Are you ready to escape the crowds and explore some off beaten track Bali destinations?
With a spike in tourism over the last decade or so, it is becoming increasingly hard to escape the mob of tourists and enjoy an authentic cultural experience in Bali.
Having witnessed a massive change in the landscape since visiting Bali for the first time in 2009, I would be the first to admit that much of Bali has become commercialized to a large degree. I have heard many visitors express their disappointments, that Bali was not what they expected – the overcrowding and tourist traps had tarnished their fantasy of a paradise island.
But having lived on the island since 2013, I can tell you that Bali still offers breathtaking sceneries, temples, traditions and island life that are certainly worth a visit! But it may require you to abandon common tips that you may find in your travel guide.
Are you ready to find your own piece of Bali heaven?
In this post, I will highlight the top 6 off the beaten track Bali destinations, where you can enjoy the true beauty of the Island of the Gods. I hope you find this guide to off the beaten path Bali helpful in planning your trip and creating an epic holiday!
#1: Nyang Nyang Beach
A vast majority of tourists flocking to the beaches of Bali Indonesia generally head to one of three places: 1) the surfers’ paradise on the west coast 2) quaint resort towns on the east coast or 3) the idyllic islands of the Nusa trio (Nusa Penida, Nusa Ceningan, Nusa Lembongan) off of the mainland.
One area that gets overlooked when visitors consider where to go in Bali for a non-touristy beach is south Uluwatu. Uluwatu is mainly known for its stunning cliffside views and the iconic Uluwatu Temple that sits at the edge of the cliff on the west coast.
There is, however, one of Bali’s hidden secrets with a magnificent stretch of a white sand beach called Nyang Nyang on the south coast.
It’s hard to believe that one of the most stunning beaches in Bali is one that is the most deserted. I have visited Nyang Nyang during the high season and encountered only a handful of people on the entire stretch of the beach!
Nyang Nyang is a true hidden gem. The sand is powdery white, the beach is long and amazing for a nice stroll, it is never crowded, and the turquoise blue waters is a stunning backdrop for beautiful photos.
#2: Jatiluwih Rice Terraces
When you think of Bali, one of the images that pop into your mind may be one of an endless lush green, rice terraces.
Jatiluwih is, without a doubt, among the top rice terraces in Bali along with Tagalalang in Ubud. Being a popular Bali tour destination, Jatiluwih Rice Terrace may not exactly be an off the beaten track Bali attraction. Admittedly, it has touristy spots within the site.
However, depending on where you stay, what time you arrange to get there, and how you explore this expansive UNESCO World Heritage Site, you can enjoy a private viewing as I did.
Jatiluwih is a must-do in Bali. Your jaw will drop at the 360° panoramic view and the sheer scale of the rice fields. With palm trees peppered throughout the rice fields and mountain ranges on the horizon, this World Heritage location is awe-inspiring.
Make sure to click the box below to find out how you can add Jatiluwih to your Bali itinerary!
#3: Banyu Wana Amertha Waterfall
If you have been on Instagram lately, you may have noticed that a number of Bali’s waterfalls have been going viral including the incredible Tukad Cepung, Sekumpul, and Gitgit. Understandably so, as these are some of the most beautiful, powerful and awe-inspiring waterfalls on the island.
While most visitors are making their way around north Bali visiting the popular hot spots, one equally-stunning waterfall remains undiscovered: Banyu Wana Amertha.
Even though Banyu Wana Amertha Waterfall is located along the main route of popular North Bali Tours, most visitors end up at Banyamala Twin Waterfall nearby instead.
But since the road construction to Banyu Wana Amertha was recently completed, cars are gaining easier access to this secret gem. I suspect that this waterfall will not remain “hidden” for much longer.
Aside from the spectacular views, what makes this place special is that there is not just one waterfall at Banyu Wana Amertha, but three! In the rainy season, there is apparently a fourth waterfall.
I spent over 3 hours exploring the three stunning views around Banyu Wana Amertha, sharing the place with only one other family the entire time that I was there. If I ever had to choose one best kept secret in Bali, this would be the one.
#4: Tegal Wangi Beach
Tegal Wangi is a small beach located in Jimbaran on the west coast of Bali, known primarily by the locals. Only a few tourists visit this hidden beach, which is overshadowed by more popular Bingin or Dreamland beaches to the south.
Since not too many visitors find out about Tegal Wangi, it is a perfect destination if you want a peaceful beach day without the crowd and an epic sunset to wrap up the awesome day!
Aside from being a secret hot spot, Tegal Wangi forms unique natural jacuzzis as the tide pulls out. It’s a remarkable experience to sit in these jacuzzis and watch the sky light up in incredible orange hues at sunset. I say it’s certainly one of the more unusual things to do in Bali!
#5: Menjangan Island
Menjangan Island is a small uninhabited island located off the northwest tip of Bali, inside the protected marine reserve of West Bali National Park.
Since Menjangan is about a 5-hour drive north from the Airport, it still remains off the tourist trail and a relatively quiet destination. Most of the activities around Menjangan revolves around nature, particularly the marine life.
The pristine underwater world around Menjangan Island draws snorkeling and scuba diving fans year-round. As a scuba diver who has dived throughout Bali, I can tell you that Menjangan Island offers some of the most colorful and untouched reefs and abundant creatures Bali has to offer!
If you stay at The Menjangan (one of the most beautiful resorts I ever stayed in Bali) inside the West Bali National Park, there are various nature activities such as horseback riding, birdwatching, and mangrove tour that you can enjoy. Monkey and deer sightings are also not uncommon if you fancy new friends 😉
I recently discovered Sidemen which represents quintessential Bali: rice terraces, local village life, traditional farming, and palm trees and jungles for as far as I can see. Of the many hidden secrets, I found Sidemen to be one of the most magical places in Bali.
Sidemen is located about an hour east of Ubud. While being accessible from the main tourist hot spots of Bali, Sidemen remains a world away from the hustling and bustling south.
You can sign up for guided trekking/hiking/cycling tours in the main town of Tabola, or sign up for a cooking class. I highly recommend that you spend at least one night in Sidemen to explore the hills and immerse yourself in this enchanting village of traditional Bali.
There is not much else to do in Sidemen except to soak in the breathtaking panoramic scenery of the hills and valleys and enjoy the peaceful countryside. Relax and enjoy!
As one of the last remaining traditional villages, Sidemen is attracting more and more visitors every year, who travel to get a glimpse of the rare local life on this fast-developing island. Take advantage of it while you still can!
Where NOT to Stay in Bali
If you are looking to experience some authentic local life and cultures in your Bali travel, I highly encourage you to stay away from Kuta, Legian, and Seminyak and Nusa Dua. These touristy spots do not exhibit much of traditional Balinese life or culture.
If you must, you can visit these areas during the day (although I assure you, you won’t be missing much). I must admit, Seminyak DOES have some fabulous restaurants and boutique shopping – but it’s best you make a day trip to Seminyak, rather than staying in town.
I hope you found this post helpful in planning your next trip to Bali! If you want some more destination ideas, check out this Ultimate 14-day Bali Itinerary that highlights the BEST of Bali. Enjoy!
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