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?
Also read: 12 stunning hidden sights in West Java, Indonesia for a weekend getaway
6 untouched islands around Bali that will take your breath away
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!
This post is made possible by Indonesia Tourism Board
Getting to Bali
Direct flight (total cost from SGD 175)
Take Tigerair, AirAsia, Garuda Indonesia, SilkAir or Singapore Airlines from Singapore Changi Airport to Ngurah Rai International Airport in Bali. (Flight time: ~2h 40 min)
Direct flight (total cost from RM 400)
Take Malindo Air, AirAsia or Malaysia Airlines from Kuala Lumpur International Airport to Ngurah Rai International Airport in Bali. (Flight time: ~3h)
Direct flight from Perth (total cost from 309 AUD)
1. Take AirAsia, Jetstar, Virgin Australia, Garuda Indonesia or SilkAir from Perth to Ngurah Rai International Airport (Bali). (Flight time: ~3h 40min)
Don’t feel attracted by any of the options listed below? Find out about what Bali itself has to offer at the Indonesian Tourism Board’s official Bali page!
There’s much to explore, so go ahead and read on for the highlights of these 7 alternative travel destinations!
Here’s an overview of the complete guide (click to scroll to the relevant section):
1. Baluran National Park – The ‘Africa’ of Java
2. Komodo islands – Indonesia’s land of dragons
3. Mount Ijen – Volcano with blazing blue fire
4. The Nusa islands – The Maldives of Bali
5. West Bali – Journey to the middle of nowhere
6. The Gili islands – Untouched and laid back islands
7. East Bali – An idyllic tropical paradise
1. The ‘Africa’ of Java – Baluran National Park
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.
Where to Stay around Baluran National Park
There are 3 places in and near the premises where you can stay at. Beko and Bama Beach which are located directly in the park, and Hotel Manyar which is situated near Baluran National Park in Banyuwangi town.
Since most of the more exotic animals are nocturnal, you should most definitely spend a night at the lodges offered in the premises from only $11 a night!
Another reason to stay would be to catch the sunrise at Mount Baluran right in the middle of the grassland for a panoramic view from above.
At Beko, there’s a 6-person lodge for visitors, a house on stilts for 16 people, and even a lodge (sleeps 4) for researchers.
At Bama Beach, there are 4 2-room lodges, which sleeps 4. There’s a car park, and a dining area below where affordable food is served.
Finally, in Banyuwangi and located near Ketapang ferry terminal, Hotel Manyar (rates from $18!) brings you back to basics with its no frills accommodation. You might also be happy to know that there’s a swimming pool, and a lounge for those relaxing moments.
Getting there from Bali: Head towards the North Western corner of Bali Island, to the port of Gilimanuk, take the ferry boat towards Ketapang, Banyuwangi. From Banyuwangi, head North on Jalur Pantura towards Wonorejo and turn right upon ariving at Badjulmati. Directions here.
Opening hours: 7:30 – 16:30
Entrance: 5000 IDR (domestic) | 11 USD (international)
Phone: (0333) 461936
2. Indonesia’s land of dragons – Komodo Islands
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
Where to Stay around Komodo Islands
If you’re a boat tour patron, you will likely spend most of your trip on the boat.
There are vastly different boats available on the market. Cheaper ones will have you sleeping and taking care of your needs mostly on the deck. While more expensive packages will provide you with cabins, modern toilets and even air conditioning.
However, if you’re not comfortable with sleeping on a rocking boat for the entire night, day trips are also available for you – with plenty of accommodation options that will have you feeling right at home in Labuan Bajo!
Read more: Where to stay in Flores near Komodo islands
Read our complete guide: The ultimate guide to Komodo islands and Flores
3. Go on a thrilling hike up the volcano with blazing blue fire – Mount Ijen
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.
Getting to Kawah Ijen
If you are travelling from Bali, you can reach Ijen Crater through Banyuwangi, it’s closer to Ijen Crater (45 km) compared to Bondowoso (64 km).
Read more: How to get to Kawah Ijen base camp
Read our complete guide to Kawah Ijen: The complete guide to hike Kawah Ijen
4. The Maldives of Bali – Nusa Lembongan, Ceningan, Penida
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
Where to Stay in Nusa islands
While Nusa Lembongan, Ceningan and Penida are not anywhere as developed as Bali is, you will be surprised at how luxurious and well equipped some of the resorts can be.
From romantic rooms for honeymooners, to a mountain resort for the zen yoga master, there really is something for everyone here!
The ultimate guide to Nusa islands accommodation
Read our complete guide to Nusa islands:
The ultimate guide to the Nusa Islands (Lembongan, Ceningan, Penida)
5. Journey to the middle of nowhere – West Bali (West Bali National Park)
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.
Where to Stay in West Bali
It’s the epitome of a nature retreat with Menjangan set right in the middle of one of the least visited, but most beautiful parts of Bali.
Choose from 3 areas to stay, the Monsoon Lodge, Beach Villa, or The Residence; with luxurious amenities and plenty of activities for your weekend vacation.
It takes approximately 3 to 4 hours to travel from the south through Gilimanuk to West Bali National Park.
We would suggest renting a car and personally driving down – have your first Bali road trip!
Read our complete guide: West Bali travel guide – Our adventure to the West Bali
6. It’s super untouched, and really laid back! – Gili Islands
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.
Where to Stay in Gili islands
Did you know that you can actually find unique Airbnb listings ranging from luxury resorts and villas to homey private accommodations?
Indulge in the island life or spoil yourself with villas fit for a king with all these beautiful places calling out to you.
Read more: Where to stay at the Gilis (Trawangan, Meno and Air)
Read our complete guide:
The complete guide to Gili islands (Trawangan, Meno and Air)
15 fun things to do in Gili islands you never knew existed
7. Escape to an idyllic tropical paradise – East Bali (Candidasa/Amed)
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!
Photo via whatisabean
Where to Stay in East Bali
Find nirvana in East Bali with accommodation like The Nirwana (Candidasa) – a stone’s throw away from the ocean, where you can laze and watch the drifting clouds by the infinity pool.
If not, Amed has really nice places to stay too, like Hidden Paradise Cottages. And you’ll be surprised to know just how fancy it is – just like hidden treasure.
Read more: The ultimate guide to East Bali accommodation
To our knowledge, the best way to get around in East Bali, is to either 1) hire a driver and a car, or 2) rent a car and drive.
Cabs are very rare here, and there is definitely no public transport to help you get around easily.