Bali is most well-known for its glorious beaches, wonderful climate, luxurious resorts and its vibrant nightlife. Given its proximity to Australia, Bali is a premier destination for many Aussie tourists. And with Bali’s travel restrictions being lifted, there are probably plenty of Aussies excited to start booking flights to Bali. However, while Bali has much to offer in the way of snorkelling and shopping, there are also plenty of things for travellers who are looking to get off the beaten track.
Bali’s tourism hub is focused around the southern part of the island. This is where you’ll find Bali’s famous beaches, its opulent resorts and the capital city, Denpasar. But if you’d prefer hiking trails to poolside cocktails, there are other parts of Bali away from the major tourist destinations that show a different side of this famous island. Here a just a few of our favourite, lesser-known holiday destinations in Bali.
1. The Nusa Islands
If you’re spending time in Bali on your next overseas holiday, then make sure you visit the Nusa Islands. Just 30 minutes by fast boat from Sanur, the Nusa Islands include Nusa Lembongan, Nusa Ceningan and Nusa Penida. The Nusa islands offer travellers the beautiful beaches Bali is known for, minus the bustling crowds of tourists.
Nusa Lemongan is the closest island to the mainland and acts as the gateway to the other islands. The most famous attraction on Lemongan is known as the Devil’s Tears – a natural rock formation that some believe is the best places to watch the sunset in Bali.
Nusa Ceningan, the smallest of the trio, is connected to Lemongan by a sturdy yellow bridge known as ‘the Love Bridge’. You can easily get around the island on foot, and one must-see attraction here is the postcard-perfect Blue Lagoon. Traditional seaweed farming also takes place off the island, with the farms creating an interesting patchwork beneath the water. This offers Bali travellers a glimpse into the locals’ lives outside of the tourist hubs.
Finally, there is Nusa Penida, the largest of the three islands. Penida is accessible via a quick boat ride from Lemongan. Here you’ll find Goa Giri Putri temple, which is an underground temple used for daily religious ceremonies. Just be warned – the entrance to this underground temple is literally a crack in the wall which you will need to squeeze through, then you’ll need to crawl down into the cave.
2. West Bali National Park
The West Bali National Park is Bali’s only national park, and it covers both land and sea. Because it covers such a large area (around 190 km² of land and 32km² of water), travellers to Bali will have the chance to see a wide range of different natural environments – from mangroves to mountain ranges, acacia scrublands to pristine beaches.
Visiting the national park is a must for those who want to experience the natural environment of Bali for themselves – especially if you’re a bird lover. There are more than 160 different bird species to be found within the national park, including the rare and endangered white Bali starling. Here you’ll also find deer, wild boars, banteng and shy leopards.
As this is a protected area and a sanctuary for many native animals and birds, all visitors to the park need to check in at one of the park offices (one at Cekik and another at Labuan Lalang) to purchase an entry ticket and to arrange a guide. Entry into the park is not permitted without a guide.
There are a number of trails Bali travellers can take throughout the park of varying lengths and difficulties. You can chat to the park guides at the office when you arrive, or you can arrange something beforehand.
The uninhabited island of Menjangan is also part of the park and is accessible by boat from Labuan Lalang and is worth checking out for its fantastic snorkelling opportunities and Pura Gili Kencana, a temple located on the island. As it’s part of the park, you need to purchase a permit in order to get here and boat charters must be accompanied by a guide.
Nestled in the heart of Bali is an area known as Munduk. This makes for a great Bali travel spot for nature lovers, and makes for a fabulous day trip. Alternatively, for those seeking true serenity, stay on for a couple of days in the area.
While the hot Bali tourism areas of Ubud, Kuta and Seminyak have plenty to offer travellers, they have become incredibly popular in recent years. While some holiday makers don’t mind the crowds, if you’re looking to get away from the hustle and bustle then Munduk might be the place for you.
Munduk offers some fantastic hiking trails and beautiful views for those looking to immerse themselves in nature. The Munduk Waterfall Trek can be done in a day, and offers travellers views of four different but equally spectacular waterfalls – Labuhan Kebo Waterfall, Melating Waterfall, Red Coral Waterfall and Golden Valley Waterfall.
There is also the beautiful and tranquil Ulun Danu Beratan Temple, which sits right on the edge of Lake Beratan and is surrounded by lush gardens. This Hindu temple complex was built in the 17th century, and when the lake’s waters are calm the reflection of the temple makes it look as if it’s floating.
And if you’re a coffee lover, then make sure you stop by Munduk Moding Plantation, an organic coffee plantation that specialises in ethically sourced coffee. This is also one of the best spots to try famous Kopi Luwak coffee. Kopi Luwak is made from coffee beans that have passed through the digestive system of Asian palm civets (otherwise known as luwaks). If you’ve ever wanted to try wild luwak coffee, then this is one of the best and most ethical places to give it a go.
The area of Amed in Bali is a long stretch of beach that is probably most famous for its stunning, black sand beaches and fabulous diving opportunities. With Mount Agung brooding in the distance, Amed’s black beaches make for some pretty spectacular photo opportunities, especially at sunset. This is one Bali travel destination you’ll really want to see with your own eyes.
There are a number of diving spots in Amed that are suitable for different levels of divers, and there’s plenty of local marine life for divers to spot. In nearby Tulamben you’ll also find the famous WWII U.S.A.T Liberty shipwreck, which you can access from the shoreline; and over in Banyuning you’ll see what’s known as the mysterious Japanese Shipwreck.
If you’re interested in traditional Balinese culture, you can also visit the village of Purwakerti, located not far from Amed Beach, where traditional salt farming is still practiced.
While you’ll still find hotels, resorts and restaurants in Amed, the overall atmosphere here is a little more relaxed than other areas of Bali – making it a great spot for travellers who are looking to get away from the bustling crowds without getting too far off the beaten track.
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