"Bali all the things women love," says Chelsea Huntley, founder of Surf Goddess Retreats, which runs women's surf and spa retreats on this Indonesian Island. "Firstly [it has] super spas at really affordable prices so you can pamper yourself every day … Then there is great shopping which is again very affordable, delicious dining out, sunset cocktails, warm ocean water, tropical weather, and lots of opportunity to delve into the fascinating Balinese Hindu culture. [You can see] ornately carved temples, go on rice paddy walks to see a way of farming that has gone on for centuries, and buy incredible artisan work and handicrafts. Basically, Bali has it all.
"The people of Bali are super friendly and you don't have to worry about offending them as there are no clothing restrictions or strict behavioral taboos," adds Huntley. "It is very safe walking around day and night."
The beach is a natural draw for most of Bali's visitors, but thanks to Huntley, it's more than just a place to hang out—it's also a great place for women to learn ocean sports like surfing and stand-up paddling.
Unlike other surf companies that cater mostly toward men, Surf Goddess Retreats teaches the sport in a welcoming, non-competitive environment, and includes yoga, spa treatments, cultural activities, and organic meals in its well-rounded program.
In addition to surfing, Huntley recommends visiting Ubud, Bali's cultural center, where you can witness Hindu rituals and take classes in cooking, jewelry making, and other Balinese arts. Elsewhere on the island, hike up to the top of one of Bali's volcanoes—Gunung Agung or Gunung Batur—trek through rice paddies to the ancient village of Taro and ride an elephant with Bali Adventure Tours ($105), or go diving or snorkeling in the north. "Scuba diving is the hidden treasure of Bali," says Huntley.
Women-only tour: Seven-night Surf Goddess retreats ((focusing on surfing or stand-up paddling), are scheduled for two or three times per month except during January and February. Starting at $2,385, retreats include surf lessons and equipment, accommodations, airport transfers, daily yoga, a spa treatment, all meals, and guides. "It was definitely an experience of a lifetime that not only satisfied the urge to surf, but nurtured the mind, body, and soul," says Margaret Lee, who recently went on a Surf Goddess Retreat. "Rarely do you ever get a chance to experience these things, and I am grateful that I was able to find a place like Surf Goddess."
Do-it-yourself: In Ubud, stay at the intimate Ubud Sari Health Resort. Rates start at $60 per night including breakfast, and spa prices are downright cheap ($15 for an hour massage). At the beach in Seminyak, try the hip, comfortable Villa Karisa (from $78 per night), which blends traditional Balinese and modern design elements.