Getting horizontal on the famous swing at Charlies Chocolate factory
This hidden paradise lies a short 15 minute drive from the beautiful village of Candi Dasa on Bali’s east coast. Settled amongst the tall swaying palm trees, Charlies Chocolate Factory is an escape from the hustle and bustle and you’ll find yourself spending most of the afternoon here relaxing and enjoying the peace and tranquility. There is a small shop to taste the home grown coconut based chocolate which comes in a lot of different varieties. IF chocolate isn’t your thing then you’ll want to visit just to get on the giant swing. It is suspended from 2 bamboo trees and you can swing way out of your comfort zone – it’ll be one of the highlights of your Bali trip.
2. Scuba Dive the USS Liberty Wreck
Scuba Diving the USAT Liberty in northern Bali – Photo – Scott Plume
Not many people can say that they’ve scuba dived inside a WW2 war ship but thats exactly what you’ll find on the north shore of Bali. Once beached in the small village of Tulamben, the 1963 eruption of Mount Agung sent the ship sliding down the beach and into around 30m of water, making it one of the most accessible wreck dives in Indonesia. There is also a relaxed vibe to the village of Tulamben and even if you don’t want to dive then there are bars and restaurants looking after your every need.
3. Volunteer with Work Away or Helpx
Hanging out with the locals
If you want a true and authentic Balinese experience then staying with a local family is a must. Helpx and workaway are websites designed to link people looking for help around the house, with people who would like to live with a local family. The helper gets free lodging and food and the family gets an extra pair of hands around the house. You will learn things you never normally would and the Balinese are some of the friendliest people in the world. The satisfaction you’ll get from helping someone learn English or build a small chicken pen will stay with you forever and you’ll make life long friends in the process. It’s not all work though – your host will usually plan events for you and you’ll be the talk of the village 🙂
4. Discover the island’s vibrant capital
The Badra Sandhi Monument – Photo via wikimedia
Denpasar is the often forgotten city with the major tourist hubs of Kuta, Ubud and Canggu getting all the attention. Denpasar is a vibrant city and deserves to be explored in its own right. You’ll find ancient temples, friendly locals and some of the best cafes on the entire island – at half the cost of the tourist areas. With green park space and friendly locals you’ll feel more like you’re in Indonesia here and chances are you won’t see another foreigner all day. There are plenty of great cafes serving some of the best coffee on the island. If you really want to treat yourself check out Alleyway cafe in the heart of Denpasar. They serve the best wedges and chicken burgers and you’ll definitely be coming back for round 2.
5. Go Kayaking/SUP and snorkelling off one of Bali‘s most beautiful beaches
The crystal clear waters off the south coast of Bali
Everybody loves to spend time at the beach but what about kayaking or stand up paddle boarding around some of the most beautiful reef that Bali has to offer. Pandawa beach is a favorite for Indonesian locals but few foreigners venture here. From the crystal clear turquoise waters to the flying sting rays, there is something for everybody. The beach is lined with shacks offering fresh coconuts and Indonesia specialities. If that wasnt enough try a tandem flight from the hill above and soar like a bird over the ocean.
6. Explore waterfalls at Aling Aling and Sekumpul
Sekumpul waterfall Bali is well known for its beaches but there is something hiding in the jungles that not so many people know about. With almost one metre of rain per year,Bali‘s rivers swell cascading over drops along the way. The best waterfalls on the whole island are located in the north and are a welcomed escape from the hustle and bustle of the south. Take a driver or explore yourself. The only prerequisite is to be able to climb up around 100 stairs at the end. The refreshing dip in the pools at the bottom will be worth the journey.
7. Learn to surf in Canggu
Learning to ride the waves in Canggu – Photo via Premebaliadventure
Sure Canggu is a little bit touristic but it is the latest place to be seen in Bali. With some of the best surf on the island it’s a great place to pick up a board and hit the waves. Make your way to “old man’s bar” right by the waterfront and you’ll find surfboards for rent and you can enlist the help of a school or get private lessons. After a few hours riding the waves you would have built up quite an appetite, and this is where Canggu excels. The restaurants are cheap and affordable and will help you recover from that first session in the water.
8. Spend a night camping under the stars
Secret camping spot – Uluwatu
The best experiences are the ones that usually are free and camping in Bali is both accessible and completely free! You’ll relive a part of your childhood and get to cook some marshmallows over the campfire. When the island goes to sleep you’ll be completely alone with just the sounds of nature and a billion stars shining brightly overhead. The main camping spots are in the north but there are some great beach and cliff side camp spots close to Uluwatu and Nyang Nyang beach.
9. Watch a movie at dusk on Karma Beach
Night time movie at Karma beach – Photo via Karma beach clubs
Karma beach is a private beach located along the very southern coast of Bali. Spend the day snorkelling along the reef and the night watching a movie under the stars. The beach can only be accessed by a funicular which will bring you from the top of the cliff all the way to the bottom some 80 metres below. You will fall in love with Karma beach the moment you step on the sand and you won’t want to leave. There is a full bar on the beach and you can also rent snorkels and kayaks for a competitive rate.
10. Visit Nusa Lembongan and Nusa Ceningan
Located just a short hours boat ride away are the beautiful islands of Lembongan and Ceningan. You’ll feel like you’ve gone back in time and back to whatBali once was before the tourists started to flock there. The highlight of the island is the beautiful beaches that surround the west coast. Uncrowded and unspoilt you really will feel like you are in a different place. If you have the time a trip over to the Blue Lagoon on Ceningan is a must and you’ll see thrill seekers jumping off the 13 metre high cliffs.