A waterfall, snorkeling & a boutique hotel

There are loads and loads of waterfalls in Bali. For example, this is a short two-day trip by the intriguing Salt in our Hair blogger:

If you want more, here’s a list of 31 waterfalls on the island of the gods.

We went to Banyumala Waterfalls and it was wondrous. The hike is 15 minutes down a fairly rugged trail, and a sweaty 30 minutes back out, but if you are in reasonable shape its very worthwhile.

Before the trail to the waterfalls there’s a small cafe (known in Indonesia as a warung) that serves both Indonesian and Western food. The entry price for accessing the trail is 30,000 rupiah per person. From our retreat it is approximately 1 hour and 50 minutes to the trailhead.

After Banyumala Falls we went to Lovina, a small town on the northern coast of Bali. We found a delightful new boutique hotel, with ten rooms and a yummy cafe. (Room rate during the low season is 450,000 rupiah or $31 USD. A great value).

The next day we went snorkeling with Donnie. We met him while walking to the beach the previous evening, and for 75,000 rupiah per person ($5.15 USD) he would take us snorkeling (25,000 rupiah less per person than the hotel rate). He also takes people to see the dolphins, but we didn’t want to wake up at 6:00am lol.

In the video below I got nipped by a fish. It didn’t hurt but it was a bit startling:

Some tips:

  • When traveling by scooter, bring water for your brakes. When coming down out of the mountains towards Lovina the road is steep and the brakes heat up to the point where the brake cables stretch and can make braking difficult or impossible. Watering the disc brakes immediately resolves the problem.
  • Pace yourself when coming back up from the waterfalls. You are in the tropics and the heat can get the best of you.
  • Lovina is a quiet town and so its best to slow down and enjoy the slower pace. Surprisingly most of the locals we met speak English quite well, so language difficulties shouldn’t be a problem.

Scooters own Bali (and Asia)

If you plan to see much of Bali, you have two choices: rent a car, or rent a scooter. Bicycles don’t quite work on the main roads as scooters own both the edges of the roads and even some sidewalks.

With a rented car you get a huge benefit — a driver. I wouldn’t even consider renting a car without a driver, unless you have extensive experience with: narrow roadways, and hyperactive scooter drivers. With a driver and a car you can go almost anywhere (I’ll give an example of where you can’t go in a minute). Car travel will be slower than scootering by 25% or more, but if you’re not the dizzy type you can catch up on your reading or try and be zen while watching the scenery (traffic) roll by.

If you mostly plan on frequent days trips from one nearby town to another, I’d recommend renting a scooter. However, you should not be a total beginner. You should either be a scooter owner or someone who has rented scooters during previous vacations in England or the Caribbean. Even with experience under your belt, driving a scooter in Bali or anywhere in Asia is not for the faint of heart.

Special delivery

In Bali you drive on the left side of the road:

Left hand traffic: ~1/3 of the world. Mostly the UK and its (British) colonies in Oceania (Australia, New Zealand, Fiji, Tonga etc.), Eurasia (Ireland, Malta, Cyprus, India, Malaysia, Indonesia, Philippines etc.), the Caribbean (Antigua and Barbuda, St Kitts and Nevis, Jamaica etc.), and Africa, particularly SE’tern countries (Kenya, Uganda, Botswana, South Africa). The Japanese too drive on the left hand of the road!

Right hand traffic: ~2/3 of the world. These include USA, Canada, most of Europe including France, Spain, Portugal, Germany, Italy and their corresponding colonies, and most of Asia.

(Courtesy of Quora)

Secondly, outside of Denpasar (Bali’s largest city), traffic lights are few and far between. This means that when you come to an intersection, its a negotiation. At the busier intersections you may get lucky and find a traffic cop. But don’t count on it. It’s best to follow a local scooter driver and make your move right behind her.

While traffic along the main roads is abundant day or night, if you are going to rent a scooter, try and avoid peak traffic. In addition, getting a smartphone holder that attaches to the scooter’s mirror or handle bar before you arrive in Bali is also a good idea. You can even turn on the “speak louder” option on Google maps, since staring at your phone while scootering is a bad idea.

Very light traffic at this intersection in Bali

Here’s a case where renting a scooter is relatively easy to do (and a lot more fun than hiring a driver — in addition to being much cheaper). Let’s say you want to go from Pererenan to Canngu:

The dark blue lines are drawn by Google on my timeline from April 29th. I ran a few errands earlier in the day, and just before sunset went with Shelly and a new friend to The Lawn. The red arrow is pointing to one of the main roads across southern Bali (Jl. Raya Canggu). So as you can see, we were able to take a short cut and avoid traffic:

Here’s a satellite view of the area. A red line is pointing to a small, narrow road that cuts across the rice fields, where only scooters can fit. On that particular drive (April 29th) the moon was almost full, and driving the 10-12 minutes from Pererenan to Canggu was a delight.

It is possible to go longer distances by scooter, even going from one side of Bali to the other in under a day. As long as you have previous experience in moment-to-moment intersection negotiations you’ll probably be fine. However, it wont be a picnic.