Bali resident of 5 years, Mo of Travellust 101 shares the best things to do in Bali with insider tips and recommendations that will make you want to book a trip to today!
I have traveled extensively throughout Southeast Asia, but there is no island quite like Bali.
From the fragrant incense of the “canang sari” (the Balinese Hindu offering) that fills the streets to the magical island vibes that permeate from the beaches to the highlands, Bali always held a special place in my heart since I first planted feet on this enchanting land over ten years ago.
Bali is one of those rare islands that offer endless things to do including surfing, snorkeling, temple hopping, volcano trekking, hiking in the rice fields, shopping, scuba diving, chasing waterfalls, and so much more.
Whether you love cultural experiences or outdoor adventures, Bali is your ultimate dream come true.
What to do in Bali
Click on the links below to skip directly to the Bali Points of interest of your choice.
I have fallen so in love with Bali in fact, that I made this island my home away from home. Even after living in Bali for nearly five years, there is still so much left of the island to discover.
I am excited to share with you the top Bali activities and things you should not miss on your next trip to the Island of the Gods!
1. Snorkel or Scuba Dive with Mantas
When I first traveled to Bali in 2009, I never had scuba dived before in my life.
But since the trip was my first solo travel experience and I was in an adventurous spirit, I decided to give it a try!
You cannot imagine the thrill and joy that overcame me when I saw gigantic manta rays fly over my head during my first trial dive! I was blown away and speechless. After that incredible encounter, I became obsessed with scuba diving!
At Nusa Penida off of the mainland of Bali, there is a cleaning station called the Manta Point where the Oceanic Manta Rays can be seen nearly year-round.
The Oceanic Manta Rays that can grow up to 7 meters in length can be seen nearly year-round off of the mainland of Bali, at a cleaning station called the Manta Point on the coast of Nusa Penida.
Since Mantas approach the surface quite often, scuba divers, as well as snorkelers, can enjoy a swim with the manta rays. Don’t miss this life-in-a-lifetime encounter. Seeing this majestic animal is definitely one thing you want to add to your Bali bucket list!You can book a day trip to
Nusa Penida from Bali, or head to any of the Nusa islands (Lembongan, Ceningan, Penida) for a snorkeling or diving package.
2. White Sand Beach at Nyang Nyang
There are countless beaches in Bali from white sand to black sand and everything in between.
But my absolute favorite beach in Bali is Nyang Nyang beach in Uluwatu.
This pristine white sand beach is one of the best places to visit in Bali when looking for some beach time.
Despite the powdery white sand, the turquoise blue seas and the stunning landscape, very few tourists make their way to the south tip of the island. It’s like having a private beach to yourself.
The long shoreline is also fantastic for taking a peaceful stroll.
If you want to escape the mass tourism of nearby Kuta/Legian/Nusa Dua and enjoy a relaxing beach day, head to Nyang Nyang! I went in the midst of a high season and still found the beach void of big crowds.
If you have time, check out the sister beach called Nunggalan beach just a few minutes down the road – it’s just as secluded and beautiful, and you can also find an abandoned shipwreck which is famous for Instagrammers!
3. Blue Lagoon on Nusa Ceningan
Off of the east coast of Bali is a small island called Nusa Ceningan.
After a short 30-minute ferry ride to Lembongan island and a scooter ride across to Ceningan island, you will come upon a mind-blowing horizon of the bluest water you’d ever seen.
There are several scenic spots on Ceningan, but Blue Lagoon blows everything else out of the water.
The various shades of blue that surrounds this coast of Ceningan range from baby blue to Azure, and you will be mesmerized by the panorama of Blue Lagoon. I had never seen colors so beautiful!
Admittedly, the Blue Lagoon has become quite touristy in the last couple of years, but you will not regret waiting for a photo opportunity at this stunning cliffside location.
It is unquestionably the most photogenic spot on the island – I spent 2 hours snapping photos from every possible direction.
Be sure to take sunscreen though, as the sun in the tropics is brutally hot, and there are no shades around Blue Lagoon.
4. Tukad Cepung Waterfall
If you ever struggle to decide which of the 20+ waterfalls in Bali you should visit, Tukad Cepung waterfall is one you won’t want to miss.
After an easy 15-minute hike down a paved trail and walking through shallow streams and climbing over some boulders, you will run into a breathtaking sight of a sunbeam and waterfall streaming into a cave in unison.
As you gaze up from the inside the cave, you will be awe-struck at this incredible nature’s beauty.
Tukad Cepung is quickly becoming a popular tourist destination so be sure to get there early to avoid the crowds.
I arrived as soon as the ticket booth opened at 08:00 and ran into only one other couple.
Admission is IDR 10,000 (USD .70) per person
Opening Hours: 08:00 – 17:00
5. Shipwreck at Tulamben
The USAT Liberty Shipwreck is a sunken US Army cargo ship from WWII that lies just 5 to 30 meters below the ocean surface.
What makes this shipwreck a hot spot is that it is located only 30 meters off the shore, making it accessible for snorkelers as well as beginner divers to explore this magnificent historic artifact.
You can simply walk in the water from the beach to the shallowest shipwreck on the island!
Not only does the USAT Liberty make an interesting dive site with 100 meters of the wreck to explore, but it has also become home to various marine life including turtles, batfish, garden eels, bumphead parrotfish, sweetlips, groupers, and many other species.
The shipwreck is one of my favorite dive sites in all of Bali!
- Note that if you end up snorkeling, you can see a small portion of the shipwreck but will not be able to view the entire site. For a better view of the USAT Liberty, I recommend that you sign up for a trial dive that will allow you to explore up to 12 meters in depth (if not a certified diver already). Believe me, it’s worth it
6. Soak in a Natural Pool
You can catch some beautiful sunsets all along the west coast of Bali, but there is one special beach called Tegal Wangi that offers shallow pools where you can dip in at low tide.
Tegal Wangi is a fairly unknown beach on the west coast, so you can enjoy a private and romantic viewing of the dramatic orange hues in the sky at sunset while soaking in a natural Jacuzzi.
The rock formations at Tegal Wangi is uniquely shaped about the size of a Jacuzzi – so when the tide is pulling out, the water collects in the rock “pockets,” forming a natural pool.
Soaking in this rock Jacuzzi while the horizon lights up in dramatic orange hues at sunset is a unique experience for sure!
Even though Tegal Wangi is fairly unnoticed by the tourists, it does get crowded with locals around sunset time. So arrive early at the golden hour for the best photo opportunities.
Discover this hidden gem during your next trip to Bali – you won’t regret it!
If you plan to spend the day at Tegal Wangi, note that there are no shops on the beach. Take everything you need for a beach day such as drinks, snacks, towels, etc
7. UNESCO World Heritage Site at Jatiluwih
When you think of Bali, you may imagine a vast field of lush green rice terraces and tall palm trees peppered throughout the horizon.
While rice terraces can be found all over Bali from the famous Tegallalang to the remote highlands of Pupuan, what I loved about Jatiluwih Rice Terraces is the access to 3 paved hiking trails through the UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The trails make it easy to immerse yourself in the vast horizon of perfectly sculpted rice terraces without disturbing the rice paddies or falling through the cracks!
Jatiluwih is an expansive horizon of perfectly sculpted rice terraces that stretch for as long as you can see.
The panoramic view of the rice fields is guaranteed to blow you away!
The panoramic view of the rice fields at Jatiliwih is truly one of a kind.
Admission fee is IDR 40,000 per person (USD 2.80)
Opening Hours: 08:30 to 18:00
The shortest trail is about 30 minutes long, the second trail is about an hour long, and the longest trail is about 1.5 hours long.
- Be sure to slather on some screen before beginning your hike!
8. Smoothie Bowls
Bali has become a haven for vegans and foodies over the last few years, offering an impressive selection of delicious, hearty, and beautiful smoothie bowls.
From east coast to west coast, you can find mouth-watering smoothie bowls packed with superfoods and exotic fruits just about everywhere.
In popular areas like Canggu or Ubud, you will find many cafes that serve mouth-watering smoothie bowls packed with superfoods.
There are so many heavenly cafes to choose from, but some of my top votes are:
- Nalu Bowls in Seminyak for the best menu selections
- Café Vida in Canggu for aesthetic smoothie bowls
- Alchemy in Ubud for “make your own” smoothie bowl creations.
Make sure you get your hands some smoothie bowls during your Bali stay. But be warned that they are addictive!
9. Surf the Waves
Bali is known for many great adventures, but surfing is one activity that attracts adrenalin junkies from all over the world.
You can find surf on all four coasts of the island, as well as a range of surfing classes and lessons.
Advanced surfers usually head to the south coast of Uluwatu in Bukit Peninsula, while milder waves on the west coast (Canggu) and east coast (Sanur) make fantastic spots for beginner surfers.
If you have never tried surfing before, hit the waves and give it a go!
Although Canggu is a hot spot among all levels of surfers, the water is so crowded that I did not enjoy my surfing lesson there – I was scared that I would either get run over by someone else or bump into someone with my board.
If you want to enjoy your surfing lesson, head to Sanur – a “sleepy” beach town where you can practice and enjoy surfing without worrying about getting hurt.
Sanur is also much less crowded than Canggu, with calm waters, golden sand beach and quaint beach vibe. But if you enjoy the “action”, then Canggu may be a better option.
Surfing lessons are available on all the island’s coasts so if you have never tried surfing before, hit the waves and give it a go!
10. Volcanic Black Sand Beach
Most people dream of a white sand beach when they imagine paradise. But did you know that Bali offers some natural, volcanic black sand beaches along the north and east coasts?
One of my favorite black sand beaches in Bali is an off-the-beaten-path location called Pantai Masceti which is surrounded by small, quiet local villages.
The black sand at Masceti is shimmery and powdery which is very rare, as most of the black beaches in Bali mainly consist of rocks and pebbles.
Also, you will rarely run into another tourist here – the area is distant from Bali’s tourist track, making it a perfect hideaway if you want to escape the masses.
Since Masceti beach is only a 30-minute ride north of Sanur, you can take a quick trip after your surfing lesson to check out this unique setting
11. Authentic Bali at Sidemen Valley
When I visited Sidemen for the first time last year, I couldn’t believe that a stunning rural countryside with magnificent views of rice fields and valleys has managed to remain off the tourist radar.
Located just an hour from the tourism mecca of Ubud, being in Sidemen will make you feel like you transported back in time to a quaint, charming village life of traditional Bali.
Sidemen valley is a rural countryside that offers jaw-dropping views of rice fields and farmlands.
Even though several resorts and homestays have popped up in Sidemen, the tranquility of the region is a far cry the hustling and bustling towns of south Bali.
If you want to experience an authentic Bali, head to Sidemen and sign up for either a cycling tour or a trekking tour to access the best views!
My 3-hour cycling tour through the villages and rice paddies, and ending with a picnic overlooking the valley was one of the most memorable trips I did in Bali.
Bali has become an immensely populated tourist destination in recent years, and it is becoming increasingly hard to avoid tourist traps.
But if you want a glimpse of what Bali may have looked like before commercialization and to experience the authentic Bali, you must head to Sidemen.
12. Relax in a Flower Bath
No trip to Bali is complete until you experience a flower bath!
I didn’t get the hype of flower baths until I finally indulged in one myself. The combination of the floral scented water, the luxurious ambiance, and silky smooth skin will have you walking on cloud nine for days to come.
Many spas around Bali offer a flower bath, but my all-time-favorite experience was one at Maya Ubud, where you can soak in a bathtub surrounded in nature.
The spa “bungalows” are built in the jungle over a river, so all your senses interact with the nature around you, from the sounds of the birds chirping, the river flowing down below, to the crisp breeze flowing through the foliage. It is absolute heaven!
As if the experience of a flower bath isn’t incredible enough, the views from the Spa at Maya Ubud is just spectacular
If you are looking for fun things to do in Bali for couples, this is a must.
13. Go, Temple Hopping
With thousands of temples in Bali, it may be difficult to choose which temples to put on your itinerary.
Temples to see in Bali
Most of the main temples in Bali are inevitably touristy, but some of my favorites are:
Suggested Temples to see in Bali
- Watching the sunset over Tanah Lot temple in Uluwatu
- Experiencing the healing bath pool at Tirta Empul
- Visiting the floating temple on a canoe at Ulun Danu Baratan in north Bali
- Touring the archeological cliff carvings at Gunung Kawi
Even though these temples can be crowded with visitors, they are also often used by the Balinese to host local ceremonies, which is an unforgettable experience if you are lucky to witness one! When I visited the Gunung Kawi, hundreds of local villagers were gathered to honor the temples located on the grounds, and it was a beautiful sensory experience involving incense, instruments, chanting, and colorful costumes.
Since many temples are scattered throughout the island, it’s a great idea to base yourself in Ubud, hire a driver for a day and make your way around some of these gorgeous sites
14. Banyu Wana Amertha Waterfall
The one thing that makes Banyu Wana Amertha waterfall stand out from all the rest is that you can enjoy four spectacular waterfalls in one location!
One waterfall at Banyu Wana Amertha named Bhunanasari took my breath away – water cascaded down in various streams over a cliff wall enveloped in lush greenery. I couldn’t believe more visitors hadn’t discovered this hidden gem.
Banyu Wana Amertha is located near other noteworthy attractions such as Jatiluwih Rice Terrace and Ulun Danu Baratan Temple, so you can design a day trip combining some of Bali’s highlights and exploring nature’s wonders.
Admission fee for the waterfall is IDR 20,000 (USD 1.40) per person.
Opening hours: 08:00 – 18:00
15. Infinity Pools
Bali is one of many places in SE Asia where you can live like a King/Queen even when traveling on a budget. And what better way to feel like a royal then to relax in an infinity pool, basking in a stunning scenery while sipping on a fresh coconut or a cocktail?
Whether you enjoy a cliffside view, an ocean view or a jungle view, Bali is famous for infinity pools with a dramatic, breathtaking backdrop.
Some of the most impressive infinity pools in Bali I loved were
- Toya Villa in Ubud
- Samanvaya in Sidemen
- Aya Resort in Jimbaran
- Maya Resort in Ubud
Infinity pool villas in Bali fall in a broad price range (from USD 20 to USD 1,000), so no matter what your budget is, you can find your perfect villa with a view to drool over
Once, I found a charming villa in north Ubud with an infinity pool with a view to-die-for for only USD 20 including breakfast!