We went backpacking through Bali, Indonesia last year, middle April to beginning May. The weather is great that time as it’s not quite in the middle of their summer yet and not yet full on in season so it’s not as busy as it is during June and July. You will also miss the tropical rains which ends at about end March beginning April. With temperatures of 35 degrees celsius and very humid, it’s good to stay somewhere with a pool and air-conditioner in the room. This time round we took along backpacks and surfboards.
We arrived in Kuta, Bali where we caught a taxi to a local hotel not too far from Kuta beach. If you have a love for surfing or would like to start, Bali is the perfect place to learn. They have surf boards to rent at every beach and give surfing lessons to the newbie surfers. There are experienced surfers on all the reefs and when the waves are not that great for surfing you’ll see quite a lot of people out paddling on SUP’s. We started in Kuta, went to Balangan, Ccangu, Nusa Lembongan and Ubud. I am not a surfer and have tried to surf a little bit in Cape Town before going to Bali. But once in Kuta and seeing everyone out in the water on their boards, I thought that I would give surfing a go, needless to say I just rediscovered that I am not a surfer at all and should rather just stick to cycling. I went into the water all brave and full of hope, but came out with a bruised arm, split open top and bottom lips and a bloody nose.
Bali can definitely be seen as one of the surfing capitals of the world, with an abundance of surf shops and loads of good waves. For the none surfers who might want a good cup of coffee, you can rest assured, as there are Starbucks in just about every town in Bali. There is such a great variety, from big waves to beautiful rice paddies and volcano’s. There really is just so much to see and do in Bali.
Definitely the party and shopping capital of Bali. There is plenty of surf shops around every corner and in every street there are street vendors selling towels, dresses, shoes, toys and almost anything and everything you can think about. Always negotiate with them as they tend to sell things to you at an inflated price as you are a tourist and they see you as being rich and they also just assume that you are Australian just because you are Caucasian.
Should you be looking for a place to party and let your hair down, then Kuta is the city for you. With parties going on all night, Kuta will keep you well entertained with loads of tourists having fun dancing and drinking the night away. Once you have had your share of partying in Kuta, move along to the smaller towns where you’d be able to relax and still meet other tourists (mostly surfers) and have some sun downers on the beach while watching the most beautiful sunsets.
Gong Corner Restaurant is situated in an alley in Kuta. They serve traditional Balinese cuisine and are very reasonable with their prices. We ate here at least once per day as the food is good, portions are big and you definitely get more than you paid for.
So calm and quiet. We stayed at The Bungalows in Balangan. It had a pool with a very nice little restaurant where they have the most define banana fritters. I could eat banana fritters for breakfast, lunch and dinner. There are quite a lot of bigger bungalows which you can share with friends if you are a group of 4. But do not worry as they have loads of rooms built on at the back of the bungalows which are just as lovely with aircons and roof fans. The Bungalows are situated on the top of the cliff overlooking the beach; and what a beautiful view with some beautiful sunsets. On the beach there are also some backpacker hostels which was packed full of surfers. If they were not surfing they were on the beach having some Bintangs and playing volleyball. Other than the surfers will also find random dogs on the beach along with some naked local kids enjoying the warm sea.
A small little coastal town just outside Kuta where surfers will find awesome reef breaks. There are some nice restaurants on the beach where you can sit and watch the surfers catching some waves and even being barrelled.
What a beautiful seaweed farming island. This island is not that far from Kuta, but you can only get to the island by way of speed boat or ferry. The speedboat trip is about an hour, but is double the price of the ferry so if you’re not on a tight budget then I would recommend a speedboat. The ferry trip takes approximately 2 to 3 hours. There are a lot of lovely hotels and resorts on the island so if you plan on going there on honeymoon, I would definitely recommend that. You have options between Mushroom bay and Dream Beach, both equally beautiful, but Dream Beach seems to be a bit more secluded.
It is a small island and if you hire a scooter you can venture through the whole island in one afternoon. Nusa Lembongan is also quite popular for scuba diving and snorkelling, so if you’re a fan of scuba diving and snorkelling, make sure you book a scuba diving and snorkelling trip as there are loads of reef and fish to see.
When it’s high tide you’ll see loads of boats on the sea and as soon as the tide drops, all you’ll see is seaweed farms with boats stuck on the land where the sea was on high tide. The seaweed farmers work whenever it’s low tide, so whether low tide is during the day or at 10pm, you will hear them walking to their farms and collecting seaweed. It’s a very productive and hardworking little town full of culture and history. Definitely a must when in Bali.
The surfers love going to Nusa Lembongan and you’ll hear them talk about Shipwrecks and Playgrounds. I am not a surfer at all, but it is recommended that only experienced surfers should attempt surfing Shipwrecks and beginner to intermediate surfers should go to Playgrounds. Playgrounds have loads of fun waves which is also a reef break but not nearly as big as Shipwrecks.
Here you can buy something to drink and some petrol, do not mistake it for drinking petrol. They sell petrol in recycled coke bottles next to the street. No petrol station or ATM on this island at all, so ensure that you have enough cash on you if you plan on going to Nusa Lembongan.
A lovely little town about 3 hours’ drive into Bali. Even though there is no sea to surf at, there is plenty to do. There is a monkey forest, rice paddies, theatres with very cultural shows and loads of romantic restaurants with artists singing and playing some local music for you to enjoy. It is very green and tropical there with loads of mountains and forests surrounding the little town. This little town featured in the book and movie, “Eat, Pray, Love” and you’ll also find loads of artists here sitting in their studios painting. If you have a sense for the arts and crafts, this little town is definitely worth the visit.
While in Ubud we also went to the Ubud Monkey Forest Sanctuary where you can see so many Macaques. They will climb on you and will attempt to take your bag and belongings as they think that it’s food. So always walk with your hands open so that they can see you do not have any food on you. You can buy bananas as you go into the Forest to give to the monkeys, but they are very greedy and would want to take it all to themselves. Should the monkeys climb on you, try your best not to scream or shout as that will give them a fright. They are harmless and will not bite you.