“I think I deserve something beautiful.”
I won’t deny that when I thought about going to Ubud, Bali, I conjured up images of myself suddenly resembling a bohemian Julia Roberts, a smile from ear-to-ear, peddling along palm-fronded dirt roads to the crooning tunes of “Samba da Benção” by Bebel Gilberto. You know the song I mean… well the girls will any way because I doubt there would be many females out there that haven’t seen the movie Eat Pray Love (written by the amazing Elizabeth Gilbert) without wanting to embark on a journey of self discovery, am I right ladies? However, this adventure to Bali didn’t mirror the many reasons why a lot of women travel to this sacred island; Anthony and I were here to unwind, relax and forget about the word “cancer” for eight glorious days of food indulging, relaxing, loving life and immersing ourselves in beauty.
Many of my Naked followers loved all the food pictures I posted on Instagram from our travels that I thought it would be good to provide you with a run down of our experiences and tips for travelling to Ubud. Enter The Naked Gardiner’s “Green” Food Lovers’ Guide to Ubud + travel tips:
Atman Kafe If you are seeking some people watching time, great coffee (well so I am told) and relaxed surrounds stop no further than Atman Kafe. Nestled along the main street of Jl. Hanoman, serving organic produce and sweet treats, kick-ass wheatgrass shots and Ant’s favourite Iced Coffee in Ubud. I recommend taking a seat at the bench! Nothing better than watching the world pass by when you are on holidays!
Kafe With a selection of international dishes, vegan and raw, Kafe is a favourite amongst the yogis and well positioned on Jl. Hanoman.
The Garden Kafe (formerly Little K) Being a sister café to Kafe up the road, The Garden Kafe can be found behind the famous yogi haven of the Yoga Barn. Wanting time out from your busy life? Then this is your place! Lower your voice… yes, I said lower your voice… grab your book or take advantage of the free wi-fi while sipping on a whole young coconut… yep, no one does coconuts better than Bali! Fresh, delightful and refreshing! This is the place where hours melt away easily!
Down to Earth Looking for a macrobiotic meal? Down to Earth offers vegetarian home-made food that leaves you extremely satisfied. I fell in love with the Lemonvera’s here. I still dream of them now… I can feel a recreation happening! Tempeh in Australia makes me gag, do you agree? But here in Ubud my negative opinion of it was squashed! Yum!!!! Do yourself a favour and order the Dragon Bowl (small… portions are huge!), the best I have had!
Forgot to pack your toxic free shampoo… want a bottle of Kombucha or dying to make your own chemical free food during your stay in Ubud? Look no further than the Down to Earth market based downstairs from the restaurant. I always have a wave of excitement rush through me when I walk into a health food store when I travel, do you? It’s a little expensive by Bali standards, but if you need a few stock items then this is your place!
Bali Buda Hungry but couldn’t be bothered leaving the blissful surrounds of your accommodation, then order out? Yep, you heard right, order out – you didn’t think I would ever say these words did you! Bali Buda is well-known for its take out boxes, it’s pretty iconic. Unfortunately I was a little disappointed with my takeout order, so Ant and I went on a venture to try the food at the café itself. Terribly disappointed. The service was bad and the drinks we ordered were pretty similar. We decided to eat elsewhere. I hope other travelers have a better experience!
Living Food Lab Great spot! Great bean bags! Great view of the rice paddies! This place has all the promises for a great experience… that was until I saw that my smoothie came out of pre-made plastic bottle. Not freshly made. I couldn’t even drink it – it was gross! Yes I said gross! The concept is great, but on this occasion for me, I was sadly disappointed.
Clear Café Love Love Love this place! Great food, kombucha by the bottle, valet shoe parking and a varied menu that is sure not to disappoint! Worth going just to experience the glasses alone! Hahahha! A little on the pricey side but a great experience!
Sari Organik Rice Fields Worth the journey alone to see the scenery as you head out to Sari Organik Rice Fields. It is glorious! I love getting away from the hustle and bustle and immersing myself in the countryside life. We drove our scooter up the narrow dirt track but you can easily walk if you have a bit of time on your side and the weather isn’t unbearably hot! “Sari Organik specialize in growing organic vegetables and rice and making other products that can be processed from local produce.” I recommend sitting up under the fans, although the views are marvelous down on the lower balcony, if you go on a hot day like we did, the upper dining area is delightful!
Seniman Coffee Studio If you’re a coffee drinker, then you have just stepped into coffee paradise at Seniman! Here you can get a tasting platter of coffee, it’s like tapas for coffee lovers! Ant rated it and in particular the little coffee crepe that accompanied his order. I have to say the juices here are fabulous! So I wasn’t disappointed in the slightest and the best thing… plastic outdoor chairs made into rockers! Loved them! I want some for home, I need to convince Ant! Seniman Coffee Studio is a great find in Ubud that is modern, popular with the expats and a perfect spot for those working while on holidays. Free wi-fi!
Drum roll…. Now to my top three favourites!!!!!
The Seeds of Life Raw Food Cafe Bali & Taoist Tonic Bar Okay… so I got my happy on here! Yep, like a little kid in a candy store (a healthy one of course!), this place had me uber excited! Owned by Ben Richards and Sayuri Tanaka their vision is “to present our clean fresh vibrant living foods many have come to enjoy from our retreats, in a restaurant environment, support the growing raw food community here in Ubud which is the largest in the world per square metre & continue to educate & inspire our students from our trainings.” Ant and I had the pleasure of talking to Ben when we visited The Seeds of Life on our last day in Ubud and this man knows his stuff! Wow, welcome Raw Food / Taoist crush!!! Hahahaa!!! It is so inspiring to listen and talk to someone so passionate about health, education, sustainability and wellness. If the food isn’t invitation in itself, you can also sign up to do yoga or Qi Gong on site! We had the most divine food while we visited the café, definitely add it to your list of “must try” while in Ubud! You definitely won’t be disappointed here!
Alchemy Want a salad… this is the place to come! And they are huge! Alchemy is not just a salad bar though Ant and I absolutely adored their juices and their amazing treats! The Reishi Tea and the Jamu were amazing and I particularly loved the glass bottles they came in! The Raw Bounty Bar had me sold and Ant loved the Raw Banoffe Pie so much we went back twice just to get it! Definitely worth the scooter ride! I absolutely loved this café! And if my opinion of this place couldn’t get any better… on our last day I was able to order delivery while I relaxed by the pool before our flight home! Ahhhhh organic food delivered poolside…. Australia we have a lot to learn!
Five Elements Okay, Five Elements is hands down 5-Star dining at its best! It might not suit every ones budgets travelling to Bali but if you want indulgence, I would definitely recommend their spa packages that include a three-course lunch at their beautiful Sakti Dining Room! This was hands down the most delightful overall experience. The Five Elements vision is To Learn Love and Respect for All Life … how beautiful! And ‘beautiful’ is exactly what I would describe of our time here! The staff, the food, the healing treatments, the architecture, the sustainable concepts, and the setting! AMAZING!!!!!!!! If you are travelling with your partner, here is a wonderful place to reconnect and enjoy their Couples Packages!
The Naked Gardiner’s Tourist Tips
Sacred Monkey Forest Sanctuary So we did the tourist thing and ‘braved’ what is now a rather big tourist attraction. I went a bit ‘Cray Cray Naked Gardiner’ in preparation for our visit to the Sacred Monkey Forest Sanctuary. The morning of our visit I had read all these reviews online about the dangers of the Sanctuary… the reviews then turned into horror stories and this little Naked was utterly petrified of penetrating vicious monkey teeth and the ‘inevitable rabies disease that followed’. Visions of a monkey my sister and I had seen in Thailand darkened my mind before we entered this beautiful forested Sanctuary. And yep, I pretty much covered myself from head to toe! What was I worried for??? It wasn’t even that bad! The monkeys get plenty of feed so unless you are a crazy dumb tourist and keep food in your pockets (yes there are many of them), you are pretty much guaranteed that you are going to be left relatively alone. Tip: Go in the morning when the day is a little cooler and the monkeys are calmer and have just been fed. Do not take food in with you, not even a sneaky banana in the pocket otherwise you are asking to be harassed and you will… remember monkeys are not stupid. If you want to feed the monkeys you can purchase some bananas at the entry to the park. The Sanctuary is beautiful – make sure you get the opportunity to really experience the scenery and soak it up!!!!
Yoga Barn If you are a yoga lover, then take some time to go and check out this awesome venue. It is basically an institution in Bali! If yoga isn’t your thing, still check out the timetable, there are some awesome meditation classes, Qi Gong, dancing, movie nights and free community discussion evenings. We had an opportunity to attend one of these discussion evenings and found it very informative. Don’t be scared if you are not a yoga guru… remember you have to start somewhere and they definitely cater for beginners!
Scooters Be careful!!! Did I mention be careful! And if you aren’t confident to ride a scooter, then don’t! Walking is just as nice and you are exercising at the same time – win win! But if you really do want to experience the countryside like we did, then hire one for a day or two! We LOVED our little green machine! And we really did get to see the ‘real Bali’ away from the tourist traps and the crazy drunks (not that you will see them in Ubud anyway, it is way too chilled and cultural for morons! Ahhhh bliss!). We hired our scooter from our accommodation.
Taxis The taxis are cheap in Ubud and if you find one that you really like, get their card and use them regularly. We had two taxi drivers that looked after us our entire stay and they were awesome! Super lovely and accommodating!
Bali Island Horse I am a huge horse lover, I grew up with them and love them so we wanted to see if we could go horse riding during our stay in Bali! Unfortunately, the ponies are just a little bit too little for my 6 foot 3 lumberjack so we decided to do the ATVs instead! Had such a great time on the tandem ATVs, going from the beach to the countryside, and seeing village life was just awesome! Loved every second! The horses are so well looked after by the staff at Yeh Gangga Beach stables where they practice Natural Horsemanship with their beautiful horses, which is a gorgeous method of creating a bond with a horse and building trust. Bali Island Horse is approximately 1-hour transfer from Ubud but it is definitely worth the journey!
So when you think about planning your next trip to Ubud check out some of my Naked Gardiner recommendations and I hope you fall in love with this beautiful part of Bali like we did! It definitely has the power to be rejuvenating, healing and just what the doctor ordered… relaxing!!!! Queue “Samba da Benção”!
With love, light and a whole lot of green gratitude xx