19 Best Things To Do in Bali
Catch a wave
Surfing has always been an integral part of the Bali experience. While the island boasts several world-class surf breaks that even challenge professionals, Kuta Beach stands out as an excellent spot for surfing. Along the sandy shores, you'll find numerous stands offering board rentals and enthusiastic instructors ready to help. The Dreamland surf break in the Bukit area and the renowned Old Man's in Canggu, known for its gentler waves breaking over sand, are also fantastic locations to improve your surfing skills. Baliboarders, a collective of experienced local surf teachers, can serve as tutors or guides anywhere on the island.
Ubud has emerged as a global hub for yoga, although Canggu, a trendy and vibrant destination, has been striving to challenge Ubud's reputation. In and around Ubud, you'll discover a range of yoga options, from affordable drop-in classes to complimentary sessions at luxurious hotels charging thousands of dollars per night. The Yoga Barn and Radiantly Alive are renowned yoga studios competing for the title of Ubud's premier establishment. Both enjoy a respectable reputation and attract top-notch instructors from around the world, making them excellent choices for yogis of all levels.
Embark on a "safari" in the Wild West
While Bali may not be renowned for its Big Five wildlife, the island's far northwestern tip harbors a hidden gem that defies the common perception of Bali as overcrowded and overdeveloped. West Bali National Park remains relatively unknown to most travelers and locals, offering a pristine jungle wilderness. Majestic sambar deer gracefully roam through shallow waters, while squirrels the size of cats dart through the canopy. The park provides an excellent opportunity to spot Bali starlings, one of the world's rarest birds, and the rare endemic ebony leaf monkeys. For a memorable experience, consider staying overnight at The Menjangan, a picturesque resort. From its timber jungle watchtower, you can admire views of the jungle-clad hills, home to flocks of flying foxes and impressive hornbills.
Witness the sunrise on Mount Batur
Often referred to as "The Morning of the World," Bali enchants visitors with its breathtaking tropical sunrises, and the 1,717-meter summit of Batur Volcano offers an unparalleled vantage point. Each morning, hundreds of trekkers embark on a spiritual journey or hope to capture the perfect sunrise selfie, setting out around 3 am. While Mount Batur is a popular destination, it deserves a spot on any traveler's must-do list due to the magnificent views of Mount Agung, Bali's highest peak, and Mount Rinjani on neighboring Lombok. For a more secluded and introspective experience, consider climbing the remote Batukaru, the island's second-highest peak, reaching an elevation of 2,276 meters.
Swim beneath a waterfall
Bali's volcanic peaks and abundant tropical rainfall create a multitude of waterfalls, nourishing the island's lush landscapes and cascading down to picturesque terraced rice fields. While some well-known waterfalls have unfortunately become overcrowded and polluted, there are still hidden gems that retain their pristine beauty in remote locations. Tegenungan Waterfall, with its 15-meter drop, is a popular choice due to its accessibility from Ubud. However, for a more spectacular experience, venture to Nungnung Waterfall. Accessible via a challenging descent of 1,000 steps into an untouched gorge, it offers breathtaking surroundings. For a truly secluded experience, head to the north side of the island and discover Sekumpul Waterfall, where a cluster of seven waterfalls creates a refreshing pool. While swimming directly under the main 80-meter cascade is not advisable, you can enjoy the mesmerizing beauty from a safe distance.
Explore the trails around Sidemen village
The scenic drive from Ubud to Sidemen encompasses one of Bali's most stunning routes. Traverse rolling hills, steep ravines, shimmering rice paddies, and charming flower-adorned villages. Sidemen itself embodies the essence of a rural sanctuary, reminiscent of Ubud before it became a popular destination for Western tourists. In the 1930s, Walter Spies, a rebellious artist and socialite residing in Ubud, built a villa in Sidemen as a personal retreat when the influx of visitors became overwhelming. Even today, Sidemen remains a serene destination for hiking adventures through untouched rural valleys, fruit orchards, and forests.
Explore Balinese Reefs through Diving or Snorkeling
While the southern coast of Bali attracts surfers from around the world, divers traveling across the globe are often amazed by the exceptional diving opportunities along the sheltered north coast. Menjangan Island, located offshore from West Bali National Park, offers breathtaking snorkeling and diving experiences (during seasons when currents haven't brought in garbage). Divers can encounter sharks, rays, turtles, and occasionally even whale sharks. Lovina and Pemuteran have accessible reefs from the beach, but for diving enthusiasts, Amed stands out as Bali's premier dive center, offering unforgettable wreck dives. Bali Hai, the largest dive operator on the island, organizes diving day trips to offshore reefs near Nusa Lembongan Island, with the highlight being the aptly named "Manta Alley."
Engage in a Unique Experience with Pink Buffalo
Buffalo hold significant cultural importance in Indonesia, and West Bali is one of the few places where you can find pink buffalo. However, these animals are rapidly declining as they are being replaced by machinery for paddy work. Nengah Sudana, a paddy farmer, has found an ecological purpose for his animals through Pink Buffalo Walks. By joining these tours, visitors gain insights into the island's millennia-old rice farming culture, traditional practices, and irrigation systems. This experience offers a unique opportunity to engage with a vanishing aspect of Indonesian heritage.
Unwind at a Beach Club
Bali is renowned for its array of beach clubs, and among them, Seminyak's Potato Head Beach Club stands out. Not only has Potato Head earned the gratitude of the local community during the pandemic through innovative initiatives like the 'Sweet Potato' food distribution and local support schemes, but it has also become a vibrant community hub. The Potato Head village features excellent bars, restaurants, including Tanaman led by visionary plant-based super-chef Dom Hammond, as well as music venues, yoga spaces, a library, and Bali's premier co-working space. All of this is set around two luxurious infinity pools, creating a truly indulgent atmosphere.
Explore a Sea Temple
While Besakih is considered the mother temple for Balinese Hindus, Uluwatu Temple is widely recognized as a must-visit religious site for tourists. Its breathtaking clifftop location overlooking the crashing waves and challenging surf spots makes it an understandable attraction. Tanah Lot Temple, another sea temple, is also popular among sunset enthusiasts due to its similarly stunning setting on a steep islet (though it is inaccessible during high tides). For a serene and awe-inspiring experience in a secluded location, venture farther west to Rambut Siwi Temple, offering views over a deserted stretch of beach. Descending to the beach allows exploration of the shrine grottos along the cliff face, creating a somewhat eerie but captivating encounter.
Experience Whitewater Rafting in Ayung Valley
Nestled within the lush Ayung Valley, just a short distance from Ubud town, lies an unexpected geographical gem. The verdant slopes of Ayung Valley offer a unique and thrilling adventure: white-water rafting along the Ayung River. This exhilarating journey allows visitors to explore this distinctive part of Bali's landscape, catering to thrill-seekers who are eager for excitement and, if desired, a bit of adventure. Mason Adventures organizes combined rafting trips through Ayung Valley and cycling expeditions, descending from the island's volcanic peaks, weaving through forests, rice fields, villages, and past ancient Hindu temples, creating an unforgettable experience.
Experience the Vibrant Fishing Fleet at Perancak Inlet
If this collection of approximately 150 colorful boats were docked in east or central Bali instead of Perancak inlet on the west coast, it would surely be overrun with souvenir shops. However, in its current location, you're unlikely to encounter any tourists. Although there are no designated sightseeing facilities, a small offering of uang merokok (or "cigarette money") should be sufficient to persuade a local boatman to take you on a leisurely tour among these dazzling and lively vessels.
Thrill Seekers Delight at the 'Smashdown' Waterslide
Waterbom, boasting 16 waterslides, manmade rivers, lagoons, pools, and even FlowRider surf waves, is a source of excitement for kids of all ages. While it is no hidden gem, there's a reason why it has remained one of Bali's favorite destinations for nearly three decades. In 2023, the iconic waterpark will unveil a brand new section, complete with four additional slides, a lagoon pool, and extra dining options.
Embark on a Bird Walk and Encounter Bali's Avian Diversity
Despite rapid development, Ubud's paddies, forested canyons, and jungle temples continue to serve as vital bird habitats on this small yet remarkably diverse island. Ace birding guide Sumadi, from Bali Bird Walks, possesses expert knowledge in spotting the elusive species that populate her island. She not only facilitates sightings of Bali's feathered population but also imparts valuable insights into the traditional paddy-farming system and various aspects of Balinese life.
Indulge in Sundowners at Rock Bar
Few experiences capture the essence of a vacation better than sipping a cocktail while basking in the glow of a stunning sunset. For those who agree, Rock Bar Bali is the ultimate destination for paradise sundowners. Perched dramatically on rock formations along Jimbaran's coast, this cocktail bar and restaurant consistently ranks among the world's finest hotel bars. Additionally, it serves as one of Bali's most fashionable music venues, featuring a DJ booth carved into the cliff face and an elevated stage where live bands serenade under the stars. Although it is part of Ayana Resort, Rock Bar is open to the public, but do note that smart attire is required, so leave your flip-flops behind.
Engage with Macaques in a Monkey Forest
Ubud's Monkey Forest may not be a hidden gem, but its status as the island's top tourist attraction is well-deserved. Even if you visit multiple times, there is always something new to discover, such as the few young monkeys who enjoy swimming underwater in the fountains. While bonding with these fascinating creatures, remember that macaques interpret grinning as aggressive behavior. For a less crowded monkey encounter, venture to the relatively unknown Sangeh Monkey Forest, just a 45-minute drive away.
Wander Along Campuhan Ridge Walk or an Alternative
Once frequented by Ubud artist Walter Spies and his friends, Campuhan Ridge Walk continues to garner attention from numerous Bali blogs and websites. However, the 1.5km paved trail offers little beyond its reputation. For a more picturesque stroll, head north to the less-touristed subak trails. Following Subak Sok Wayah in a northerly direction will guide you through charming rice paddies, with several delightful cafes to keep you energized. To transform your walk into a longer circular route, cross a narrow valley (shortly after passing Sunset Café) and return to town via Subak Juwuk Manis. Thanks to the ever-changing rice seasons, this walk offers a different experience each time.
Discover Bali's Longest and Quietest Beach
A nearly nine-mile stretch of uninterrupted sandy beach without a single sunbed? It may sound impossible on Bali, but Yeh Leh Beach in Jembrana province's West Bali is a picturesque exception. This captivating curve of volcanic sand, kissed by crashing waves, offers a tranquil haven with minimal crowds, usually only comprising local fishermen. Puri Dajuma, a beloved resort in Bali, and the trendy newcomer Lost Lindenberg are two delightful accommodations located along this beautiful coastline.
Explore Villages on a Scooter
Bali boasts one of the highest numbers of bikes per capita globally, and due to the competitive market, scooter rentals can cost as little as $2. However, at such low prices, insurance and maintenance may not be included. It is advisable to pay a slightly higher rate and seek reputable rental establishments. BaliMotion.pro and Bali4Rider offer well-maintained scooters with insurance, with prices starting around $6 per day and going up to approximately $17 for more powerful and sporty models.