Bali is an island with plenty of places to see and things to do. I’ve been living in Bali for the most part of the last 3 years; travelling, studying and working and now call it my home. Here are my top picks to experience on the island of gods:
The south of Bali is a paradise for all surf enthusiasts whether you are a beginner, pro or something in between. Kuta, Seminyak, Berawa, Batu Bolong and The Bukit area offer good spots for beginners whereas more advanced surfers can head out to enjoy the waves for example on Echo beach, Pandawa, Keramas, Gangga or Uluwatu. Boards can be rented and surf lessons had on most popular beaches.
As well as being known as a world class surfer’s destination, the spiritual nature of Bali also translates to top-notch yoga. The teachers are very experienced and all levels are well-served. I would definitely recommend Serenity eco guesthouse in Canggu, Jiwa yoga (hot yoga classes) in Petitenget and Yoga Barn in Ubud. For more hardcore fans there are also yoga retreats on offer ranging from a few days to few weeks. Check Bali Mountain Retreat for affordable ones.
The traffic in Bali might seem quite scary but after spending some time getting used to it it’s really exhilarating cruising around by scooter. And when exploring the island that way you’ll get to see and experience so many nice places and landscapes. So go on, rent a scooter for around Rp.50 000 per day or Rp.550 000 a month and head off to enjoy this beautiful island. Some places to visit are Lovina in the north for dolphin watching and waterfalls, Amed and Tulamben in the east for fishing and diving, Menjangan Islands in the Northwest for spectacular snorkeling and of course the artistic Ubud.
Located just a short boat trip away from the Sanur harbour lies the island of Nusa Lembongan. The pace of living is a lot less hectic than in mainland Bali but you won’t be bored with the choice of activities – surfing, SUPing (stand up paddle), diving and yoga to name but a few. And in case you’re feeling daring, rent a scooter and drive to the connected island of Nusa Ceningan for some cliff jumping. The drive over the wooden bridge connecting these two islands is already an experience in itself.
Waterparks are definitely not just for kids! I’ve spent many fun days enjoying the cool slides at Waterbom in Tuban area and always come out with a huge smile on my face and endorphins rushing through my blood. Many of the slides can be done as a couple or a small group which is even more fun than going solo. And what’s best about this place, there are special ticket rates for people studying in Bali so you could go every week. Waterbom in Bali is Asia’s biggest water park and rated third best water park in the whole world.
The Batur volcano is located in Kintamani area north of Bali. You can book a guided sunrise hiking tour to the mountain choosing from different length of tours (the longer ones will also take you higher up the mountain). The tour will start while it’s still dark but you will arrive at your chosen summit before sunrise. The hike is a bit hard at times but once the sun rises the view is amazing. It is definitely the best breakfast spot ever. Later you will get to walk around on the mountain and see things like craters. And after your hike why not go take a dip in the hot springs by Lake Batur.
The local beer Bintang is a perfect refreshment after a day in the heat and what better way to enjoy it than sitting down on a bean bag at the many beach bars watching the sunset. On a clear day it will be a pretty spectacular sight. Good places for sunset are Seminyak and Batu Belig beaches and Echo Beach restaurant.
Kuta is the place to go to for an affordable night out amongst travelers, students and expats. Alleycats is a legend on Poppies 2 street serving the famous double doubles (the local version of vodka red bulls) for Rp.20 000 per drink. The place is usually really packed and loud but it’s still the most popular bar for beginning the night. You can start the night there early with some pretty decent food and after it’s closing around midnight you can head out to Eikon or Sky Garden on Legian street to dance your heart out.
When the weekend has completely worn you out why not go enjoy some live music, good company and chill vibes either at Single Fin in Uluwatu or Deus in Canggu. Single Fin is perfect for sunset and watching the waves from the clifftop, the action at Deus starts after 8pm.
And this one should be obvious. Befriending a few locals will for sure help in getting the most out of your Bali experience. You will learn the language, maybe get in on a few secrets about stuff that might pick your interest and also learn valuable lessons about the culture that really is a lot different than what western people are used to. And who knows, maybe you’ll get lucky and be invited to be a part of a hindu ceremony. That’s a true honour.