First time to Bali or repeat visitor seeking authentic experiences? If you’ve done stylish Seminyak and trendy areas like Nusa Dua and Kuta in the south, you might be ready for the untrodden and undeveloped regions to the east, west, central and north parts of Bali.
By far the most popular visitor destination in Indonesia, Bali’s blend of unique culture, legendary beaches, spectacular highland regions and unique underwater life make it a perennial favourite amongst global travellers. While some areas are over run by tourists, there are still some villages where few westerners venture except for the intrepid and those with local guides who reveal the authentic and ceremonial side of this state.
While not exactly off the beaten track – all intrepid travellers end up here – you must travel inland to get to Ubud, about an hour and a half from the international airport. Don’t miss it, even if you only stay a day or two enroute to the further corners. It’s a haven for soaking up the atmosphere of health and wellbeing, among other things.
Ubud is filled with arts and crafts hubs, boutique cafes, artists’ workshops and galleries. There are also some remarkable architectural and other sights to be found. For some serious shopping, visit the traditional Ubud Market, a busy double-storey warren of stalls selling wood carvings, batik shirts, sarongs and souvenirs. Locals shop in the morning for fresh produce that has travelled from the upland farms and fields.
West: West Bali National Park
This is the least populated and least visited region of Bali. It is dominated by the West Bali National Park and a huge area of protected reserve. Both the north and south coasts of this region offer quiet beaches but of a very different nature. Those in the north fringe calm seas which are excellent for diving and snorkelling. The southern beaches are wilder and include a number of renowned surfing spots. The town of Gilimanuk on the very westernmost tip of Bali.
This is a laid back and very relaxing area of Bali with a wide range of accommodation options. Candidasa is 60 to 80 minutes from Sanur along the east coast road, and is also easily reached from Ubud. It is about 15 minutes further east from Padang Bai where public ferries depart.
Candidasa is a renowned diving area with good sites close offshore as well as around the nearby islands of Nusa Penida and Nusa Lembongan. Expect large manta rays and even mola mola in season.
Five kilometres north east of Candidasa is Pasir Putih (White Sand Beach), one of East Bali’s well-kept secrets. It’s a five hundred metre long, isolated, beautiful, white sand beach fringed with coconut palms.
The whole stretch of coast here is fringed by quite narrow black sand beaches. The beaches are generally safe for swimming and the water is relatively calm.
Diving, snorkelling and dolphin watching are the main activities, but perhaps above all else, this is an area in which to relax and take in a very slow, traditional pace of life.
Located west of Lovina, this is an enchanting hot springs with stone carved mouths gushing water in a lush garden setting. The waters are naturally a very pleasing temperature and have a high sulphur content. The whole experience here is extremely therapeutic and cleansing.
Air Sanih (about 15 km east of Singaraja on the coast road).is a quaint cold spring bathing area set in nice gardens. The spring water here is said to originate from holy Lake Batur.
Gitgit Waterfalls (10 km south Singaraja on the main road to Bedugul). there are three spread out waterfalls around the village of Gitgit. The best of the falls is the southernmost which drops about 50 metres.