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Website home>Newsletters>September 2011>Some Things to Do in Bali

Bali Scuba Diving Tourist Newsletter

Things to Do in Bali ... Apart From Diving

Bali offers some thrilling and inspiring diving opportunities which includes wreck and drift diving. The rich waters boast a vast array of marine creatures and you can expect encounters with manta rays and sunfish as well as masses of tropical reef fish. Apart from the scuba diving in Bali, there are plenty of things to see and do. We've listed here some of the possibilities in your Bali diving area and then elsewhere.

Padang Bay

Bali's rice paddy terraces - photo courtesy of JC Pratt, Abyss Diving

If you come to Padang Bai it is likely to be for a Bali diving trip or to take a ferry to Lombok. This tiny village is quiet and peaceful and surrounded by picturesque scenery. You don't need transport here but cars and scooters are available for hire should you want to travel further afield.

Temples

There are 5 prominent Hindu temples in Padang Bai. The most notable one is Pura Silayukti which was built in the 11th Century and was where the well-known Hindu sage Empu Kuturan once lived. You can find it at the eastern end of Padang Bai around the headland. Pura Tamjungsari and Pura Telagamas are located in this area too.

On the coast between the village and the beach you'll find Pura Segara. The 5th temple, Pura Dalem, is located downtown. These last 4 temples are not as old and of such importance as the 1st but are still interesting enough to warrant a visit if you the the time.

Goa Lawah is one of the 9 very important directional temples (kayangan jagat) and can be found a short distance from Padang Bai. These temples are believed to protect Bali from evil spirits and Goa Lawah was built to protect the islands southeast corner. This is a popular temple and very busy on ceremony days.

Other tourist highlights of Padang Bay, east Bali, include some nice beach walks.

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Pemuteran

The tiny, peaceful village of Pemuteran is becoming increasingly popular with visitors recently and not just for its great dive sites. The area is stunningly beautiful with emerald green hillsides and gorgeous unspoilt beaches. That and its closeness to West Bali National Park means it is a great place for a relaxing and tranquil holiday.

Walking and Trekking

Walking in this area is very pleasant due to the very pretty surroundings and deserted beaches of fine back sand. From Pemuteran beach turn west passing through the maze of jukungs and fishing boats on the shore. After about 500 metres you'll see signs for the Bio-rock reef regeneration project, carry on away from the resorts into the countryside that is fronted by crystal-clear water and a colourful coral reef. There is a temple on the hill and with the backdrop of the green forest behind it is a particularly beautiful sight.

One of the best features of staying in this area aside from the diving is a trek through the West Bali National Park. The entrance is a short drive away from Pemuteran and a guided trek can easily be arranged through your hotel. During a typical 3 hour trek you could see macaque monkeys, deer, wild pigs and if you're lucky the very shy large black monkeys. There is also a myriad of birdlife living here including the Bali starling. It is hot and humid so take lots of water. Mosquito repellent is a good idea too.

Bio-rock Reef Project

The world's largest artificial reef regeneration project can be found in Pemuteran and was started in response to devastation caused by El Nino some years ago. Wire structures have been installed on the reef that are fed by low-voltage electricity currents. The electricity has the effect of encouraging the coral to grow 5 times faster than usual and so far has been a great success. The area is protected from fishing and many different species of fish have made the reef their home creating several new interesting Bali dive sites.

Other tourist activities in Pemuteran, northwest Bali, include visits to the Proyek Penyu turtle breeding project and local vineyards.

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Tulamben

The small fishing village of Tulamben has become a popular Bali dive destination for visitors wishing to dive the USS Liberty Wreck. There are other good dive sites close to hand too. This area is quiet and laid-back and there is some stunning coastal scenery.

Salt

Statue of Lord Vishnu, Garuda Wisnu Kencana Cultural Park, Nusa Dua, southern Bali - photo by Sheldon Hey

Salt has been produced in this area for many years and although it is declining, it is still an important industry. You can see large open drying pans all along the coast road encrusted with salt crystals. This natural, unrefined sea salt is known to be one of the world's best tasting salts. It is sold internationally as gourmet Bali salt in speciality food shops and delicatessens.

Local Market

The local market plays an important part in local Balinese life and is a great place to gain some insight into the local culture. The market at Tulamben is particularly lively, colourful and crowded and a great place to people watch.

The stalls sell local farming produce such as fruit and vegetables, spices, rice and salt. You can also buy clothes and fabrics here and there is even an area selling livestock.

Other things to do near Tulamben, northeast Bali, include white water rafting, climbing Mount Agung, walks, and visits to nearby Tirta Gangga Water Palace and the King's Palace.

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Lembongan Island

This tiny island is a great place to relax during your Bali diving holiday and its beautiful natural landscape remains unspoilt. There are stunning beaches and views and plenty to do if you've got the energy.

Surfing and Water Sports

Nusa Lembongan first became popular with tourists as a surfing destination and is a firmly established part of the Bali surfing circuit. Although the island has a small population several locals have become well-known in international competitions.

The 3 main breaks lie off shore from the west coast Jungut Batu beach and are known as Playgrounds, Lacerations and Shipwrecks. Another break off the neighbouring island of Nusa Cenigan has also become popular.

The surfs break over coral reefs so are usually more suited to intermediate or experienced surfers, however Playgrounds is a little more forgiving and can be enjoyed by beginners too. There is another notable surf break off Nusa Ceningan which attracts some surfers away from the more crowded breaks on Nusa Lembongan.

If you like water sports then you can find all kinds of them here and plenty to entertain children. Mushroom Bay is a great place to hire jet skis, wake boards and even banana boat rides. Alternatively you can hire a sea kayak for a more eco-friendly experience.

Seaweed Farming

Locals in Lembongan have made their living for generations from seaweed farming and there is a thriving industry here. Sea conditions need to be right to grow the weed with clean, shallow, sheltered water with a steady temperature and salinity.

When cultivating, offshoots are transplanted onto rope lines that are fixed to the sea bottom by bamboo poles. The weed's new growth is harvested after 4 to 6 weeks and then laid out to dry in the sun for some days.

The 2 main ingredients used commercially form the seaweed are Carrageenan and Agar. Carrageenan is used in cosmetics as a thickener - especially in hand creams and shampoos as it interacts with human carotene to produce silky hair and soft skin. Agar or agar-agar is a gelatinous substance used mainly in dessert in Asia such as ice-cream and jellies. It is also used to thicken soups, in laxatives and as a vegetarian gelatine substitute.

Other tourist attractions on Lembongan Island, off Bali, include interesting walks and cycling trips to visit the mangrove forests, temples, suspension bridge, Ceningan Island and the Underground House.

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Bali's Other Main Attractions

While planning your Bali dive trip why not book some extra days to explore the island's main attractions. ...

Besakih Temple

Pura Ulun Danu temple, Lake Bratan, northern Bali - photo by Sheldon Hey

Pura Besakih, known as "The Mother Temple of Bali" is the largest and most holy of all Bali's temples. It is situated on the slopes of Gunung Agung, Bali's revered volcano, at about 1,000 metres high. This location adds to its appeal as the beautifully ornate temple set against the lush mountain top is a very dramatic sight.

Built more than 1,000 years ago, the temple is actually 3 main temples which represent Shiva, Vishnu and Brahma of the holy Hindu Trinity. There are another 30 or so temples and shrines within the complex. This is the most sacred and special pilgrim site in Bali making it very popular and often crowded.

Uluwatu Temple

Possibly the most spectacular temple setting in Bali, Uluwatu is set on a high cliff top plateau with the waves of the Indian Ocean crashing beneath. This very famous temple was built to honour the spirits of the sea and is an architectural delight carved from black coral rock. This is a popular tourist destination for the views and sunset.

Tanah Lot

Pura Tanah Lot temple lies on top of rock just off the southwest shore near Tabanan. This temple is one of the 7 sea temples that were built around the Bali coast and is said to have been founded by the Javan priest Nirartha in the 15th Century. Although it has great Hindu influence the structure is dedicated to the guardian spirits of the sea. You cannot enter the temple but it is a popular place for the magnificent views especially at sunset.

Balinese Dance

Balinese culture has a strong tradition of dance and drama and they are intimately linked with the same word being used for both. Balinese dance performances are a type of theatre and involve dancing and acting out a traditional story. These dances are performed at temple ceremonies and at religious festivals and are a very important part of the proceedings. Nowadays they are also performed at tourist venues including hotels. 3 of the most popular dances are:

  • Barong Dance - depicting a lion or monkey triumphing over evil and used traditionally to remove harmful forces.
  • Legong - the heavenly dance of divine nymphs. A very feminine dance that uses intricate hand gestures, foot work and facial expressions.
  • The Kecak - performed by a large group of mostly men without any music accompaniment. The men chant "cak" while depicting a story about the monkey-god of the Ramayana Hindu epic. It has its roots in trance-induced exorcism dance.

Ubud

Ubud is known as the artistic centre of the island and the town has a very chilled-out, friendly atmosphere. This is the perfect place to find out all about the very refined Balinese culture with numerous art galleries and museums. 'Puri Lukisan' is Ubud's most famous art museum housing a permanent collection of traditional and modern Balinese artworks.

This is also the place for artistic workshops, Balinese cooking classes and traditional dance performances. There are plenty of souvenirs, clothing and Batiks on sale and you can watch traditional Indonesian Batik cloth paintings being made.

Rice Paddy Terraces

The stunning green rice terraces found in Bali are considered to be the most beautiful in the world. These agricultural complexes date back over 2000 years when the locals carved them into the steep slopes of the hills with just basic hand tools. The paddy fields have been passed down through generations of farmers and been lovingly looked after creating a gorgeous photo opportunity.

One of the prettiest terraces is found at the river gorge near Tegallalang village in the middle of the island. Other picturesque paddy sites are in the Ubud area, near Papuan, Jatiluwih and Tabanan.

Batubulan

This village is another good place to find out more about Bali's rich culture and traditions and is known as the stone carving centre of the island. It is now well-known of the beautifully-designed stone sculptures that are made here and the Barong dancing.

The sculptures which are carved out of volcanic rock were traditionally made for decoration in palaces and temples. These days anyone can buy one of these masterpieces. They are displayed all along the main street.

Other sightseeing and things to do in Bali include visiting the spectacular lakes and volcanoes of Bali, the Sangeh Monkey Forest, Garuda Wisnu Kencana Cultural Park (GWK), playing golf and surfing.

For more detailed information on these and other activities for tourists, visit our main article: Things to Do in Bali.

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