The beautiful island of Bali conjures up dreamy images of a tropical paradise, and despite being fairly compact it’s the most popular tourist destination in Indonesia. Its appeal is drawn from many sources including the blissful climate, gorgeous beaches, unique culture, delicious food, and relatively inexpensive living costs. Beach lovers could easily while away their entire stay simply soaking up the rays, sipping cocktails out of coconuts, and splashing about in the warm sea, but there’s also plenty on offer for more adventurous travellers…
A two-hour climb to the summit of active volcano Mount Batur to watch the sun rise is an incredibly memorable experience, and your local guide may add to the fun by cracking and cooking an egg on some lava-heated rock – reminding you just how active the volcano really is. It’s a fairly accessible hike if you’re reasonably fit, and you’re rewarded with views of the sunrise over Bali’s tallest mountain, Mount Agung, while to the north you see several steaming, active cones. Registered guides should be members of the Association of Mount Batur Trekking Guides, which has an office in Toyo Bungkah village where the treks begin.
Diving and snorkelling
The best time of year for snorkelling and diving around Bali is from May until September, when the water tends to be clearest and you can see the live coral and tropical marine life in all its glory. At Tulamben, one of Bali’s most famous dive sites, you can even explore a sunken World War II ship – the 120-metre-long USS Liberty wreck. On Bali’s far east coast there are also some great locations such as Candidasa and the nearby islands of Nusa Penida and Nusa Lembongan. For more experienced divers there are excellent sites around the rocky islets of Gili Kambing, Gili Biaha and Gili Mimpang.
White water rafting
In central Bali, the island’s cultural heart, Ubud offers a good base for white water rafting excursions outside of the dry season. After exploring the town’s historical sites and temples, including some of the most beautiful on the island, you can head west to Sayan near the lush Ayung gorge. Whitewater rafting operators will take you for a day on the Class II and Class III rapids, which aren’t the most challenging in the world but are set against a spectacularly beautiful backdrop.
One of the island’s best-known resorts is Kuta, once a sleepy fishing village but today a popular backpacking spot, particularly amongst Australian surfers. The village can get very busy and the surf overcrowded at some times of the year, though, so surfers may prefer to venture to quieter spots elsewhere. With more than 30 surf locations across Bali, once you get chatting to fellow surfers you’ll soon hear about favourites such as Ulu Watu for more experienced surfers, and nearby Padang Padang.
These are just a handful of the activities on offer across Bali, and with a bit of research you can have a go at para-sailing, riding an elephant, jungle or rice paddy trekking, fishing, wakeboarding or water skiing.