Did you know you could go canyoning or join a barista course in Bali? How about staring at breathtaking waterfalls and going to incredibly beautiful surfing spots? Or staying in a bamboo hut right in the middle of the jungle
Most people connect to Bali’s endless green rice fields and the sense of spirituality. This Indonesian island has so much more to offer though once you decide to go a little of the beaten path. There are several awesome Bali highlights to discover, especially for you adventurers that want to learn new things and travel past your limits! What exactly are these highlights and what to see in Bali, you ask? I’ll tell you in this post!
“Bali in a different way”
What to see in Bali: 9 Off The Path Bali highlights for adventurers!
1. Test your limits with canyoning
Since my canyoning adventure in New Zealand I’m really hooked on this sport! The cool thing about Bali is they have several great canyons here, and you can also be hooked up with a professional canyoning guide. To go you don’t need any previous experience but should be in relatively good shape and have no fear of deep cracks because there are a lot of them!.
This awesome adventure starts with a half-day training session in which you learn to abseil correctly while properly communicating and watching out for other abseilers – because this is all about one thing: teamwork! You then stay overnight in the mountains of Bali before getting up early the next morning to wander through the deep jungle and reach the canyon. After that there’s no turning back! It’s about 9 or 10 hours to go through the entire canyon and you have to rappel roughly 25 gorges, which are all up to 30 meters deep – absolutely insane!
This is probably one of the most extreme highlights Bali offers, but certainly one of the most memorable. In total, the canyoning adventure will cost you $495 USD, or about 440 euros. The guys from “Adventure & Spirit” organize the canyoning trip. They even pick you up and return you to your accommodation. The equipment, of course, is completely supplied, and you’re also given towels, snacks, breakfast, and lunch. You can learn more about them here: http://adventureandspirit.com/en/activity/canyon-a-fire/.
2. Immerse yourself in the jungle and enjoy the solitude
The small bamboo house I stayed in is among my favorite memories from Bali! The house – made entirely out of bamboo – is located in the middle of the jungle right along a stream near a few rice fields. You are far away from the nearest village. The only people you meet on your way are locals who give you funny looks since they rarely encounter travelers!
Everything in this house is bamboo: the roof, the bed, the sofa, the kitchen, the stairs. You can get away from it all here, enjoy the peace and find yourself. Once it gets dark the fireflies come out and you fall asleep amongst their beautiful glow and the sound of the rippling brook outside. The next morning you’ll be awakened by the rays of sunshine and the chirping birds – just as I’d imagine life from a long time ago when everyone was still immersed in nature!
Even though the house is made of bamboo, and in the middle of nowhere, you don’t have to give up very much here – they even have electricity and hot running water. In the evening you have a delicious dinner prepared for you by a local man and his wife who take care of the house. You can choose from a variety of traditional Indonesian dishes and they all taste really yummy! For breakfast there were homemade banana pancakes and coffee, tea, and juice.
The majority of the time you spend here you’ll be completely alone and have the bamboo house and nature all to yourself. Well, I guess that’s not quite true: a dog named Baga and a little kitten named Kitty live here! They are both sweet as sugar!
Line and I unfortunately only spent one night here while we easily could have stayed a few days more! It’s the perfect place to simply calm down, enjoy nature, and reflect. Take a book to read or learn a new instrument – the owner of the house has an ukulele you can play there!
You can book this cool bamboo hut right on AirBnB. The night costs around 90 Euros including breakfast, and running water. Dinner and other drinks cost extra. The experience itself though? Priceless!
3. Get the best views of Mount Batur
Making it to Mount Batur is a must! In my opinion, volcanoes have something special in and of themselves, and the journey up to them is a much different adventure than climbing a regular old mountain. Mount Batur is actually still active, and sits at 1717 meters high!
If you set out to climb Mount Batur beginning in the middle of the night, you’ll get the most gorgeous views from the crater’s rim as the sun rises. Since going up can be quite stressful and the way isn’t really signposted, you should definitely find a local guide to take you on the hike. There are a number of companies that have a hike on Mount Batur as one of their programs. Outside of doing your own research beforehand, you can also ask about guide information at the local tourist information or your accommodation. On average expect to spend around 250,000 IDR per person for a guided trip up the volcano.
It’s important that you wear proper walking shoes for the climb as some parts are very slippery and other areas are filled with loose gravel. It would be very advantageous of you to wear shoes that give your feet good support and stability. Additionally, you’ll want to put on a good pair of pants and a sweater because walking through the night and early morning can be pretty cold.
For the first part of the hike you need around 1.5 to 2 hours. You go with torches through the darkness and depending on the weather conditions you may go through some pretty thick fog. After the first stretch the crater of the volcano is only about 30 minutes away – get ready for some incredibly views! From the crater you can see hot steams rising as well as the sun rising in the background amidst lightly clouded skies.
4. Become a barista and prepare your own coffee!
Bali is not only known for its rice fields, but also for its coffee – the so-called Kopi Luwak. This is particularly tasty and sometimes called “cat coffee” as it was originally made from civet excrement. However, I’m not necessarily a huge fan of it because nowadays many of these wild animals are actually held captive and fed coffee cherries just to make this expensive coffee – not the most animal friendly practice.
Luckily in Bali there are other, just as good coffee beans. Moreover, the country also houses one of the best cafés in the world: the Seniman Coffee Studio Ubud! You can get great coffee here from a Cold Brew to super tasty Flat Whites. This café is one of my favorites that I’ve ventured to throughout my world travels, and I try to come here at least once whenever I’m in Bali.
On our last visit Line and I didn’t just have coffee. We learned to make our own! The Seniman Coffee Studio also offers barista courses where you learn everything about coffee making and can even prepare your own Flat White. The mark of a good coffee comprises of a few factors: the amount of ground coffee, the amount of water, and even the amount of time the water passes through the coffee grounds.
It was incredible how much we learned that morning about coffee, especially the different types of espresso. Did you know, for example, the difference between an espresso, a ristretto, and lungo? Or did you know you can guess the taste of an espresso just by looking at its color? You learn all of that kind of stuff from the barista training course all while trying tons of delicious coffee!
To reserve a spot in the course the best is to go to Seniman Coffee Studio a few days earlier and ask or send them an email at least 48 hours in advance. The course is usually held in the morning at 9am, lasts roughly 2 to 3 hours and costs 350.000 IDR per person, which is about 24 Euros. You can select a course and get immersed in your favorite coffee world such as espressos and manual brewing. The studio is located in the center of Ubud in a side street of Jl. Raya.
5. Go really off the path on a motocross bike
Is a volcano hike too boring for you? Then get yourself on a motocross bike and have a really cool dirt bike tour! This adventure is super fast and gets pretty dirty as you drive through remote areas. Depending on the tour you could go by rivers, past villages, over narrow suspension bridges, through green fields, to the beach, or into really deep jungles.
You can choose between a half-day, full day, or even take a multi-day tour. Whichever motocross adventure you decide for, you will definitely have a ton of fun and get a great adrenaline rush! The cool thing about these tours is you get to enjoy diving in to the lost and unexplored areas of Bali. Also, you can choose your own level based on your experience, and even put together a custom tour!
A half-day tour starts at $100 USD per person, and a multi-day Dirt Bike Adventure costs around $200 USD per person per day and includes the motocross bike, helmet, gear, accommodation, three meals a day, and drinks. This adventure is certainly one of the highlights of Bali if you’re seeking big thrills! More information about the tours can be found here.
6. Recharge yourself in the spiritual Ubud
For every good adventure, in my opinion, you need to include at least a little rest and relaxation. After all the thrills you need some time to refuel and process the whole thing before you go jumping into your next high energy adventure. A really great place to get your own quiet time is in Ubud, the spiritual center of Bali. Here you can find a yoga center and vegetarian restaurant right next to each other.
The great thing about Ubud is that you can escape the turmoil quickly by heading into one of the many side streets apart from the three major roads (Jl. Rama, Hanoman, and Monkey Forest). Turn onto any of the side streets and you can find yourself already surrounded by green rice fields or lush jungle.
A really nice place to relax is Komaneka at Bisma. Line and I stayed one night here and would’ve loved to stay a bit longer! The spa and massages are especially good here. I think I got the best massage of my life to date! We each got ourselves a traditional Balinese massage and had a little relaxing time in the hot tub.
The rooms at the Komaneka at Bisma are 88 m2, the bed is super comfy, and the sights are fantastic: you get a great direct view of the jungle and a few rice fields in the distance! There is nothing more inspiring to me than waking up and being able to look directly at the greenness of nature. The pool here is set in the countryside and almost seems to extend into the jungle – looks so cool!
A night here, on average, costs 300 euros for two people in a double room, including breakfast and afternoon tea as well as yoga classes and other courses. You can book your stay at the hotel here.
7. Discover the most undiscovered places in Bali
In Bali there are still a ton of undiscovered places where you can go and enjoy nature almost completely alone. So, instead of going to a popular place, like the Tegenungan Waterfall, you could look at one of the many other and (often more beautiful) waterfalls. Some trips require a short hike through the jungle and can make your day trip a real adventure!
My absolute favorite is the Tibumana Waterfall. It’s located approximately 15 kilometers east from Ubud, about a half hour drive. During the rainy season it’s transformed into two waterfalls and still looks amazing! Other less popular waterfalls include the Sekumpul Waterfall in North Bali’s Singaraia. This one is 2.5 hours from Denpasar. Another, the Kuning Waterfall in Bangui, is about 1.5 hours of driving northeast from Denpasar. Still others include the Banyumala Twin Waterfalls north of Lake Buyan in Wanagiri, and the Nung Nung Waterfall. To get to the last one you have to climb down 509 steps, but then you’ll be rewarded with sweet serenity. The village of Nung Nung is located pretty much in the center of Bali and at about 45 kilometers, or 1.5 hours’ drive, from Denpasar.
Another cool place is the Secret Gardens of Sambangan, a series of several natural pools and seven waterfalls and almost a must what to see in Bali. The largest and coolest of these is the Aling-Aling Waterfall because you get to slide down like a waterslide! The easiest way you can get here is getting a guide to take you from Lovina which is 20 minutes from the village of Sambangan.
Among the natural Bali highlights there are more than just waterfalls! For example, the Sacred and Secret Canyon of Sukawati is another awesome place. It’s located near Pura Beji Guwang in Sukawati, about 20 kilometers northeast of Denpasar. The rocks have a beautiful range of colors and the shape of the canyon is simply unbelievable! You should definitely go climbing around, but be careful for loose rocks and slippery sections. Also, you’ll have to be prepared to go wading through some water to get really far into the canyon.
Also quite stunning are the cliffs at Melasti Ungasan in the far south of Bali. Again, hardly any people head out there, so it’s fairly secluded and the high rock walls look so cool! Here are the coordinates for you.
Natural wonders on Nusa Penida
If you still can’t get enough of the breathtaking landscapes you should definitely take a trip out to Bali’s neighboring islands. Nusa Penida, in particular, has a lot to offer: Angel’s Billabon, a natural and slightly unreal pool, Crystal Bay, a beautiful bay perfect for snorkeling and diving, Pasih Uwug, a neat secluded pool with a hole to the sea, or ATUH Beach, a small bay also with bizarre rock formations. The easiest way to get from Bali to the island is from Sanur, Padang Bai, or Benoa Harbour.
8. Catch the best waves
Bali is a surfer’s paradise and is very popular! However, if you’re looking to get some time alone, skip Canggu or Kuta that’s populated with tons of other surfers and throw yourself into the waters of Madewi Beach in Iembrana! Here you’re still pretty alone in the water except for a few surfers you meet. If you’re looking to get up close and personal with Bali, this is it!
More cool Off The Path surfing destinations exist along Bali’s southwest coast and are suitable for more experienced surfers as opposed to beginners. Some of the best surf breaks to hit are (from north to south): Balangan, Dreamland, Bingin, Impossibles, Padang-Padang, Suluban, and Uluwatu.
In Uluwatu you need to paddle through caves and be prepared for drastic changes in the water. You also have to be aware of the reef in the water, so you don’t hurt yourself. If you decide to go there though, you’ll be rewarded with a true surfing adventure! Ultimately, Uluwatu is a fairly wide reef and you get the choice of five different surf breaks. Bear in mind that they’re really more suited to advanced and professional surfers!
9. See bali from above with paragliding
For me there is almost nothing more exciting than getting to see a place from above. Whether paragliding from the top of Signal Hill in Cape Town or paragliding down the Shmittenhohe in Zell am See, Kaprun – from above, everything looks different again! In Bali you can go paragliding between May and October. You mainly go from where the southeast trade winds meet at the Bukit Peninsula in the southwest. During those times of the year you can jump from the cliffs at Timbis Beach and get a cool view of Bali and the turquoise waters of the Indian Ocean shimmering below you.
You can either book a tandem flight or take a paragliding course and fly by yourself – it’s so cool! Good paragliding courses to take run out of the Timbis Aero Club.
Throw yourself into your next adventure with these Bali highlights!
It’s really incredible what such a small island has to offer. There is really a lot what to see in Bali. Whether you go for the solitude and relaxation, thrill seeking, or just want to try something new, Bali has something for you! I know I’ll always not only be inspired by Bali and it’s green rice fields, but also it’s ability to help me learn more about myself through the awesome adventures it offers. The best thing is that you can easily go Off The Path here with so many incredible undiscovered places!
Got a real feel now for the cool things Bali has to offer? Share some of your favorite highlights of Bali in the comments!