Seeking out hidden gems in Bali
Hidden gems in Bali are becoming harder to find every year, however we have uncovered some awesome places. Many of which have been found purely by accident, as we often take ourselves on road trip adventures without a destination in mind.
Although the island has parts which are undeniably busy, we’ve discovered so many beautiful areas of Bali away from tourists. It is quite amazing that even after a year of living here, we are still stumbling upon undiscovered Bali. In this post, we reveal 10 of our secret spots.
Les Village, Tejakula
We adore the seclusion of Les village. A sustainable eco-tourism project was injected into this Northern retreat a few years ago, but it still retains a feeling of undiscovered Bali.
Yeh Mampeh waterfall
The biggest ‘draw’ in Les village is the totally underrated Yeh Mampeh Waterfall, tucked away in the hillside. Getting to the waterfall is wild and wonderful, yet easy for everyone to do.
Trek through a jungle bursting with butterflies and flowers, and take off your shoes to cross the shallow river during rainy season. Your reward will be standing beneath those pouring shards, it is the perfect place for meditation.
Snorkeling and Diving Gems
For ocean lovers wishing to get really off the beaten path in Bali, the rich volcanic waters of Les’s coastline offer some great snorkel and dive opportunities, and Tulamben is only a 40 minute drive away. The locals in Les are working on a very promising reef restoration project, which has a fascinating baby coral farm.
There are a couple of high-end scuba resorts in the area, but if you’re diving on a budget, we recommend renting equipment with a local guide named Gombal, a famous fisherman (and excellent macro spotter) in the area. We stayed at his beautiful homestay next to the organic salt farms. Les village stands out as one of our favourite hidden gems in Bali.
Bayu Beach, Amed
A hidden Gem behind Amed Beach
Located off of Jl. Melasti, just 1km north of Amed Beach, lies Bayu Beach. It is possible to take a relaxed stroll all the way along this seafront in Bali, and surprisingly, this windswept stretch is nearly always empty. The soft volcanic sand is hot underfoot, and sparkles like crazy in the sun. Cool off by swimming and snorkelling for critters.
I’d never fully appreciated the beauty of black sand until I set foot on Bayu Beach.
Backed by an impressive hillside panorama, a gentle stream trickles down from the valley into the ocean, adding another dimension of sight and sound.
Traditional Melasti ceremonies
Dusk and dawn at Bayu Beach are not to be missed, especially the epic sunsets which reign daily over Mount Agung in the distance. You can regularly witness the traditional Melasti ceremony – a Balinese beach cremation.
If you’re curious about this cultural ritual, the locals don’t mind you taking a peek as long as you keep your distance. Exploring the beach a day after cremation is fascinating with all the bizarre offerings left behind. This holy place is easily one of the best secret spots in Bali. We stayed for 2 months here at Amed Blue Sky Villas.
Gunung Kawi Water Temple, Sebatu
The lush green gardens and beautiful water complex make Gunung Kawi Sebatu one of the prettiest places of worship in Bali.
Nestled at the bottom of the valley along the winding backstreets of Northern Ubud, is Gunung Kawi Sebatu. Having lived in the village of Sebatu for almost 6 months, it was very noticeable to us that this traditional water temple is a lot less frequented than others in Ubud, and is a great example of Bali away from tourists.
This water temple is regularly used by the local people of the village, and has a walled fresh spring bathing area with tranquil fountains. A golden carp pond brimming with lily pads is the perfect place to stop for a moment of peace.
Scenic routes from Ubud
Taking a (rather steep) stroll up the hill, it is possible to get a great view of the complex from above. If you’re travelling around Bali by bike, there are many scenic routes from Ubud to Sebatu, making Gunung Kawi Sebatu a very chilled road trip, and is a steal at only 15,000 IDR per person if you’re on a budget in Bali.
Golden Valley of Waterfalls, Gobleg
If you’re looking for hidden gems in Bali, then you need to get yourself to Gobleg! This region is breathtaking, and has plenty to offer to those that are willing to make the journey far up North.
Hidden paths and trails
Often referred to as the ‘golden valley of waterfalls’ Gobleg has a chain of falls including Labuhan Kebo, Melanting and Munduk which are linked together via paths and hiking trails through beautiful forests and valleys which we can highly, highly recommend!
Set on high ground, Gobleg is edged by Bali’s famous twin lakes – Lake Tamblingan and Danau Buyan. These huge craters offer spectacular views, excellent hiking trails and tranquil boat trips over water.
The charming village of Munduk is a great place to stop for lunch or even a few nights stay, so you can truly soak up the natural beauty of this area. We really love exploring Gobleg by motorbike, there is a ‘wow’ moment around almost every corner. Quite rightly so, Gobleg is one of the most wonderful hidden gems in Bali.
If I could describe Bali as a colour, it would be green, green and more lush green – and Sideman sums this up perfectly!
Experience rural Bali
Nestled between the famous Besakih Temple and Klungkung, this Eastern region of Bali offers layers of rice paddies, jungles and panoramic hills basking underneath great Mount Agung. If you are hoping to experience rural Bali away from tourists (perhaps what Ubud may have been like back in the day) then we really recommend the area of Sideman.
Taste the local culture in every sense of the word, mingle with friendly children, farming communities and local craftsmen. Sideman is a great place to stay if you are looking for somewhere to relax and unwind in Bali.
The Hidden Canyon Beji Guwang
The Hidden Canyon or ‘Beji Guwang’ is a rugged ravine in the depths of the Sukawati jungle. Admittedly, its a little more well known than some of the other secret spots on our list, but the adventurous nature of this fun activity keeps the crowds away.
Take a guide
The Hidden Canyon offers an intrepid 2-3 hour trail along the River Oos. We strongly advise a guide for your own safety, unless you are experienced in bouldering, especially when visiting The Hidden Canyon during rainy season.
We only encountered one other couple during our trek. For me personally, Beji Guwang Canyon is perhaps a little too edgy, but Nick absolutely loved it and we definitely agree that it is one of the coolest places in Bali.
Banyu Wana Amertha Waterfall
I am almost reluctant to put Banyu Wana Amertha Waterfall on our list, because truly, it is one of the best (read our favourite) hidden gems in Bali. Unlike other waterfall treks, the hike down to Banyu Wana Amertha isn’t so much of a jungle but more of a forest full of fresh pines, fruit trees and birdsong.
A little secret
I’ll let you in on a little secret, there are actually two waterfalls at Banyu Wana Amertha. You will find the first nestled in an exotic glen. A wide waterfall cascades over a rocky wall, creating a spray mist that adds a refreshing dimension to this magical place.
Once you’re done soaking up all the nature, climb back to the main pathway and follow signs towards the second waterfall which is equally as good… if not better. I’ll say no more and let you go explore!
Swimwear is advised, I can confirm that you will want to take a dip in the water at both falls.
This garden of Eden can be found between Singaraja and the twin lakes in the Buleleng Regency. Hopefully what keeps this secret spot from becoming too overly saturated, is the difficulty in getting there!
Sangeh Monkey Forest
Sangeh Monkey Forest made it to our list for two reasons 1) It is shadowed by its famous (and overcrowded) sister in Ubud 2) It is a great secret spot in Bali if you want to see monkeys!
Around 700 long-tail Macaques live in the sky-high trees of Sangeh’s forest. They are a lot less forthcoming than the monkeys in Ubud, and we were able to walk the grounds with ease without worrying about our camera being snatched!
17th Century temple
At the heart of Sangeh Monkey Forest is a towering 17th Century temple, complete with mossy walls and signature Balinese statues. A walking path through the pretty forest leads you around the grounds, filled with jungle vines and impressive banyan trees.
This location attracts Balinese couples who come here for their wedding photography, dressed in decadent ceremonial clothes and makeup, which is an impressive sight.
Hidden river trail
One of our favourite aspects of Sangeh Monkey Forest was discovering a secret path leading down to the river. It can be a little slippery, so go careful on your way, but once you’re there you can dip your toes in the fresh river water surrounded by Bali’s beautiful nature. Bliss!
Wisata Alam Rice Fields, Ubud
This great little find was discovered while exploring the backstreets of northern Ubud. Situated just up the hill from Tegalallang, this peaceful spot is worlds away from the crowds, and mostly frequented by farmers.
Loop around the paddies by following narrow pathways edged with suback streams and enjoy the therapeutic sound of running water.
If you’re looking to get that perfect ‘rice paddy reflection’ shot, then you should come here. In our opinion, the best time of day is just before dusk when the air is full of dragonflies. Watching the sky change colour over the Kintamani mountains in the distance is very special.
Mount Batur and Pinggan Village viewpoint
Most people travelling to Bali will have Mount Batur firmly on their itinerary. The sunrise trek is indeed very popular, so if you’re hoping to avoid the hoards but still see the volcano, then we recommend exploring the surrounding area instead.
There are literally dozens of secluded views to be found along the roads which wind around Mount Batur and Kintamani. Pass tiny local communities high in the hills, misty forests and glimpses of this incredible mountain rising into the clouds at every angle.
An excellent vantage point is the breathtaking view at Pinggan Village. It’s an early start, but we highly recommend getting there for sunrise.
Cheap Balinese food
Don’t forget to wear an extra layer and bring rain jackets, the weather can be cold and wet up there. If you find yourself feeling chilly, stop for a bowl of bakso or soto ayam at one of the friendly roadside stalls, and warm up with some cheap Balinese food while enjoying an insane view!
Share your hidden gems in Bali
With its vibrant culture, varied landscape and incredible people, this beautiful island has so much more to offer than what may first meet the eye. Where is your favourite spot in Bali? We’d love to hear about your findings in the comments section below!