Bali, an island of Indonesia is one of my favorite island destinations. It’s one of 17000 Indonesian islands containing 4 million people, and is rich with mountains, hills, plantations, lush vegetation, rivers and the ocean.
I spent a week relaxing and participating in a number of adventure activities and could do with more time on the island. I stayed in 2 venues in South Bali but managed to explore a little of Central and North Bali.
I initially booked 3 nights in one of the luxury villas in Seminyak. It was nice and relaxing although you need to get into a cab to go anywhere (there is nothing to do in the area except visit the empty Petitenget beach which is a 10 to 15 minute walk away or walk through the small town).
Although, there is a nice walk to the beach through a street with plantations in people’s back yards
And a nice path through a forest with a river passing alongside it on the way to the beach
I decided to spend 4 nights at Jayakarta Bali Beach Resort which is located on Legian beach in South Bali. I paid for a deluxe room and got a nice beach facing villa (although they tried to put me in a street-facing room and then a damp room initially, but I complained).
No matter where you stay in Bali I believe it’s wise to carry some mosquito repellant. In the tropical climate you’re always being chased by these little buggers.
Kuta beach is the party zone area with low-cost accommodation where many of the backpackers reside.
I chose to stay in the slightly quieter Legian beach area which is 2km away.
On the east side of South Bali is Nusa Dua where most of the all-inclusive resorts are situated.
In Ubud (central Bali) you can get more of the serene, peaceful accommodation options in the lush green hills of Bali.
One of the many things I loved about Bali is the large variety of low-cost tours available throughout the island.
Many foreigners would hire scooters to get around the island, although I would caution you to accept the risks of doing this (make sure you have appropriate travel insurance).
You can hire a 4×4 with a driver to give you a private tour of the island.
Or, you can book the group tours from your hotel/hostel/villa or from one of the many tour vendors in stalls on the street. They’ll collect you from and drop you off at your hotel/hostel/villa after your trip.
I went on the following tours / excursions during my week in Bali:
1. Full day – Singaraja – Lovina tour
I booked this tour for +-$45 for a full day drive to the northern tip of the island and back which included lunch. There was only one other traveler and myself on this tour. We saw many sites including:
Bedugul : Ulun Danu temple and Lake Bratan – the temple was founded in 17th century by the King of Mengwi.
I could see the Bali Bedugul Mosque nearby
We stopped near Buyan Lake to see colony of monkeys around the street, where there is an opportunity to feed them bananas if you desire.
Gitgit Waterfall, a 35 to 40m tall waterfall which is the highest on Bali. You have to walk 1km to get to the waterfall besides a number of handicraft and souvenir shops. I found it too touristy. However, there are a number of nice plantations (rice fields, cacao, papaya, etc.) on the way to the waterfall.
Banjar Hot Water – hot springs located in a Balinese Village in the north
Brahma Arama Vihara Buddhist Monastery
You need to wear a sarong to visit the monastery
Lovina beach – black volcanic sand with small waves in the north
The tour included lunch near Lovina Beach.
2.White water rafting on the Telaga waja river, located on the slope of Mount Agung.
This was an awesome 2 hour, 12 km adventure in the rainforest on the Telaga Waju (class 3) river which only cost US $30.
You are picked from your hotel and taken to a hut with hot tea/coffee and some biscuits in the morning
You have to walk through some beautiful plantations to get down to the river
You then get into your gear and listen to final instructions before getting into your boat
I had an awesome adventure being paired with a person from Reunion Island.
A short video of the river during a break:
The tour included an awesome buffet lunch in a rainforest restaurant.
3. Private tour of the island
I joined a friend at his hotel in Nusa Dua for a private tour of some of the cultural sites on the island. This included a visit to:
Bajra Sandhi Monument which symbolizes the struggle of the Balinese People.
Memorial site on “Ground Zero” for the Kuta club bombing.
Drive by Lapas Denpasar prison
And a drive by some of the street markets selling local island produce
4. Tanjung Benoa marine sports
This was epic fun for $35. You are taken to Tanjung Benoa beach where a number of water sport activities are available and have a choice of selecting 3 activities in the price.
On offer are activities like jet skiing, a banana boat ride, para-sailing, fly-fishing or a ride on a glass bottom boat.
Fly fishing (you hold onto a plastic boat and a speed boat tows your boat into the air!)
You can also spend your time in Bali relaxing on the beach.
Surfing / attending a surf school
Or watching the amazing sunsets.
If you’re interested in shopping you can stroll through the streets and visit the stalls behind Kuta beach
Indonesia is a country where a majority of the population follow Islam. On Bali the majority of the population follow Hinduism. However there are still a number of Halal outlets and mosques on Bali that cater for Muslims.
I didn’t get an opportunity to visit Lombok island on this trip which is only an 18 minute flight or 2.5 hour speed boat ride away. Lombok is more un-spoilt and authentic than Bali. For backpackers the Gili Islands beside Lombok are supposedly quite popular. If I’m ever in Indonesia again I’ll have to check out these places.