BALI

Bali has been populated since early prehistoric times, but the oldest human artefacts found are 3000 year old stone tools and earth ware vessels from Cekik. Not much is known of Bali during the period when Indian traders brought Hinduism to the Indonesian archipelago, but the earliest written records are stone inscriptions dating from around the 9th century. By that time, rice was being grown under the complex irrigation system known as subak, and there were precursors of the religious and cultural traditions that can be traced to the present day.

Hindu influence

Hindu Java began to spread its influence into Bali during the reign of King Airlangga, from 1019 to 1042. At the age of 16, Airlangga had fled into the forests of western Java when his uncle lost the throne. He gradually gained support, won back the kingdom once ruled by his uncle and went on to become one of Java’s greatest kings. Airlangga’s mother had moved to Bali and remarried shortly after his birth, so when he gained the throne there was an immediate link between Java and Bali. At this time, the courtly Javanese language known as Kawi came into use among the royalty of Bali, and the rock cut memorials seen at Gunung Kawi (Mt Kawi) near Tampaksiring are a clear architectural link between Bali and 11th century Java.

After Airlangga’s death, Bali retained its semi-independent status until Kertanagara became king of the Singasari dynasty in Java two centuries later. Kertanagara conquered Bali in 1284, but his power lasted only eight years until he was murdered and his kingdom collapsed. With Java in turmoil, Bali regained its autonomy and the Pejeng dyn­asty, centred near modern day Ubud, rose to great power. In 1343 Gajah Mada, the legendary chief minister of the Majapahit dynasty, defeated the Pejeng king Dalem Bedaulu and brought Bali back under Javanese influence.

Although Gajah Mada brought much of the Indonesian archipelago under Majapahit control, Bali was the furthest extent of its power. Here the ‘capital’ moved to Gelgel, near modern day Semarapura, once known as Klungkung, around the late 14th century, and for the next two centuries this was the base for the ‘king of Bali’, the Dewa Agung. The Majapahit kingdom collapsed into disputing sultanates. However, the Gelgel dynasty in Bali, under Dalem Batur Enggong, extended its power eastwards to the neighbouring island of Lombok and even crossed the strait to Java.

As the Majapahit kingdom fell apart, many of its educated people moved to Bali, including the priest Nirartha, who is credit­ed with introducing many of the complexities of Balinese religion to the island. Artists, dancers, musicians and actors also fled to Bali at this time, and the island experienced an explosion of cultural activities. The final great exodus to Bali took place in 1478.

European contact

The first Europeans to set foot in Bali were Dutch seafarers in 1597. Setting a tradition that prevails to the present, they fell in love with the island, and when Cornelius Houtman – the ship’s captain – prepared to set sail from Bali, some of his crew refused to leave with him. At that time, Balinese prosperity and artistic activity, at least among the royalty, were at a peak, and the king who befriended Houtman had 200 wives and a chariot pulled by two white buffaloes, not to mention a group of 50 advisors. When the Dutch returned to Indonesia in later years, they were interested in profit, not culture, and barely gave Bali a second glance.

Dutch conquest

In 1710 the capital of the Gelgel kingdom was shifted to nearby Klungkung, now called Semarapura, but local discontent was growing, lesser rulers were breaking away from Gelgel domination and the Dutch began to move in, using the old policy of divide and conquer. In 1846 the Dutch used Balinese salvage claims over shipwrecks as the pretext to land military forces in northern Bali. In 1894 the Dutch chose to support the Sasaks of Lombok in a rebellion against their Balinese rajah. After some bloody battles, the Balinese were defeated in Lombok, and with northern Bali firmly under Dutch control, southern Bali was not likely to retain its independence for long. Once again, salvaging disputes gave the Dutch the excuse they needed to move in. A Chinese ship was wrecked off Sanur in 1904 and ransacked by the Balinese. The Dutch demanded that the rajah of Badung pay 3000 silver dollars in damages, this was refused. In 1906 Dutch warships appeared at Sanur; Dutch forces landed and, despite Balinese opposition, marched the 5km to the outskirts of Denpasar.

On 20 September 1906, the Dutch mounted a naval bombardment of Denpasar and then commenced their final assault. The three rajahs of Badung, southern Bali, realised that they were outnumbered and outgunned, and that defeat was inevit­able. Surrender and exile, however, was the worst imaginable outcome, so they decided to take the honourable path of a suicidal puputan – a fight to the death.

The Dutch begged the Balinese to surrender rather than make their hopeless stand, but their pleas went unheard and wave after wave of the Balinese nobility marched forward to their deaths. In all, nearly 4000 Bali­nese died in the puputan. Later, the Dutch marched east towards Tabanan, taking the rajah of Tabanan prisoner, but he committed suicide rather than face the disgrace of exile.

The kingdoms of Karangasem and Gianyar had already capitulated to the Dutch and were allowed to retain some powers, but other kingdoms were defeated and the rulers exiled. Finally, the rajah of Klungkung followed the lead of Badung and once more the Dutch faced a puputan. With this last obstacle disposed of, all of Bali was now under Dutch control and became part of the Dutch East Indies. Dutch rule over Bali was short-lived, however, as Indonesia fell to the Japanese in WWII.

Independence

On 17 August 1945, just after WWII ended, the Indonesian leader Soekarno proclaimed the nation’s independence, but it took four years to convince the Dutch that they were not going to get their great colony back. In a virtual repeat of the puputan nearly half a century earlier, a Balinese resistance group was wiped out in the Battle of Marga on 20 November 1946; Bali’s airport, Ngurah Rai, is named after its leader. It was not until 1949 that the Dutch finally recognised Indonesia’s independence.

The huge eruption of Gunung Agung in 1963 killed thousands, devastated vast areas of the island and forced many Bali­nese to accept transmigration to other parts of Indo­nesia. Two years later, in the wake of the attempted communist coup, Bali became the scene of some of the bloodiest anti-communist killings in Indonesia. These were perhaps inflamed by some mystical desire to purge the land of evil, but also came about because the radical agenda of land reform and termination of the caste system was a threat to traditional Balinese values. The brutality of the killings was in shocking contrast to the stereotype of the ‘gentle’ Balinese.

Modern Bali

The tourism boom, which started in the early 1970s, has brought many changes, and has helped pay for improvements in roads, telecommunications, education and health. Though tourism has had some marked adverse environmental and social effects, Bali’s unique culture has proved to be remarkably resilient. Beginning in the 1990s there has been vocal public opposition to some controversial tourist developments, which indicates that Balinese people will play a more active role in the development of their island.

 

VISITING BALI

 

Bali is nicknamed the Island of the Gods for many good reasons. The glorious temples, exciting water sports, unique culture, pulsating night scene, beautiful beaches, and stunning scenery could easily make you feel as though you were in heaven.

There is plenty to do outdoors and indoors, with something for all weather conditions, ages and interests. The island is large, so knowing where to start can help you when making your travel plans. You do not want to move across the island to find out you missed out on a real gem. I have put together a list of the best places to visit in Bali to make sure that you do not miss out on something special. Visit Bali for a fabulous, diverse vacation and add these places to your Bali bucket list. 

Amed

Amed, is located in the eastern region of Bali, approximately 3 hours drive from Ngurah Rai International Airport. It is a small, but growing seaside area with great relaxation, dining and diving. It encompasses the seven fishing villages of Amed, Jemeluk, Bunutan, Lipah, Selang, Banyuning and Aas, and is said to be home to some of the greatest coastlines in all of Bali. Snorkelers and scuba divers in Bali are especially aware of this place due to its eastern shoreline that hosts some of the best marine life to swim amongst, and even a historical shipwreck to explore. Various dive operators have set up base here, and visitors can expect to barely lift a finger before being transported away to the beach to swim amongst the fish in crystal clear waters.

The reputation of Amed did not begin rising in popularity until the early 2000s, which is why many tourists heading to Bali naturally are hesitant about including it into their itinerary. However, rest assured, anyone who has ever visited Amed has left feeling overwhelmed and amazed that such a relaxing, beautiful slice of tropical paradise could exist at a party destination like Bali.

It has been known that the pace in Amed is extremely slow. It is the place where you would wake up in the middle of the day and not feel an inch of guilt, or indulge in cocktails by the beach all the day and warung stalls, street food, all night long before heading back to your luxury villa to sleep it off and do it all over again the next day.

The sunsets are said to take your breath away, with some of the best viewpoints giving you a proper good view of Mt. Agung in the background where the sun slips behind. In case you do not know, Mt. Agung is known as the Mt. Fuji of Bali.

Ubud

Ubud is one of those places where a holiday of a few days can easily turn into a stay of weeks, months or even years. The size of the town's expat community attests to this, and so do the many novels and films that have been set here, creative responses to the seductive nature of this most cultured of all Balinese towns. This is a place where traditional Balinese culture imbues every waking moment, where colourful offerings adorn the streets and where the hypnotic strains of gamelan are an ever present soundtrack to everyday life. It is also somewhere that is relentlessly on trend, a showcase of sustainable design, mindfulness, culinary inventiveness and the very best that global tourism has to offer. Come here for relaxation, for rejuvenation and to have what may well be the most magical holiday of your life.

Nusa Dua

Nusa Dua means ‘Two Islands’ in Indonesian which is something of a misnomer as if you come here you will find two non-descript headlands, each topped with a temple. Nusa Dua is widely known as the ‘upscale’ district of Bali and many of the high end resorts are located here. There is actually a dedicated tourist area in Nusa Dua which is gated and studded with guard posts and once inside you will find beautiful manicured lawns and not a leaf out of place. In short, it is a world away from much of the rest of Bali.

Most visitors come to Nusa Dua if they are looking for a relaxing beach holiday and you can spend your days swimming, enjoying the vistas across the water, and having dinner on the pretty beaches here. There are also a range of cultural activities in Nusa Dua, although many tourists forgo these in favor of staying in the confines of their resorts, but if you are game for getting out and about then, there is a huge amount to enjoy here in addition to the sea and sand. 

 

1. Mount Batur

Every day in Bali's predawn darkness, hundreds of visitors begin the trek up the 1,700 meter summit of Mount Batur to watch the sun rise above the lush mosaic of mist shrouded mountains and the caldera far below. This sacred active volcano lies in Kintamani District in Bali's central highlands, about an hour's drive from Ubud, and the trek to the summit to watch the sunrise has long graced the list of top things to do in Bali. The hike, along well marked trails, is relatively easy and usually takes about 2 to 3 hours. Guided treks typically include a picnic breakfast, with eggs cooked by the steam from the active volcano.

On a clear day, the views are spectacular, stretching all the way across the Batur caldera; the surrounding mountain range; and beautiful Lake Batur, the island's main source of irrigation water. Sturdy hiking shoes are essential, and it is advisable to wear layers, as the temperature can be cool before sunrise. You can also combine a trip here with a visit to one of Bali's most important temples, Pura Ulun Danu Batur, on the lake's northwest shore, and a therapeutic soak in hot springs at the beautiful village of Toya Bungkah on the banks of Lake Batur.

2. Ubud Monkey Forest

Only 10 minutes' walk south of the town center in Ubud, the Monkey Forest, also known as the Sacred Monkey Forest Sanctuary, is one of the top things to do in Ubud. It is also one of the best places to visit in Bali if you are an animal lover or photographer. Besides the entertaining troops of grey long tailed macaques that make their home here, a large part of the appeal is the evocative jungle setting where the monkeys roam free. Paved pathways lead through thick forests of giant banyan and nutmeg trees, where moss covered statues and ancient temples loom through the dense foliage, imparting an almost mystical feel. The forest is intended to represent the harmonious coexistence between humans and animals. It also conserves rare plants and is used as a location for researching macaque behavior, particularly their social interaction.

On the southwest side of the forest is one of the three temples found here, the 14th-century Pura Dalem Agung Padangtegal, where hundreds of monkeys swing through the trees and clamber over the walls. In the northwest of the forest, an ancient bathing temple, Pura Beji, nestles next to a cool stream and makes a beautiful backdrop for watching the monkeys' antics.

While visiting the forest, make sure to secure your belongings and avoid direct eye contact with the animals and smiling, as this can be interpreted as a sign of aggression. It is also a good idea not to bring any food into the area.

3. Tegallalang & Jatiluwih Rice Terraces

If you are a photographer seeking to capture Bali's beautiful emerald hued rice fields, the Tegallalang or Jatiluwih rice terraces should be at the top of your sightseeing agenda. About a 30 minute drive north of Ubud, Tegallalang Rice Terraces are one of the most famous areas to photograph these iconic landscapes and absorb their timeless beauty. Be aware that locals ask for donations along the most popular trail through the rice fields here, and many request fees for entrance and parking along the road.

A relaxing way to enjoy the lush landscapes is at one of the many restaurants and cafés overlooking the fields. About a 90 minute drive from Ubud, the Jatiluwih rice terraces cover more than 600 hectares of rice fields along the hillsides of the Batukaru mountain range and tend to be less crowded than Tegallalang. You will also find fewer tourist touts here, so it is easier to walk around and explore without being hassled. Both of these locations use the traditional water management cooperative called "subak," a UNESCO-recognized irrigation system that dates to the 9th century.

4. Nusa Dua Beach

Here, you can recline on a comfortable sun lounger, cool drink in hand, and listen to the gentle surf wash up on silky, white sands. This is a gated resort area on its own private peninsula, and if it is peace and relatively pristine sands you are after, you will find it here, at one of Bali's best beaches. Some of Bali's best luxury beach resorts preside over this sweeping stretch of shore, and resort staff work hard to keep the sand clean and clear of trash.

Popular things to do include strolling for miles along the shore, swimming, surfing, parasailing, and sunbathing, but you might need to pay a fee or eat at one of the resorts to use their sun loungers. When you tire of the beach, you can sign up for some pampering at a posh resort spa or browse the chic shops at Bali Collection, an open-air shopping mall. A paved promenade skirts the shore for off sand strolling between the resorts and attractions.

5. Ubud Art Market

Being the cultural hub of Bali, Ubud is home to many traditional artists and creatives producing unique and authentic products that represent the island. Tourists can find anything here, from art pieces to humble souvenirs to take home.

6. Snorkeling & diving

Snorkeling and diving in Amed will reward tourists with a magnificent sight of colorful corals, various tropical species, and even Japanese shipwrecks. The Amed beach is known for its expansive, black volcanic sand.

The island of Gods is home to a dozen world known diving spots. Shipwrecks, coral reefs, and colorful marine life are waiting for you at the diving spots of Tulamben, Padang Bai, Amed, Penida & Nusa Lembongan. Pemuteran also offers the possibility of diving into underwater temple.

7. Paragliding – Nusa Dua

Undoubtedly one of the best things to do when traveling to Bali is paragliding at the Timbis flying site. Drift from the sky over Pandawa beach and admire Bali from a bird’s eye view. Bring your GoPro with you and start shooting your best holiday pics ever! Here is a memory that will forever be etched into your mind: the Bali sun setting in front of you, the sea below you, the shoreline beside and beautiful scenic views.

8. Kecak Dance – Uluwatu

Be enchanted by this dramatic acapella chants as the Balinese people perform a fire dance ritual at the rhythm of trance with no instruments, but only men's voices. This is one of the most famous Balinese performances and is a must see in Bali!

9. Devdan Show – Nusa Dua

A main attraction in Nusa Dua is its nightly Devdan Show which is a cultural dance performance that is unique to this part of the island. The reason for this is that the show lasts some 90 minutes but instead of being exclusively dedicated to Balinese dances it will take you on a whistle-stop tour of different kinds of music, costumes, and traditions from all over Indonesia. The performance is high energy and you can also expect aerobics and other athletic feats, all of which take place under the stars.

10. Legong dance

One of the best cultural attractions in Bali is the Legong dance which is based on a legend from East Java that dates from the 12th century. It is the story of a maiden who was kidnapped and then imprisoned and much of the story is dedicated to telling the tale of how she is freed. Expect amazing dance moves and hypnotic music and you can watch the dance at a range of venues in and around Ubud such as Puri Saren, Peliatan Village, and Pura Dalem Puri.

11. Barong dance

Learn about the long history and diverse culture of the Balinese people in this one hour show. Catch a Barong Dance Cultural Show and find out what makes this island so unique.

Immerse yourself in the colorful culture of Indonesia during a traditional dance evening tour. Be mesmerized by the captivating rhythm of the Fire Dance, the Kecak Dance and the Saghyang Dance as you witness enchanting dancing that derives from ancient tribal culture. Gain fascinating insight into the artistic traditions of the country with a professional guide and enjoy the convenience of round trip transportation from your Bali hotel. Witness the beautiful and dramatic cultural tribal dances of Bali. Take in a Kecak Dance, Fire Dance and the Sanghyang Dance. You can arrange Hotel pickup and drop-off.

 

Where to watch dances in Ubud:

 

Ubud Royal Palace

Legong dance: Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Thursday & Saturday.

Barong & Rangda dance: Wednesday & Friday.

Ubud Saraswati Temple

Legong dance: Thursday & Saturday.

Janger dance: Sunday.

Pura Dalem Temple

Legong dance: Tuesday.

Kecak dance: Monday & Friday.

When visiting any temples in Bali, be sure to dress respectfully, and wear a sarong and sash. Foreigners are not allowed to enter any of the temples, but you can view them from outside and take incredible pictures.

1. Pura Besakih (Holy of Holies)

The holiest of all temples in Bali, the "Mother Temple" of Pura Besakih is located some 3,000 feet up Gunung Agung in East Bali. This sprawling complex consolidates 23 separate temples, some dating back to the 10th century. The temple's main axis aligns with the peak of Gunung Agung, the tallest mountain and holiest site in all of Bali. Pura Besakih narrowly escaped destruction in 1963, as lava flow from Gunung Agung's killer eruption missed the temple by mere yards. Today, Pura Besakih is a major draw for tourists and for devout Balinese.

2. Pura Gunung Kawi (Valley of the Kings)

Located about a mile south of Tampaksiring, Bali's "Valley of the Kings" is located in a ravine between rice fields. The Pakerisan river flows through this ravine, and the cliffs flanking the river feature shrines carved into the stone honoring kings and queens from the 11th century. The Balinese, who are big believers in the holiness of water, believe that the river sanctifies Pura Gunung Kawi. The site is not a temple per se, neither is it an actual tomb - the royalty honored here were likely cremated as per Balinese custom.

Location: Near Tampaksiring, accessible via Ubud. The temple can be visited together with Tirta Empul nearby.

3. Tirta Empul (Healing Waters)

Dating from around 926 AD during the Balinese Warmadewa dynasty, this temple, set in the lush tropical forest of Central Bali, offers a glimpse into a sacred purification ritual. This important temple complex, a national cultural heritage site, is divided into three courtyards. The focal point is the large, rectangular pool, fed by a holy mountain spring, where locals come to pray and soak in the healing waters that gush from a series of sculpted spouts.

The sacred spring provides holy water for priests and bathing for ordinary Balinese, who believe that a dip hereabouts can bring good fortune and health. An offering must first be made at the temple before you can climb into the long main pool to bathe and meditate. Legend has it that the god Indra created the spring Tampaksiring (namesake of the nearby town) as an antidote to a poisonous spring created by an evil demon king.

If you wish to join the locals in the cleansing ritual, it is best to ask an experienced guide first to make sure you respect the customs. You must enter the water fully clothed, wearing a sarong and sash, and it is best to explore the temple complex first, as you are not allowed to drip water in the courtyards.

A villa complex nearby houses government VIPs and it was originally constructed for ​former President Sukarno in the 1950s.

To avoid the tourist buses, early morning and late afternoon are the best times to visit the temple.

Location: Near Tampaksiring, accessible via Ubud . The temple can be visited together with Pura Gunung Kawi nearby.

4. Pura Luhur Lempuyang (Stairway to Heaven)

Obscurity aside, the temple of Pura Luhur Lempuyang is one of Bali's most important religious places. It is one of the six sad kahyangan ("temples of the world") dedicated to Sang Hyang Widi Wasa, the supreme God, and it is also one of the island's nine directional temples that "protects" the native Balinese from evil spirits.

The temple presents an interesting challenge to visitors: reaching the top means conquering 1,700 steps cut into mountainside jungle, requiring about an hour and a half of serious climbing. Ordinary Balinese make their way up the stairs to ask for divine assistance with problems or request blessings from above. The temple at the top offers awesome views of Gunung Agung, framed by the temple gate.

Try to visit on the Thursday after Galungan, to see Lempuyang during its odalan.

Location: East Bali.

5. Goa Gajah (Elephant Cave)

Elephant Cave, known locally as Goa Gajah, because of its close proximity to the Elephant River. A mysterious cave, relics, and ancient bathing pools set amid green rice paddies and a garden lure tourists from nearby Ubud.

Goa Gajah's key attraction is the menacing entrance to the cave, the surrounding rock has been carved into a face, mouth agape. The interior of the cave features a statue of the Hindu god Ganesha and a worship area devoted to the Hindu god Shiva. The menacing entrance to Goa Gajah looks like a demonic mouth, suggesting that people are entering an underworld as they venture inside through the darkness. Some claim that the entrance represents the Hindu earth god Bhoma while others say the mouth belongs to the child eating witch Rangda from Balinese mythology. The magnificent cave also serves as a Buddhist temple, carved in stories and sacred figures. The temple features a large bathing pool believed to be built to cleanse the soul and ward off evil spirits.

Goa Gajah probably dates back to the 11th century and is mentioned in a poem that dates back to the 1300s. Location: Central Bali, about 10 minutes' drive southeast of Ubud.

6. Pura Tanah Lot (Rising from the Sea)

Pura Tanah Lot, "Pura" means temple in Balinese, is one of Bali's most iconic temples. Its spectacular seaside setting, on a rocky islet surrounded by crashing waves wows all who visit. For the Balinese people, it is one of the most sacred of all the island's sea temples. The Temple stands on a rock some distance from the shore, towering over the sea. The temple was built at the beginning of the 16th century and is thought to be inspired by the priest Nirartha, who asked local fishermen to build a temple here after spending the night on the rock outcrop.

Today, Tanah Lot is regarded as one of Bali's most important directional temples. A multimillion dollar restoration effort in the 1990s saved Tanah Lot from falling into the sea. As one of Bali's most popular temples, Tanah Lot is surrounded by crowds and vendors. Access to the temple is limited to low tide, when you can walk across, and it is fun to wander along the paths taking photos and soaking up the magnificent setting.

After viewing, take some time to relax at one of the clifftop restaurants and cafés here and sample the famous Kopi luwak, civet coffee and take in a great sunset view. In some of the cafés, friendly civets snooze on the tables, offering a fun photo opportunity.

From Tanah Lot, you can stroll along tropically landscaped pathways to the beautiful Batu Bolong, another sea temple perched on a rock outcrop with an eroded causeway connecting it to the shore.

Location: 20 kilometers northwest of Kuta. The temple can be visited together with Pura Taman Ayun nearby.

7. Pura Taman Ayun (Beautiful Garden)

Built in the 1600s by the King of Mengwi, Pura Taman Ayun survives today as a beautiful example of a royal public temple. The descendants of the Mengwi royal family still sponsor the temple, which also serves as the clan kawitan temple, a temple dedicated to the worship of the deified ancestors, in this case, the previous rulers of the Mengwi royal family.

A moat surrounds the temple, which gives the complex the appearance of floating on water. A landscaped front courtyard entered through an ornamental candi bentar (split front gate) adds to the temple's beauty. The inner courtyard features a number of multi-tiered meru (pagodas).

Location: 5 miles southwest of Ubud.

 8. Pura Ulun Danu Bratan (Floating Pagoda)

Pura Ulun Danu Bratan On a small island along the western shore of Lake Bratan, in the cool highlands of central Bali, the 17th-century Pura Ulun Danu Bratan is one of Bali's most picturesque temple complexes. Set against the imposing backdrop of Gunung Bratan, the thatched temples reflect on the lake, and when the water levels rise, they seem to float on its surface. Lake Bratan is one of Bali's main sources of irrigation and drinking water, and the temple complex is dedicated to Dewi Danu, goddess of the sea and lakes.

An unusual feature is the Buddhist stupa on the left of the entrance to the first courtyard, with figures of Buddha meditating in the lotus position in niches on the square base. The stupa reflects the adoption of Buddhist beliefs by Balinese Hindus.

This sacred Hindu temple complex is best seen in the soft morning light, before the tourist buses arrive, when cool mist sometimes cloaks the lake and the mountains beyond. You can also hire a canoe and paddle out on the lake to explore the meru (thatched shrines) at close range.

Not far from the temple complex, the Bali Botanic Garden (Kebun Raya Bali) is also worth a visit, with its beautiful bamboo forests, begonias, orchid collection, and medicinal plants. Within its grounds, the Bali Treetop Adventure Park is fun for kids, with ziplines, Tarzan swings, and suspension bridges. Location: Lake Bratan, an hour and a half from Denpasar.

9. Pura Luhur Uluwatu (Soaring Cliffs)

Uluwatu Temple Presiding over plunging sea cliffs above one of Bali's best surf spots, Uluwatu Temple (Pura Luhur Uluwatu) is one of the island's most famous temples, thanks to its magnificent clifftop setting. In Balinese, "Ulu" means "tip" or "land's end" and "Watu" means rock, a fitting name for the location of the temple on the Bukit Peninsula, along the island's southwestern tip. Like Pura Tanah Lot, sunset is the best time to visit, when the sky and sea glow in the late afternoon light. Archaeological finds here suggest the temple to be of megalithic origin, dating from around the 10th century. The temple is believed to protect Bali from evil sea spirits, while the monkeys who dwell in the forest near its entrance are thought to guard the temple from bad influences.

A scenic pathway snakes from the entrance to the temple with breathtaking viewpoints along the way. The whole temple stands on a cliff soaring 200 feet above a prime Bali surfing spot in the westernmost part of South Bali. The temple's name refers to its position "at the head of the rock", and visitors get an eyeful of the sea as it breaks against the base of the cliffs below. The view is especially beautiful during sunset.

Pura Luhur Uluwatu is the site of ​a nightly kecak performance that re-enacts the Ramayana through chanting men, masked actors, and a dramatic fire-dance.  

Location: 11 miles south of Kuta.

Pura Luhur Uluwatu

Ubud: Jungle Retreat

This boutique retreat is encompassed by tropical greenery in the picturesque village of Kedewatan, Ubud. It anticipates the needs of modern travelers with just 40 Suites housed within 3 blocks overlooking a timeless landscape of mature trees and swaying coconut palms.

The Jungle Retreat hotel hosts two restaurants: Tamiang Restaurant is an inviting space elevated high for a bird’s eye view over the surrounding environment. It specializes in traditional Indonesian cuisine and introduces guests to the exotic tastes of the archipelago. Alternatively, Oishi Tei satisfies appetites with a menu of traditional Japanese favorites including fresh sushi and classic bento boxes.

Even while operating independently, guests staying at Jungle Retreat Hotel are welcome to use the facilities at the adjacent Kupu Kupu Barong. This extends to La View Restaurant for cuisine that marries French sophistication with the flavours of Asia.

Body and beauty treatments can also be enjoyed at the award-winning Mango Tree Spa by L’Occitane.

Amed: Bali Bhuana Villas

One of the best valued villas in the entirety of Amed, Bali Bhuana Villas defines luxury at an affordable price. This property is literally a stone throw away from the beach, being 2 minutes on foot.

All rooms have a private bathroom, complimentary Wi-Fi, a flat-screen TV and a mini-fridge. The outdoor pool is simply stunning, and offers enticing views of the ocean. Lounge on the sunbeds provided and listen to the ocean sounds as you nap. Wake up, go for a quick dip in the emerald pool, and dry off in the sun. That is the lifestyle at these villas.

Bike rental is available at the accommodation if you want to ride around and explore the area a bit, and snorkelling can be enjoyed at the nearby beach.

Nusa dua: Samabe Bali Suites & Villas

At Samabe Bali Suites & Villas in Nusa Dua, you will be close to Pandawa Beach and Nusa Dua Beach. This luxury, 5-star resort is within close proximity of Bali National Golf Club and Mengiat Beach. This resort is definitely not for the budget traveler, but if you are looking for spectacular views, relaxation and feel the need to treat yourselve a bit, then look no further.

All-inclusive rates are available at this resort. Meals and beverages at onsite dining establishments are included in the all-inclusive rates. Relax with a refreshing drink from a poolside bar or one of the 2 bars or lounges. 

Bali Bhuana Villas - Amed

Bali Bhuana Villas - Amed

Bali Bhuana Villas - Amed

Bali Bhuana Villas - Amed

Amed

Samabe Bali Suites & Villas - Nusa Dua

Samabe Bali Suites & Villas - Nusa Dua

Samabe Bali Suites & Villas - Nusa Dua

Samabe Bali Suites & Villas - Nusa Dua

Samabe Bali Suites & Villas - Nusa Dua

Jungle Retreat - Ubud

Jungle Retreat - Ubud

Jungle Retreat - Ubud

Jungle Retreat - Ubud

AMED

 

Amed is a quiet fisherman village on the black sand coast of the east of Bali. It is the perfect destination for scuba divers looking for an authentic Balinese experience while enjoying a relaxing atmosphere along the sea. Whether you go wall or muck diving, the charm of diving in Amed is the transfer part from the beach to the dive site: with a traditional jukung boat. This traditional fishermen boat is common in Indonesia and the Philippines, but the origin is Balinese. It is a small wooden sailboat that looks like a canoe with two outriggers and a triangular sail, which is now also equipped with a gasoline engine. To reach most dive sites, a boat trip of 10 to 15 minutes is necessary.

Starting your scuba diving day with the sensation of surfing right at the surface of the water while embracing the traditions of the local fishermen is an unforgettable and unique experience.

If you never heard about muck diving before, do not feel repulsed by its name. The experienced divers know very well that behind the “muck”, generally a silty seabed of black volcanic sand, you can find the most incredible tiny treasures of the local ecosystem. It is the perfect environment for many species to grow in their early stages of development, so muck diving sites are like the sea nurseries. As pipefish, nudibranchs or seahorses require patience, knowledge and good eyes to be spotted, if you can go with a Balinese Divemaster, you will be sure not to miss anything.

The surroundings of Amed are very famous for this activity and loved by underwater photographers. Among the numerous dive sites, one is very famous for its healthy and rich fauna: Seraya Secrets. If you have time, it is highly recommended to take a night dive there to discover even more amazing species who get active only in the dark. To dive Seraya Secrets, ask the local dive centres of Amed to take you there.

USAT Liberty wreck in Tulamben

The USAT Liberty wreck is one of the most famous wreck diving sites in the world. However, it is one of the most accessible ones too. The wreck is only 25m from the beach, so it is a shore dive. The highest point of the wreck is only at 5m deep when the deepest point is at 30m beneath the surface. As a result, it is an excellent dive site for all levels of scuba divers.

The American ship was torpedoed between Bali and Lombok, by a Japanese submarine in 1942 during WWII. The wreck was then towed to the beach of Tulamben for salvage operations. However, the history does not stop here. In 1963, Agung mount, still an active volcano, erupted, devastating mainly the east coast of Bali. The lava flow pushed the wreck underwater just offshore. From then, it became one of the most dramatic coral reefs for the greatest pleasure of scuba divers from all over the world. It is the home of schools of bump head parrot fish and jackfish that are often spotted swirling above the wreck. For this incredible show, you will have to be the first one in the water at the sunrise at 6.00am. This is why it is highly recommended to spend the night in one of the local resorts of Tulamben.

 

Tulamben USS Liberty Shipwreck

Tulamben USS Liberty Shipwreck

Parrot Fish - USS Liberty Shipwreck

USS Liberty cargo ship torpedoed in 1942

Dive Sites - Amed & Tulamben