When in Bali, it is important to not limit yourself to touristy Western hotel epicenters, such as Kuta. Part of Bali’s charm is to go in the less touristy parts of the island in order to have a rewarding travel experience. One of my most rewarding travel days in my life was spent taking a road trip in Bali with a British couple that I met at my hotel. They were looking for two more travelers to buy into the four-person car with a driver that they had purchased for the day. Thus, for eight hours of having a private driver around Bali, I paid $30 USD and was able to see a great deal of the island that I surely would not have seen otherwise.
It is best to start your road trip in Echo Beach, which is a stunning beach that is not as touristy as Kuta where all the resorts are. Here you can have a coffee or stunning breakfast directly on the beach front and see very limited people as the sun is rising. It is from this beach as well that you can ask one of the locals to take you on a motorcycle ride on the rice patties as the sun is rising, which is one of the most gorgeous things to see in Bali.
After Echo Beach, it is wise to head up the coast in order to get to the areas for snorkeling and scuba diving. For $10 USD, one can rent gear and leave all of their valuables in their private car. We were able to snorkel for three hours and I just was amazed at the incredible clarity of the water and unique species of fish that I was able to see.
Next, it is wise to go temple hunting in Bali. Balinese temples are absolutely gorgeous and provide a stimulating mix of their Hindu ancestry. On the top of the mountains overlooking the coast, there are many sacred water temples where the royal family used to live. These temple sights are perfectly preserved and open for tourists to explore. The tranquil energy in these locales is incredible and one can peacefully meditate and listen to the flowing of the gorgeous hand carved stone fountains that are in abundance on these properties.
On your way back to your hotel, it is wise to visit one of the Balinese temples at sundown because there is a daily ceremony in which you can witness Balinese culture in action. Locals will provide you the necessary skirt to cover your legs and you can enter the temple compound while observing the Balinese religious practice. You will see locals carrying a procession of boxed offerings to the temple while candle and incense are lit as a sign of respect. As an outsider, all you can do is stare and marvel at this preserved culture that is filled with bright flowers, elaborate ceremonial dress, and elegance.
Having the pleasure to visit Bali was surely one of my highlights as a traveler. The important thing to remember about Bali is that the beach resorts are plentiful but it doesn’t mean that you have to spend your entire vacation there. Get out and see the rich culture that Bali has to offer and you surely will not be disappointed.