While planning a trip to Bali, you’ll probably consider visiting scenic spots such as Jimbaran Beach and the Monkey Forest in Ubud. But it’s highly likely that they will be packed to the brim with tourists who will arrive by the busload during the next couple of high-season months. To avoid the crowds and unnecessary headache, try going down some roads a little less traveled. Here’s a list of stunning places, and while some are relatively well known, others are pleasant surprises that we have stumbled upon while journeying around this beautiful island.
The Golf Course with a Killer View
For the golf lovers out there, Pan Pacific Nirwana Bali Resort in the Tabanan area of southwest Bali has an 18-hole course that will knock your socks off. Designed by Greg Norman, the layout boasts five ocean-side holes, three cliff-to-cliff tee shots and eight holes that have been sculpted into terraced rice fields. At the seventh hole, you’ll find a stunning view of the Tanah Lot Temple, one of the most sacred buildings on the island. At high tide, the temple is surrounded by seawater.
The Rice Fields in Umalas
If you’re staying in the Seminyak area and can’t be bothered to travel as far as Ubud for greener scenery, fear not. Not far from the former lies a surprisingly serene area with small roads that wind past lush rice fields; all you have to do is hop on a motorbike (they’re a cinch to rent along the road) and ride it toward Umalas on Kerobokan Road. Meandering through what some call the Kampung Perancis (or French Village, due to the many French expats who live there), you’ll instantly feel refreshed by the lovely view and the breeze in your hair. If you’re not too keen on the idea of navigating the roads by yourself, hire an ojek (motorcycle taxi) for the day and enjoy the experience from the back of the motorbike.
The Bar with the 360-Degree Vista
The Rock Bar, located at AYANA Resort and Spa Bali in the Jimbaran area, will do nothing short of take your breath away. After descending the cliff via an inclinator, you’ll find the open-top bar built on rock just about 46 feet above sea level. You’ll not only have a 360-degree view of the glittering Indian Ocean, but you’ll also be mesmerized by the sprays of water shooting into the air, an effect of the waves crashing against a 328-foot-long coral reef. Watch the sun disappear as you sip on wine, a cocktail or something off of the martini list devised by Laval Lim-Hon, a mixologist who has concocted drinks for the likes of Princess Grace Kelly of Monaco and Clint Eastwood. The Rock Bar is open from 4 p.m. to 1 a.m. (but stays open as late as 2 a.m. on weekends), while sunset sessions begin at 5:30 p.m.
The Peak of Mount Batur at Dawn
Mount Batur, in the Kintamani area past Ubud, is an amazing place to be at dawn. To catch the sunrise, you’ll need to stay overnight at one of the simple hotels, some of which have access to hot springs. Start the hike around 3 a.m. and go straight to the kiosk to pay for your group to hike and for a knowledgeable guide. After one and a half hours of trekking, you’ll make it to the second post in time to see the first rays of light breaking through the clouds. If you have the stamina, continue making your way up to the third post (another 30 minutes), where you’ll be greeted by the majestic view of the sunrise and caldera (weather permitting, of course). Bring a jacket or windbreaker and wear boots; waterproof bags are also handy because the area is prone to sudden rain showers. Because of the physical requirements and meager accommodations, the Mount Batur trip is only recommended for adventurous travelers.
The Jungle Views at Ubud Hanging Gardens
We adore the infinity pool at the Ubud Hanging Gardens. There are actually two main pools at this resort, an upper pool and a lower one, with the former being the one that really steals the show. The view from the edge is something out of a dream — lush green jungle as far as the eye can see and not even a hint of concrete, save for a beautiful temple peeking through the foliage across the way. To your right is the vista of a valley that seems to go on infinitely, often with a romantic fog descending into its depths. With the sky up above and jungle all around, you’ll find it hard to get those intended laps in, as all you’ll want to do is perch at the edge of the pool and take it all in.
The Surfer Silhouettes at Sunset
Blue Point Bay in Uluwatu, one of the southernmost areas in Bali, looks stunning under the hot rays of the midday sun but even more so at sunset. With turquoise waters that fade into green the closer you get to the shore, it’s not ideal for swimming due to the vast expanse of sharp reef, but it is one of the best places for wading in clear pools of water while admiring the skilled maneuvers of expert surfers on the break. At the end of the day, the sun looks gigantic as it sinks into the horizon. Seeing the silhouettes of the surfers toting their boards as they head in for the day, their dark shadows moving slowly across the setting golden sun, is a sight like no other — a picture-perfect moment.
Photos courtesy of Pan Pacific Nirwana Bali Resort, Mutia Adisoma and Ayana Resort & Spa