Far from the mass tourism of South Bali, the Northern part of the island adds a real touch of authenticity to any trip. It’s the uncrowded and unhurried part of Bali, or as a lot of people like to refer to it, ‘the old Bali.’ Say goodbye to traffic jams, pushy street vendors and busy beaches. Here it’s all about cool highlands that are speckled with waterfalls, remote rice paddies, jungles and serene lakes. Here are just some of the top things to do in North Bali…
1. Lovina Beach
Lovina Beach stretches approximately 12 km and is located just west of Singaraja; within easy reach of most of Bali’s natural and cultural attractions. It’s the perfect spot to watch the sun go down but also draws in many tourists for sunrise, because hundreds of dolphins also visit the coast here every morning. It’s a beautiful place, with a really lovely feel.
Lovina also makes the perfect vantage point for exploring Bali’s northern region. It consists of a string of small villages along the coast of North Bali and offers plenty of relaxed tropical charm… Not to mention some great places to eat and drink (but more on that later!) Their beaches are honestly among the prettiest on the island, wide and undisturbed, so you can take all of this in, in between your great adventures out!
2. Dolphin Watching
You simply can’t go to Lovina and not book a dolphin watching tour. It is simply stunning! I must admit, we spent the night before at a beach club (more about that below) and felt a little bit rough (one too many Bintang!)… oops. Because of this, we ended up waking up late and nearly missing this boat tour out completely… yep, we learnt our lesson!
However, on this occasion it ended up working in our favour, because it meant we set out slightly later and missed all the sunrise crowds, instead having the sea almost completely to ourselves! Soon spotting the dolphins about 1km off the coast of Lovina, it was then one of the most magical moments of our life.
What started as a few dolphins bobbing up and down, ended up as hundreds. Yes, HUNDREDS! And just meters away from our boat. They were jumping and diving, almost showing off to us. For a while we just forgot about capturing it on camera and simply enjoyed the moment. Words honestly can’t describe it, which is why dolphin watching alone is enough reason why you MUST visit North Bali! It’s our top recommendation of them all!
3. Munduk & Mayong Rice Paddies
After some green goodness?! In the highlands just behind the northern coast, you will find farming villages Munduk and Mayong. These villages are absolutely unspoiled and surrounded by green mountainsides, coffee plantations and most importantly the most wonderful rice paddies on earth. On the way you enjoy the magnificent scenery and local guides that accompany you can explain about the trees, animals and plants that you encounter along your way. For the nature-lovers, this is going to be your idea of heaven!
4. Sekumpul Waterfall
Known as ‘The Best Waterfall in Bali’, with a local name of Air Terjun Sekumpul, these hidden waterfalls are situated in the tranquility a remote valley. Surrounded by the lush jungle, it just oozes this serenity ambiance that will make you want to stay there all day!
To get down to Sekumpul Waterfall it’s a bit of a trek, but honestly: it’s worth it… even when your legs are shaking from all the steps, you’ll be thankful you made it! The seven waterfalls each have their own beauty, form, and height that look extraordinary and make these waterfalls one of, if not the best in Indonesia… Take a look below and judge for yourself!
5. Aling Aling Waterfall
Whilst we’re on the topic of waterfalls, the mighty Aling Aling is another one you’ve got to visit! In fact, I highly recommend you make a day of it, hopping from one to the next like we did! Hidden in the jungle in the North of Bali, Aling Aling Waterfall is one of several waterfalls located in the beautiful Sambangan Secret Garden area. All of these are worth exploring and the riverside walks are equally enjoyable, so I’d certainly recommend taking an afternoon out there.
Aling Aling Waterfall itself is arguably the most famous of all the waterfalls and, standing at 35 metres, it is also the tallest. Sitting at the end of the valley, the waterfall is enclosed by imposing rock faces covered in thick jungle foliage, making for a striking first impression. A powerful gush of water plummets down the rocks, landing in a bright blue pool below, and the resulting spray creates a dramatic mist effect against the lush foliage. The locals consider the waterfall to be a sacred spot so you’re not allowed to swim here, although that’s probably for the best due to the sheer power of the water!
LITTLE TIP: If you’re a bit of a foodie, as you’re driving back, have a look at the restaurants you pass by. We found a beautiful little homestay-style restaurant, stopping for a Nasi Gorang lunch with the most incredible backdrop and views.
6. Beachfront Restaurants
Talking of food and taking it back to Lovina now, whilst in North Bali you have GOT to check out some of their restaurants!
Our driver gave us the inside tip to head to Spice Beach Club for food, drinks and an amazing sunset! The place was very chilled out, sun loungers on the beach, relaxing music and an all-round great atmosphere. They offer a nice range of food and drink with fantastic service. After we’d eaten the live entertainment started with belly dancing, singing and a in-house dj playing house and traditional Balinese music. All this whilst chilling on a sun lounger, Bintang in hand, looking out on to the Bali sea watching one of the best sunsets you’ll ever see… it was just pure bliss!
Spice Beach Club in Lovina is just one of many top bars and restaurants around the area, but we couldn’t recommend it highly enough.
7. Banjar Hot Springs
Banjar Hot Springs, locally referred to as ‘Air Panas Banjar’, are located approximately 5km southwest from Lovina Coast in North Bali. The centuries-old hot springs have been upgraded with modern facilities over time, and have become a favourite retreat and recreational site among locals and international visitors. The hot springs are an easy itinerary on trips to North Bali, approximately 25km west from the town centre of Singaraja, the capital of the Buleleng regency.
We decided not to go into the hot spring pools on our trip (due to time and also going on the weekend when it was packed full of locals!) Instead we were shown around by our driver who also explained the history and why the Balinese people love to visit here. We chilled out around the grounds, talked with the locals and even dipped our feet in to feel how warm the pools were… admittedly we then regretted not bringing our swimming costumes, but it’s certainly one for next time!
8. Mount Batur Sunrise Trek
Right, time to mix it up a bit with the ULTIMATE ADVENTURE… Why not try a sunrise trek on Mount Batur? Based in Kintamani, the volcano is still active (you may have seen a threat of an eruption all over the news back in 2018?!) however it’s perfectly safe… trust me! The trek is quite challenging but it takes you to the inner crater at 1,717 meters above sea level in about 4 hours. Most excursions head up before sunrise, but can you imagine then the views?!
9. Ulun Danu Beratan Temple and Lake Beratan
Set within the highlands of the mountainous Bedugul Regency in Bali, atop a plateau that sits on Lake Beratan, stands the majestic Ulun Danu Temple. In the mild, mountain weather, approximately 1,500 meters above sea level, the air is crisp and cool. The stunningly clear lake is calm and almost perfectly still, save for the soft breeze that occasionally sweeps across, creating tiny ripples upon its surface. A thin mist rises from the lake and hangs in the air, surrounding the temple, giving it a somewhat surreal appearance. This place is honestly just something else and somewhere we actually stopped on the way from South Bali up to the North.
There’s plenty of grounds to explore here so have a walk around and soak it all in. I guarantee by the time you’ll leave you’ll feel super relaxed and have found that little bit of ‘inner peace’… 😉
10. Bali Handara Golf Resort
Last but not least, if you’re looking for something a little bit different to do on your Bali adventure, how about having a shot at the Bali Handara Country Club, set in an extinct volcano?! It is undoubtedly Bali’s most spectacular golf course and recognized as one of Asia’s most iconic courses, ranked among the “Top 50 Greatest Golf Courses in The World” by Golf Magazine. Nestled 1,142 meters above sea level, it offers a par seventy-two, 6,432-yard eighteen hole championship course surrounded by rolling mountain, crater lakes and ancient rainforest.
So if Golf is your thing or you simply want to say to everyone back home ‘I played golf in a volcano’ then make sure you pay a visit to the Handara country club and take in this fantastic setting!
So that’s it folks! There’s 10 of the many reasons why you must visit North Bali. It honestly has so much more to offer than what I’ve listed here but if these things can’t tempt you to not skip the north of the island, nothing will! We visited, Seminyak, Ubud, Uluwatu, Sanur and Nusa Dua during our Bali Adventure, but our experience certainly wouldn’t have been the same without the northern part of our adventure.
Wishing you all a wonderful trip, no matter where you choose to go!
Luke & Ell, x