Cocktails, hawkers and the (often chaotic!) traffic are some of the first things that might spring to mind when you think of Bali, but venture a little further and there is so much more to be discovered.
Beyond the hustle and bustle of the popular hot spots lay sparkling beaches, quaint towns, tropical jungles and the kind of unique experiences that will have you returning time and time again. Whether you’re a first timer or a Bali regular, it’s worth wandering off the beaten path to experience the beauty of these less explored destinations.
Visit for: Surf beaches, hip cafes, street art, the Canggu shortcut and Tanah Lot Temple
The OG surf destination, Canggu is now also a go-to for foodies, surfies and yogis alike. Just a 45-minute drive from Seminyak, the vibrant beach town offers a buzzy yet chilled vibe, perfect for an escape that’s still near enough to the central throng. The perfect sets at Echo Beach and Batu Bolong (Old Mans Beach) are a surfer’s dream, and there are plenty of gentle beach breaks for the rookies too. The hip beachfront bars and cafes are also a great spot to watch the waves roll in. Old Mans Beach Bar is a local favourite – just grab yourself a comfortable cosy nook and settle in! Desa Seni Wellness and Yoga delivers blissful zen, and ALLCAPS Studio has some of the most amazing street art.
For a cultural experience, visit Tanah Lot Temple. Just a short 20-minute drive north of the central buzz, it’s an easy trip and a beautiful spot to watch the sunset.
So whether you’re surfing, sipping, strolling or stretching, Canggu is the go-to for travellers chasing a trendy yet relaxed taste of Bali.
Visit for: Lush rainforests, coffee, rice paddies and yoga retreats
Whilst yogi’s and health nuts discovered Ubud years ago, the beautiful jungle town has managed to fly under the radar and remains a true hidden gem, offering a rare glimpse into traditional Balinese life. Less than 2 hours drive from central Kuta, Ubud is an easy day trip, with stunning rainforests, temples and rice paddies in abundance – it’s well worth adding to your itinerary. Whether you’re chasing waterfalls at Tegenungan Falls, exploring the sacred Tirta Empul Temple and Holy Springs, snapping a photo of the extremely photogenic Tegalalang Rice Terrace, sampling the local delicacy Babi Guling (suckling pig) at a Warung or getting bendy at one of the many picturesque yoga and wellness retreats, Ubud’s wild and untamed beauty is sure to reinvigorate and charm the most seasoned traveller.
For some of the best Babi Guling in town, Babi Guling Gung Cung is a solid contender! This local institution always has a steady line of locals by lunch, so be sure to get in early or risk missing out.
Visit for: Pristine beaches, heart-stopping surf breaks, remedial massages and Pura Luhur Temple
The sheer cliffs and sweeping ocean views make Bali’s South Coast a must for anyone looking for a scenic escape. Just a short 40 minute drive south of Kuta, the stunning area of Uluwatu offers beautiful beaches, great surf and a laid back atmosphere – perfect for losing track of time. A day at the secluded Nyang Nyang Beach (one of the areas best kept secrets!) promises to be a day of relaxation and sunshine, and just north Balangan Beach offers one of the biggest surf breaks on the peninsula for those looking to up the ante. After a day at the beach, a visit to the luxe Bulgari Spa for a relaxing massage or treatment is a must, followed by sunset cocktails at Single Fin Beach Club. For a change of scenery, the Pura Luhur Temple offers breathtaking views of the Indian Ocean, as well as some very cheeky resident monkeys – be sure to keep a watchful eye on your belongings!
For a great day trip, Jimbaran and Nusa Dua are both less than an hours drive from Uluwatu and offer picturesque golden sand beaches, snorkeling and surfing.
Whichever direction you venture in Uluwatu, the spectacular beaches, stunning views and relaxed pace of life offer the perfect escape from the hustle and bustle.
Visit for: Rugged terrain, manta ray diving, sparkling azure water and Angel’s Billabong
Just a 90 minute boat ride off Bali’s East Coast sits the beautiful and mostly untouched island of Nusa Penida. The biggest of the three islands, which include Nusa Ceningan and the popular Nusa Lembongan, the island of Nusa Penida offers a sanctuary from the crowds and is a great place to slow it down a notch and enjoy life. For some of the islands best seascapes, Kelingking Cliff Lookout is a must, with the coastal cliffs offering stunning views of the sandy cove and sparkling turquoise beach below. Broken Beach and Korawa Beach Viewpoint also offer spectacular views but will require a scooter or a bike to get to. Marvel at the beauty of the underground temple Pura Goa Giri Putri, splash in the natural infinity pool Angel’s Billabong, or take a dive with the ocean’s gentle giants at Manta Bay – there truly is no end to Nusa Penida’s magic!
Lembongan and Ceningan Islands are just a 20 minute boat ride away, and are connected by a Love Bridge, which makes Nusa Penida a great base for a serene yet easily accessible getaway.
Visit for: Snorkelling, beachfront bars, stunning sunsets and laid back island vibes
Known for its vibrant coral reefs and white sandy beaches, the archipelago of the Gili Islands sits just off the North coast of Lombok, with each of the three islands offering their own little slice of heaven. While they aren’t technically considered part of Bali, being just a 3 hour boat ride away, they’re definitely a worthy addition to a Bali itinerary.
Those seeking an endless happy hour will want to head straight for Gili Trawangan. The biggest of the three islands, it is lined with beach bars, clubs and restaurants, with a party happening every night of the week. Just a stone’s throw away sits Gili Meno, which is home to pristine white sand beaches and far less people, not to mention no motorised transport – just horses and carts. Meno is easily the quietest of the three islands, making it a great spot to disconnect and unwind. It also offers some of the most amazing diving spots, and is home to an abundance of green sea turtles as well as the Bounty Wreck and Jason deCaires Taylor’s Nest sculpture. Gili Air combines the best of Meno and Trawangan, boasting a lively yet laid back atmosphere. Whilst there are plenty of bars and clubs on the eastern side of the island, the party culture isn’t quite as vibrant as Gili Trawangan, which makes it the perfect place to enjoy a quiet evening and a Bintang. Whether you spend a few days island hopping or spend all your time in one spot, each island offers a uniquely wonderful experience.
Home to a significant Muslim community, the three mosques on Gili Trawangan broadcast prayers regularly throughout the day (and night) so if you’re planning on staying on the islands and you’re a light sleeper, Gili Meno or Gili Air might be best for you!