Written by Dawn Pillay
Co-written by Matin Firas Harahap
So you’ve read our Nusa Islands guide, and probably the Gili Islands one too. Did you know that there are at least 5 other places in Indonesia you may travel to from Bali?
Especially if you’re getting tired of the more popular (read: crowded) areas like Seminyak and Ubud in Bali, then you should check these other fun destinations out.
With lesser people around these quieter and lesser-known areas, these places have a more private feel to it – allowing you to vacation in peace and have fun while you’re at it!
There’s much to explore, so go ahead and read on for the highlights of these 7 alternative travel destinations!
Always wanted to visit Africa’s savannah grasslands? Lodged at the North Eastern coast of Java Island is an alternative not as far and not as costly. (It is also often called the ‘Africa’ of Java!)
Photo via tapaksruntul
Photo via deboranita
Photo via tn.baluran,-littlew00dy
Stretching over hundreds of hectares, the Baluran National Park displays several varieties of forests vegetation found across the Indonesian Archipelago.
Photo via angga_jap
The coolest thing about Baluran National Park, is that animals still roam freely. There are a variety of animals including panthers, leopards, primates, mangrove cats making their home here.
Photo via fahmiluthfillah,-tn.baluran
1-a. Highlights at Baluran National Park
Just like the African wilderness, a collection of mammals including panthers, foxes, deers, buffalos, and primates roam freely in their natural habitat – not to mention the several hundred species of bird that conquer the skies.
Photo via farisangger,-dimas_arya1919
Truly a rarity in today’s fast-paced development across the nation.
Photo via insightz99
There are also two beaches to choose from in the park; the Bilik Sijile Beach in the North Coast, with calming white beaches that juts out into the ocean during low tide, which is also a coral reef hotspot with plenty of colourful fish.
Photo via Zulfikar-Aleksandri
Or the Bama Beach on the East Coast, where a series of mangrove forests are home to several species of primates and biawaks.
With the successful return of dinosaurs in blockbuster movie Jurassic World, people all over the world are rekindling their love for these long extinct monstrous beauties. But wait – are you sure dinosaurs are really extinct? Really?
Photo via remotelands.com
Tucked away in Flores, Indonesia, is the often-forgotten Komodo island, where our modern day dinos – the Komodo dragons – live.
Dinosaur enthusiasts, are you getting excited? And guess what, giving these man-eating lizards a home visit doesn’t actually require too much effort – with some tips, you’ll be able to have the time of your life (and yes, actually return in one piece).
2-a. Highlights at Komodo Islands
The Komodo and Rinca islands are well-known as the home to some of the most ferocious lizards in the world – the Komodo dragons. These carnivorous creatures can grow up to 2.6 metres in length, and can run at speeds of up to 20km/h! That’s why it’s so important to be very careful when you’re on the islands.
Photo via airheads
If well-fed Komodo dragons don’t tickle your fancy, then challenge yourself by heading to the neighbouring Rinca Island. It’s often said that it’s easier to spot the dragons there, as the island is smaller.
However, the dragon inhabitants of Rinca island are also rumoured to be more ferocious; apparently, they were relocated there because they killed too many people on Komodo island.
Next, have you ever seen pink sand? It may sound unbelievable, but they truly do exist; at a different side (literally) of Komodo island. In fact, the crystal clear waters of the sea and baby pink shade of the beach make the Pink Beach seem as though it belongs in another place altogether.
Photo via ninoyap
However, this little beach on Komodo island is where tons of snorkelling fanatics stream to in a bid to catch sight of the wonderful underwater life available – from dolphins and turtles to manta rays, it almost feels like another world!
Photo via marshallsastra-and–nyamangroup
And another sight you have to catch at least once is found on Padar island, the third largest island in the park. It’s right between Komodo and Rinca island, so you’ll have to pass by it during your tour.
Photo via Asoka-Remadja
Don’t miss out on the lifetime opportunity of experiencing such a unique aspect of Indonesia’s culture and nature through a hike up Mount Ijen.
It’s suitable for the mountain buffs and hikers, and the travellers who love nature, and natural phenomena but are not afraid of nature’s unpredictability. If you consider yourself one of them, or someone with a passion for adventure and exploring unique and unusual experiences – including the harshness, dangers and inconveniences…
Then Mount Ijen will make a great experience for you.
4-a. Highlights of Kawah Ijen
Imagine mesmerising electric blue fire, streaming down the mountain during the night – and a turquoise and tranquil, but highly toxic lake with a sunrise that leaves you in awe with various shades of pink and purple as a backdrop.
Photo via jmprophoto
Photo via mifuguemiraison
(If you want to see the blue fire, trek during the night as it will be gone by 5am in the morning.)
Photos via Marc.wegner
At Mount Ijen, this is what you’ll get, along with being enrobed in sulphur clouds and breathing into a gas mask, making you look like a soldier on a mission. All this, while passing men carrying up to 90 kilos of sulphur in baskets on their shoulders for hours.
One highlight of climbing Mount Ijen, is getting to watch a mining operation close up. Watching the real life sulphur mining operation is not only an interesting experience, but a humble one that will make you feel grateful for your life.
If surfing the waves, sunbathing on the beach and basking in the glow of nature is your thing, why not check out the Lembongan, Ceningan and Penida islands?
Photo via balihaiaquanauts
The trio of islands is only a short boat ride from Bali, and better yet, they have not been exposed to the tourism boom as quickly as Bali has.
Yes, this means what you think it means – it will be just you, the trees, birds, and breathtaking views that stretch for miles and miles. You won’t even have to plan anything, since these islands are the perfect places for a lazy, laidback time to yourself.
Photo via marnyus
Just follow the steps that we’ve laid out for you below, and enjoy your holiday!
4-a. Highlights (Lembongan, Ceningan, Penida)
4-a-i. Lembongan – Zoom down a giant water slide and visit the Devil’s Tears
Ever tried zooming down a giant water slide while you’re on a boat?
Slide your way to more good memories at the Bounty Day Cruise, which features a mega 44-metre slide and other thrilling activities such as banana boat rides, canoeing, snorkeling and more!
Photo via wcaksono-and-siscaharry-and-gabyinasia2011
If you’re not up for thrilling activities, then you definitely must visit the Devil’s Tears instead.
A gorgeous lookout position atop a cliff where all you need to do is to grab an advantageous spot at sunset to catch a great view, or simply enjoy the cooling wind.
Photo via muhamadakbar-and-riku
And as you watch the ferocious waves crash against the cliff side, make sure to watch your step, and stay clear of the edge!
Read more: The ultimate guide to Nusa Lembongan
4-a-ii. Ceningan – Be the daredevil you are and jump off a high cliff top!
If you’re a daredevil, here’s your calling. Fancy jumping from a high cliff top into clear blue waters below, as the world around you spins and shifts?
Mahana Point, a little bar located on a cliff top in Nusa Ceningan, gives its customers a chance to do exactly that. If the sight of other brave jumpers have already got your blood racing, kudos to you!
Photo via ggilvina-and-travelpirate
And if you’re not sure whether this is a good idea yet, you could always have a drink or two at the bar to boost your courage. You can do it (or you could just sit back and watch the surfers ride the waves)!
Otherwise, you can always visit the crystal blue waters of Nusa Ceningan’s Blue Lagoon – the picture perfect ideal of an island paradise.
Most people come to simply admire the million dollar view, but a few adventure seekers and daredevil locals have claimed an overhanging ledge as a legendary cliff-jumping spot.
Photo via gunkdeyoga
(Cliff jumping off the overhanging ledge is now prohibited due to safety reasons) Unfortunately, do note that a few unsuspecting travelers have been washed off the ledge in rough weather, and local authorities actively discourage jumping.
Read more: The Ultimate Guide to Nusa Ceningan
4-a-iii. Where you find untouched nature in all its wonders – Penida
Most people who visit Nusa Lembongan, Ceningan and Penida are there for one major reason: the unique and diverse underwater wildlife that is waiting for them.
Naturally, diving and snorkelling is an extremely popular activity; especially at the Manta Point and Crystal Bay.
Divers at Manta Point will get the unique opportunity to swim with giant manta rays, and at Crystal Bay, you might even lay your eyes on the monstrous size sunfish (Mola Mola) if you’re lucky!
Photo via hypebali-and-sellysylvia
(Note that the currents here tend to be strong, and you’ll have to be a certified experienced diver to dive here.)
And while Nusa Penida might just be a small island compared to other places in the world, but it sure has its share of wondrous natural wonders.
Float atop a natural infinity pool at Angel’s Billabong, visit the broken sea Pasih Uwug
Photo via diannovianty-and-ManButurPhotography
Or heal your eyes with vibrant greenery at Bukit Teletubbies and look across magnificent views at Atuh Beach. – take your pick.
Photo via desikambarawa-and-ManButurPhotography
Read more: The ultimate guide to Nusa Penida
If you’re a nature junkie, and you can’t get enough of natural sights and wonders, West Bali National Park is home to lush unspoilt beauty that you’ll happily explore for days.
Photo via ninaasmara-and-Ardiyanto-Ariesyahputra-and-AnanditaMakes
Crystal clear waters, pristine beaches, lush forests and spectacular mountain views – this national park not only offers up incredible views, but has over a hundred species of wildlife.
But of course, our favourite thing about heading to West Bali, is the journey itself! It’s so remote, you’ll feel like the world is yours – and more importantly, you’ll be able to stop at quite a few interesting places along the way.
5-a. Highlights of West Bali
We love taking a road trip out to the wild, wild, west (of Bali). Starting from the south, once you pass Kerobokan, you’ll enter the untouched West.
First, drive through the Bunut Bolong Tree in the Manggissari village that’s renowned for its supernatural history. (Brides and grooms are to refrain from passing through – legend has it that those who do will end up separated.)
Photo via Bali-Jeep-Adventure
After taking your photos, drive along the beautiful coastal areas and you will chance upon crashing waves on kilometers of deserted quiet beaches in Jembrana like this. (with no one around at all!)
Next, find the abandoned plane in Jembrana, one of the few abandoned planes around Bali – for another pit stop and perfect photo op.
Photo via tripcanvas
Finally, travel up to Gilimanuk and you’ll reach West Bali, and West Bali National Park.
Once there, go bird watching and see how many of the 160 species of birds (that have been recorded) you can find! Get a glimpse of the iconic white Bali Starling, or saunter down the beaches and check out the offshore coral reefs.
There are 2 main ways to explore the park – hike the trails, or focus on the mangrove/marine parts of the park. (Only a portion of the park is open to visitors, so be careful not to wander off!)
If you want to get in a spot of diving, you may even travel to an offshore island, Menjangan!
Photo via lovethread-and-yurandamah-and-carliupiat
Finally, get a superb 360º view of the park as you dine at The Menjangan. Only breakfast or lunch provided in delightful Mediterranean and Indonesian styles.
If you’ve travelled to Bali often enough, you must have heard about the Gili islands.
Made up of three small islands – Gili Trawangan, Gili Meno and Gili Air – that lie a short distance west of Bali, the Gilis have been rising up on travellers’ radars as the next go-to destination, mainly for its untouched and laidback appeal.
6-a. Highlights of Gili islands (Trawangan, Meno, Air)
6-a-i. The island of chill with tons of beach bars and a huge ocean swing! – Gili Trawangan
Gili Trawangan is a happening island where you can find lots of beach bars and nightlife.
Photo via lisanimhaille-and-traveljunkieid
It’s so happening, you’re sure to have novel experiences like watching movies in this “cinema” – a tiny straw hut located on the beach.
All you need to do is rent a beach hut from Beautiful Life, a hotel located on the southeastern coastal strip of Gili Trawangan. (Buy food or a drink in order to be able to watch a movie!)
If you’ve never stood on a huge swing standing right in the middle of the ocean – it’s time to check that off of your bucket list on your next trip to the Gilis. Find the swing standing in the ocean off the northern coast of Gili Trawangan, at Hotel Ombak Sunset!
Photo via tiniihitakara
When you’re done for the day at Trawangan, remember to watch the sunset from the highest point of Gili Trawangan, the view point.
You’ll be amazed by an outstanding view extending towards Bali and Lombok. It’s also one of the best places on the island to snap a picture of the sunset.
6-a-ii. Basically beaches and untouched wilderness – Gili Meno
Gili Meno is loved for its gorgeous untouched beaches and pure island life.
Photo via ugo.monticone
Drop by Gili Meno’s bird park for the awesome experience of seeing 300 exotic birds living in a completely natural and free habitat – eagles, peafowls, pelicans… you name it, they have it.
Photo via Elisatravels,-Baligetaways
And if you’re here for the nature, you definitely can’t miss a visit to Gili Meno’s famous salt lake. The salt lake is located in the west side of Gili Meno, and can be reached by foot.
Photo via gilifastboat
This is where you can catch a glimpse of amazing flora and fauna, as well as exotic creatures like the blue kingfisher and the giant monitor lizard.
Lastly, if you’re up for a spine chilling adventure, you can also head to one of Gili Meno’s most spooky places, the abandoned Bounty Club Beach Bungalows. Who knows what you’ll find there?
6-a-iii. Walk on colourful seabeds or go snorkeling and diving – Gili Air
Gili Air strikes the perfect balance with hip lifestyle and rustic atmosphere rolled into one.
For one, Gili Air has better, and more untouched seabeds (in our humble opinion!) than Gili T. In fact, you may even walk straight from the beach, to the seabeds, checking out the interesting marine life like sea urchins, starfish, sea cucumbers, corals and more. (Of course, try to be careful not to disturb the environment, and look before you step.)
Photo via TripCanvas
On the northeast side of Gili Air, and a 15-minute walk from the harbor, those keen on adventures under the sea will be happy to go snorkeling and diving – one of the most popular activities at the Gilis islands.
It’s very suitable even for beginner divers because the water conditions are usually good, with gentle currents and good visibility.
Photo via ilysf,-nicole_kay,-cornontherob4
If you’re more interested in the diversity of underwater wildlife, then a good spot would be Gili Air’s Hans Reef, which is known for its large collection of interesting sea creatures as well, such as the rare frog fish.
If you’re looking to escape to an idyllic tropical paradise for a few days, Candidasa and Amed might just be the place for you.
Situated in the east of Bali, Candidasa has been touted by some as the pearl of Bali, and it’s easy to see how it earned this reputation.
Photo via mturkenburg-and-travelbyanna-and-katravn-and-chrisrauti
A treasure trove of Balinese temples and hidden beaches, this former fishing village has all the amenities you need for the perfect vacation…without the need to jostle with crowds.
On the other hand, Amed is the quintessence of Bali in its early days, oozing with authentic, traditional Balinese culture, just awaiting your discovery.
7-a. Highlights (Candidasa, Amed)
7-a-i. Wander through unique bamboo architecture in the pearl of Bali – Candidasa
There’re so many amazing things to be discovered around Candidasa – and Rumah Bambu Pengalon just might be the cherry on top. While it isn’t fully completed, Rumah Bambu Pengalon is a unique architecture of beautiful bamboo houses.
Photo via ewikurus
Supposedly the venue for music festival, Bali Unite, the views here are surprisingly incredible with a small and beautifully clear lake just around the area.
Another amazing thing about Candidasa? The month long Mekare-kare ceremony that happens in June. It’s an annual theatrical fight amongst Balinese men, both young and old, to honor the God of War as well as their ancestors.
Photo via latimes
Dressed in just a sarong, two men at a time fight on a central stage dressed in just a sarong…and armed with (surprisingly sharp-edged) Pandan leaves and straw shields. The purpose of the ceremony is to draw blood from the opponent, so as to honor the God of War.
PS: Check out this crazy swing created by the villagers (for the kids!)
Video via endri_kurniawan
Read more: 15 extraordinary things to do in Candidasa
7-a-ii. Go diving and explore shipwrecks! – Amed
Basically, divers, and those who have always wanted to learn to dive, should come to Amed. Dive and explore the Japanese shipwreck and USS Liberty. (the epic underwater shipwreck photoshoot was done here!)
Photo via vonwong
Learn to free dive, and get comfortable in the ocean. It’s exhilarating and will give you one of the boldest experiences to ever be had.
Apart from that, check out how the locals harvest salt using traditional methods – it’s quite the educational experience for a lazy day by the beach!