Diving Bali - Nusa Penida

Diving Bali - Nusa Pinada
Diving Bali - Nusa Pinada
Diving Bali - Nusa Pinada
Diving Bali - Nusa Pinada
Diving Bali - Nusa Pinada
Diving Bali - Nusa Pinada
Diving Bali - Nusa Pinada
Diving Bali - Nusa Pinada
Diving Bali - Nusa Pinada
Diving Bali - Nusa Pinada

Diving to me is the ultimate form of mindfulness. I think because you are silent and you have no choice but to be right where you are. You are focused on your breath, your body, and your environment. The environment just happens to be under hundreds of tons of water in an alien landscape where you are the guest and the vibrant creatures of the ocean your host. For as long as I can remember, my dream has been this, to dive with Giant Manta Rays. These animals can get a wingspan of up to 5.5 meters and are placid gentle giants that glide underwater as if they are flying.

Getting to Nusa Penida can be done by fast or local boats off the coast of Bali. The most popular port to get a boat from is Sanur. If you use the fast boat the ride is about 30-40 minute depending on the swell. You can get tickets online or at the harbour. I recommend online because it just makes life easier and the boats can fill up rather quickly.

Approaching Nusa Penida looks like approaching the tropical island of Jurassic Park. With jagged cliffs and towering palm trees, the island looks like a movie scene. Once safely in the harbour, we arranged with Sanctum diving to collect us. They were going to do so by car which is a quick drive from the harbour but in the end, we rented scooters and made our way there following our guide. It was quicker and much less painful than sitting in the heat on the back of a pickup truck as we ended up in unexpected traffic due to a school parade.

I went to Nusa for one reason, in fact, I went to Bali for one reason. That reason was to see the Giant Manta Ray. To chase the dream of diving under the water with them and be in awe of their beauty. Sadly due to the traffic, we were late and unable to get out to the cleaning station with the dive boat. It seemed all odds were against me. First an earthquake, then a full boat, then traffic! The cleaning station is a dive where you are almost guaranteed to see Giant Manta Ray and not being able to get there felt like a major blow to my excitement. So we decided to dive one of the other points also popular with these gorgeous beasts.

Together with Ben and Lauren (my adventure buddies for the day), we had our first dive, desperately searching everywhere underwater to find them. These giant black flying fish were nowhere to be seen. I let it go and lost myself in all the other creatures of the ocean. 40 minutes into the dive I made peace that it just wasn't my time to see them. First the earthquake and then no Manta ray. Bali wasn't going to give me all I had hoped for. But then it happened. As soon as I let go I received. Perhaps there is a lesson there...

I turned around and over my head flew a Giant Manta Ray. I was so happy I think you could hear the screams of joy under the water. Out of nowhere came another - I turned to Ben and there he was shooting away taking these beautiful images of me and my dream come true. I could see Lauren in absolute awe and the energy the three of us shared is something that I will remember forever. I saw the giant Manta Rays of Bali. Although brief, I had my moment. A moment with an animal that is so majestic it leaves you speechless. Nusa Penida - it was a day trip which was way too short, I will have to return!

My hope is that the world over will see that the oceans are a magnificent breathing living being that needs to be protected from us! Below I have linked two organizations that are doing amazing work locally in Bali. If you have the time - hop on over and read up on them. Perhaps even donate. The oceans need us.

https://www.misoolfoundation.org

https://www.madistewart.com/donate

My vow this year is to use even less plastic in my life - it just ends up in the oceans and affects these amazing animals. It serves no purpose but to harm. Refusing the straw is great but the problem is much bigger than that. Single-use razors, plastic bags, and bottles are some of the plastic items used every day that end up in our beautiful oceans. Think twice before you use plastic and ask yourself, can I make a change?

-Melissa

p.s thank you Benj for the pictures





The Yoga Barn - Ubud Bali

The Yoga Barn - Ubud Bali
The Yoga Barn - Ubud Bali
The Yoga Barn - Ubud Bali
The Yoga Barn - Ubud Bali
The Yoga Barn - Ubud Bali
The Yoga Barn - Ubud Bali
The Yoga Barn - Ubud Bali
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The Yoga Barn - Ubud Bali
The Yoga Barn - Ubud Bali
The Yoga Barn - Ubud Bali
The Yoga Barn - Ubud Bali
The Yoga Barn - Ubud Bali
The Yoga Barn - Ubud Bali
The Yoga Barn - Ubud Bali

I stumbled upon The Yoga Barn by chance. One of my followers sent me a message telling me that if I found myself in Ubud, a spiritual village nestled in the mountains of Bali, that I better head there because I would love it! Well, I am obsessed and will return.

Tucked away in the centre of town is a lush green, calming and beautiful property called The Yoga Barn. Centred around Yoga and Ayurveda this property is filled with all that you could ask for to the point that I didn't want to leave for a few days. It is silent and peaceful, you feel like you can exhale the second you walk in. Next time I visit I will definitely look into the accommodation that they offer and stay there as a retreat for a few days of Yoga and healthy eating.

The property has several cafes and juice stands which makes healthy eating so easy. I was pleasantly surprised at how affordable the food is and how tasty each meal was. Offering an Ayurvedic menu along with other healthy options that are plant-based, the cafes work together with the healers and ayurvedic doctors that also have rooms on the property. This means that you can see the practitioners and then follow their detox by getting the food at the cafe and stay in comfort. It is the perfect all in one offering. Easy, simple and delicious. The cafes are also open to the public so you can pop in even if you aren't catching a yoga class.

The Yoga Barn offers several options for Yoga and each class is different. You can choose a more advanced flow class or bring it back home with a beautiful Yin class by candlelight. Classes run throughout the day and I recommend popping onto their website or visiting them once you arrive at the Yoga Barn to book your classes. Whether sound healing or meditation is your thing you will find it there. It's like a cocoon of spiritual happiness.

The teachers are from all over the world and each class is longer than your normal 60 minutes in the city. Averaging 90 minutes. Allowing time for play and personal instruction. The venue is enclosed by nature and filled with yogis from all walks of life. I managed my first headstand with proper instruction and learned how important it is to trust myself. A rather big lesson I hope to carry on in my day to day life.

I got an appointment with a cranial sacral therapist who shed some light on my healing journey with Pcos. I highly recommend treating yourself to an appointment with a healer. It's a very precious self-love gift that can help you look deeper into your journey and understand more of yourself. Joining a sound healing class afterward by candlelight with the frogs chirping was perfection.

I am already planning my return to be honest. I dream of Ubud and most defiantly The Yoga Barn.

-Melissa

My Canggu breakfast cafe guide - Bali

This year sure has been a wild one. It included my cookbook launch along with some serious overseas adventures in Bali and Dubai.

Bali was honestly one of the most beautiful places I have ever experienced and to be honest, I haven't even begun to explore all it has to offer and I can guarantee that I will return to this little slice of heaven! The people are humble and kind and the environment thick, lush and tropical with warm balmy air. And don’t get me started on the spectacular food! As you can well imagine I ate my way through Bali one glorious cafe at a time. With most of the island being vegan and offering up healthy snacks and treats I felt like free-reign was essential to getting the full experience.

So here is one of the first blog posts from my trip and a little information on where you can go feast while soaking in the good vibrations of Bali.

We flew into Denpasar airport and took a cab (which should cost you no more than R250) straight through to Canngu. Canggu is a little surfers village on the west coast of Bali. Filled with gorgeous cafes that have well thought out interior and more often than not an extensive healthy menu that is made up of fresh colourful foods and smoothies. Be patient in the cab on the way from the airport as traffic is crazy and although the journey isn’t far it can take over an hour to get there as the roads are small in Bali.

If you are traveling on a budget I would say that the cafes are very well priced. You can get a meal for R80 ($6) however, if you want to change it up and go to a local warung which is a home restaurant run by the locals then you can get an amazing fresh meal for R20 - R50 ($3) Do make sure you experience a Warung as the food is fresh and delicious and you are supporting local which is always wonderful!

In no specific order here are the cafes I visited and loved!


Crate Cafe:

This little hipster cafe was my welcome to Bali spot. It has a simple industrial concrete decor with a menu that offers a wide variety of healthy smoothies, smoothie bowls and hearty dishes such as fluffy quinoa and perfect poached eggs. It fills up quickly so I would visit earlier in the day if you want to get a space. You order at the counter and most meals cost roughly R50. Which was brilliant value for money and some would argue the best breakfast in Canggu. The food was fresh and tasty. You can also order coconuts everywhere you go so make sure to try them. They are great for hydration and taste like heaven! The coffee was on point but don’t take my word for it! Make sure you pop around to this institution.


My Canggu breakfast cafe guide - Bali
My Canggu breakfast cafe guide - Bali
My Canggu breakfast cafe guide - Bali
My Canggu breakfast cafe guide - Bali

The Avocado factory

I mean who doesn’t love avocados toast? If you do then I have found your mecca. This little spot has a full menu designed around the glorious food that is avocado! With Avocado roses coming out of the kitchen on all dishes it was easy to fall in love with the food before we even ate it! A little more pricer than most cafes for breakfast however, if you have the spend in your budget then dig in and enjoy! The dishes are served on white plates making each one pop with colour! Not to mention the avocado toast was heavenly and combined with fresh elements such as sugar snaps. Yum! The branded coconuts didn’t go a miss either, its all in the detail.

My Canggu breakfast cafe guide - Bali
My Canggu breakfast cafe guide - Bali
My Canggu breakfast cafe guide - Bali
My Canggu breakfast cafe guide - Bali

Made famous on Instagram Nalu Bowls is a little cafe situated not 500m from the beach front of Canggu. If you find them on instagram you will get lost in the world of perfect smoothie bowls that are so beautiful you won’t want to eat them. Unless you are me. They are filled with fresh fruits and made fresh to order. The wait can take long so get there before you are hangry, it is well worth it!

My Canggu breakfast cafe guide - Bali
My Canggu breakfast cafe guide - Bali
My Canggu breakfast cafe guide - Bali
My Canggu breakfast cafe guide - Bali

Catch a bite at the local Warung. These are spots that have been set up in the front of a local families house. The kitchen is at the back and they have turned it into a family business. The offer a wide variety of fresh vegetables, noodles and of course rice. Try the red rice as this was my favourite and I am convinced a meal on its own. Nasi-goreng (fried rice) and Mie-Goreng (fried Noodles) are the famous local dishes and you have to try them to experience authentic food. This was our favourite way of eating as it was super affordable, you get a large variety and it is freshly made every day! Plus you are supporting local families.

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My Canggu breakfast cafe guide - Bali
My Canggu breakfast cafe guide - Bali

The Shady Shack

Ok so get ready to have the worlds best chocolate smoothie - yes I said it. It was simply mind blowing delicious and the best part? It had natural probiotics in it. So not only will you fill you belly with happy flora but you will send your taste buds into chocolate heaven. The rest of the food is just as utterly scrumptious and is completely vegetarian and healthy. They make yummy smoothie bowls however I dug deep into their full house style breakfasts with eggs. They also stock Ubud RAW which is a chocolate brand making healthy chocolate treats with local organic cacao. Whats not to love?

My Canggu breakfast cafe guide - Bali
My Canggu breakfast cafe guide - Bali
My Canggu breakfast cafe guide - Bali
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Rise and Shine was my standard go to veggie breakfast bowl with delicious sourdough toast topped with avo! A utterly delicious carefully made breakfast that was well thought out and very filling. Space is limited so make sure you get there early or be ready to wait for a table as it is very popular. They also offer coffee that was sublime. I might or might not have lost myself in several coconut milk piccolos for the morning. Resulting in Lauren needing to keep up with my Caffeine high!

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My Canggu breakfast cafe guide - Bali

This Vegan emporium will leave you mind blown at what you can achieve sans meat. Meet Peloton Supershop. A cafe that offers a full vegan experience from burgers to tacos and non of it will make you long for their meat counter part. Coupled with a bicycle store this spot is all about the environment which means I am all about it. The menu is extensive and you will find something for every occasion. The menu was created together with Indonesian/Australian vegan and foodie Lauren Camilleri. The food is colourful and the hardest part is deciding on one dish. Which I couldn’t do so I ordered 3. It’s a problem! A must visit vegan or not! The interior is industrial meets vintage and the staff are always happy to help!

My Canggu breakfast cafe guide - Bali
My Canggu breakfast cafe guide - Bali
My Canggu breakfast cafe guide - Bali
My Canggu breakfast cafe guide - Bali
My Canggu breakfast cafe guide - Bali
My Canggu breakfast cafe guide - Bali

Cafe Vida - Im not sure what I was more in love with, the extensive list of healthy elixirs or the wide variety of chocolate and sweet treats that were made from raw healthy chocolate. This establishment is housed inside a balinese authentic home and is filled with the smell of coffee and you can soak up the culture while you feast. The smoothie bowls were my favourite in Canggu. Topped with bee pollen and seed mix they were perfectly balanced in their fruit to super food ratio. The menu is well thought out and offers one of the widest varieties of herbal tea I have seen! It was so good, I went back twice!

My Canggu breakfast cafe guide - Bali
My Canggu breakfast cafe guide - Bali
My Canggu breakfast cafe guide - Bali

Canggu is filled with hip and happening cafes around every busy or quiet corner. I only got to small handful and wish I got to so much more. The one thing I do know is that this little surfing village prides itself on the quality of the cafes and you can’t really go wrong because exploring is part of the adventure. If you find yourself in Bali, be brave, take a shot left and try something new. You will most probably fall in love with it. This list is just my experience and I hope you will go out there and make your own!

Happy Eating!

DJI - Now anyone can fly!

DJI magic air
DJI magic air
DJI magic air
DJI magic air
DJI mavic air
DJI magic air
DJI mavic air
DJI mavic air

I’ve always had slight envy for all the amazing drone shots that I have seen across Instagram. DJI drones have been something on my list for the longest time. The problem is, when is the right time to drop a large amount of money on a second camera that you are going to hover hundreds of metres in the air? The truth? There is never going to be a right time. Then why get one? Because life will never be the same again. And as a creative it’s one of the most exciting ways to flip your view on its head.

My right time happened to be shopping online at Outdoorphoto. They are the Tomorrowland of camera equipment with amazing prices and an even bigger range than you could imagine. The only criticism I have is a personal one; I don’t have a trust fund to really fulfil my wish list with them.

Trust me… It’s big.

The DJI Mavic Air is the latest addition to the DJI drone collection. It’s smaller than the pro and in my opinion better than the Spark in terms of durability and image quality. So it’s the perfect pocket size accessory for anyone looking to take amazing images and video. The drone is as big as a small shoe and weighs in at an astounding 570g.

I opted for the Fly More Combo because well, I wanted to fly more. It comes with two additional batteries and extra propellers in case you have a little accident as well as propeller protectors and all the chargers and cables you will need. Basically, it’s a full kit to go out and kick some major drone butt.

The thing I was the most excited about is not only is it small making it perfect for me as a woman, but it has a three-way axis gimbal and a built-in camera that shoots 4K video and 12-megapixel stills.

It can take 32-megapixel panoramas of your chosen landscape (rice terraces, beaches, mountains, an evacuation) and packs a major punch!

The drone has several shooting options from sphere 360, panoramic QuickShots to, the major exciting one, ActiveTrack. Now I just need a fast car and major skills to shoot myself living the high life like all the major YouTubers out there.

With sensors on the front and back and warnings that go off like a jailbreak should you go too close to a solid object (or the battery starts running dangerously low), the Mavic Air is designed for everyone and anyone. It’s very easy to learn to fly and with a Beginner Mode, you can’t go wrong. Its next to impossible to crash.

(Side note - always make sure the firmware is updated along with the remote. This is done by setting up and connecting the remote to the drone. You definitely don’t ever want to fly with outdated firmware… otherwise, you very well might be calling Mayday.)

So – my final thoughts on the Mavic Air?

Well… after having written this article praising this little bug’s awesome capabilities; it just so happened that I was caught in the earthquake in Indonesia on a small little island 4km off the mainland of Lombok (the epicentre) called Gili Trawangan.

DJI mavic air

I was able to capture the most dramatic images of my career thanks to the Mavic Air.

In the maelstrom of people jostling and fighting to board rescue boats during the hair-raising evacuation; I put on a brave face and launched my Mavic Air in an effort to capture the desperation of the unfolding situation on the ground.

The result? You decide for yourself.

It was my first image ever to go viral and it was quickly picked up by international newsagents, Reuters, and the footage and images were broadcast around the world on various outlets; CNN, Sky, BBC.

DJI mavic air

For a photographer and content creator – perhaps one of the biggest moments of my career that could have just as easily gone undocumented.

Even though my very valuable but cumbersome gear bag was subsequently stolen and I lost the majority of my camera equipment during the evacuation due to the chaos on the beach – It was somehow the consolation of the century that I had my lightweight Mavic Air over my shoulder ready to launch and she was not lost with the rest of my gear. (Another consolation is that I never travel without insurance.)

She performed beyond my wildest expectations.

So for anyone serious about photography who is on the fence about whether purchasing a drone is excessive or a necessity – all I can say is the opportunities for pushing the limits of creativity and documenting experiences in such an exceptional perspective might only present themselves a handful of times in life.

I, for one, won’t ever travel without mine again.

-Melissa