Nyepi Day 2015 in Bali - 21st March 2015


Nyepi Day in Bali is a New Year’s celebration unlike anywhere else on the planet. Also known as Bali’s celebration of the Saka New Year, it is ultimately the quietest day of the year, when all of its inhabitants abide by a set of local rules that brings all routine activities to a complete halt. The roads all over Bali are void of any traffic and nobody steps outside of his or her home premises.

Most Balinese and visitors regard it as a much-anticipated occasion. Expats and those coming from neighbouring islands prefer escaping Bali for the day due to the restrictions that surround this observance. Some visitors check coinciding dates ahead before their Bali trip, avoiding it altogether. Largely, Nyepi is worth experiencing at least once in a lifetime, especially since the preceding and following days are full of rare highlights!

The day marks the turn of the Saka calendar of western Indian origin, one among the many calendars assimilated by Indonesia’s diverse cultures, and among two jointly used in Bali. The Saka is 78 years behind the Gregorian calendar, and follows a lunar sequence. This year’s Nyepi falls on March 31, following a new moon.

Village meeting halls known as ‘banjar’ and streets feature papier-mâché effigies called ogoh-ogoh, built throughout the weeks leading up to the Saka New Year. Youth groups design and build their mythical figures with intricately shaped and tied bamboo framework before many layers of artwork. These artistic creations are offshoots of the celebration since its dawning in the early 80s, which stayed on to become an inseparable element in the island-wide celebration that is Nyepi Eve.


Before ‘the silence’, highlight rituals essentially start three days prior to Nyepi, with colourful processions known as the Melasti pilgrimages. On Friday March 28, pilgrims from various village temples all over Bali convey heirlooms on long walks towards the coastlines where elaborate purification ceremonies take place. It is one of the best times to capture on camera the iconic Balinese processions in motion, as parasols, banners and small effigies offer a cultural spectacle.

On March 30, Saka New Year’s Eve is all blaring noise and merriment. Every Balinese household starts the evening with blessings at the family temple and continues with a ritual called the pengrupukan where each member participates in ‘chasing away’ malevolent forces, known as bhuta kala, from their compounds – hitting pots and pans or any other loud instruments along with a fiery bamboo torch. These ‘spirits’ are later manifested as the ogoh-ogoh to be paraded in the streets. As the street parades ensue, bamboo cannons and occasional firecrackers fill the air with flames and smoke. The Nyepi Eve parade usually starts at around 19:00 local time.

However on March 31, complete calm enshrouds the island. The Balinese Hindus follow a ritual called the Catur Brata Penyepian, roughly the ‘Four Nyepi Prohibitions’. These include amati geni or ‘no fire’, amati lelungan or ‘no travel’, amati karya ‘no activity’, and amati lelanguan ‘no entertainment’. Some consider it a time for total relaxation and contemplation, for others, a chance for Mother Nature to ‘reboot’ herself after 364 days of human pestering. No lights are turned on at night – total darkness and seclusion goes along with this new moon island-wide, from 06:00 to 06:00.

No motor vehicles whatsoever are allowed on the streets, except ambulances and police patrols and emergencies. As a hotel guest, you are confined to your hotel premises, but free to continue to enjoy the hotel facilities as usual. Traditional community watch patrols or pecalang enforce the rules of Nyepi, patrolling the streets by day and night in shifts.

The day after Nyepi on April 1, head up to the village of Sesetan in southern Denpasar for the omed-omedan also known as the ‘festival of smooches’. This is a much-localized event, pertaining to the lesser Banjar Kaja community of Sesetan. The youths take to the street where water is splashed and sprayed by the surrounding villagers, and the highlight being two sides, boys and girls, in a tug-of-war-like scene with successive pairs in the middle ‘forced’ to smooch at each shove and push.


Bali's wet season arrives late !


The Bali branch of the Bureau of Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics (BMKG) confirmed that unseasonal east to southeasterly winds are expected to push the start of the wet season till at least the middle of December. According to the Head of Bali’s BMKG, Wayan Suardana, the winds have caused recent temperatures to scorch above average for this time of year. “The east or southeast winds are dry causing it to be hot in Bali,” said Suardana.

It is understood BMKG’s initial prediction for the commencement of the wet season was the middle of November. “The east to southeast winds have affected the change in the wet west wind. The amount of rain has thus been below average,” Suardana added. “On average temperatures have been between 33 to 34 degrees Celsius. These are above average for this time of year,” he concluded.

Bali Religious Ceremonies for 2015


Festivals and ceremonies occur year-round in Bali, celebrating every aspect of Balinese life and culture. But the biggest and most unforgettable of these happen only a few times a year. Bali is a great place to be during these festivals, as you won’t want to miss the experience. Here is a bit about each of them, as well as some tips for the tourist who would like to take part in the celebration.

These are the holiest days of the year for the Balinese people, so it’s important to understand the “do’s” and “don’ts” for the days. Show respect, take photos where allowed, and soak up the magic of the religious ceremonies of Bali. These beautiful ceremonies show how the Balinese people honor life and one another. No matter what religious or spiritual path you follow, it’s an honor to be involved in such loving and joyful celebrations of being.


Galungan this year on July 15th 2015. Galulungan is the most important ceremony in the Balinese calendar. The Galungan festival represents the victory of dharma over adharma, or simply put, the conquest of good over evil. It celebrates the two weeks every year when all the good spirits come down to Bali. The Balinese people welcome them with prayers and offerings, and perform ceremonies for cleansing and abundance.
During the ten-day festival, members of the local temple dance through the streets and the sound of the gamelan, the traditional instrument of Bali, rings through the town. Each and every household across Bali raises a ‘penjor,’ a large bamboo pole, in the front of their land. The poles are beautifully decorated with palm leaves, bits of clothe and fruit offerings for the gods. With penjors lining the streets as far as the eye can see, Bali is transformed into a sight to behold!

Kuningan this year on July 25th. Kuningan is a day of prayer, filled with blessings and feasts. This ceremony honors the completion of Galungan, representing the day when the deities ascend once again to the heavens. The Balinese adorn their homes and temples with astounding decorations to prepare for the festival. They prepare yellow rice and special foods, giving their thanks to the gods for the abundance they have received during the year. Get ready to be surrounded by laughter and celebration as the Balinese share their good fortune with all those lucky enough to be with them at this special time.

Nyepi this year on March 21st. While the Western world celebrates the new year with a day of parties and revelry, the Balinese ring in the new year with a day of silence. The first day of the Balinese new year, Nyepi, happens the day after the new moon of the spring equinox. It is a day of silence, fasting, and meditation. The entire island literally shuts down, including all shops, banks, and even the airport. The day before Nyepi is an incredible experience, a must-see for any traveler. This is the day of the Bhuta Rajna Ritual, a celebration similar to Halloween. The Balinese create huge demon statues known as Ogoh-Ogoh. They parade them through the streets making as much noise as possible, trying to confuse the evil spirits destined to arrive the following day. The Ogoh-Ogoh are an incredible sight as they travel through the streets. Once they have made a circuit of the town, they are burnt in enormous pyres. The fires and the sound die down only moments before nightfall, when the day of Nyepi begins. No fires are lit during Nyepi, and the most devout Balinese observe this holy day with silence. Most don’t eat or talk for the entire day. It is a day of reflection when the locals refrain from entertainment or games of pleasure. The streets are eerily silent as both locals and tourists remain inside the home. It is incredibly important that you respect and observe this tradition! The Balinese believe that on this day evil spirits are flying over Bali looking to create mischief and mayhem. Everyone in Bali stays indoors to trick the spirits into believing that the island is deserted. But once nightfall comes and the day is officially over, the feasts come out and the talk begins, making it one of the most joyful evenings of the year.



So much to see & do in Bali


Pura Tanah Lot is one of the most sacred temples in Bali, which inevitably means it’s rather commercialized and busy. However, it’s still certainly worth a visit. So rather than pass it by, hire a driver and combine seeing the temple with a trip north up the coast where you can cruise through lush green rice fields and find desolate sparkling black sand beaches. It’s such a treat to get a beach to yourself in Bali. Visit the temple in the day so you can enjoy it at its quietest. However, if you really want to go at sunset, escape the crowds and head left up the hill to one of the local cliff top bars.

Finn’s Beach Club located at Ungasan 45 minutes from Seminyak. Stare in amazement at your first glimpse of the beautiful turquoise Indian Ocean below which makes the stunning landscape for Finns Beach Club. The 180 meters of private white sandy beach is accessed by an inclinator that will carry you down the sheer drop of the cliff face providing the perfect backdrop for spectacular photo opportunities. Laze away the day in the sun enjoying the cool tunes and the service from the friendly Balinese staff. Plenty of great food choices on offer including an array of healthy juices, colorful cocktails, delicious seafood, authentic pizzas, and fresh salads.

Biku Restaurant Try this Javanese carved house where they serve agreat English style high tea from 1pm every afternoon along with a full menu for lunch and dinners.Check out your future with the in house fortune teller and look at their interesting gift shop of books and other memorabilia. Located on Jl Petitenget, Seminyak,almost opposite the entrance to Potato Head.

Big Tree Farms Chocolate tours and workshops. If you love real chocolate, pay a visit to the Big Tree Farms Bamboo Chocolate Factory. Working in partnership with farmers across Indonesia, Big Tree Farms support local communities to grow organic coconut, salt, cashews and cacao that is used to make the tastiest products. Join one of the daily tours around their factory Mon to Fri from 13:30 to 14:30.

Great Massages there are many cheap massage places in Seminyak.You will pay from Rps 50,000 for 60 minutes on the beach in front of Double Six along to GadoGado Restaurant, with one of the many masseurs whom you will find daily, waiting to greet tourists. If you are happy to pay a little more, Bodyworks close by La Luciola is very popular spa and will cost Rps 250,000.JariMenari (Dancing Fingers) is a great place where a full body massage costs Rps 350,000 for 75 minutes. Always book in advance.

Mama San Restaurant in Seminyak decorated in a “Colonial Shanghai”theme, with a stunning mural of a gentlemen’s club madam “Mama San” watches over diners at this modern two story warehouse. The old meets new theme shines through in a menu that features a modern twist on traditional dishes that span the continent.From an Indian lamb and chanadahl curry to a grilled Thai beef salad, roasted Peking duck and Vietnamese spring rolls. What unites this Asian culinary odyssey is the flavorful punch packed by each and every dish. Kick things off with one of five Martinis featuring local ingredients.

Nusa Lembongans laid-back island and ocean living. Escape Bali’s lively south on the laidback island of Nusa Lembongan for a few days’ peace and quiet. If you are feeling active there are plenty of ocean activities including surfing, stand-up paddle boarding, kayaking, snorkelling and diving, or simply relax with a massage and soak up the views of the volcano Mount Agung on Bali and, on a clear day, Rinjani on Lombok. Getting over there is easy, just hop on one of the daily boats out of Sanur or Benoa.

Power of Now Oasis Yoga by the Sea. If you’re an ocean lover, why not try an alternative to the many yoga schools in Ubud and do yoga by the sea. Located on the beach in Sanur.The Power Of Now Oasis offers a range of yoga classes in their stunning bamboo studio. At the end of class, continue your health kick by popping into Warung Kecil. Run by Balinese-born Novi, she serves up the cleanest, freshest and healthiest nasicampur in town, plus fresh juices, panini and salads made from organic and local ingredients. She even sources Bali-made camembert cheese!
Green Village Bamboo TrailsDiscover Bali’s amazing world of bamboo. For an island so rich in bamboo I was thrilled to recently discover a unique Bali experience. Learn all about bamboo at the Green Village on an inspiring tour that takes in the design workshop of master Balinese craftsmen, a visit to the renowned Green School campus, the world’s biggest bamboo chocolate factory, and the super-stylish private residences at the Green Village. Email or call the office to book ahead.

The Best Of Bali Go Overland. By far the best way to appreciate the diversity of Bali is to go on an overland safari. Trips can be tailored to specific timescales and interests including: rice paddy walks, volcanoes, crater lakes, jungle trekking, mountain retreats, coffee plantations, local traditions, temples, waterfalls, coral reefs and WWII wrecks. My personal favorites are: a stop over in the sleepy village of Pemuteran where you can plant your own baby coral and visit nearby Menjangan Island to dive, snorkel, see resident deer if your lucky and enjoy views of Java; a trip up the east coast for rice paddy views, a visit to Taman Tirtagangga Natural Pools, and a stop-over in the laid-back village of Amed to see traditional salt makers, snorkel at the newly-sunk Mermaid reef restoration sculpture, or try your hand at free diving. Ask locally for recommended drivers and guides.

Cocktails on a cliff the Rock Bar a 30 min cab ride from Seminyak if there’s no traffic. ‘The Rock Bar’ a stunning bar located on the end of a cliff overlooking the ocean and is favorites. The sunset is spectacular and really takes your breath away. The Rock Bar is located in at ‘Ayana Resort’ and due to its popularity there is usually a queue for the sunset view, this is mainly because quests of the resort get priority over visitors and the inclinator only takes 8 people at a time. Don’t let the queue deter you, it’s worth the wait!

Chill at Ku De Ta this beachfront bar and fine dining restaurant still holds its own and well worthwhile a visit. It has a slightly more chilled out and relaxed vibe than Potato Head but still an amazing venue for watching the sunset, enjoying a few cocktails (Vanilla & Passion fruit Mojitos, and listening to some great beats. The restaurants here are great for breakfast, lunch or dinner.

Cocoon Pool Party, Cocoon has hosted some of the Island’s hottest poolside events. It’s a glamorous and sleek venue, offering a fine dining restaurant, a stunning bar and a poolside beach club complete with cabanas, palm trees and frangipanis. There’s always something exciting on here. Check the site for all upcoming events or if there’s nothing good on, pop in for a Sunday session.

Laze at Potato Head a great venue to spend an afternoon. Beach front, cocktails, sunshine & beautiful people. This is a popular spot so you want to get here as early as possible to secure a Cabanna. It’s worth the wait, the Cabaña is yours all day with your own waiter for cocktails and nibbles (they have amazing cheese platters and the passion fruit and vanilla vodka cocktail is delicious). Each cabana comes with a min spend of Rps 500,000. You will make more than one visit to this place as the sunset is also spectacular here. Have a few cocktails while enjoying the view, after sunset have a meal at one of three restaurants – ‘Potato Head Bistro’ (Bar food), ‘Lilin’ (serving tapas style East Asian dishes- My pick) and ‘Tapping Shoes’ (French fine dining). The restaurants concave around the 500 square meter lawn in the center of the venue, which extends out to meet the beach-facing infinity.

Ubud Beyond Monkey Forest, a trip to Bali isn’t complete without a visit to Ubud, the cultural and spiritual centre of Bali. Escape the crowds of tourists at Monkey Forest and do something different. Hop on a bike with Bali Eco Cycling and get into the heart of the surrounding countryside and villages. Join a local ceremony or festival, which can include the rather unusual cremation ceremonies.


10 places in Bali to visit not in Seminyak !


Ubud has long been regarded as the quintessential Balinese town and its fame has spread even further with images of Julia Roberts peddling through the rice fields in Eat, Pray, Love. Whether a seasoned Bali goer or a first-timer, the artistic and cultural heart of Bali has a lot to offer any visitor.

Lovely quiet lanes of cafes and shops are dotted throughout the town and the Royal Palaces are an architectural dream.There is definitely a slower pace of life in this hill town.

Although the Monkey Forest Road and other main streets are usually packed with tourists, you can still find tranquility and a hint of quieter times by just taking small excursions into the smaller streets.

Highlights include eating traditional Babi Guling (whole roast pig) at Warung Ibu Oka, early morning strolls through Monkey Forest before the buses arrive, the Royal Palace & Rijsstafel, and traditional Balinese dancing at Café Lotus.

The Kuta to Canggu stretch is popular with tourists wanting to enjoy the nightlife and shopping that this part of Bali has on offer. But packed with restaurants offering every type of cuisine, clubs spilling with bodies, endless shops and round the clock traffic, this part of Bali is not for everyone. It is a great place if you are looking for a party atmosphere, a bit of surfing, beach lounging and a variety of people from all over the globe.

If you are looking for the ‘real’ Bali, this is definitely not the location for you.

If it’s a shopping haven you’re seeking, there is a variety of Indonesian designers in the ‘fashion district’ of Seminyak. Niluh Djelantik is a local designer producing gorgeous handmade shoes and if you have time you can even have a customised pair made to order.

There are also plenty of award winning and international restaurants through this stretch such as Sarong, which dishes up continuously excellent Pan Asian food and has been named amongst the Top Ten Restaurants of South East Asia by the Miele Guide.

Kuta has become more geared towards international chains whilst Canggu has a laid-back surfer vibe with The Deus’ Temple of Enthusiasm being the center of all things hip on this part of the island.

Bukit & Nusa Dua on the Southern bulge of Bali consists of Nusa Dua to the side and Bukit on the bottom. This is the home of rolling turquoise seas and white sand beaches snaking around the dramatic cliffs. There are plenty of stunning beaches to sun yourself on like Padang-Padang and Balangan.

Uluwatu has been one of the world’s most famous surfing spots since the 1970’s, drawing surfers in from around the world. Bingin’s ‘Impossibles’ is another perfect break, to name just two of the endless opportunities for surfers who aren’t afraid of big swell.

The cliffs that look down on these waves are beautiful and wild. They are home to some of the most expensive land in the world with prices per square foot often topping Tokyo. This has led to a change in the landscape over the past few years, with some illustrious neighbors moving in next to the surf shacks and warungs (local restaurants) that scatter the region.

Huge developments sit next to quiet surf and fishing spots creating a strange mix. Dreamland is currently the biggest development – a complex of hotels, gold courses and entertainment centers, posed next to the sleepy surf shack of Bingin in this quiet cove. Nusa Dua is also home to many hotels and resorts but possesses some beautiful calm azure hued swimming spots.

The best thing to do in these parts is explore. You’re sure to find deserted beaches, Five Star Beach Clubs, resorts and simple shacks serving seafood. In other words, something for everyone.

The East Coast of Bali is generally quieter than the West. Even Sanur, the original tourist destination of Bali, has not seen the explosion of development that has hit the other side. Sanur is still a big tourist draw card with older, more spacious resorts, a long white beach and a lagoon that is great for swimming.

Head up the coast and you will reach Candidasa, a sleepy town stretched along the coast of the Lombok Strait that serves up the perfect enclave for tourists. The Tirta Gangga Water Palace, built in 1948 by the King of the Karangasem Regency, is well worth a visit and is home to sacred water of the Balinese Hindus’.

The textile market is also nearby in Semarapura, a chaotic and colorful place to buy intricately embroidered pieces unique to this region. Head further inland to the stunning Sideman to discover beautiful tiles and pottery.

Up along the coast you will hit the coastal towns of Ahmed and Tulamben. Both are famous for wonderful scuba diving and snorkeling with vivid coral gardens and a great shipwreck dive. The black volcanic sands of this region give a dramatic backdrop to the tropical fish that fill the reefs in an underwater fantasy.

Menjangan & the North, tourists often neglect the northern part of Bali, but for beach enthusiasts and those who love life below the surface this area is a dream. The beaches between Lovina and the Bali Barat National Park are great for diving, snorkeling and spotting turtles and dolphins.

Pemuteran is a lovely fishing town where swimming with turtles is still possible. Head into the national park and you will be greeted with glass clear waters teeming with tropical fish, mingling together like a flamboyant Mardi Gras parade. Walk off the beach or take a boat to Menjangan Island and experience some superb diving.

In the national park itself it is possible to take treks and discover the last refuge for many species that were once prevelant in Bali. Spanning 50,000 hectares, this is home to wild deer and the last few black monkeys left in the wild.

There are four major Volcanoes in Bali, the most famous being the towering Mount Agung. Volcanoes are revered on the island and are very much a part of this dramatic landscape, here and throughout Indonesia. Bratan in the north contains three conical lakes and peaks with the highest being Mount Bakataru. These are often mistaken for the volcanoes on the east coast of Java, but they are in fact on the island of Bali.

Mount Batur is an active volcano that is situated near to Ubud. It is commonly viewed from the town of Kintamani that overlooks the peak and lake. People come to enjoy the view and the cool breeze felt on the way up and down the hill. You can also team your volcano trip with a visit to a coffee plantation to taste various local beans.

Despite these geographical masterpieces, it is Mount Agung that really dominates Bali. Being the highest point on the island, the top of the mountain rises through the clouds, leaving even the most well travelled visitor feeling impressed.

The Balinese believe it is a replica of Mount Meru, the central axis of the universe according to Hinduism. It is consequently a deeply sacred and worshipped placed.

It last erupted in 1964 and is still active, but like the other active volcanoes in Bali it has been dormant for a while.

For the adventurous at heart (and the relatively fit), it is possible to climb Mount Agung and rise through the cloud line, finding a view of the entire island and across to Mount Rinjani on Lombok. For the slightly less sporty, a climb up Batukaru is a little less strenuous but still very pleasing on the eye.

The Mother & Directional Temples on the slopes of Mount Agung lies the most sacred temple in Bali – Pura Bekasih. Known as the mother temple, it towers over six levels and reaches almost 1000 metres towards the sky. It is the holiest temple in Bali and contains twenty-three separate temples within the complex. Although the exact origins of the temple are not recorded, it does date back to prehistoric times, with the pyramid stones being 2000 years old.

The entrance, sets of imposing gateways, is like stepping back through time, and you cannot help but be enchanted by the mystical air that shrouds the whole temple. Nowadays, there are a few too many tour guide touts swarming the area, but you can still visit unhindered if you politely go about your business.

The Directional Temples of Bali are scattered across various parts of the island to protect against evil forces. The most picturesque and worth visiting are Uluwatu that sits in the south perched majestically above the crashing waves, and Bedugal that straddles a serene and picturesque lake.

Like most attractions in Bali, it is worth arriving in the early morning to avoid the crowds and feel the calm.

Jatiluwih rice terraces, these quintessential image of Bali is green rice terraces cascading through lush landscapes, easily accessible if you escape the main tourist areas and explore the island. However this image of Bali and the ancient irrigation subak system have come under increasing threat in the past decade. So much so that the incredible terraces of the Jatiluwih Terraces in Tabanan were declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2012.

This was not only to protect the beautiful landscape but also the unique and ancient subak irrigation system intrinsic to Bali’s Tirta Hana Karana philosophy.

This is from Balinese Hinduism and purveys all beliefs on the island to balance the universe between nature and the seen and unseen worlds.

This area is breathtakingly beautiful – rural rice field landscape at its best. Still relatively quiet from tour buses and floods of people, it is untouched and serene. You can stay nearby in Bali’s only real rainforest in the Batukaru region.

Nusa Lembongan & Nusa Peninda, these two islands float off the south of Bali like two green droplets in the surrounding deep blue sea. Nusa Penida is largely underdeveloped and only has one resort, a bird sanctuary and a national park for endangered species. Crystal Bay holds the real wonder. During the migration season from June/July to November it is possible to swim with Mola Mola (Sunfish) and Manta Rays, a once in a lifetime must do.

Nusa Lembongan on the other hand, has become a very popular destination with day-trippers and people looking to escape for a few days. This little island is still a sleepy space of seaweed farmers and village life. It is a wonderful place to unwind, relax and snorkel, sunbathe and soak. Although more hotels are springing up, it is still relatively quiet and there are no shops, cars or nightclubs to speak of. Zoom over the little suspension bridge to the even smaller island of Nusa Ceningan and discover the last secret beaches and quiet villages that exist here.

The interior regions another little visited part of Bali are the interior regions of Batukaru Rainforest, Munduk, and the regions around the east coast such as Sideman. These areas are full of rich fauna and flora, typical Balinese villages and a way of life that is still relatively untouched by the big tourist machine that is taking over other parts of the island. These are areas of great verdant landscapes and a traditional way of life and beliefs.

Batukaru Rainforest is the only real rainforest on the island and is a dense and mysterious place full of birds, deer, luwak, monkeys and plants such as vanilla and cacao; perfect for picking and eating on the trek up Mount Batukaru.

Munduk lies over the other volcanoes on the way to the north of the island as you pass through Bedugal. This is another wonderful area of forest and waterfalls, the most famous being Gitgit, but there are plenty of hidden valleys full of wonderful pools and falls.

Sideman is also like stepping back in time in Bali; a place where time stands still and life slows down. This is a wonderful landscape full of tradition and artisans immersed in these wonderful rolling hills.

The beauty of Bali is not very far away, you just have to escape out of the main areas and explore this enchanted island for yourself.

Seven adrenalin activities in Bali - besides clubbing and cocktails


Lots of Australian holiday-makers dismiss Bali as a destination not only because of security concerns but because they don’t want to spend their vacation roasting on a beach, getting hammered in a nightclub – or avoiding those fellow Australians who do.

Yes, they know Bali has a spiritual dimension to rival any of our other near-neighbours, and that there is world-class tropical beauty to be experienced if you just get off the beaten track.

But perhaps what has escaped attention is just how many active options are now offered. So release your imagination from the beach, free your mind from that cocktail bar and consider these options.

Night Surfing, if it’s an amazing experience standing with a Bintang beer in your hand on a beachfront warung, watching those daring night surfers brave the huge breakers of Keramas which Australian surf legend Luke Egan describes as “A-Grade waves”... well, just think how even more amazing it must be to be one of those night surfers yourself.

Hotel Komune is a newly opened, $10 million, Australian-conceived surfing, yoga and health spa resort on Bali’s east coast.

It also claims to be the only place in the world where surfers can tackle the full moon tides under professional football-standard floodlights.

An ingenious series of large, fluorescent, anchored buoys bob up and down in the distance, allowing the experienced surfers to read the ocean. Surfers also wear brightly coloured tops that are easily picked out by the floodlights.

Obviously weather and tide dependent, the best viewing times at during the full moon. And the other amazing thing? It costs just $A20 for an hour’s night surfing at Komune and you can watch for free – or perhaps the price of a Bintang.

Climb Gunung Agung, At 3142m, is not only Bali’s highest peak but its holiest since it can be seen from much of the island. Basically, there are three ways up: The most demanding route, from the Besakih temple to the west, involving an ascent of six to seven hours, starting (preferably) about 11 the previous night to arrive at the summit at dawn.

The crater route (which ends about 100m short of the real summit) is an easier three to four-hour climb from Pura Pasar Agung in the south. Best to leave about 2am for this one.

The less-used northern Duku Bungangga Sakti overnight route for less fit and less experienced trekkers, involving an overnight camp at 1770m.

April to September, the dry season, is the best time to climb Gunung Agung, and remember to take a torch, warm clothes and gloves (temperatures at the summit of Gunung Agung of about 5C at sunrise).

If you still fancy getting high in Bali with less physical effort, try Gunung Batur (1717m). It’s still a three to four-hour ascent, beginning in the dark about 2am or 3am to get that all-important sunrise view of an active volcanic crater with beautiful Lake Batur in the foreground.

Bali has long been recognised as one of the world’s great dive destinations, and there are many good operators around the island. One that comes particularly highly recommended is Joe’s Gone Diving, in Sanur.

Just don’t ask for Joe. He doesn’t exist. The operators are a Dutch couple, Jan and Mirjam, who are both qualified PADI instructors and ultra-sensitive about the environment. They run a 5-star PADI scuba dive school in Sanur, with a full range of experiences from “try diving” to accredited Open Water Diver and professional Divemaster courses.

If you are staying anywhere in the south of Bali, the company will pick you up from your hotel early in the morning, with different daily dives across the island from Nusa Penida and Padang Bay to Tulamben and Candidasa. The groups are small and the dive instructors have been highly praised for their professionalism and ability to speak English.

Dive sites include coral reefs, marine parks filled with fish and the Liberty wreck at Tulamben, one of the most famous wreck dives in the world. Prices start at $US75 for a two-dive adventure with your own equipment, or $95 including all equipment.

Eco, Educational, Or a serious workout, cycling is a perfect way of seeing Bali at a relaxed pace, getting off the highway and pausing when you see something special.

The best tours take the visitor away from the tourism centres, calling in at relatively tourist-unsaturated local temples and restaurants en route, with glimpses of Balinese life such as rice planting, bamboo harvesting and coffee roasting.

Bali Eco Cycling, run by a Balinese family with Western connections, claim to be the original and best eco and educational cycling operators on the island, designed to “take the visitor away from the tourist areas and show them “the real Bali”.

Their groups are usually no more than 10 people, with a senior guide in the lead and a second guide at the rear for safety. Their bikes can also be fitted with Australian-standard baby seats, for parents who want to take their children along.

The day tour starts soon after breakfast and follows a mainly downhill route on back roads to Ubud, with regular stops to experience village life and local specialities. After lunch, guests can choose to visit Ubud Monkey Forest or take a harder, uphill route to Ubud if they are feeling energetic.

Deep sea fishing, the Balinese admit the Japanese were probably the first to discover the art of jiggling for that really big catch.

But obviously the Balinese have their own take on it. The guys at SportFishing Bali boast their metal jigs are “at least” 400g and much more likely to be 500-600g.

Yes, I have no idea what they are talking about either. So I will just quote them.

“Bali’s currents are very heavy indeed, plus our water depth goes up to an astonishing 200m deep. In Bali, we jig at between 8-120m to catch dog-tooth tunas, amberjack and ruby snapper.”

Budget for about $US760 for a party of four for eight hours of fishing, with lunch included but that case of Bintang at $US40 is extra. No takers? Just think of the fish supper tonight.

River Rafting, one of the good things about being a tropical island with a distinctive wet season (November to March) is that rivers run through it regularly.

Since 1988, the spectacular Ayung River has hosted some of the best – and safest – whitewater rafting in Indonesia, open to children as well as hard-core thrill seekers.

Graha Adventure White Water Rafting, based in Ubud, comes highly recommended – though just about every visitor mentions the steep track down to the Ayung River (400 steps according to one customer – and you have to walk back up them again at the end of the day).

The company’s guides are praised for their professionalism and safety awareness – important considering most customers have never been whitewater rafting before. The river roars through beautiful scenery, with steep canyons, rock carvings, waterfalls and monkey spectators. But there is obviously plenty of time for fun too, with water fights between the different rafts one of the highlights. The two-hour adventure comes with lunch.

Next year’s Bali Ocean Swim will be race on July 5. The organisation, launched in 2009, pledged “to improve the lives of children in Papua, Bali and East Indonesia by using the power and play for development, health and peace”.

The swim, across Kuta Beach and overseen by the Kuta Beach lifeguards, is either 1.2km, 5km or 10km. The costs, for non-Indonesians, are $US50, $US80 and $US100, respectively.

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