Now, let’s talk about what to do and where to go with your twos and belows in tow.
Bali is full of tiny cafes and hipster eateries which while so cool when you’re a couple, are a nightmare for groups larger than six and many don’t have high chairs.
Seminyak is now so tourist-infested, it feels like the new Kuta, so while we headed back there for a few of our stalwart favorites, we also ventured into new territory, basing ourselves in Canggu (see my earlier post on accommodation).
To our delight, there’s actually quite a lot of family friendly activities in Canggu. There’s are water slides at The Canggu Beach Club, pony rides at the Bali Equestrian Centre (which we didn’t have time to do, but found online), and beaches that aren’t as crowded as the ones in Seminyak and Kuta.
Here is my photo journal from what we did do:
On the first day, we caught the sunset at La Laguna, which is a beachfront bar and dining venue in Canggu. It’s a sprawling compound with areas for dining, lounging for drinks on bean bags or sitting at the bar.
There’s some kind of farm there – I wouldn’t call it a petting zoo because it looked rather haphazard, with a bunch of (rather wild-looking) animals – turkeys, geese, ducks and one nervous brown rabbit that we spotted living among some discarded furniture. Bubu was rather fearless and tried to run after the ferocious-looking geese, which were taller than him, and I actually thought we might get attacked!
There’s a pretty lake of some kind in front of the beach. The beach and sunset aren’t to be compared with the stunners you’ll see at sundown on Seminyak beach, but it’s pretty enough, and a lot less crowded.
Snacks, sandwiches, juices, smoothies and cocktails – the food was decent. Service was appalling, hard to get any kind of attention probably because the place is quite spread out. Overall, La Laguna is rustic and charming enough, and worth a visit. The highlight for Bubu were all the ducks swimming and waddling around, and he had a blast running up and down the wooden deck leading to the beach – great for families because there’s so much space!
On day two, we started out early and checked out Milk & Madu for breakfast in the Canggu neighbourhood. There are actually loads of cool little cafes that we drove past that we would love to have checked out in the same area. I took down their names when we drove by: Coffee & Oven, Quince and Cinta Cafe (all along Jalan Rawa). Spending only three days there, we didn’t get to try them all, so this is Milk & Madu:
Dining takes place in an airy little pavilion which seats about 30-40, with outdoor tables that’s seat another 20 or so. There’s a good selection of salads and pastries at the counter, fresh jams and produce in jars for sale, and breakfast fare aplenty on the menu.
We had the French toast, eggs and chorizo and the classic big breakfast – all good! They have high chairs, but only one or two – definitely not enough, as the place is very popular with families. There were maybe two high chairs and we had to vie with other hawk-eyed parents all trying to score one!
Other than that, I do recommend this as a family-friendly place – great for a casual, no-fuss family meal.
After a hearty breakfast, we headed to Deus Ex Machina, Temple of Enthusiasm (which means “God in the Machine”- very far from our initial guess that it meant two ex mechanics haha!)
This custom motorcycle shop also offers surfboards, apparel and boardshorts for sale – apparently there’s serious street cred in their threads, so the cool kids in my office tell me – and there’s a courtyard behind where little ones can roam. There’s also a cafe here, but we were advised by a Canggu regular that’s it’s underwhelming fare, the advice was to check out Deus but not to eat there!
They make their own custom motorcycles and surfboards here, and if you wander into the courtyard behind the shop, you can see the craftsmen at work on the bikes and boards. Pretty cool, eh?
After an activity-packed morning, we head back to our Canggu home-base (Villa Simona Oasis) for a couple hours of relaxation, where my friends were all still getting massages, and the littles all hopped into the pool!
For lunch, we decided to make the 20 minute drive to Seminyak where we visit one of our favorite lunch hangouts, Sardine. This spot never gets old, I like to visit before dark as you’ll miss out on seeing the gorgeous scenery when night falls.
Again, this lovely eatery had no high chair, but Bubu was passed out anyway, so we just propped him up with cushions, and let him doze! Jakey had his car seat (good move to bring car seat BTW, so you can put baby down once he’s sleeping. We brought his baby carrier as well but it’s kind of hard to relax and eat with baby in a sling -especially in warm, tropical weather where you’ll just both get really hot and sticky!)
Grumpy Bubu just woke from his nap…And hey, more ducks and geese – but Bubu was too drowsy to chase them, so it was Mummy that herded these into a corner for a photo! He finally perks up enough to enjoy the scenery at Sardine – so gorgeous!
Next, we pop over to Potatohead to catch the sunset, where our contacts at Villa Simona helped us score two of the coveted beach beds at this super popula spot. The entrance of Potatohead looks like a coliseum made up of hundreds of rustic wooden slats and shutters, and is always jaw-dropping for first-time visitors. Truth be told, Potatohead is much more of a party spot than a family hangout. You won’t see a lot of families and under-twelves here, it has more of a cocktail party vibe, but we always like it because it has an amazing view of the most spectacular imaginable sunset, and a pool with a shallow wading area for babies. It can get very crowded here, but all is good if you can score a beach bed. Jake is oblivious to the party atmosphere and quite happy chilling on his beach bed. Bubu and the boys enjoy fish and chips (one or the lads seems to think the table is tastier than the food) with the best spot on the beach to catch the incredible sunset.
We wrap up our evening in Seminyak with dinner at Il Lido, which is located at the old Cafe Warisan. Lovely garden setting in a restaurant that seats about 80-100 diners, great service, faultless Italian food, and it was very empty when we dined there on a Saturday night which made it great for our big group with lots of kids (and they had many many high chairs- no fighting here!)
Next morning, for breakfast, we asked Made, our villa driver, to take us somewhere cool in the Canggu neighbourhood (surprise us!) and he brought us to Old Man at Echo Beach.
Only good vibes here! We loved this laid-back beachfront diner. Echo Beach is a black sand beach populated with locals, tattooed surfers and carefree bohemians who look like they’ve made Bali their home. It’s not very touristy, which was part of its charm for me. There was plenty of space for Bubu to run around and explore, breakfast was satisfying- we had the corn fritters, green eggs and ham and the classic breakfast. Discovering this little hideaway, with its colorful umbrellas and cheerful boho vibes in Canggu was one of the highlights of our trip.
Craving some local fare for lunch, we decided to venture back to nearby Seminyak, scoring a table at Merah Putih.
Gorgeous setting and incredibly tasty local fare (even the nasi goreng topped with egg and keropok looks posh here), well worth paying the premium to dine in this glamorous, elegant air-conditioned hall with soaring ceilings. We will be back for sure!
Post-lunch, the mommies escape for a couple hours to the Rob Peetoom Hair Spa for pampering… While we send the daddies and kinda back to the villa for pool-time and massages. Aaah… This is Bali life!
We wrap the night up with a final dinner at Meja Kawi, located on the second floor of Ku De Ta. This modern restaurant has a degustation menu featuring molecular gastronomy with Indonesian influences, and is relatively good value for this genre of cuisine.
The final morning of our departure, we wake up early to brunch at Bungalow Cafe. It’s a hippie, boho cafe filled with books, home decor products and quaint curios. It was much smaller and darker than I expected, having first found this place based on glowing reviews online.
Across the street, is the Bungalow Living store, which was filled with gorgeous stuff for the home, I love the affordably-priced cushions, woven baskets and quirky knick-knacks all in gloriously pretty fabrics.
With that, it’s a wrap! We head straight to the airport from Bungalow Cafe.
Bali has a spanking new airport, much better than the old one. Here’s an airport tip – there’s a viewing gallery next to the Haagen Dazs where you can actually see the planes speeding down the runway and lifting off. Bubu was delighted with this – I made videos for him on my iPhone, and he still comes to me every morning asking to watch those airplane videos!
Arrive in Bali
Stop by Be Chocolat to buy artisanal chocolate on way to Villa in Canggu
Lunch and Massage in Villa
Check out Canggu Beach Club (water slides)
530pm Sunset at La Laguna
8 PM Dinner at Naughty Nuri’s, Smokehouse (best American style ribs) or La Finca Canggu dinner
9am Breakfast at Milk and Madu
1030am Check out Deux ex Machina (motorcycle cafe and shop)
1pm Lunch – Warung Eropa 2 (best crispy duck in Bali) on Echo Beach or Sardine in Seminyak
5pm Potatohead – Swim, sunset drinks
730pm – Dinner at Il Lido (Cafe Warisan) or restaurant Mamasan (Seminyak)
9am – Brunch at Old Man, Echo Beach or Alila Seminyak or Starfish Bloo at W Hotel
11am – Kids and daddies head back to villa (Swim at villa or Water Slides at Canggu Beach Club)
1pm – Lunch at Merah Putih
330pm – Spa at Rob Peetoom Mummies – Seminyak shopping
8pm Dinner at Mejekawi, Kudeta level 2
9am – Breakfast and Shopping at Bungalow Cafe and Bungalow Living
Depart for Airport