1 – Surfing |
Many things may have changed in Bali over the last few years but the one constant is the surf. People flock to this island from all over the world just to surf, so you have to at least try it, especially in the made-to-measure 'beginner' waves you tend to get on Kuta Beach. There’s a few miles of sand lined with local surf instructors ready to set you on your way and, trust me, you’re never too old to start. If you want bigger and badder waves, you could always nip over to Balian Beach, an hour further west and join the big boys. Don’t be afraid.
2 – Diving
More outdoor action with some of the finest and most diverse diving around, and there’s plenty of spots to choose from. Permuteran in the north is mellow and laid-back, Padang Bai has a wealth of options, and in Tulamben you can dive around a sunken WW2 Vessel which is a mere ten meters from the shore. The best of the lot though is probably Nusa Lembongan, just south from mainland around Kuta, which offers the opportunities to see Manta Rays and huge Mola Mola (or Sunfish), but, really, wherever you go, the diversity around Bali is fantastic and you’re bound to enjoy it. And if you’ve never done it before, then you’re in the right place to learn with many diving schools ready to get you your Padi Qualification. Open your eyes to the incredible life underwater.
3 – Art Galleries
Bali is synonymous with art, vibrant, vivid colours and intricate craftsmanship jumping out at you wherever you look. On the beach you will be inundated with offers of wood carvings and paintings from all manner of sellers, and it’s actually worth having a look. And if you want to know a bit more, then it’s worth taking the time out to search out some of the many art galleries that line the main streets and hide in every nook and cranny. Kendra Gallery in Seminyak is a little oasis away from the madness and always full of some of the most interesting pieces, whilst Seniwati in Denpasar is the only gallery to deal with only-female artists, and there are plenty of others. Bali is Art. You have to have a look.
4 – Temples
Religion and religious festivals are of the upmost importance in Balinese culture, life revolves around the deities and the peoples’ tribute to them, and the island is full of some magnificent but low-key temples. You could spend a week doing the rounds and you still wouldn’t see them all, but if you only want a little sample, then I suggest you visit Tannah Lot, a rock formation off the south coast and the most important (of seven) Sea Temple, or Uluwatu on the southern tip, another beautiful Temple facing the sea and protecting Bali from evil spirits. If you want to understand the Balinese culture, check out some temples and ask some questions.
5 – Ubud
Yes, by now everyone knows about Ubud, the epicenter of Balinese Art, and yes, you won’t be the only Boule Tourist there, but it’s still worth seeing. Walk around the market and see the sheer wealth in numbers of brilliant textiles, paintings and wood carvings, or better yet, drive around the area amongst the little villages and see how aesthetically and artistically influenced everything is. Then come back and visit the Monkey Forest, a nature reserve and temple complex where you’ll be ‘assaulted’ by a bunch of cheeky long-tailed monkeys or macaques on the scrounge for food. It’s not scary, it’s just good fun. 6 – Mount Batur and Kintimani
Mount Batur is an active volcano which last went off around 40 years ago and is set amongst some spectacular scenery including a crystal clear beautiful lake. Hiking to the top will afford you some breathtaking views, or you could try mountain biking for the day, going through paddy fields and fruit orchards before coming to an otherworldly lava field, full of a dark rock landscape with flashes of purple and maroon colours when you look up close. And then you can always visit the village of Kintimani, then go a little further to the other side of Lake Batur, and the Bali Aga village of Trunyan, where they don’t bury the dead but leave the bodies out with just a sheet to cover them. Strange but true.
7 – Lovina and Dolphin Spotting
Make your way to the north of the island and see a different side to Bali. Tourism has never quite set the world on fire up here, and the vibe is laid-back and low-key, with just a few friendly bars to while the nights away in. The days are just as slow, but the one thing you must do is book up a trip to go and see some dolphins. It’s an early start, but definitely worth it as you go out in a small fishing boat and try and find these, sometime elusive, marvels of nature. The whole thing is great fun since there’s lots of other boats out there and you all get involved in a fun game of spot-the-dolphin-chase-the-dolphin, and, trust me, if you’re lucky enough to get up real close, it’s a rewarding experience.
8 – Scenic Motorbike Riding
Even if you’ve never ridden a motorbike before, then this would be the time to start. Hire a scooter - they’re easy to ride, they’re cheap and they’re everywhere - and just go and get lost amongst the incredible scenic roads of Bali. One trip that is comes highly recommended is to leave Denpasar and head for Singaraja in the north, going over the mountains and through Bedugul – there you’ll find two stunning lakes, fresh strawberries and some cute eateries overlooking some amazing valley vistas – then come back through Seririt towards Balian and see one of the most beautiful roads in the world, it’ll leave you speechless and open-mouthed. 3-D postcards that you can spend the day in.
9 – Beach Scene
The stretch of beach between Double 6 and Dyana Pura is lined with 4 or 5 beach bars, small and simple affairs playing nice music, with live musicians pitching up on the sand in the night, serving great food, and, best of all, they all provide the most comfortable bean bags you could ever find scattered about on the beach. Wander down, find a spot, sink in, dig your feet in the sand, gaze at the blue yonder, and just spend an idyllic night away from stress. The kind of experience we all dream about when stuck in the office on a rainy day. Magic.
10 – The Jet Set
The alternative to this is to join the movers and shakers and air kissers for an evening out amongst the glitterati of Bali. There’s plenty of options but you could start with a few sundowners at Double 6, then head to Ku-de-Ta, by now practically an institution and just a fantastic setting by the beach full of all the rich and beautiful people of Bali, before spending the night at Hu’u or Mint, the nightclubs of choice and full of pumping music and gyrating bodies. Expensive but stylish.
John Owens Is a writer for Vacations rental homes and holiday homes and rental condos rented directly from the owner of the vacation rental home.
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