When I think of Indonesia and tourism, the first thing that comes to my mind is Bali. With its endless choice of exciting attractions, it’s no wonder that Bali is one of the most visited islands in the world and a place that people keep coming back to for more. However, Bali has a lot more to offer than just the mainstream tourist locations. Fortunately, there are still places in Bali where you can get away from the tourist hordes and get a taste of traditional Balinese culture and experience a relaxing island life where the days are long and nightlife is non-existent. That’s what this article is all about! The best hidden gems in Bali that will help you get to know the less touristy side of the island.
Sinuous ribbons of azure unfold on all sides of this small fishing village in the northern coast of West Bali. Pemuteran is located around 4 hours away from Denpasar, which might sound like a long journey but it’s definitely worth it. The village is comfortably situated between the rugged central mountains of Bali and lies on an extinct volcano crater. Pemuteran is famous for its flourishing coral reefs and most tourists come here on a one-day trip for one reason. Diving! The place can get a bit crowded during the day but as the day winds down, there are only a handful of places in Bali where you’ll find such blissful sunsets and peaceful atmosphere in the evening.
The mystery beach of Yeh Leh
Located just off the Denpasar-Gilimanuk highway, Yeh Leh is not your typical white sandy beach. Instead, you’ll find hundreds of boulders littering the shore. These mysterious rocks have been around for hundreds of years and not a lot of people know about their origin. If you want to visit Yeh Leh, I suggest you hurry up. This beach is becoming more and more famous every day as more sunset photos of it appear on the internet.
If you ask me, Pekutatan is one of the last places in Bali where you can see no street vendors and no bars filled with foreigners. This is the case, mainly because this lovely resort is miles away from anything but as soon as you get to the beautiful coast, you’ll realize you don’t need anything else. The rocks on the beach which you saw in the picture above were carved out by lava thousands of years ago and they add a special touch to the already beautiful surrounding. All this makes Pekutatan one of the last remaining hidden gems in Bali.
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Many people know Suluban as one of the best surfing spots in Bali but the cave surrounding the coast is a real gem if you ask me. This is one of Bali’s most unique coasts, concealed by limestone formations and only accessible via a long stairway. Obviously, this isn’t the ideal beach for sunbathing but you can sure take some amazing photographs here. The coast looks like it’s ready for the next part of “Pirates of the Caribbean”.
Talking about Instagrammable hidden gems in Bali, I just have to mention this beach. Melasti is one of the most captivating beaches of the southern coast that’s (still) largely ignored by the tourist hordes. Visit this beach during sunset after it rains and you’ll see a spectacular improvised waterfall that appears on the cliff top falling down into the ocean. You won’t need to be a good photographer to capture an award-winning photo with such surrounding
If you’re still not impressed by the places you read about, you’ll surely be blown away by the Sukawati Canyon. Hidden in the dense forests of Bali, the Sukawati Canyon is the ultimate adventure for visitors. To fully explore Sukawati, you’ll have to climb rocks, pass rivers, and dive deeper into the canyon. The stone walls surrounding the canyon are uniquely shaped by Mother Nature and if you try hard enough, you can see faces showing different emotions in them…
Kanto Lampo Waterfall
According to the locals, water has been flowing around here only since 2015. That’s probably the main reason why this Instagrammable waterfall still isn’t under a constant tourist siege. Apparently, everything happened after a praying ceremony in an unusually dry year. If you ask many locals, they will tell you that the waterfall is a blessing for the villagers. And it’s true- Kanto Lampo has been attracting an increasing number of tourists in this previously unfrequented part of Bali.
Tukad Cepung Waterfall
Only recently discovered by tourists, Tukad Cepung is one of Bali’s most spectacular waterfalls and as close to nature as one can get! The waterfall is unfrequented mainly because the road to it goes through a long stairway that requires a certain level of stamina. It will be a tiring adventure but the sight of the Tukad Cepung Falls is definitely worth it. If you decide to visit, do check the river levels before you head for the falls. Rapid flooding isn’t an uncommon sight, especially when it’s raining.
This is one of those places in Bali where a walk in any direction feels like a talk with nature. The picturesque rice fields and the lush, green hills are perfect for people that want to get away from the tourist crowds. Most of the tourists that visit Bali usually head to the beaches and that’s why we still have places like Sidemen remain relatively unfrequented. Personally, I think now is the right time to visit Sidemen and that Sidemen is the new Ubud. So, you better get there until the place is still authentic, quiet, and (relatively) tourist-free.
The Green Cliffs and Little Grotto of Undisan Bangli
This is one of the best-kept hidden gems in Bali, mainly because it’s difficult to reach. In order to get to the Little Grotto of Undisan Bangli, you have to navigate through miles of lush forests and rough terrain. The Green Cliffs of Undisan Bangli are basically giant cliffs covered in moss that tower over the sides of the ravine. If you follow the green cliffs and dive in at the place where they start to merge, you’ll inevitably discover the wonder of nature that the green cliffs are trying to hide from the world: the Little Grotto of Undisan Bangli.
Amed is another charming, fishing village where you can experience relaxing island life at its finest. The best part about Amed is that it’s surrounded by 6 other villages stretched out along the coast and no busy streets. Amed has (almost) no traffic and no public transportation, so the only real way of getting around is renting a motorbike. The village is home to one of the nicest and most pristine beaches in Bali, known as the Black Beauty. But the beaches aren’t all Amed has to offer- there are also some world-class diving sites which are also relatively unfrequented.
Mount Batur is one of the most visited places in Bali but actually, you can get the best view of the mountain from Pinggan Village. Pinggan is an isolated village on the eastern coast of Bali where you can experience one of the most stunning views on the island- the view of the active volcano in a solitary, meditative setting. The view will make you feel like you’re floating in the sky where and the only thing you can see is Mount Batur towering over the clouds.
Mende Hill is one of Bali’s lesser-known treks. The trek is relatively easy but the views from the top of the hill are absolutely marvelous. This route is becoming more popular among couples traveling to Bali because it’s one of those places where you can get lost and see no other humans for miles. It’s for people that want to wander off to places where the Wi-Fi is weak but the connection between them strengthens.
The Secret Gardens of Sambangan
The gardens of Sambangan hide in the northernmost part of Bali. These gardens lie off the beaten track in Bali mainly because in order to reach there you need either a) insane navigation skills or b) to be a local or have one with you. The gardens are basically a chain of azure pools and cascading waterfalls hidden deep within the lush rainforests of Northern Bali. If you would like to explore the whole area, you would need roughly (at least) 3-4 hours of walking.
Bhuana Sari Waterfall
I really don’t know how this waterfall remained under the radar for so long, despite being so close to some other touristy spots, such as the Lekke Lekke and the Banyu Wana Amertha Waterfall. Bhuana Sari is actually the second setting of Banyu Wana Amertha. However, most people don’t make it here, probably because they visit Lekke Lekke without knowing that another divine waterfall existed, hidden deep inside the forest. Watching this waterfall burst out of the rocks suddenly as you’re walking in what seems to be a never-ending forest trek is a real surprise. If that’s not enough, the soothing flow of water and birds chirping in the background will surely make you feel like you’re becoming one with the surrounding nature.
The Twin Lakes of Tamblingan and Buyan and Asah Gobleg
When you look at Bali’s map, these two almost identical lakes are probably the first thing you notice. They are tucked away in the lush rainforests in the north of Bali and see only a handful of visitors. These twin crater lakes with serene and mystical beauty are a life source for the surrounding communities. The two lakes are divided by the forest that stretches over an area of one kilometer. If you want to get the best view of the twin lakes, the best viewpoint is located in a nearby village named Asah Gobleg. The village falls well off the beaten track but trust me, it’s worth it.
The charming, pristine village of Munduk is one of the most appealing mountain retreats in Bali. Tourism isn’t really a thing in this rural town and you’ll find only a few guesthouses and B&Bs. This, on the other hand, makes Munduk one of the last places on the island where you can get a traditional slice of Bali and Balinese culture. If you’re looking for hidden gems in Bali, definitely consider making Munduk your first stop. Outside of the town, you can also find some other off-the-beaten-track attractions, like Tanah Barak and the Melanting Waterfalls. Only a few people come to Munduk and most of them on a day trip. However, a lot of them end up spending at least a few days here and that says a lot about this place.
Menjangan Island, West Bali National Park
In the northern part of the West Bali National Park, there’s a jutting peninsula called Prapat Agung. The peninsula includes long stretches of protected beach and a small offshore island under the name Menjangan. It’s a bit strange how most people don’t know about Menjangan because it’s actually one of the best diving spots in Bali with its incredibly rich marine life. But marine life isn’t the only unusual thing about this island. Pulau Menjangan actually translates to ‘Deer Island’. No one really knows how and why but deer have been living on this island for years…
Useful resources for visiting Bali
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Have you ever been to Bali? Did you check out some of these hidden gems? Let me know in the comments.