaholics after landing. Other malls you might wish to keep on your rainy season radar include Kuta’s Lippo Mall Kuta and Mal Bali Galeria. Most of these complexes feature dining areas, Western-style department stores and gift shops. For somewhere with a more local flavour, check out Seminyak Village Shopping Mall, which is home to a number of boutiques stocking regionally designed clothing. Movie buffs and/or shopping-averse visitors will be pleased to know that both Beachwalk and Mal Bali Galeria include cinemas.
Museum and gallery tours
Most of Bali’s galleries are located in Ubud, the cultural heart of the island, while the majority of its museums can be found in the capital, Denpasar. Some of the more notable spots to visit in Ubud include the Blanco Renaissance Museum, former home of the eccentric Spanish painter and still decorated with his artworks; the Agung Rai Museum of Art, where visitors can learn about the development of Balinese painting; and Komaneka Art Gallery, which offers a more modern take on Indonesian art. Alternatively, weather the storm at Denpasar’s Museum Negeri Propinsi Bali, which offers a fascinating glimpse into the island’s history, or Musium Bung Karno, dedicated to Indonesia’s first president, Sukarno.