Bali, an island located in the Indonesian archipelago, often evokes images of idyllic blue oceans, beautiful sunsets and verdant green rice paddies. But Bali is much more than that. It is a rich, cultural, spiritual island that can best be explored by taking advice and guidance from friendly locals.
Bali is an anomaly; it’s unlike every other Indonesian island. Somehow, despite the growing number of expats from around the globe now calling it home, Bali has managed to maintain its traditional atmosphere and ethos. Below are five distinctly Balinese towns that could be the perfect destination for your overseas retirement.
1. Seminyak: For The Retiree Who Wants It All
Shopping, shopping and more shopping—you can indulge in some serious retail therapy in this bustling beach town. Here you’ll find everything from Balinese jewellery and furniture to bikinis and sunglasses. Throw in a long stretch of beach and pumping nightlife and you’ve got Seminyak in a nutshell.
It’s vibrant, lively and home to the majority of expats in Bali. With spas on every street, you can indulge in life’s little luxuries whatever your budget; from the high-end places where you can take a candlelit bath in warm waters adorned with rose petals, to the basic and affordable spas that give a good massage without the fanfare.
There are also hundreds of restaurants to choose from—ranging from cheap and cheerful local warung selling traditional Balinese fare for under a dollar, to five-star, white tablecloth establishments where you can spend $100 on a bottle of wine.
2. Uluwatu: For The Surf-Loving Retiree
If you’re a surfer, Uluwatu might already be in your sights. There is something about how the deep blue ocean meets the sharp steep cliffs that makes this place so magical. To reach many of the beaches you must climb through caves or walk down narrow pathways, which make getting there an adventure in and of itself.
The town is spread out, so having a scooter is advisable. It’s also the best way to explore the area’s tracks and trails which sometimes lead to small temples or other enchanting discoveries. There is only one main road that runs throughout the area and it’s peppered with cafes and restaurants. If you’re a surfer looking for a perfect place to ride big waves, Uluwatu could be for you.
3. Sanur: For The Small Town Retiree
Sanur was one of the first towns in Bali to be discovered by tourists, but happily it’s retained its small Balinese town feel. It’s small enough to ride a bike from one end to the other, but this little town packs a punch, there’s so much going on that you’ll never be bored.
The water is calm and perfect for swimming, paddle boarding and snorkelling; there are even a few nearby reefs right off the beach. Fishing and dive boats line the shore and there’s a boardwalk running the entire length of the beach—perfect for jogging or taking a sunrise stroll. It’s also lined with dozens of fabulous restaurants and a few larger hotels. After dinner, there’s plenty of nightlife and bars with live music that draw large crowds nightly.
4. Ubud: For The Holistic Retiree
Ubud is considered the heart of Bali and is also the island’s spiritual center. This is the type of town where you can let out your inner hippie. There is a large art community; gallery openings are a regular occurrence. You can take classes in jewellery making, cooking vegan fare or even balancing your chakras. There are also hundreds of cafés and restaurants to choose from with every type of cuisine imaginable.
Surrounded by lush green rice paddies and only 30 minutes from the nearest beach, Ubud is a great home for anyone looking to live outside of the box.
5. Amed: For The Pioneer Retiree
This small town is off the radar for most people visiting Bali, but it has a lot going for it. Amed is considered one of the best areas on the island for divers of all levels and the number of dive shops here proves it. Of course, if you’re not into scuba diving, there are plenty of other ways to enjoy the water. Befriend a local fisherman and he’ll take you out for a sunrise journey as he gathers his morning catch.
There is a small expat community whose influence can be seen in the wide selection of international cuisine on offer here. It’s just as easy to find grilled locally caught fish on the menu as it is to find tuna tartar and French wine.
Tourism is just starting to pick up and, as it does, more Western amenities will be popping up. Until then, Amed is the ideal destination for those looking to get away from it all.