Bali has lured tourists from far and wide for decades. The combination of sandy beaches, lush tropical forests, and the calm ethos of Balinese culture provide the anodyne getaway many seek. In a recent trip to this gem of an island, I attempted to created a journey that touches on the highlights Bali has to offer in under 48 hours.
First stop in Jimbaran – dinner by the beach
We arrived at Ngura Rai International airport later afternoon (approximately 5pm). We headed directly to Jimbaran, which is just 20 minutes south of the airport. Jimbaran in days past was a real backwater of south Bali, nothing more than a tiny fishing village with a daily market. In the 1980s things started to change and Jimbaran is now home to several world class beach resorts, plus a few more moderate mid-market hotels. The bay itself has a pleasant white sand beach and is very safe for swimming.
When we got to the bay, we decided to go for a long stroll along the beach. When the sun was low on the horizon and the water was bathed in golden amber light, we settled at one of the many bars for an ice cold Bintang to enjoy the stunning sunset Jimbaran is known for. We then headed back up the beach to find a spot to eat some dinner. The dining options in Jimbaran center around eating locally caught seafood on the beach, which is a quintessential part of many a visitor’s itinerary when coming to Bali. While we advise you to be selective in what fish you eat to ensure you are eating sustainable varieties, also keep in mind that much of the fish is caught by local fishermen that have lived on the island for generations. Thus, you are supporting the local economy and providing a livelihood to Balinese families.
Diving in Padangbai with OK Divers – sharks and turtles galore
After a delicious meal, we headed to Padang Bai in East Bali where we would be spending the night and diving the next morning. Most visitors to Padang Bai are there to catch a boat to Lombok and sadly miss out on a charming little place in its own right. People who do give it a chance often cancel their trip in order to spend more time in this lovely village. Spending a night or two here will certainly not be time wasted.
We were excited to be in Padang Bay because there is good diving and snorkeling in the immediate area, and a number of operators are present to cater for those activities. We decided to go with OK Divers, a PADI 5 star dive center offering full range of fun diving in Padang Bai, Nusa Penida, Tulamben, Menjangan, Kubu, Gillies and Secret Bay. We were immediately impressed upon arrival at the OK Divers Resort. It is a charming hotel with beautiful outdoor space and the rooms are quite lovely. The staff running the hotel as well as the dive shop were friendly and expedient in their service provision.
Underwater and resort photography by Rudo Hvizdos / OK Divers
After getting a restufl night’s sleep we woke up energized and excited to tackle the big blue sea and explore it’s hidden treasures. I had convinced my two friends who were travelling with me to take a Discovery Scuba dive, so the three of us could go out together. They both had a very thorough lesson in the pool by one of the dive masters and in no time at all, we were all loaded on a long-tail boat heading out to a fun-filled morning of diving. The dive spots were quite close to the beach so we were only cruising for 15 min, before we got geared up and jumped in the water and immersed ourselves in the underwater magical kingdom. We got to see a wide array of tropical fish, turtles, white-tipped sharks sleeping under rocks, schools of barracuda, and so much more. The coral appeared a bit damaged in places, but overall the fauna and flora was quite healthy.
My two friends absolutely loved the two dives and cannot wait to get certified so that they can enjoy diving more. I think it was a testament to the great instruction and guidance of the dive master and OK Divers that they had such a great experience and are now two more fans of the underwater world! After our dives, we had a delicious Thai lunch at the resort and spent some time going over what we saw underwater and filling out our dive logs. In no time at all, we were back in our car and headed towards Canggu where we were to complete our Bali adventure.
Goa Lawah (“Bat Cave”) Temple – guano, guano, guano
On the way to Canngu, we made a stop at the Pura Goa Lawah (Balinese “Bat Cave Temple”), which is a Balinese Hindu temple or a pura located in Klungkung, Bali, Indonesia. Pura Goa Lawah is often included among the Sad Kahyangan Jagad, or the “six sanctuaries of the world”, the six holiest places of worship on Bali. Pura Goa Lawah is noted for being built around a cave opening which is inhabited by bats, hence its name, the Goa Lawah or “bat cave”. Pura Goa Lawah was established in the 11th century by Mpu Kuturan and is considered one of the holiest temples in Bali. Mpu Kuturan was one of the early priests who introduced Hinduism on Bali.
Canggu – gorgeous sunsets, chill vibes
Canggu proper is a small village on the beach about 20 minutes north of Seminyak, half way to Tanah Lot. Canggu is widely used though to refer to a large coastal stretch of about 8 km, running north from the village of Berawa (just north of Seminyak) to the village of Cemagi (just south of Tanah Lot) taking in “Batu Bolong Beach”, Echo Beach, “”Nelayan Beach””, Pererenan Beach, Selasih Beach, Seseh Beach and Mengening Beach along the way. It is still a largely rural area away from the beaches, but is being developed fast.
Nelayan Beach (Fisherman Beach) is where you can still get fresh fish, lobsters, prawns etc every early morning. Five minutes walk between Berawa Beach and Batu Bolong Beach.
The beaches have dark grey or black sand and are not prized by tourists for swimming and sunbathing, but offer some renowned and challenging surfing spots. The area remains popular with surfers, the breaks are inviting, the water is clean and the beaches are not as littered with plastic as Kuta and Seminyak.
The area is popular with many expatriates who choose to live here, and a large number of the villas owned by overseas nationals are located here. Much of the area features quietly undulating terrain with the rice paddies that typify much of south central Bali.
We decided to rent this gorgeous villa that was hidden from view but centrally located on the main road of Canggu. The villa had stunning open-air architecture and the Balinese staff were delightful and most inviting. It is actually quite common for many tourists to rent a home will staying in Bali – it offers a tranquil respite where you can relax and unwind in your own privacy, while still enjoying everything Bali has to offer. After we checked in, we headed to Finn’s Beach Club for some delicious sundowners and to admire one last stunning sunset over the beautiful Pacific sea. For dinner, we headed to La Laguna for a delicious assortment of Balinese cooking.
You can spend a lifetime returning to Bali to discover old villages, new beaches, and historic attractions, but even if you only have the opportunity to pass through for a few days, you can be sure to pack in plenty of fun.
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