Off the Tourist Trail: 5 Northern Bali Highlights

Off the Tourist Trail: 5 Northern Bali Highlights

Does spending three weeks in a far corner of northern Bali sound intriguing? Aside from lounging in the sun and swimming, what can you do?

Exploring the delights of Bali far off the tourist trail allows you to meet the real people of Bali and see how life is lived right up close. Our three week adventure in Les Village in the district of Tejakula presented us with just such an opportunity.

1. Fishing adventures start early

fisherman catching fish

The Balinese wake with the rooster crowing, nearly one hour before daybreak. It is still quite dark outside when you can see people walking along the shore, many of them getting their fishing boats ready and pushing out to sea.

Making arrangements to accompany a fisherman on his daily outing is an informal affair, with no guidelines as to set price or what is included. It is up to you to negotiate the price or to settle on a generous tip. Remember that most of these fishermen live at subsistence levels at best.

Going on a fishing adventure with a local fisherman you will get front row seats to the sunrise of a lifetime. If you are lucky, you will also catch some fish.

2. Morning markets give a localised experience

Basket of flowers for sale at market

Accompanying your host to market is another activity that brings you close up with life in a small town in Bali. Markets open at daybreak, and by 6:30 AM things are in full swing. There are stalls brimming with fresh produce.

Another corner of the market has all that you need to bring offerings to the nearby temple: flowers, baskets, incense, and palm leaves. Yet another area offers a “fast food” breakfast of sticky rice, mysterious looking drinks made with curcumin, and chicken stew.

3. Balinese massage

off the tourist trail: 5 northern bali highlights | balinese massage

Even in the far reaches of the north in rural Bali, one can find a spa if you try hard enough. The Samadhi Spa in Tejakula (phone number: 6281338275206) is a lovely spa located in a typical style private house in the middle of a lush tropical garden.

Soft music and mint infused, cold towels refresh you upon entering the spa. There is a full menu of massages including foot massage, Balinese massage, Ayurvedic massage and more. The massages range in price and average approximately 180,000 IDR (approximately 15 USD) for a one hour massage. The masseuses are experienced and the massages were excellent.

4. Les Waterfall

Les waterfall

The only true tourist site in the area is the Les Waterfall, and tourists staying in the more popular cities of Amed, Tulamben or Lovina often make the trek (approximately one hour by car) to visit this tropical oasis.

Cocoa trees, jackfruit, papaya, rambutan, and palm trees of all varieties line the narrow dirt path leading to the waterfall. The walk from the parking lot, which takes about twenty minutes, brings you directly up to the thirty meter waterfall. Bring a picnic with you and you can enjoy a pleasant couple of hours cooling off in the spray of the waters amidst the green splendor.

5. Snorkeling and scuba diving

shoreline at segara lestari villas

The best-kept secret of northern Bali is the incredible snorkeling and scuba sites right outside your front door. During our stay at Segara Lestari Villa, snorkeling right outside our front door was a daily ritual. The coral reefs, teeming with life, provided an ever changing panoply of color and form, never disappointing.

Northern Bali: your destination for relaxation and discovering the "real" Bali

If you are eager to go beyond sightseeing, hordes of tourists, and western food, discovering the joys of northern Bali, may be just the thing for you. Rural life is slower, quieter, and you must be prepared for nightlife that consists of reading a book, or having a good conversation. Lights are out early here, ensuring a good night’s rest before waking for the break of day.

Disclosure: Trip101 selects the listings in our articles independently. Some of the listings in this article contain affiliate links.

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Naomi L. Baum, Ph.D., in an international consultant in the field of trauma and resilience. In this capacity, she has travelled widely working with communities that have been hit by earthquakes,...Read more

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