Bali is one of more than 17,000 islands that belong to the Indonesian archipelago. It started gaining popularity among westerners during the 1970’s, when surfers came across some of the best waves and remote beaches here.
It is also the only predominantly Hindu island in the archipelago.
Today, Bali is one of the top 3 most visited destinations in Asia next to Agra, India and Bangkok, Thailand.
The island is big and it has some of the most scenic nature locations with beautiful waterfalls, volcanoes, and rice fields.
It has attracted a large community of digital nomads, yogis, and artists who complement the island well. The culinary scene is extremely diverse and rich in flavor and presentation.
It is impossible to do it all in one visit, but I decided to list the the top nature locations I would recommend for your first time in Bali.
1. Sekumpul Waterfall in Ubud, Bali
The most scenic waterfall in the island of Bali. It is approximately 80 meters long and it connects to a natural pool with swimmable water. Guides are available for booking once you arrive at the entry and the downhill hike lasts for about 30 minutes.
Tip: Bring sneakers, a bathing suit, and a waterproof bag for your belongings just in case it begins raining while you are there.
2. Monkey Forest in Ubud, Bali
This sanctuary is home to over 1,000 Balinese long tail monkeys. They have lost their fear of humans and will jump on visitors’ backs or shoulders and search their pockets and bags for food.
It is a unique experience that teaches visitors how to harmonize with animals and nature. If monkeys approach you, remain calm and do not attempt to pet them or make eye contact with them.
Tip: If you would like to feed them, the sanctuary sells healthy goods including bananas. Mediators are zoned throughout the sanctuary to control interactions between the monkeys and visitors.
3. Kelingking Beach in Nusa Penida
Taka a day trip to Nusa Penida and visit Kelingking Beach. Arrive at this view point before 9:00am to avoid big crowds. It is possible to hike down to the beach but it is not recommended for unexperienced hikers.
If you decide to do the hike, bring water with you, hiking back up will be a bit challenging.
4. Tegalalang Rice Fields near Ubud
The Tegalalang rice fields is composed of rice paddies with scenic green landscapes. It is one of Bali’s most visited attractions. Visit before 10:00am to avoid the tour groups and bring small change for the entry fee (around 10,000 IDR or 0.68 USD).
You are allowed to walk through the fields and take as many pictures as you like, just be mindful that this is the workspace of many locals and their livelihood depends on these fields.
5. Bingin Beach in Bali
For relaxing vibes, definitely visit Bingin Beach. It is located in the southern tip of the island in the area of Uluwatu. There a a few small guesthouses in front of the beach to stay in or enjoy a drink.
The quiet beach has to be accessed through a small valley and a five minute walk down some rock stairs. It is also a surfing hotspot.
Additional Tips & Recommendations
- Rent a motorbike during your stay. This is the main form of transport there
- My favorite towns to stay in were Canggu and Ubud
- Avoid staying in Seminyak or Kuta. Young spring breakers like to party here a lot.
- Our trip was extended by a couple of days since Mount Agung (Bali’s active volcano) erupted when we were there. The volcano can be seen from most spots of the island. Thankfully it was only volcanic ash what came out of it and nobody in the nearby towns were hurt.
- For another tropical destination blog post you can read my post about Bocas del Toro.