When it comes to world travel, Bali is a must for any bucket list. This breathtaking Indonesian island has a magnetic draw on tourists – and for good reason! From spectacular canyons to pristine beaches, it has plenty to offer those who love nature and the outdoors. The ancient structures and rich culture will please history buffs and adventurous types, while the wide variety of villas for rent in Bali are perfect for families seeking something entirely different, as well as couples on a romantic getaway.
There is such an assortment of things to do and see in Bali that it can be a bit overwhelming for a first-time visitor. That’s why we compiled this list of exciting things to experience during your time exploring this gorgeous island. Even if you can’t fit it all in during one trip, no worries! That just gives you more reason to return!
1. Hang Ten…
There’s a reason why Indonesia is such a highly sought-after destination for surf bums around the world. Kuta Beach, in particular, is a popular spot for the surfing crowd and is a particularly beautiful beach for beginner surfers to try. If you’ve spent ample time on a surfboard and are hoping to catch bigger waves, head south to Uluwatu for some of the best waves on the planet.
2. …Or Just Hang Out at the Beach
If surfing isn’t your thing, that’s ok! Head to Sanur Beach and stretch out in the golden sand there. If you get too hot, you can always cool off in the calm waters along this beach. Stroll along the beach and see if you can spot ocean creatures such as starfish meandering about near the shore. While you shouldn’t remove live creatures like starfish from the water, Sanur Beach is a popular spot for seashell collectors.
3. Attend a Festival
If there’s a celebration going on where you’re staying in Bali, you absolutely must hit the streets and be a part of it. The Balinese New Year sparks many different festivals and rituals. Among them are the omed-omedan, or the Kissing Ritual, which happens every year in Sesetan, Denpasar. There, the unmarried villagers must take part in a public kissing festival before having buckets of water tossed on them to tamp down their lust.
While the villagers in Sesetan are lovers, those in Tenganan are fighters. There, during the Usaba Sambah Festival, they take part in the monthlong ritual of makare-kare, in which the men fight each other while wielding sharp pandanus leaves and bamboo shields.
The most exciting festival, however, may be that of the actual Balinese New Year itself. Locals parade out intricately-designed monster floats in order to scare away evil spirits. The following day is Nyepi, a day of silence meant to convince any remaining evil spirits that Bali is deserted and they should move on elsewhere.
4. Go Ghost-Hunting
Speaking of evil spirits, Bali is the perfect place for fans of spooky stories to get their fix. With centuries of rich history, of course Bali wouldn’t be the vibrant island it is if it didn’t have its share of ghost stories. Are they just stories, though? If you’re not faint of heart, you can find out by exploring some of Bali’s most haunted locations.
While you can’t book a room in the never-opened Ghost Palace Hotel, you can brave its deserted grounds. You’ll want to be on the alert, however, as the property is reportedly occupied by the spirits of workers who were killed as the crew hurried to complete the hotel, as well as competitors who met untimely ends after they were cursed by the hotel’s developer.
If a ghost hotel isn’t creepy enough for you, how about a ghost ship? Check out what’s left of the place where the Ho Tsai Fa No. 18 ran aground in 2008 – minus its captain or crew. What happened to them? Some believe they haunt the beaches of Padang Padang. Perhaps after spending time there, you’ll develop your own theories!
5. Go Snorkeling
To really see all that lies beneath the surface of Bali’s beautiful waters, strap on a snorkel mask and fins and start exploring! Nusa Dua Beach is a wonderful location for snorkeling. Its low currents and practically nonexistent waves mean it’s calm enough for you to enjoy your time in the water. The water is also crystal clear, here, giving you ultimate visibility.
6. Dine Outside of the Ordinary
While finding the small, hole-in-the-wall places where the locals eat is a favorite pastime for many travelers, there are also a few themed restaurants in Bali that aren’t to be missed. For example, at Keramas Aero Park, you can enjoy dinner in a renovated airplane in the midst of paddy fields. While this may sound strange, the views are gorgeous and the food is divine.
For the truly adventurous diner, the Tsavo Lion Restaurant at the Mara River Safari Lodge affords you the opportunity to enjoy a delectable meal while sitting only a few feet away from majestic lions. You’ll be separated by a thick pane of glass, of course, but you likely won’t be able to escape pondering the thought that except for the glass, you’d be the one on the menu instead of perusing the menu yourself!
7. Get Your Adrenaline Pumping
For those who like their vacations on the adventurous side, Bali has plenty to offer. If you’re not afraid of heights, try cliff jumping at Mahana Point. If you love high places, but want to work some hiking into the mix, canyoning in the northern part of the island will allow you to explore gorges and waterfalls galore.
Some people simply aren’t fans of high places. For them, water tubing down the various streams and rivers of the Payangan Region will get their blood racing without making their heads dizzy. All of these options offer a perfect way to experience all the natural beauty Bali has to offer from an entirely new perspective.
No matter where your interests lie, there’s something in Bali for every adventurer.