More Reasons to Stopover in Bali During Your Indonesian Dive Holiday? | Part II
Need more reasons to add a Bali stopover during your Indonesian dive holiday? If part one didn’t stimulate your sense of adventure here are some more enticements to help tip the scales.
One blog can’t possibly cover all of Bali’s worthwhile sights and attractions so now we’ll continue where we left off and we’ve added information on waterfalls and walking tours and luxury and local dining.
Diving in Bali Before or After my Dive Holiday
In part one, our dive trip around Bali started clockwise around the island beginning in the Northwest. We made it all the way to Amed before we had to take a short surface interval. Candidasa, Padang Bai and the “Sister Islands” also have great diving and topside fun.
Dive centers such as Bali Scuba and Aquamarine Diving in South Bali lead 3 tank dive trips up to Padang Bai. Only a 45-minute drive from Sanur, Padang Bai can be done as a day trip. We suggest a few nights in the area to check out the more of Bali’s coastal towns. If you are staying over or driving up on your own, we recommend you dive with Geko Divers or O.K. Divers.
Notable dive sites include: Gili Tepekong, Gili Mimpang and Gili Bahia. These can have strong current but can be very fishy with divers regularly seeing sharks, barracuda, trevallies and rays. Closer to Padang Bai the Jetty is great for macro subjects and shark point has nice corals, nudis and guess what…sharks! Dive centers in Padang Bai also offer day trips over to the “Sister Islands” (Nusa Penida and Nusa Lembongan).
Staying in the area? Candidasa and Padang Bai are only 20-30 minutes apart. Padang Bai is a smaller port and fishing village, while Candidasa is more of a seaside tourist town. You’ll find more restaurants, music and a larger selection of hotels in Candidasa, but don’t expect big sandy beaches as the hotels take up most of the waterfront.
|$$$$ Amankila or Alila Manggis, Candidasa||$$$ Sea Breeze, Candidasa or Villa Sukanta, P.B.|
|$$ O.K. Divers, or Padang Bai Beach Resort||$ Beji Bay Resort, Padang Bai|
Note: dollar signs represent an average for each property and are based on rack rates; specials may be available seasonally.
The “Sister Islands” Nusa Penida and Nusa Lembongan are easily done
on a 3-tank day trip from Sanur or you can stay on Nusa Lembongan for a couple nights to get more dives in the area. Choose from budget to deluxe accommodations on Nusa Lembongan. Two Fish Divers operates a dive resort on the island with budget accommodations.
Notable dive sites include: Crystal Bay for Mola Molas, Blue Corner where you can see Rays and Sharks, Manta Point where Mantas are seen year-round, S.D. point and Pura Ped on Nusa Lembongan are good choices for a casual drift dive over sloping coral gardens and Toya Pakeh’s reef slope is a fun place to look for turtles and nudibranchs.
Atlantis Bali Diving center and Bali Scuba both offer 3 tank day trips on their comfortable speedboats from Sanur. Transit time takes approximately 50-65 minutes, depending on the dive sites location.
For you day-trippers looking for a place to stay in Sanur here are a few recommendations from previous dive guests.
|$$$$ Maya Resort or Fairmont Beach Hotel||$$$ Griya Santrian or Puri Santrian|
|$$ Swiss Bel Hotel or Parigata Hotel||$ Sari Villas|
Waterfalls and Walking Tours
Bali, commonly called the “Islands of the Gods,” can’t be a playground for heavenly creatures without a bit of natural beauty. So grab your dive booties for the waterfall and water portion of our tour around Bali. Here are more alternatives to Bali’s beaches!
At most of Bali waterfalls, you can relax beside natural rock pools fed by year-round flows, while others offer breath-taking scenery that nature lovers and landscape photography enthusiasts will enjoy.
Gitgit is easily accessible, making it a popular stop for group busses and day trips. Once at the bottom enjoy the spectacle of the 40m cascade that pours into a rocky pool. For a less touristy, easily accessible option, try nearby Jembong Waterfall. Although the falls aren’t very high, its gentle slope and regular water flow makes it ideal for a cooling soak.
Smaller but still very pretty, Tibumana is relatively unknown, with far fewer visitors. You can wander quite far down the river with the falls still in sight so there are a lot of interesting photographic opportunities.
Once you leave the road you must trek about a kilometer through lush jungle, down into a ravine and finally squeeze yourself between huge boulders before first laying eyes on this incredible sight.
Unique for it’s lush green surroundings and heavy water flow Tegenungan waterfall is perfect for swimming and enjoying the fresh water. The pool at the bottom of the short waterfall is deep, so you may have the opportunity to see locals cliff jumping.
Nung Nung Waterfall
Close to Sangeh Monkey Forest, it is worth a visit for the lush scenery alone. In the height of the rainy season the cascading water crashes into the pool 50 meters below with a booming sound and creates a refreshing spray. Do be warned, there are around 500 stone steps to get to the waterfalls. This keeps it quiet but makes it a long hike up.
If you are adventurous, Sekumpul waterfall is the trek for you. Getting to the base of the waterfall is very difficult. Alternatively, for a little bit of money locals will show you the way. They will get you to the end of a road from which you can walk about 50m to the rim and find the most beautiful views from high ground. What’s interesting about Sekumpul Waterfall is that instead of one waterfall, there are seven! (“sekumpul” means “group” in Indonesian) These are all scattered around the area, with the tallest being more than 50 meters high.
Jatiluwih Rice Fields
Jatiluwih offers a beautiful view of contoured rice terraces. When in season, the rice terraces give new meaning to the word green, crawling up the sides of the hills like steps leading you towards the sky. Scenic excursions and photo ops for photographers wanting to catch the best views, angles, and lighting can be arranged through Bali Agung Solusi.
Tegalalang Rice Terraces
A short drive from Ubud, Tegalalang is an excellent spot to stop and have lunch. Restaurants are perched on the cliffside offering bird’s eye views of the rice terraces. The Teras Padi Cafe menu has a wide variety of Indonesian and Western options to choose from. Sit back, relax on their throw pillows in their bale-bale style seating, and refresh yourself with a cool kelapa mudah (fresh coconut).
Picture an active volcano within a volcanic crater. Now add a lovely little lake nestled in the crater at the foot of this smoldering volcano; this breathtaking vista is Mt. Batur. If you are looking for a spot to take in the whole vista, head to the rim of the crater. After visiting Pura Ulun Danu Batur, the temple on the rim in Kintamani, head to the back of the temple for breathtaking views of the crater and surrounding area. For those interested in getting a little closer, sunrise hikes to the top of the volcano are available. Be prepared to layer your clothing, as it gets chilly at the top. On a clear morning, you can see Mt. Rinjani on neighboring Lombok island.
Towering over Mount Batur, Mount Agung is the tallest point on Bali. Still active, the Balinese believe Agung is the center of Bali’s magical universe. Villages are laid out on an axis in line with the volcano; the sacred family temples that exist in every Balinese compound are placed in the corner closest to it. Hikes up to the rim are challenging but the view from the top is spectacular.
White Water Rafting
If you didn’t get wet enough on your dive trip, grab your paddle and get ready for an exhilarating rafting adventure on the spectacular Ayung River. There’s plenty of action on this 9.6 km river stretch, navigating through 33 class II and III rapids (class IV in the wet season Nov – Mar) set to a backdrop of wild unspoiled rainforest, towering gorges and magnificent rice paddy terraces. We recommend Bali Adventure Tours, Bali’s only rafting company using equipment approved to international standards.
Venture from tree to tree for a bird’s eye view of nature with 7 circuits and 72 challenges for all level and ages (4-70). Try your hand at suspended bridges, Spider Nets, Tarzan Jumps, Flying-Fox, Flying Swings, and many more fun challenges. Sounds like an exciting day at the park.
ATV – Quad Bikes
Are you looking for the less traveled roads in Bali? Ride along with Aussie Bali Adventure for countless miles of remote black sand beaches (the only permitted ATV tour on the beach), then up through scenic world heritage listed rice fields, jungle tracks and down through traditional local villages then back onto the beach for a final run.
If you are like me you’re close to the maximum luggage allowance with your dive gear. If by chance you brought your clubs, or want to rent, Bali has some challenging courses. Rated among the “Top 50 Greatest Golf Courses in the World” by Golf Magazine, Bali Handara Kosaido Country Golf Course is located in Bali’s lush highlands and nestled in the crater of a volcano. Also worth a round is the Nirwana Bali Golf Club, an award-winning golf course designed by Greg Norman and managed by IMG Golf Course Management. The signature Par 3 7th hole overlooks the famous Tanah Lot temple and the stunning Indian Ocean.
This is a new one to me; I’ll have to get over to the Grand Nikko Bali and give it a try. Apparently, The Bali Camel Safari takes you on one of the most unique beach tours on the island. You’ll enjoy the quiet and pristine white sand beach and open sea views of the Sawangan coast in southern Nusa Dua. I have a feeling camel rides are a bit less comfortable than horseback riding.
Bali’s cuisine is as diverse as its residents. Balinese food and international dishes come together to make the food scene in Bali world class. Here are a few places that have great food, drinks and are a bit fun and funky.
Located in a 150-year-old teak joglo in Kerobakan, Biku surrounds you with local artwork. Known for its proper British high tea, scones and dessert items, it also makes a great burger and offers amazing local food.
Find yourself in Sanur on a Sunday afternoon? How about stopping into Fire Station for a traditional English Sunday Roast? On the other hand, maybe you’ve been out at sea for a while and you’re just craving a burger? That will work too as they have the best burgers in Sanur.
Ubud has something like 617 restaurants; everything from fine dining, such as Bridges and Moziac, to local warungs. But if you find yourself near Nomads stop in for their Balinese tapas menu. It’s a great way to sample a number of Balinese specialties at a great price in a nice atmosphere. Nearby, the Melting Wok Warung has a French Asian Fusion menu that has people lined up for the daily specials.
La Plancha, in Legian, is a low-key colorful place to watch the sunset and have appetizers. Located on the beach, their colorful umbrellas and beanbags make for a relaxed atmosphere. On the opposite end of the spectrum, check out the Rock Bar. Accessible via the AYANA Resort and Spa’s dramatic cliff side inclinator, and perched atop distinctive rock formations, Rock Bar Bali is widely regarded as one of the globe’s most unique sunset venues.
You can also learn how to cook local specialties and then enjoy the fruits of your labors. Many hotels around Bali, including the Puri Santrian in Sanur, offer classes, but personally, I like a little local place called Caraway Bali Cooking Classes. Located in a Balinese family compound, the ladies that teach this class aim to please and don’t skimp on ingredients, portions or choice of dishes.
Bali Food Safari
Bali Food Safari offers food tours of dining excellence that are truly off the beaten path. The tour is available in three locations, each offering 3 to 4 restaurants with up to twelve dishes. It includes all transfers and taxes. Join a safari for an inspired adventure that is ideal for food lovers and those seeking to expand their culinary and cultural horizons.
Balinese villages place high value on tradition; trades are usually passed from father to son. It’s common to see whole villages built around one industry; Balinese woodworkers are located in and around Mas, silversmiths can be found in Celuk, painters in Batuan and the stone carvers live around Batubulan. If you are interested in any of these items, go straight to the appropriate village and start looking around.
As with most shopping in Bali, if you want good deals, be ready to bargain; it’s a way of life here.
You can also take a craft class where, with the help of an artisan, you create something special to take home. Ubud is a great place for these courses. Pak Wayan, an experienced silversmith, oversees the classes at Chez Monique. Spend a day in his family compound and create your personal masterpiece. Batik design is a little more challenging; make sure you have a simple pattern in mind before you go. We did our class with Widya in Ubud. He’s an amazing artist who’s patient and happy to help with the detail work.
If you are up near Ubud, why not stop at the Big Tree Farms Bamboo Chocolate Factory and pick up some local chocolate to take home. They run fun, educational tours for the whole family, and of course, sell a host of chocolate products! The farm is quite an attraction itself because of its bamboo buildings. One of them is reputed to be the largest of it’s kind in the world!
Another shopping opportunity that you may not have thought of is prescription glasses, teeth cleaning and medicine. Check with your physician, most prescription medicine can be bought over the counter for a fraction of the price paid elsewhere. A visit to the optometrist for prescription glasses and frames can be had for a song. I paid $16 to replace my prescription lenses w/anti glare.
If you’ve been staying on a liveaboard or at a dive resort you’ve probably had a chance to try the local sambal, kecap manis and bawang goreng. Did you know you could pick up small bottles and packages of some of your favorite sauces and curry’s? You’ll find them on the shelf at Hardy’s in Sanur and other markets.
So, what do you say, is Bali worth a stopover during your Indonesian dive holiday? We certainly hope we’ve given you something to think about. Bali is a magical place, with so many opportunities for you to find something to enjoy.