Bali: a world-renowned travel destination for people from all over the world. But, what if you are going to Bali, and looking to get off the beaten path? Some of the most pristine and beautiful destinations around Bali are also unspoiled havens for travel adventurers. Before you plan your trip, make sure you have travel insurance, complete with medevac. Motorbikes and scooters are favourite transport rentals, but accidents occur daily. A safer option is to hire a car and driver. For accommodations, I like to book rooms and vacation rentals ahead of time, so I have a good idea of where I will be staying before I get there.
When planning your trip, make sure to keep these tips and destinations in mind for your Off The Beaten Path Bali Adventure.
1. Nusa Penida Island
Nusa Penida, an arid island 20 kilometers off Bali’s south shores, is an unspoiled chunk of limestone where Bali’s kings once exiled their criminals and trouble-makers. Now its small villages and quiet roads and spectacular sea-side cliff scenery make for the perfect getaway from Bali’s maddening crowds and maddening traffic. Spelunk the caves, hike the dramatic paths, wander around on bicycles, keep your eyes open for the endangered blue-eyed Bali starling. Nusa Penida’s Ped Temple is home to the Great Fanged Lord, feared throughout Bali.
Accommodation is available at several villages, along with bicycle and motorbike rentals. You can easily get to Nusa Pendia via regular boat service from Sanur in South Bali and Padang Bai in East Bali.
2. Munduk Village
A mountain village in the north, Munduk offers a feel of original Bali. The altitude makes a refreshing change from the lowland heat, with spectacular views of wooded valleys and distant rice fields and plantations. Slow down and unwind at one of the homestays, the traditional family-run Bali accommodation.
Once unwound, hike the trails and splash in the nearby waterfalls.
3. Serangan Beach
Looking for a quiet, pristine beach among South Bali’s tourist playgrounds? Try Serangan, a small islet south of Sanur and connected by a land reclamation bridge. Once over the bridge, go past the village turnoff and head straight for the surfing beach (there is a Rp 5000 entry fee at the security gate).
Plop down in the golden sand, take a dip in the lagoon. Ramble north for a couple even quieter beaches. The shacks on the main beach offer cold drinks and simple snacks.
4. Dawn, local market
In tourist Bali, dawns are usually associated with spectacular sunrises and photographers at the ready, but why not try something different? Wherever you are staying, whatever your Bali accommodations, there is bound to be a local market nearby, already bustling by 5 a.m. Going to the local market might get you off the tourist beaten path, but it puts you squarely in the beaten path of hundreds of local shoppers flocking the vendor stalls, bargaining with market ladies for fresh vegetables and fish caught within the last few hours and ready-made temple offerings and traditional utensils and things you might not recognise.
5. Lombok and Flores
Yes, these are islands to the east of Bali, but are also easy getaways, and a short trip can often fit your holidays or travel plans. They also provide a cultural change of pace, as Lombok is mostly Muslim and Flores is mainly Christian.
The Gili Islands off North-West Lombok, accessible via fast boat service from Sanur or Benoa, are famous for their lively party scene but villages along the beach-strewn south coast of Lombok offer quieter evenings. If it’s mountain views and hikes you enjoy, then opt for the accommodations on the slopes of Mount Rinjani, Indonesia’s second highest volcano. As for Flores, start your adventure with a short flight from Denpasar to Labuan Bajo, a seaside town in stunning savannah-like terrain. Komodo Island with its famed dragons is only a short boat ride away.