Bali is a relatively large island, expanding over 5,780 square kilometres, but most visitors to Bali never make it past the shores of Bali’s south coast where you find the popular tourist towns of Kuta, Legian, Seminyak and Nusa Dua. While these regions are beautiful in their own right and certainly offer plenty of appeal to visitors, there is so much more of this majestic island waiting to be discovered.
If you want to break away from the usual tourist traps and see what else Bali has to offer but don’t want to venture too far from the south, check out these fantastic day trip ideas and witness a part of Bali that’s not always found in the guidebooks.
The beautiful island of Nusa Lembongan is only half an hour by fast boat from Sanur, taking you to a much more laid back part of Bali where you will find some of the most spectacular beaches in Indonesia and several world-famous snorkelling spots. The whole island is only about four kilometres long end-to-end, with paths linking all the major villas, attractions and restaurants so you can easily find your way around the island on foot, bicycle or scooter, as there are virtually no cars to be found. Nusa Lembongan offers the Bali you’ve dreamed about on postcards, with crystal clear waters, palm fringed shores, quint guesthouses and best of all, not a fast food chain or shopping mall in sight.
Tegallalang rice terraces
The Tegallalang rice terraces in Ubud provide some of the most epic scenery in Bali, with expansive landscapes of electric green showing off the traditional subak method of Balinese irrigation. The dramatic views of the lush rice paddies provide an insight into Bali’s agricultural history, while offering some of the best photo opportunities you will find on the island. If you really fall in love with the rice terraces, Ubud’s Pejeng Village and Campuhan Village also offer some spectacular views. Unless you are already staying in the Ubud area, a visit to the Tegallalang Rice Terraces can be made in conjunction with a day trip to Ubud along with visits to other major attractions like the Sacred Monkey Forest and the Elephant Cave temple.
Lovina is a chilled out stretch of coastal towns on the north-west side of Bali, giving a whole new meaning to the term “laid back.” If you want to relax on the beach without hordes of tourists and Western-style attractions, you’ve come to the right place. Lovina, which is famous for its black sand beaches and dolphin watching, offers a low-key alternative to the south coast beach resorts, where you can kick back and watch local fisherman head out at sunset as their wooden canoes light up like stars across the horizon. There are some gorgeous temples, waterfalls and hiking trails in the region, as well as some bustling cities. Lovina lies on the exact opposite side of Bali to Kuta, and will take about three hours by car to reach, so leave at the crack of dawn for a decent day trip or stay overnight in one of the many charming villas to make it worth your while.
Pura Ulun Danu Beratan temple
Pura Ulun Danu Beratan, also known as Pura Bratan, is one of the most spectacular Hindu-Buddhist temples in Bali. It is located on the shores of Lake Bratan, which is often referred to as the Lake of the Holy Mountain due to the rich fertility of this area, and its significance is solidified as the iconic image on the Balinese 50,000RP note. The striking temple was built in 1633 to provide a place to hold ceremonies and present offerings to the Balinese water goddess, Dewi Danu, who is one of the two supreme deities in Balinese Hindu tradition. Pilgrimages are still held here today to ensure there is enough water for the Balinese farmers. A trip up the mountain highlands to visit the water temple will show you a side of Bali you didn’t know existed, with the air turning cold and misty as you wind your way 1,500 meters above sea level into the Bedugul region.
Amed is a quiet coastal strip on Bali’s eastern side, and like Lovina, it offers a slow paced, laid back alternative to the busy southern beaches. Reachable in less than three hours’ drive from the Denpasar airport, this is a must-see side of Bali for a peaceful escape, offering a charming, small town vibe with some of the best snorkelling, scuba diving and free diving Bali has to offer. Amed’s calm waters don’t offer much for surfers, but are ideal for fishing and water activities, and the region is also building a name for itself for yoga and meditation retreats. You’ll get stunning views of Mount Agung, Bali’s highest active volcano, with some of the best sunrise scenes in Bali.