Earlier this year I started writing about the parts of Bali I loved and tried to start dispelling many of the myths that exist about this dreamy tropical holiday destination. It was a bit stupid really because it was only a couple of months before I was to travel to Bali to research and write the Bali travel guide for Travelfish.
I now have a much more comprehensive understanding of the parts of Bali that suit my style of travel — relaxed, slow-paced, comfortable. So the following places are based around those themes and generally represent the less-frequently travelled areas of the island. Bliss…
Amed is predominantly visited by European tourists in the months of June, July and August when accommodation options are extremely limited and much more expensive. Outside of this peak season, the place is virtually deserted and it’s a great place to come and relax by the beach, snorkel the many reefs and eat fresh fish. My view is that the experience here is enhanced with your own transport and some decent digs… Without these two things, the vibe can be totally different, so it’s worth a little extra effort.
Pemuteran is another one of those off-the-beaten-track destinations rarely visited by the majority of tourists in Bali. The main reason to visit is for the spectacular snorkelling on the reefs surrounding Menjangan Island offshore — I have never experienced anything like it before. The water here is crystal clear with visibility I reckon to be about 30m, the coral is vibrant and colourful, the fish are abundant and diverse and the drop-off is incredible. I was awe-struck when I saw that drop-off for the first time — I just floated there above it, looking down at the black abyss filled with schools of brightly-coloured tropical fish, mouth agape (there was a snorkel in it, of course it was agape). There’s a few other things to do in Pemuteran as well and contrary to Lonely Planet recommendations and the views of many Balinese I spoke to, it’s not an expensive destination. This is the place to come for reef-lovers.
What a surprise this place was. I got this tip off a German traveller who had been coming here for years. It’s not really covered in the guide books I’ve read, so I visited expecting to stay a couple of nights. I spent a full week in the area and was surprised that such a beautiful place was so infrequently visited by tourists. Yeh Gangga is right on a sandy beach with a pounding surf about 10km east of Tanah Lot. It’s a place to come to see stunning sunsets, walk along the endless beach, observe daily ceremonies and visit surrounding villages which allow for more authentic Balinese experiences. Love.
Ubud is well and truly on the tourist trail. Some would say it’s over-run with tourists and they’d be right. Down at the market it can feel like the set of a movie more than a traditional Asian market — souvenirs, cheap clothes, useless knick-knacks. But the market is the real deal if you visit at around 7am when the local people are going about their business. In fact, the whole town feels a lot more peaceful when walking around it while most other tourists are still asleep. Another way I’ve found peace in Ubud is to find accommodation in smaller laneways where it can sometimes feel like you’re living in part of a village, which in some respects you are. Ubud is a place to visit for observing dancing, painting, ricefields, great cafes, yoga and a vibe that soothes the soul. I love it. I always have.
Many other places in Bali are impressive and certainly worth a visit and I’ll try and cover some of those in subsequent Bali musings.