Travel Like an Editor: Sharon Clott Kanter’s Anniversary Getaway to Bali
In this feature, InStyle’s Senior Editor Sharon Clott Kanter documents what she packed and wore for her trip to Bali, Indonesia.
I live for adventures, and luckily, my husband does, too. This summer marked our first anniversary as a married couple, which was the perfect incentive to book a getaway off our list of dream locales. So, in early August, we jetted off to Bali in Indonesia.
One thing we didn’t realize before we went: The trip is really long. There’s no way to sugar coat it—Bali is halfway around the world. From the East Coast, we flew 15 hours to Taipei, had a five-hour layover in the Taoyuan International Airport, and then flew another five hours into Denpasar, Bali. Just at the point when we thought, 'This is nuts!!!,' we drove out of the airport, wove through the streets lined with palm trees, and realized, this is completely worth it.
We stayed in the Nusa Dua area, located in the southern part of the island. The resorts in this section are known for their stunning properties that have everything from entertainment to food to beaches to infinity pools to luxury spas, so you don’t even have to leave. We stayed at the Mulia Bali, and it was exactly like that. The staff there is overly friendly and attentive; so don’t be surprised if they figure out all your likes and dislikes by the end of your stay. (That’s why I had peppermint tea brought to me every day without asking!)
Packing for this trip was a challenge. I'm a last-minute packer, and I wanted to take the throw-all-my-summer-gear-into-a-suitcase approach. Instead, I simplified. I packed by activity, like a bunch of swimwear options because every day I planned to go the pool or the beach, a few outfits to satisfy excursions to Bali’s famous rice paddies and Monkey Forest in Ubud, and several other must-haves, like yoga gear (Bali is a very peaceful place to find your zen), light pants for nights watching the sunset in Uluwatu, and bronzer to make the tan I was working so hard for really shimmer.
Bali was everything we were hoping for in a first-anniversary getaway: Romantic and remote. Now, when can we go back?
A Sporty Bikini
A Comfortable Crop
“We spent one day in Ubud, and made stops at a batik studio, the rice paddies Bali is known for, and a few stunning temples, like this one here. I packed several crop tops from Aritzia just for this reason—they’re light and airy for running around, and layer nicely when you have to wear a sarong on temple grounds for religious reasons. Usually the sarongs are given to you upon entry.”
Wilfred Free Crop, currently long-sleeve version available, $35; aritizia.com.
Shorts You Don’t Mind Monkeys Climbing On
“If you go to Bali, make sure a stop at the Monkey Forest in Ubud is on your itinerary. The monkeys are friendly here, they’re looking for food, and they’re going to give you a hysterical picture (like this!). Just buy a banana bunch when you go in, hide them in your pockets, and pull out one at a time and hold it out so your arm acts as a branch. The monkeys climb on you to get the fruit. It’s a lot of fun—just make sure you wear something you don’t mind monkeys crawling all over. For me, I picked a pair of shorts from Forever 21.”
Similar palm print short available, $23; forever21.com.
A Chic Camera Case
“One of the best spots in the world to see the sunset is on the south side of the island at Uluwatu Temple. The sun sets around 6 p.m. and right after, the community there puts on a Fire Dance. Unfortunately, we missed the dance because we were too busy taking pictures. We packed one SLR, two lenses, and two iPhones into my padded Palma camera case by Ona, which kept all my photo-taking options safe. I may have taken hundreds of pictures of the unbelievable sunset that night, but no snap could capture how beautiful it was to see in person.”
Ona Bags Palma Satchel, $329; onabags.com.
A Yoga Outfit
“Bali is an incredibly peaceful place, and you WILL find your zen there if you go. The Mulia offered yoga classes almost every morning, and my husband and I opted for a private session on our anniversary day. Our instructor set us up right by the pool and the beach, where it was peaceful and serene. Of course, I packed the brightest look ever—oh, well!”
A Light Cover-Up
“Did I say it gets hot in Bali, yet? It gets hot in Bali! I packed this gauzy cover-up from model Liya Kibede’s line, Lemlem, to keep me cool. It’s a V-neck in the front and back so you get to see a peek of your bathing suit, but you can still cover up when you feel yourself starting to burn. I love that it’s handmade in Ethiopia, too.”
Lemlem Nunu Cover-Up, $195; anthropologie.com.
“One day, we hiked down 300 stairs to get to the remote Green Bowl Beach. Since it took us so long to get there, we brought things to keep us occupied for a few hours before heading back. I packed Supergoop’s Everyday Sunscreen SPF 50 for my face, Terri Kelly’s comfy flip flops for my feet, and The 7 Virtures of a Philosopher Queen: A Woman’s Guide to Living & Leading in an Illogical World for my mind, which I had gotten at a Lord & Taylor editor preview. As for the flamingo, it came in the mail at work, and I threw it in my suitcase as a joke. My husband fell in love with it and brought it everywhere.”
A Sexy Bikini (That Actually Holds You In)
“Splashing around Green Bowl Beach was so much fun. I wanted to make sure I packed a bikini that was sexy, yet pop-out free. This Koa Swim two-piece did the trick. I’m petite and it fit perfectly—it emphasized the parts of my body I love and minimized the ones I don’t. I felt really comfortable, which is a swimwear win, if you ask me.”
Koa Swim Twisted in Love Olive Green Top ($70) and Bottom ($73); koaswim.com.
A Dress for a Special Night
“For our anniversary dinner, we booked a tasting menu at Soleil, a beautiful restaurant on the Mulia property. We had five courses, each one more delectable than the next. I wanted to dress up, but everything is really casual there. This open-back dress from Lulu’s was relaxed enough for the Bali atmosphere, but still dressy enough to feel like I put in some effort.”
Iris I May Black and Ivory Print Dress, $58; lulus.com.
A Bright Bikini
“I wore this two-piece from Marysia’s collaboration with Jonathan Cohen so many times during our trip. It’s so comfortable and definitely looks amazing while sunbathing. I paired this with sandals from J.Crew, Lookmatic sunnies, and a sunhat from Saks Fifth Avenue’s collection.”
A Day at the Spa
“Pack nothing for this—just show up! The Mulia Spa offered you two-piece black outfits if you didn’t bring your own, which I happily used to take a dip in the hydrotonic pools. I spent about a half-hour in these hot and cold pools on two different occasions, and even when I think about them, they bring back only the chillest of thoughts. After a dip, I went to the steam sauna, dry sauna, and the ice room, the latter being only one located on the island. By the end, I felt incredibly relaxed—and I didn’t have to bring home a wet suit!
The Mulia Spa, visit themulia.com for info and specials.
An Outfit to Cook In
“We really wanted to experience true Indonesian food in Bali, so we headed to The Ritz-Carlton, Bali. Their Indonesian restaurant, Bejana, just opened, and part of their new offerings included a culinary excursion with the chef. So, at 7 a.m., we woke up early and met up with chef Made Suriana. He took us to two different markets to buy fresh ingredients like finely-chopped coconut flakes, coconut oil, and lemongrass. Then, we had a cooking lesson, which included making three lunch courses, and one very delicious dessert. In between shopping and eating, we explored the property, which is where I snapped this shot, standing at The Ritz's beautiful wedding chapel that overlooks the ocean. I highly recommend this excursion to anyone heading to Bali!”
Rebecca Taylor top and skirt; no longer available. Ritz-Carlton, Bali, Bejana Culinary Cave, $95 per person; ritzcarlton.com.
Something Fun to Wear
“I packed a few things I knew I could relax in, and this Adidas rugby shirt was one of them. It worked as a shirt for throwing on as a backup cover-up, and as a nightshirt when I crashed after a day in the sun.”
Adidas Adigirl Rugby Tee, $35; adidas.com.
“These are my must-haves for the pool—a good book, the paper, some sunscreen, shimmery eyeshadow, and a pair of shades. The pouch was given to me as a gift last holiday season from my awesome assistant, Samantha Simon. A mix of necessities with a few hints of thoughtful charm…what else do you need, right?”
The International New York Times, provided every morning by the Mulia staff; The History of Love by Nicole Krauss, $15; amazon.com; Nicole Miller Pacific sunglasses, $160; nicolemiller.com; Supergoop sunscreen SPF 50, $19; supergoop.com; L’Oreal Invisible Protect SPF 30, $10; drugstores nationwide; Lorac Alter Ego Eye Shadow Palette, $24; loraccosmetics.com; Zhuu Emoji pouch (out of stock).
A Boy and a Bikini
“Bali is known for its infinity pools, and this one located in the main lobby area of the Mulia Villas is downright spectacular. You can see the curvature of the Earth from this perspective! As for this picture, it’s our go-to pose. We make sure to capture this ridiculous shot every place we go, and I had no shame as I climbed on my husband’s shoulders and threw up peace signs in the luxurious, beautiful Bali setting.”
Bikini picked up from unknown store on a trip to South Africa. Husband picked up through marriage in 2014.
A Look That Will Make You Smile Even Though You’re Leaving
“Nothing is happy about leaving a paradise as beautiful as Bali. So, I packed this Rebecca Taylor going-away outfit to wear on our last day that would perk me up even as our trip was drawing to a close. I wore this as we took a nice long walk on our last day…and, of course, plotted our next adventure.”