Beyond the usual suspects in Bali
Head to clifftop temple Pura Luhur Ulu Watu to pray to the all-important sea gods. (Gregory Adams/LPI)
Bali may have its fair share of tourists seeking nothing more than seven days of sun and sand in the southern party triad of Kuta, Legian and Seminyak, but this only forms a small part of what is on offer. In reality, Bali is a lush Indonesian island teeming with cultural experiences, delicious food and exhilarating adventures. Consider the following, less-visited possibilities:
Good for surf, seafood and spirituality
Bali may be known for beaches and cornrows now, but it was the surfers who first discovered this beautiful Indonesian island. Go south from Kuta to the Bukit Peninsula, and you will see what lured them here. Head to Ulu Watu beach for the kinds of waves surfers dream of, or to Nusa Dua for some killer breaks around the reef. Note however that Neptune is fierce in this part of town and only the experienced should attempt to brave the waters around Bukit. For novices, there are plenty of other to places to surf in Indonesia.
Explore Bali’s spiritual side with a visit to Pura Luhur Ulu Watu on the island’s south east. Perched high on a cliff top, the temple has arresting views across the ocean that will leave you gob-smacked. (Just do not venture into Ulu Watu with any loose items dangling from you. The temple is awash with pick-pocketing monkeys, and before you know what has happened they will have scarpered with your best sunglasses.)
A trip to the Bukit Peninsula is not complete without visiting the Jimbaren fish markets. Early morning is the best time, as the market is in full throttle for the day’s sales. Finish the evening in Jimbaren, watching the sun set at one of the picturesque seafood warungs (simple food stalls). There are three strips to choose from, with the southern section (near the Four Seasons) generally agreed to be the best.
Good for food, unique coffee and natural wonders
Bali is famous for the delicacy of babi guling – suckling pig – and no place does it quite like Ibu Oka in the centre of Ubud. For a communal experience, join other diners at the warung, opposite Ubud’s palace. If you would prefer to sit down, ask the staff to walk you a little further up the road to the “secret” warung. The prices are the same, but it is a little quieter, a little plusher and a little more tucked away.
Metered taxis are rare in Ubud but there are plenty of drivers around vying for your business. However, more adventurous souls might like to jump on the back of a scooter and zoom up and down the mountainside. Better yet, from around 60,000 rupiah you can hire your own scooter. Once you get the feel of the ebb and flow of traffic, you will be free to explore the beautiful scenery of Bali’s mountains all by yourself. Scooter 16km north to the Elephant Safari Park at Desa Taro and marvel at the gentle beauty of rescued Sumatran elephants. Do not be fooled by imitations. The only legitimate conservation park is the one booked through Bali Adventure Tours.
From Ubud, hire a driver and head north to Kintamani to see the awe-inspiring sight of Gunung Batur, Bali’s second highest volcano. Its last eruption was in 1994, and traces of the black lava can still be seen. Worth it for the crater lake alone, it is interesting to see bustling of villages so close to a potentially murderous natural wonder. Make sure you check up on volcanic conditions before you go.
Coffee lovers should stop en route to Kintamani at the town of Tampaksiring to try kopi luwuk. This coffee is famously produced by passing the coffee bean through the digestive system of a cat, and retails for a lot of money elsewhere in the world – here, you will get it at a steal.