The Bali Bliss Bible
If you’re visiting Bali for the first time, you’ve probably made a long list of things you want to do on the heavenly island and your list is probably longer than the time you have in Bali.
Bali is a place full of surprises, and more importantly promises to never disappoint. To skip the confusion, have a look at our top 7 things to do in Bali.
Visit a Hindu temple in the middle of the sea
Bali has numerous temples, each more beautiful than the other. If you’re cramped for time, we suggest you head to the Tanah Lot Temple – Bali’s most gorgeous and popular temple you’ve seen in all those photos. The name of the temple is derived from the word “Tanah” means land, and “Lot (lod / laut)” which means the sea because it is situated on a rock in the sea. From a distance, it resembles a small island floating on the sea, thus earning its name by the locals.
The temple is known for a unique architectural style and a particularly spectacular setting when viewed in the vibrant Balinese sunset. At high tide, waves flood the causeways making it impossible to cross. However at low tide, you can cross to view the rock base where the legendary ‘guardian’ sea snakes dwell in crevices around the Tirta Pabersihan fountain. This spout is the source of natural holy water for all the temples in the area. Unique? Told ya so.
Quick tip: Wear your best pair of water resistant slip-on shoes and you’ll be fine.
Soak in the underwater sights
Bali has a magical underwater world. It is here where the island really comes alive so we recommend that you put on your mask and snorkel and marvel at the amazing world beneath the waves. An early morning start is a must when you’re embarking on a great sea exploration adventure. At 7 AM, we were already cramped into a car to begin our scuba diving day.
We recommend finishing off your introductory learning’s in advance so you can head straight in to the azure waters and ready for your open water certification. Some of Bali’s top scuba spots suitable for beginners include:
The 3 Nusa’s Nusa Lembongan, Nusa Penida and Nusa Ceningan – For a mixed day of snorkeling and diving make your way to Nusa Penida. This is a great choice located southeast of Bali where (if you’re lucky) you get to spot the magnificent Manta Rays cruising in their natural habitat. Lembongan Point is a good drift diving spot on Nusa Lembongan and has the advantage of being good for snorkeling as well for sights of colorful fish and corals. The area has rather friendly locals, who are ever ready to help you navigate your way or find a boat.
Padang Bai or Blue Lagoon has some impressive marine life. Here you can easily spot reef sharks, stone fish, cuttle fish, eels and Angel fish hanging out with each other. The sandy bottom enables effortless swimming along the sea bed whilst taking some fun photos. Head back to the beach to enjoy some Nasi Goreng, worth the indulgence after all the underwater time.
Tulamben – This is quite a unique diving spot. Firstly, you simply have to walk in to the ocean to begin your dive. From here all you have to do is look down and you can already see the USAT Liberty Shipwreck. This wreck has been here for over 50 years and that’s not all, the Jackfish who have made this place their home, make for an impressive photo opportunity.
Eat a light fruit-based breakfast to ensure you have the energy to complete your dives. Diving anywhere around Indonesia’s 18000 islands straddling the equator is an experience that sets major goals for future dives.
Quick tip: Dive in Indonesia after getting an Open Water or Advanced Open Water diving license.
Rent a car & drive
Bali might seem like a small island getaway, but it can be quite daunting to cover if you want to see it all. We definitely suggest renting a car and simply driving to the more off-the radar spots. This lets you tour the island at your own pace and more importantly,you can stop at any secluded beach spot that comes your way.
Quick tip: If you’re not a fan of traffic on vaca, rent a two-wheeler instead.
Chill out at a Beach club
Picture this: you’re lounging at a cabana, Pina Colada in hand and a soft breeze in your hair. The scent of the ocean and the blissful sunset ease you into relaxing. You can feel this way at any one of the amazing beach clubs in Bali.
While the list can be read as a generic one for tourists, we strongly recommend visiting them anyway. Theeasy laidback vibe here is what Bali is all about.
Ku De Ta – popular, loud (in a good way) and serving some of the best cocktails on the island is a great chill-out spot.
Potato Head – Similar to Ku De Ta where party goers take over the lawn as international DJ’s spin peppy sets.
Karma Beachpart of Karma Kandara Resort – The most beautiful of the lot. This beach is secluded and can only be reached by a funicular ride down a sheer cliff, where pristine stretches of white sand and blue sea await. Grab a bite at the resorts’ restaurant at the cliff before you head down for undisturbed views of the ocean.
Jimbaran Beach Club located on the sands of the Jimabaran Bay serves perfect lounging cocktail with a range of mojitos and coladas. Pair the drinks with fresh seafood including traditional Balinese cuisine, along with a side of the magnificent view.
Quick tip: Dress well and carry your credit cards for these places don’t come cheap!
Eat like a local
Indonesia is home to thousands of islands. The diversityreflects in the foodfound around Bali. We didn’t go a day without eating the staple “Gorengs”, each seeming better than the previous. We’ve compiled a mouthwatering list of foods you must try while on the island.
Satay or Sate lilit – Marinated, skewered and grilled, this dish is as simple as they come. Satayis traditionally served with a spicy sauce and can be made with a variety of meat including chicken, goat, pork and beef. Now Bali has its own version – Sate lilit, made from minced beef, chicken, fish, pork, or even turtle meat, which is then mixed with coconut, coconut milk, and a rich blend of vegetables and spices.
Nasi Goreng & Mie Goreng– The country’s most popular food export also happens to be a local favorite throughout Indonesia. Nasi Goreng is stir-fried rice mixed with a range of different spices like garlic, tamarind and chilli and sweet soy sauce for its unique and delicious flavor. To top it off, it is served with an egg on the top. For that extra flavour, salted dried fish is added to it. Mie Gorengis the noodle equivalent of the dish.
Gado – Gado – For those looking to fit back in to their swimsuits, Gado-Gado is a fine choice. It is essentially a local vegetable salad with peanut sauce. What’s the catch? The sauce is quite literally a sauce to go with your salad and not a dressing. Lace your vegetables with this peanut sauce to eat it the right way.
Jimbaran Seafood – This stretch of beachside cafés on Muaya beach in Jimbaran Bay is a complete paradise. These cafés typically serve freshly caught seafood from their grills. Whether you like shrimp, clams, crabs, calamari, or lobsters, you’ll find them marinated in special spices apart from the typical Sambal. Each chef has their own version of Sambal here, making it worthwhile to hop across the cafés.
Quick tip: Don’t limit yourself to the above options; these are just a few of Bali’s delicious treats. For a traditional all rounded Balinese experience head to Bumbu Bali – the city’s first authentic Balinese restaurant that we visited courtesy of our local friends.
Head to Ubud and find serenity
Once you’ve done all of the above, it’s time for a time out. Ubud is Bali’s cooler (literally) upland where sites range from wondrous ancient temples to green rice fields – all providing the perfect landscape for relaxation. Get down and dirty by going rice field trekking along Jati Luwih, which has special trails for you to enjoy the natural beauty.
Ubud is also perfect to get a sense of Balinese art and culture. Explore eclectic masterpieces housed in the museums and galleries near its centre. Simply because we couldn’t resist, make your way to the Ubud Monkey Forest to meet and greet the grey long-tailed macaques lounging in the mid-day sun feeding on bananas.
Quick tip: Time your visit with the Bali Spirit Festival held around March-April.
Trek up an active volcano to enjoy the view
We love volcanoes, especially if they allow you to skip around its craters. As a result, we decided to take a little day trip to Kintamani volcano and Mount Batur.
With about 24 eruptions since the 1800’s, Mount Batur is still active. Lake Batur is the largest lake in Bali, and a source of irrigation to farmers in this area. Due to the influx of tourists, you’ll find hotels and restaurants offering unparalleled views of the lake, although a day trip does do justice to the place.
Quick tip: Find a guide to help you hike up the volcano. Also, life insurance.
Bali has it all. Sun, Sea, food, greenery and smiling faces. Did we mention the food? We couldn’t get enough of it. You’ll be left transfixed, gasping for more of everything!
Location: Bali, Indonesia
Famous for/as: Temples, good food and beaches.
Best Season: May – September