things to do - the istana
The Istana – Uluwatu 5 bedroom clifftop villa and luxury venue The Istana – Uluwatu 5 bedroom clifftop villa and luxury venue

With its dream location high above the Indian Ocean on a Bali cliff-top, The Istana is regarded by many as the ultimate luxury villa, and has won the hearts of the world’s most discerning travellers.

‘Istana’ means palace in Indonesian, and The Istana is truly palatial in every sense: in its profuse living space, in the symmetrical elegance of its architecture, in its stunning interior design, and in the impeccable service provided by its staff. Indeed, one can be forgiven for feeling like royalty in this sublime setting where attention to detail is second to none and every wish is fulfilled.  

The views are beyond spectacular. On a clear day Bali’s necklace of volcanoes to the north are visible on the horizon, while 60 metres below, world-class surf breaks attract seasoned wave riders. The sky blazes with fiery oranges and pinks as the sun sets on a perfect day, and when darkness deepens the sea sparkles with a latticework of lights from the fishing boats of Jimbaran Bay.

It is little wonder that the Istana is one of the most sought-after wedding venues in Bali; celebrated for its cliff-top ceremonies, candlelit poolside dinners, and dance floor under the stars. Adding to the romance is the secluded master suite, which has its own private pool and is positioned well away from the four guest bedrooms in the main villa.

The space and facilities at The Istana have huge family appeal. When not cavorting in the 32-metre infinity pool, kids will be thrilled to have the run of their own special wing, where a games room is equipped with pool table, Wii and PS3, and every night is sleepover night in the four-bedded bunk room. Parents can play too – a couples’ massage at the spa perhaps, followed by sunset cocktails and a gourmet dinner to rival the best of Bali’s restaurants, capped with a Cognac and Cuban cigar.

Such is The Istana’s magic that many guests choose not to stray far. But for those few who do have the urge to explore, Suluban Beach is only a five-minute walk away, and a seven-seat chauffeur driven car is on stand-by to whisk guests across the isthmus to Seminyak or further afield into Bali’s rural and cultural heart.

The Istana
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Things to do

The Istana’s manager will have a wealth of information about nearby places of interest, and do also ask other staff about the local area too; many of them live nearby and will be able to give an interesting insight into some of the fascinating aspects of Bali life.

In the meantime, here is a taste of the many and varied activities on offer within reach of the villa.

  1. Perched on a cliff 70m above the roaring Indian Ocean, Uluwatu Temple (Pura Luhur Uluwatu) is one of Bali’s nine key directional temples. Facing west and with steep headlands on either side creating an unbelievably dramatic setting, sunsets over Uluwatu are a sight not to be missed.
  2. Soar above the spectacular southern coastline of The Bukit Peninsula on a paraglider. Paragliding courses and solo flying for the experienced are available at Exo-fly as well as tandem flights in the safe hands of experienced instructors. The training centre is at Timbis Beach on the south coast of The Bukit.
  3. A seafood feast at Jimbaran is a must for every holiday in Bali – dozens of seafood warungs (cafés) line this west-facing beach, perfect for a sunset dinner. Fine dining options are available at most of the big resort hotels in this area too; notably PJ’s, the charming beachside restaurant at the Four Seasons, serving Mediterranean-styled cuisine.
  4. Uluwatu is the place for surfing enthusiasts. Most of the breaks are only suitable for advanced or expert surfers – the waves are big here. Particular highlights are Uluwatu, Dreamland, Padang-Padang, Bingin, Impossibles and Suluban.
  5. The 18-hole Bali Golf and Country Club Nusa Dua is one of the best courses on the island. Play takes place past creeks, canyons and waterfalls, through a mature coconut grove to the beach and back to the clubhouse alongside a lake.
  6. At Jenggala Keramic in Jimbaran, visitors can browse and buy from a vast range of handcrafted ceramics and glassware. Jenggala also runs ‘Make and Paint a Pot’ sessions where ‘Children’ of all ages are encouraged to get creative.
  7. Covering 3.8 hectares of tropical parkland in Kuta, Waterbom Bali has 16 water slides (including the Climax with its 360 degree loop) to entertain the young and the young at heart. A great family day out, but go early to beat the crowds.
  8. Fashionistas, trendies and shop-a-holics should hot-foot it down to Seminyak, Bali’s most cosmopolitan enclave. Here, you can indulge for hours in the glut of stylish, chic boutiques. There is a wide choice of fine dining, mid range, and cheap ‘n cheerful restaurants in Seminyak too: fine dining venues include Sarong, the famous Ku Dé Ta, Mama San, La Lucciola, Sardine and Métis.