A Perfect Weekend in Seminyak, Bali

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Tourists enjoy the beach in Seminyak in Bali

Planning a weekend in Bali? Then look further than the tourist magnet of Kuta Beach, which has suffered from the easy access that its location near the airport affords. Instead, spend a few more minutes in the taxi and head for Seminyak. This seafront town easily charms with its laid-back vibe and great restaurants. Here's our itinerary for the perfect Seminyak break. (Read "A Greener Education in Bali.")

FRIDAY: After checking in at one of the many luxury villas available in the area (see a selection at www.elitehavensbali.com), catch the sunset at Zanzibar Restaurant, tel: (62-361) 733 527. The restaurant, with an open terrace overlooking the beach, takes its Mediterranean décor to heart, offering an Italian-themed menu with a focus on fresh fish and locally grown vegetables. Try the salad of roast pumpkin, feta cheese and poached egg followed by the tuna carpaccio with avocado. After dinner, head for the Mannekepis bar, tel: (62-61) 847 5784, which pumps out Belgian beer and great live jazz. (See 10 things to do in Singapore.)

SATURDAY: After a leisurely brunch at La Luciola, tel: (62-361) 730 838, a Seminyak institution made famous for its ocean view and Australian-inspired cuisine, stroll down the beach for a lesson at the Rip Curl School of Surf, tel: (62-361) 735 858. At the end of the half-day lesson you will be standing up and waving to the camera. If not, the next lesson is free. (See pictures of Singapore.)

Wind down from the adrenaline rush at Body Works, tel: (62-361) 733 317, which offers the traditional Balinese mandi lulur — an hour-long massage followed by an exfoliating scrub made from turmeric, sandalwood, cinnamon and ground rice. The expert manicures and pedicures will leave fingers and toes glowing and ready for a night out.

Start the evening at Take, tel: (62-361) 759 745, for the best sushi and sashimi on the island. The décor probably hasn't changed since the 1980s, but scenery is immaterial when it comes to the straight-from-the-line fish and variety of live sea creatures in the window tanks. The mantis prawns may look like monsters from a horror film, but the taste — finer than any lobster — is worth the fright.

The large lawn pillows at Hu'u Bar, tel: (62-361) 736 443, are the current place to be seen in Seminyak. Lounge under the stars with a cocktail or a glass of wine while waiting for the dance floor to kick into high gear sometime around midnight. Hu'u Bar's international stable of DJs spin hot and cool, but never anything in between.

SUNDAY: Start the morning slowly with Italian coffee and a breakfast panini at Grocer & Grind delicatessen, tel: (62-361) 730 418. Once you're awake, peruse the grocery aisle for locally made artisanal palm sugars, sea salt and coffee to take home as gifts and souvenirs. Or you can step around the corner to Jalan Oberoi and go gift-hunting in its fashion boutiques and design shops. Next, hop in a taxi and head west about 20 minutes to Echo Beach, a popular surf spot. Work up an appetite for lunch by putting the previous day's surfing lesson into practice. A trio of beach shacks located where the road meets the sea offers grilled seafood, fresh juices and cold beers. Surfers, both in and out of the water, provide visual diversion.

When heading back to town at the end of the afternoon, stop at the charming Biku, tel: (62-361) 857 0888, for scones, clotted cream and jam. A small bookshop nestling in the corner of this teahouse makes it easy to spend time here. In the evenings, La Sal, tel: (62-361) 738 321, serves tapas in stylish surroundings. Uncork chilled cava and dive into chorizo, eggplant in Bloody Mary foam, or papas bravas. Appetite sated, head upstairs to the open-air lounge for a valedictory drink.

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