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Best of Bali: top 10 things to see and do

You don’t have to be a honeymooner or backpacker to take advantage of everything Bali has to offer. From chocolate-making tours to bamboo trails, follow our guide to find the best things to do in Bali to get you off the tourist trail…

1. El Kabron

While this beach club and restaurant is an excellent thing to do in Bali if you’re on your honeymoon, there’s nothing to stop you booking a table for one and enjoying one of Bali’s best ocean and sunset views alone. Located on the cliffs of Uluwatu on a peninsula to the south of the island, El Kabron is a fabulous place to take a breather and rehydrate, or enjoy the Bali weather in the swimming pool with a 180-degree view of the sea. Order a sundowner drink to go with your Spanish tapas meal cooked by a Spanish chef and Indonesian team. The smoked cod and squid ink seafood paella are popular dishes, and don’t miss out on the traditional Tarta de Santiago almond sponge cake for dessert!

How to get there

It can be a little difficult to locate El Kabron, which makes it all the more exclusive. Head along the road to Bingin Beach (which is around 20km/45 minutes from Bali Airport) then look out for the signs for El Kabron.

Enjoy the sunsets in Bali

2. Big Tree Farms

Love chocolate? Big Tree Farms Bamboo Chocolate Factory needs to be at the top of your list of fun things to do in Bali. It works with local community farmers across Indonesia to help them grow organic salt, cashews, cacao and coconut. You can join a daily tour around the factory (which was built by local bamboo builders) — and enjoy free tasting samples on your way round, as well a welcome Coco Mojo drink. If you still haven’t had your chocolate fill, you can sign up for a group chocolate-making class and learn how to satisfy those sweet cravings yourself! Email them at tours@bigtreefarms to get exact timings and to reserve your place.

How to get there

It’s about a 30 minute drive south from Ubud towards Denpasar.

3. Nusa Penida

If you prefer to be in the sea than on land, jump on a boat to the Nusa Penida island to the southeast of Bali and find some of the island’s most beautiful beaches. If you like to scuba dive, you can see manta rays between April and October, when the weather in Bali is perfect (averaging about 25 degrees Celsius). There are lots of dive companies operating from Sanur, on Bali’s east coast, which offer day trips to Nusa Penida. You can have two dives or snorkels, and enjoy lunch on a beautiful deserted sandy beach nearby. As with any activity sports, check the credentials and do your research on the dive companies before you book. Crystal Divers, at the smart Santai Hotel in Sanur, has outposts in Thailand and South Africa and is considered a good option for beginners.

How to get there

Sanur is around 30 minutes from the airport. From here, hop on a ferry from Sanur Beach or shop around local tour operators and find a good deal on a day trip ticket.

Bali has some excellent diving

4. Pura Tanah Lot

A visit to Pura Tanah Lot, perched on a small island cut out from the mainland by the sea, is one of the most popular things to do in Bali so not strictly off the tourist trail, but still well worth doing. You can hire a driver and come up with your own itinerary incorporating the island temple and a visit to the nearby green rice fields. Or travel further up Bali’s west coast and find a black sandy beach all to yourself. The temple is quietest early in the morning, or if you want to see the sunset, turn left up the hill to a clifftop bar where there’s fewer people. The Tanah Lot entrance fee is around Dh3 for adults and Dh1.50 for children.

How to get there

Pura Tanah Lot is just over an hour’s drive from Ubud. Head north from the airport along the west coast.

Visit Pura Tanah Lot early in the day to avoid the biggest crowds

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5. Nusa Lembongan

If you want a break from the livelier south of Bali, the island of Nusa Lembongan can offer a bit of peace and quiet. This doesn’t mean it’s dull though; there’s lots of Bali watersports here such as kayaking, snorkeling, stand-up paddle boarding and surfing. You can soak up views of Mount Agung volcano on Bali and when the sky is clear, Mount Rinjani on Lombok. There are lots of places to stay on Nusa Lembongan if you wanted more than a day trip; head away from the main beach to the Batu Karang Lembongan Resort and Day Spa and enjoy a relaxing Balinese massage or body scrub, followed by a drink on a sofa perched just meters away from the sea below.

How to get there

Pick up a boat from Sanur, and you should be in Junket Batu, the main hub of the island, in around 60 to 90 minutes.

Nusa Lembongan has some excellent beaches

6. Power of Now Oasis

Ubud is a wonderful place to do yoga in Bali but there are lots of alternatives if you want to soak up the negative ions of the ocean during your sun salutations. The Power of Now Oasis, on the beach in Sanur, offers a full itinerary of classes in its bamboo studio by the sea. If your class leaves you hungry, pop into the healthy Warung Kecil. Balinese-born Novi cooks up the freshest, healthiest and cleanest nasi campur around (a traditional Balinese dishes of mixed veg, meat and rice), plus fresh salads and juices with organic and locally sourced produce.

How to get there

The Power of Now is next to the Mercure Hotel on the Sanur seafront. Warring Kecil is a quick 15 minutes’ drive on Jalan Duyug no 1.

Enjoy some yoga by the sea at the Power of Now Oasis

7. Green Village Bamboo Trails

Bali is famous for its bamboo trees and this unique Bali attraction will tell you all you need to know about the role it plays in the island’s economy and culture. The inspiring tour explains how traditional Balinese builders can tame the wood and craft it into impressive structures, including the Green School (the education centre) and the private bamboo residences at the Green Village. Email tour@greenvillagebali.com and reservations@greenvillagebali.com to ask about visiting or staying there. It’s a good option if you’re looking for something to do with kids in Bali.

How to get there

Green Village is on the slopes by the Ayung River in Bali, between Denpasar in the south and Ubud to the northeast. You could walk from the Big Tree Chocolate Factory in under 30 minutes if you wanted a culture and fun-packed day.

8. The WooBar

If you’re looking for fun things to do at night in Seminyak, this should be on your list. Glide in through the grand tree-tunnel entrance, which twinkles with lights at night, buy a drink and be entertained for the night on the bar’s open-air sky deck by solid line-up of DJs. The WooBar is attached to the W Retreat & Spa so if you wanted to treat yourself you could book a night or two.

How to get there

The WooBar and hotel are located about 15 minutes’ north of the resort of Kuta.

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9. Ubud

You can’t visit Bali without going to Ubud, the spiritual and culture centre of Bali. While it’s one of the island’s most popular places to go, you can escape the bigger tourist attractions like Ubud Palace and Monkey Forest by renting a bicycle from Bali Eco Cycling and venturing into the countryside where you might, if you’re lucky, chance upon a village ceremony or be invited into a family compound. If you prefer to keep your feet on the ground, hike from the main road Jalan Raya Ubud up the ridge towards Campuhan and take in the views of wooden stilt houses and rice fields. When you’re back in town enjoy a real Indonesian Arabica coffee at Seniman Coffee studio or Freak Coffee.

How to get there

In the centre of Bali, Ubud is about an hour’s drive from Bali airport. If you want a cheaper but longer alternative, hop on the Kura-Kura shuttle bus route.

Go on a hike to see the rice fields in all their glory

10. Take an organized tour of Bali overland

If you want to see Bali’s diversity in all its glory, take an overland safari trip. They can be tailored to suit your interests, timescales and ability. Choose from a selection of volcanoes, jungle treks, coffee plantations, crater lakes, waterfalls, temples, or WWII wrecks. Ask to visit the sleepy town of Pemuteran and plant some baby coral, or go diving and see resident deer at nearby Menjangan Island. Taman Tirtagangga Water Palace is to the east, as is the chilled-out atmosphere and salt makers of Amed. Plenty to add to your list of things to do in Bali!

How to get on a Bali safari

We recommend you organize your overland trip in one of the main tourist hubs of Denpasar, Kuta or Ubud. Bali Traditional Tours is consistently well-reviewed for its bespoke day trips, but other firms might specialize in one area such as cycling or surfing. If you want to be more in control, you could haggle to hire a driver for a day and head off wherever you please!

Hire a driver for the day and go on a road trip

This article was adapted from a piece written by writer Laura Gavin for Skyscanner.net

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*Published December 2016. Prices correct at the time of publication but may be subject to change and/or availability.

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