Bali, officially known as the Bali province, is made up of a cluster of islands – the most famous being Bali itself. Pre-pandemic and even now during this endemic we are living in, people can’t seem to stay away from the Island of the Gods and starve themselves from the experience this tropical haven brings.
Admittedly, Bali is one of my favourite places in the world, and what is there not to love? The people are incredibly welcoming, accommodation and transportation are highly affordable, and the food will leave a lasting impression on anyone (hello, Warung Made, I am looking at you). But there is so much to this place than Kuta or Seminyak, the island’s most renowned tourist hotspots.
If you’re adamant about avoiding the rowdy crowds (and honestly, I don’t blame you), then why not try these underrated locations. You’ll surely see a different vibe to Bali that will be your best-kept secret for future visits.
A little out of the way from the usual Seminyak and Canggu haunts, Uluwatu is definitely worth making a trip to if you want somewhere that isn’t beaming and bustling with tourists. It’s especially perfect if you’re searching for an area perfect for chasing sunsets, surfing, and brunch. Its hilly landscapes are pretty impressive too, and you can easily unwind by the many beaches.
While you’re there, check out Bingin Beach for scenic photographs, the epic thousand-year-old Uluwatu temple on a dramatic cliffside, Balangan beach for the perfect sunset backdrop, Melasti beach for the perfect sunset backdrop and a day at the uber cool Tropical Temptation club.
If you’re looking to get lost in nature’s beauty, book a few nights in Munduk. Situated in the northern part of Bali, a less than three-hour drive from Canggu will get you here. There is something for all kinds of travellers here, so take your pick from affordable Airbnbs or opt to splurge some nights at a luxury villa.
One of the unique things you can do is chase some waterfalls (cue TLC’s ‘Waterfalls’), as there are plenty to be amazed by – Git Git, Banyumala, and Munduk waterfalls are some of the few. I highly recommend a minimum of two nights, but if you have the time, carve out a little more time here in your itinerary.
3. Nusa Penida
To get to Nusa Penida from the Bali mainland is only by boat, so if you get seasick easily, I suggest you tough it out because it is so worth the suffering. Known as a paradise for scuba divers and the most developed one out of all three Nusa islands, you’ll need around two to three days to make the most of your trip. Though, you can opt for a day trip too.
Diamond Beach is undoubtedly the most famous spot with its unmissable cove and azure waters, but unfortunately, it’s not for swimming. It’s all about taking in the scenery by braving the narrow roads. A visit to this stunning island will ensure an adventure filled with unspoiled natural beauty.
Skip the city’s loud noise and kick back and relax in the coastal town of Lovina in Bali. Here, you can experience the best of the Island of Gods: beautiful beaches, perfect weather (if you’re not visiting during monsoon), delicious local cuisine, and dolphin watching.
Unlike Seminyak, the water at Lovina’s black sand beach is calm, which makes it the perfect and safe place to take the kiddos. I highly recommend dolphin watching — plenty of tours are available, and it’s one of the best ways to see them in their natural habitat. There’s also the Air Panas Banjar hot spring for those who love a good soak.
5. Nusa Dua
This enclave is for those with little ones. I personally love Nusa Dua because it’s got almost everything you need, and there are no rowdy tourists or overcrowding. All the hotels and resorts here are top-notch, so you won’t be disappointed with the amenities and services.
While there are not a lot of famous restaurants, if you ask any of the locals, they will direct you to some spots that serve the most delicious Balinese dishes, and there are plenty of fine dining options here too. During your stay (and if you have the licence), rent a motorcycle and explore this resort area of Bali.
Perhaps one of the best sleepy towns in Bali, Padangbai is located on the island’s east coast. It’s mostly known as a stopover point for those looking to explore the Gili islands or Lombok, but there are plenty of stunning landscapes to take in here.
The beaches here are stunning, totally unspoiled, and its calm waters are far from the crowds — the perfect getaway nook for travellers with little ones. Snorkel, dive, or catch up on some rays, and let your worries fade as you relax in the sun.
Editor’s note: This article was first published on 27 June 2022 and has since been updated to include more locations.