Eat and retreat: Best ways to wellness in Bali

For anyone seeking a respite from modern life, there are myriad ways to restore one’s mind, body and soul in mystical Bali – whether it’s for a week, a day or an hour.

Woman doing yoga.
  • Charlene Fang
  • September 2018

If the body is a temple, the Indonesian island of Bali is its alter. Blessed with a fertile environment of mineral-rich volcanic sand, lush valleys, waterfalls and sacred waters, Bali’s unlimited healing powers make it a mecca for health and wellness devotees.

For anyone seeking a respite from modern life, there are myriad ways to restore one’s mind, body and soul in mystical Bali – whether it’s for a week, a day or an hour.

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Man and woman pilates
Bali is the altar if your body is a temple that needs renovating.

A Week

Retreat and renew

Bali’s divine environment and spiritual richness make it the perfect setting in which to disconnect and reframe. Whether seeking a holistic experience, a few days of emotional reflection and physical challenge, or just downtime to indulge, there’s a retreat to help make good on your personal goals.

Chosen Experiences’ week-long retreat marries a beautiful destination (also in Guatemala, Iceland and New Zealand) with a tailored fitness and nutrition plans (meals are free from gluten and refined sugar). Designed with the help of award-winning coaches to push personal boundaries, the physically challenging activities include waterfall rappelling, Olympic weightlifting and free diving.

The groups are kept to no more than eight and are housed in a luxury villa to ensure a good night’s rest.

Waitresses and food.
Healthy food is plentiful on the island of the gods.

Komune, on Bali’s tranquil east coast, makes the most of its volcanic beach location overlooking the world-famous Keramas surf break. Offering four different packages, its five- or seven-day programs combine daily unlimited yoga sessions, spa treatments, the option to do some night surfing and an activity day that might include a stand-up paddle session in Sanur, an elephant walk in Taro or a brisk hike up Mount Batur.

COMO Shambhala Estate’s yoga program (three- to 14-night stays) offers one-on-one yoga lasses on the banks of the majestic Yang River. The 9.3-hectare estate offers daily opportunities to focus and meditate in absolute silence. For a deeper journey of self-healing, the Panchakarma program (10 or 14 nights) calls on ancient Ayurvedic detoxification treatments to strength the immune system and restore health through herbal oils and medicines. A customised diet and tailored yoga practices are also offered.

Fivelements’ range of personal evolution programs all follow the Balinese philosophy of Tri Kaya Parisudha: clean mind, clean speech, clean action. Through authentic healing journeys, wellness retreats and signature programs such as Cuisine for Life, guests learn about living-foods philosophy and depart equipped with the know-how to sprout, ferment, bake and dehydrate their way towards a healthier raw diet.


Masseur massaging a woman.
Treat yourself to a magical feeling as you get away from modern life.

A Day

Rejuvenating experiences

Connecting with one’s spiritual self is easier in Bali, where the people believe gods and goddesses exist in nature and offerings are delivered daily.

Tirta Empul (Holy Spring) is a sacred experience. The waters of Bali are believed to hold healing powers and bathing in the pools at the ninth-century water temple is a traditional cleansing ritual. There are 13 ornate water spouts, each representing a different form of purification, addressing love and fertility and warding off evil spirits.

Village Spa Journey at Amandari offers a more conventional purification experience that encompasses a combination of the Balinese Melukat purification ceremony and holy water rituals with a full-body scrub, wrap and head massage.

Emerge with a new being, with renewed skin.

Visiting a Balian (Balinese traditional healer) has become part of the tourist experience thanks to the movie Eat Pray Love. Balians treat mental and physical imbalances via a variety of methods: massage, energy healings and intuitive readings. The process of locating the right healer can be complicated, and it is advisable to research etiquette and practices. Yoga Barn, in the heart of Ubud, offers daily classes, workshops and treatments.

3D spa massage luxury.
The luxury in the health and wellness resorts is opulent.

An Hour

Eat well

Feeding the mind, body and soul goes beyond mantras and poses. What fuels the body is crucial, and Bali’s organic and sustainable food scene is ahead of the curve.

Grow Bali by chef Ryan Clift is one of the newest Bali restaurants to champion fresh and sustainable dining. Clift’s “bistronomy” menu presents natural flavours, handmade pastas and closely guarded family recipes, created using only the freshest locally sourced produce.

“It’s mostly the fresh local seafood caught only hours before it arrives in the kitchen; also, our vegetable delivery from a farm up in Kintamani,” Clift says.

“It’s such a microclimate up there (in Kintamani) that are able to grow Western berries and vegetables we would otherwise have to import. From a chef’s perspective, this is utter food heaven.”

Couple holding hands while looking at the scenic view.
Treat yourself to a heavenly experience on the island of Bali.

Locavore by Eelke Plasjmeijer and Ray Adriansyah in Ubud is another eatery flying the flag for chemical-free and locally grown food. Plasjmeijer and Adriansyah pride themselves on the mantra “go local or go home”. The result is ethically-fed meats (such as Baturiti duck from Central Bali) paired with organic and chemical-free produce presented across five- or seven-course degustation menus, or rather mini works of art.

Bali Buda is another fixture of the thriving Ubud café scene specialising in vegan, raw and organic. Its gluten-free dishes and raw cakes are handmade daily and it’s well known for its no-bake cheesecakes, spirulina balls and raw food platters.

Fresh, a raw and vegan restaurant overlooking tranquil aquaponic gardens in Ubud, serves an Indonesian-inspired menu grounded in the eight directions of Hindu dharma. Founder and chef Arif Springs conducts a weekly raw-food cooking class fusing local ingredients with raw-food methodology.

Kokolato serves a range of coconut-based gelatos that are vegan, gluten-free and low-glycaemic. Stocked at health-conscious cafes, restaurants and retailers island-wide, flavours include Moringa mint chip and locally inspired varieties such as Jami.

When in Bali, the options to live, eat and be well are endless – it’s the perfect destination to relax and recharge.