One of the most beautiful islands in the world, and now an absolute tourist and traveller mecca, the Indonesian island of Bali is teeming with amazing landmarks and beauty spots. But with the rise of Instagram and other social media channels, these places are often over-crowded and can be a little disappointing. With that in mind, we’ve put together this list of places that are off-the-beaten path in what is a very well-trodden destination, a list of secret spots collected from some experienced travel bloggers who have given us their own hidden gems in Bali. Ready for it? Read on to find out what’s made it onto our Bali Hidden Gems list and what you should add to your Bali itinerary.
Read next: Iconic places and landmarks in Indonesia
Our top 10 Bali Hidden Gems
Now we have nineteen secret spots on this list but, in case you’re in a hurry, we thought we’d count down our favourite ten! They are (in no particular order of course):
- The Ghost Palace Hotel
- Banyu Wana Amertha Waterfall
- Munduk Waterfalls
- Biorock Garden, Pemuteran
- Candi Dasa
- The Hidden Canyon
- Bukit Cinta Pangi
The Ghost Palace Hotel
Explored by Jackson from The Journey Era
The ‘Ghost Palace’ hotel in Bali is an abandoned Bedugul Taman Hotel, which has a mysterious history and is now open to the public for adventurous explorations. It’s just a 45-minute drive from Canggu to reach the Abandoned hotel and when you arrive tip the security guard a couple of dollars and he will let you in. It’s kind of an unwritten entrance fee. There are a couple of theories as to why the massive luxury hotel was abandoned.
- The first theory is that the hotel is haunted by the ghosts of workers who died during the construction of the hotel. Locals supposedly shun the site and taxi drivers refuse to enter the grounds because of the spirits.
- The second theory is that Tommy Suharto, the son of the President at the time, was building the property in the 1990s as an investment project. Tommy wasn’t the cleanest of characters and was sent to prison in 2002 for ordering the assassination of a judge, who had been responsible for convicting him of drug charges in a previous case. Once Suharto went to Jail in 2002 the building project ceased as funding and leadership went amiss.
The ‘Ghost Palace’ is overrun by vines, bushes, trees, and moss. The elegant tile floors are now smeared with mud, moss, and puddles. The walls are covered in spider webs and vines and if you are super adventurous you can explore the cellar, which is strangely filled with sand.
Banyu Wana Amertha Waterfall
Explored by Stephanie from A Nomads Passport
Banyu Wana Amertha Waterfall is one of the most underrated waterfalls in Bali and a real secret spot. There are four different waterfalls at this location, and you can explore them without the large crowds a lot of other waterfalls see. The waterfalls are located in North Bali and very close to the rather popular Banyumala Twin Waterfalls, so this is the perfect spot to spend the afternoon.
The walk to the waterfalls is a downhill trek through plantations and the scenery itself is well worth a visit. After a while you can choose to go left or right, and each of the paths will lead you to two waterfalls. Of these the Spray Waterfall and Banyu Wana Amertha Waterfall are the most picturesque falls, so it is best to check out both paths. The way back to the parking area can be quite steep and therefore it’s best to wear sturdy footwear.
All in all, the waterfalls are a very serene location that allows you to enter fairy tale-like scenery. If you want to see a cascade of water that flows over mossy rocks surrounded by colourful flowers, visiting these falls is a must.
Top tip: Like Banyu Wana? Right nearby is another hidden gem in Bali, Bhuana Sari waterfall.
Explored by Agung and Carly from We are Sumatra
The village of Amed sits in the shadow of majestic Mount Agung, on the northwest coast of Bali. Although it’s not entirely unknown, this humble village feels worlds away from the busy streets of Kuta and Canggu, and boy is it a refreshing change.
Even in high season, Amed could be described as sleepy, yet there are plenty of cafes, restaurants and bars to try out – complete with sandy beaches and the awesome volcanic backdrop.
Snorkelling is popular in the tranquil waters around the coast, and dive trips head out from here too. Or you can rent a scooter and cruise along the picturesque coastal roads in either direction, stopping at every beach for a dip.
Life is laidback in Amed. The roads are quiet, and the beaches have plenty of space to spread out on. It’s a tightknit community with super-friendly locals who actually bother to learn your name; many travellers compare it to the Bali of 20 years ago.
Although Mount Agung is still off-limits due to being rather unpredictable, it casts an almost magical thrall over the surrounding landscapes; you’ll find it hard to tear your gaze away. Nearby Mount Batur is open for trekking, though, and provides spectacular views of the coast and neighbouring volcano.
Amed is the ideal place to come when you need quiet contemplation. There’s the usual yoga offerings found throughout Bali, some incredible restaurants and cafes, and live music at various bars along the main street on different nights if you need some time out from all that chilling in the sun.
Atuh Beach, Nusa Penida
Explored by Mal from Raw Mal Roams
Atuh Beach is located on the south-eastern tip of Nusa Penida island, which you can reach by a speedboat from Sanur harbour in Bali. Nusa Penida is mostly visited on a day trip and Atuh Beach being situated on the other side of the island escapes day tripper’s itinerary. That means you can arrive at any time of the day and enjoy this beautiful beach in peace.
Also, unlike other gorgeous beaches on Penida Island, Atuh Beach is tucked away between towering cliffs that protect its waters from strong currents, and so it’s perfect for swimming.
It takes around 60 minutes’ drive to get there from Penida’s harbour and a 15-20 minutes’ walk from the car park area to reach the beach. Remember to take in the stunning clifftop views of the beach before you hike down. From the clifftop, you will also be able to get a glimpse of Diamond Beach!
The beach has white sand contrasting with turquoise and crystal-clear water. There is also a pretty arch carved in limestone rock just off the shore. A few small warungs (local restaurants) serve local dishes, fresh fruit and drinks. Have a coconut and spend the rest of you day lazing on a sun lounger.
Due to the location, Atuh beach is also perfect for visiting at sunrise!
Related: Guide to snorkelling with Manta Rays
Explored by Oksana & Max from Drink Tea & Travel
The major tourist hubs of Ubud, Kuta and Canggu may be the most well-known places to stay in Bali but they are not ideal if you are planning to do some diving. Instead scuba divers should opt for the relatively undeveloped and undiscovered port of Padang Bai and neighbouring Candidasa for easy access to the island’s best dive sites and an authentic Balinese experience. Accommodation options in this part of Bali are quite limited. However, the small size gives the town an authenticity that you won’t find in other major tourist towns in Bali.
The underwater world around Bali is bursting with colours, interesting marine life, and beautiful swathes of coral reef that will entice any level of scuba diver. Dive sites in the Bali region range from drift dives and wreck dives to shallow reefs, suitable for beginners. Here you can find the waters full of macro life as well as bigger creatures like Manta Rays and sharks.
With such a variety of unique places to see under the surface, there is something for everyone here. We’ve been fortunate to dive in a few spots around the island but still found something exciting on each dive out of Candidasa. If you are a diver, don’t miss this undiscovered scuba diving hub in Eastern Bali.
Explored by Lee from The Travel Scribes
You won’t find a smoothie bowl stand in sight as you wander the streets of Munduk, the charming hillside town located in the centre of the island that is undoubtedly one of the best hidden spots in Bali. Instead, you’ll find a humble town that feels almost like a forgotten outpost; a town encircled by rolling rice fields, forests and punctuated by birdsong as you stretch out each morning.
While Munduk is starting to become more popular, it’s still one of the most secret things to do in Bali, a distant cry from the bustling streets of Canggu or Ubud. And the main attraction? The waterfalls.
That’s since, unlike the more touristy waterfalls of Sekumpul or Banyumala, the Munduk waterfall route is a little off the beaten track, and won’t see hordes of tourists doing it’s rounds. The idea is that you get dropped off right at the top of the route, by the Golden Valley Waterfall and slowly hop from one fall to the other, checking out Red Coral Waterfall (aka Munduk Waterfall), swimming in the rock pools of Labuhan Kebo and ending up at the gushing spectacle of Melanting waterfall. From there it’s a quick stroll back into town, making this a very achievable trip for those wanting to get off the tourist trail.
And, if you’re really wanting to join the crowds, Munduk is actually a stone’s throw away from Wanagiri Hidden Hills, that legendary selfie park that gave rise to many thousands of Instagram ‘swings’ and nests, as well as the Bali Twin Lakes, where you can head to the viewpoint for that perfect landscape shot.
Explored by Vrushali from Couple of Journeys
Karma Beach, Bali is located in the southern end of Bali near Uluwatu. The beach is the private property of the luxury resort Karma Kandara which sits atop a cliff overlooking this beach.
Many tourists visiting Bali either have no idea about the existence of this beach and so never consider going out of the way and visiting it. Plus, the fact that it is a private beach also misleads many people into believing that it is not accessible to non-residents. Those who do not stay at Karma Kandara can access the beach by buying a day pass.
However, the beauty of Karma beach will leave its visitor enthralled. The white sand and the blue waters brushing the coastline are a sight to behold.
From the cliff-top resort, one can either climb down a steep slope to reach the beach or choose the more fun option – that of taking a fun cable car ride. The two-minute ride down in the cable car offers spectacular views of the vast expanse of the Indian ocean.
Once you reach the beach, you can keep yourself entertained throughout the day by either relaxing in a private cabana, taking part in the activities organised by the Karma Beach club or pampering yourself at the Karma Spa.
Make sure you stay here till twilight. The different shades of colours in the sky will leave you mesmerised. Post sunset, you can even dance away to the DJ’s tunes or the enjoy a movie night at the beach club.
Like Karma Beach? Try Melasti Beach as a similar Bali hidden gem.
Explored by Chris from Stoked For Travel
If you’re looking for a super chilled slice of Bali then the small village of Medewi should certainly be on your to do list – especially if you’re heading to Bali for surfing!
This sleepy little village lies about 2 hours drive north of Canggu (depending on how chaotic the roads are that day!) and is well worth the drive if the swell is coming through.
Medewi offers up one of the longest left-hand point breaks in the world and when it’s on you’ll score rides well in excess of 350m long, so get ready for heaps of terms and a pretty long paddle back out!
It can handle a huge range of swell, so when it’s pumping its advanced surfers only – and be careful as it does break over a rocky bottom, so I’d advise reef booties too and it’s probably best to steer clear as a beginner surfer.
When it comes to accommodation and food there aren’t a huge amount of options, but luckily it caters for a wide range of budgets, whether you’re looking from the budget end through to luxury villa, there will be something for you. But top tip is to book early!
Food wise again you’ve got budget to luxury – but don’t expect the huge choice you’ll get in spots like Canggu or Seminyak. One of my favourite local spots has to be Gede Warung – right on the beach and you can grab a Nasi Goreng.
If you’re not there for surfing there’s not a huge range of things to do – but you can enjoy some empty beaches, awesome sunsets and there are plenty of rice paddies and waterfalls in the area to explore too.
Jatiluwih Rice Terraces
Explored by Larch from The Silver Nomad
Tucked away in the Tabanan Regency in the middle of Bali are the serene rice fields of Jatiluwih.
Spread across over 600 hectares of rolling hillside, the green terraces stretch as far as the eye can see and are managed by the local community.
Jatiluwih is less busy than Tegalalang rice terraces near Ubud but no less beautiful. It is about an hour and a half’s drive north from Denpasar and can be a bit difficult to find, so a driver may be useful. There is an entrance fee of 40,000 IDR (2.80 USD/2.25 GBP) for foreign visitors.
You can hire a guide to take you around the rice fields, but it can be more fun to go around on your own. The rice fields are well laid out with a concrete path which encircles the fields. Every so often there are pathways which can take you down the terraces. Be careful where you walk as the paths are not paved and can be uneven underfoot.
If you want don’t want to walk, you can hire a push bike or an electric bike, but you will have to keep to the concrete path.
Dotted around the terraces are little shops and warungs where you can buy something to eat to drink and seating areas if you want to just sit and take in the views and enjoy the tranquillity. It is the perfect way to spend a relaxing day.
Recommended: Need an itinerary for Ubud? Check out ours.
Biorock Garden, Pemuteran
Explored by Chantae from The Salt Sirens
Pemuteran is a small town tucked away on Bali’s northwest coastline famous for its incredible diving. Just a few meters from Pemuteran Beach’s shoreline is the Biorock Garden, a conservation project that promotes the growth of corals. Over 100 structures are part of the project, and many are encrusted with corals. As you snorkel, scuba dive, or freedive around the sculpture garden, look for statues of Garuda (the Hindu bird of Indonesia), Buddha in a lotus, and cluster of bicycles. Some structures already have a community of anemones, corals, clams, and juvenile reef fish residing in them.
But how does the sculpture garden work? First, coral polyps are grown in a garden for two months. Then, they are placed onto a steel structure in the Biorock Garden. The sculptures have a small electric current running through them, which causes minerals to attach to the structure and simulates the natural composition of a limestone reef. This conservation site was started to repair local reefs after a long history of cyanide and dynamite fishing in the area. Because of the electrical current, some species of coral grow five times faster than they do in natural settings.
Many dive centres in Pemuteran offer scuba diving excursions to Biorock Garden. Bali Diving Academy even offers a specific divemaster internship that centres around the conservation project itself. If you freedive, contact Yoshua from Ousia Freediving to show you the best structures. Snorkelers can see the site for themselves, as some of the shallow structures are found just a few metres from shore.
The Devil’s Tear, Nusa Lembongan
Explored by Steffi from Beach Bum Adventure
The Devil’s Tears is a stunning area of Nusa Lembongan, an island just south of Bali. I loved my trip to Nusa Lembongan because it had some of everything, amazing dives with manta rays, surfing on reef breaks, gorgeous white sand beaches and nature at its most awesome!
The Devil’s Tear has steep cliffs falling into the ocean and waves crash over the top of it so you have to make sure you don’t get too close! I loved this rugged landscape, in particular because of the contrast with the scenic white sand beaches on the other side of the island. I love moments when you are travelling when you feel in awe of nature and the Devil’s Tear definitely made me feel this way.
When I visited Nusa Lembongan in October there was nobody else around and it was an easy place to get to via a motorcycle, even for scaredy-cats like me! My best advice for here would be to visit around sunset and definitely don’t get too close to the waves as there have been some fatal accidents when tourists were not paying attention to how far the waves can travel inwards.
Tukad Cepung Waterfall
Explored by Inessa and Natalie from Through a Travel Lens
Hidden between the rocks, Tukad Cepung Waterfall is one of those few Bali destinations not yet exposed to mass tourism. What’s more, not even all the locals know about it! It’s also not the easiest waterfall to get to. Guarded by the mountains, it requires an active hike to get there.
During this hike, you will need to leave the bike on the upper parking and pass through the forest. Then, descend more than 100 stairs down, and finish up with some climbing among the rocks and walking upstream.
And even once you are there, you will first hear the waterfall, not see it, as the two cliffs will act as the natural curtains to the beautiful water performance.
Tukad Cepung is a river that, when reaching the cliff of the waterfall’s cave, rushes down in thin and magical streams. The flow is so gentle that you can easily stand under the waterfall. And if you pick a sunny day, you will also be able to enjoy the magical performance of the sun’s beams highlighting the cave.
The best time to visit Tukad Cepung is early in the morning, preferably around 8.00am or 9.00am. This way, you will have the spot only to yourselves. Comfortable shoes are recommended for the hike.
Explored by Ilse from Digital Travel Couple
Pasut beach is a long stretch of black sand 25km west of Canggu facing the tip of Java. With a hanging palm tree on the beach and a bunch of palm trees together on a grass field, this is the perfect spot to just sit back and watch the sunset.
Located just an hour’s drive from Canggu, this quiet spot is entirely free of charge, except a small parking fee of about 2.000 IDR (0.15 USD/0.10 GBP).
Still more geared towards locals than international visitors, Pasut is becoming increasingly famous – mainly for tourists looking for that perfect palm tree picture, although the beach is definitely wide enough to find a quiet spot all for yourself.
If you do get out to Pasut beach, make sure you wait around and see that epic Bali sunset – you’ll get a spectacular snap of the colours, the clouds and that palm tree ideally positioned for a ‘grammable photo.
Explored by Carryn from Torn Tackies
Sidemen is a hidden gem on the east of Bali island surrounded by lush forests, rice terraces and gorgeous mountains. If you’re looking to escape the hustle and bustle of the south, head to Sidemen where you’ll find a remote sanctuary with a peaceful atmosphere.
But there’s more to Sidemen than just the incredible scenery. Adventure travelers will be spoiled for choice as there are so many awesome things to do in Sidemen including river rafting down the Telaga Waja River, which is the most exciting rafting course in Bali.
Just a short drive from the charming village lies Tukad Cepung Waterfall, arguably the best waterfall on the island. Driving to the waterfall, you’ll pass several stunning rice fields with the majestic Mount Agung in the background. If you’d prefer to lay low, why not opt for a cooking class in Sidemen where you’ll wander through the garden and pick the ingredients yourself before preparing a delicious local meal?
The highlight of my time in Sidemen was ending my busy day with a drink in hand at a local warung which offered panoramic views of the rice fields in the distance. No crowds and gorgeous scenery – just what I was looking for! If you’re in search of an authentic experience in Bali, head to Sidemen for two incredible days in the mountains.
Explored by Jackie from Life of Doing
If you’re itching to go on an adventure with fewer crowds, head to Hidden Canyon Beji Guwang in the Sukawati area. This underrated place is the perfect stop to walk through three hidden canyons and also the chance to soak in the beauty of the area.
To access the canyons, you need to have a tour guide. They will lead you through the walking course and ensure your safety. Your guide will also take photos and videos of your adventure with your phone or camera. Don’t worry, everything is placed inside a dry bag to ensure your valuables don’t get damaged.
What we enjoyed about this experience was how tranquil the area was. You’re in the middle of the jungle walking through the refreshing water that can be ankle up to shoulder level high depending on the season and also climbing off and on rocks for two hours. We encountered a handful of people during our tour, so it was nice to have a portion of the canyons to ourselves and not feel rushed during the trip.
It’s recommended to wear a swimsuit and wear water shoes. You can go barefoot (which is what I did) but there are some sharp rocks in the water. After the tour, there are showers for you to wash up.
Want more like the Hidden Canyon? We’d also recommend adding the Green Cliffs and Little Grotto to your hidden gems list.
Explored by James from The Travel Scribes
Right at the top of island is one of the lesser-visited secret gems of Bali: the coastal town of Lovina. Considering its distance from more popular enclaves like Ubud, Nusa Dua or Canggu, Lovina doesn’t get the roaring trade that you see in other Balinese suburbs, making it a great place to visit to avoid the crowds.
This seaside town is known for a few things: it’s beautiful black sand beaches, a smattering of quiet temples and dolphin-watching! Yes, Lovina Beach is pretty famous for dolphin sightings, where you can rent a space on a boat, glide out onto the water and see the dolphins spinning and jumping. The town also has an almost magical hot springs complex, where you can sit back and relax in the lush surroundings, enjoying the therapeutic properties of the warm waters.
One of the places that is definitely worth a visit in Lovina, is the Brahma Vihara Arama Buddhist Monastery. The biggest Buddhist temple in Bali, this temple was built back in 1969, boasting a large stupa, a meditation area and – to the Instagrammer’s delight – a photo opportunity akin to the more ‘famous’ one of the Handara Gate. Just like Handara (which boasts a long line of people each day, looking for their snap), the Brahma temple has a typical Balinese gate where you can pose for a few photos, usually with the help of an enterprising local using their mobile phone as a ‘mirror’.
Bukit Cinta Pangi
Explored by Delilah from Our Travel Mix
Bukit Cinta Pangi is the best sunrise spot on the island. Because of it’s slightly remote location in Amlapura, Karangasem, which is the far east of the island, Bukit Cinta Pangi is definitely a secret spot in Bali.
This hidden gem will give you views of the rice fields at the foot of Mount Agung, the tallest mountain in Bali. At sunrise, the glow from the sun will illuminate the tip of the mountain. Watch the mountain change colour from red to orange and yellow as the sun rises higher in the sky.
Visiting Bukit Cinta Pangi is a great escape from the usual tourist areas such as Ubud, Seminyak and Canggu. Because Bukit Cinta Pangi is a sunrise spot, I would recommend staying in Karangasem the night beforehand – staying in the tourist spots will mean waking up at 4 am or earlier!
When we visited, we barely saw any tourists (or locals, for that matter) in Karangasem, and we had the entire lookout point to ourselves at sunrise. This was definitely a highlight of my month in Bali, even if it meant an early morning!
Arrive early, at around 6 am before sunrise. As the sun rises, the lighting will be perfect for landscape photography. Bring a tripod with you and enjoy the view.
Kanto Lampo Waterfall, Ubud
Explored by Vaibhav from The Wandering Vegetable
One of the most amazing hidden gems to include in your ultimate Bali itinerary is the Kanto Lampo waterfall in Ubud. Located near the famous Tegenungan waterfall in the Gianyar regency, this hidden gem of a waterfall is 5 km away from Ubud and 25 km away from Sanur. It is a place where you can relax and have a “natural shower” in its chilly waters. The entry fee for the Kanto Lampo waterfall is 15,000 IDR (1 USD/0.85 GBP)!
There’s a small hike you need to do to get to the actual site. On your way to the waterfall, there are clean changing rooms where you can change into your swimwear.
The waterfall is surrounded by the green forest on all sides making for a visually pleasing sight. As the rocks are soft and the water current isn’t strong enough to blow you away, you can easily climb onto any of the rocks in the waterfall and enjoy a natural bath. In fact, because of the ease of access to the waterfall, it is very easy to get some epic photographs clicked here. Hence, the site is also called the “photoshoot waterfall”.
There’s a local staff member/caretaker at the venue who takes amazing photographs and videos for you while you pose away for some stunning Instagram shots.
Our advise… Avoid wearing any kind of footwear when climbing the waterfall as the rocks are soft and slippery. Mind your step and you’ll have a memorable experience.
Read next: What’s the best Ubud waterfall?
Pura Goa Giri Cave Temple
Explored by Josh and Sarah from Veggie Vagabonds
Located on the north-eastern tip of the island, the Pura Goa Giri cave temple is an undiscovered gem on the island of Nusa Penida. From the main Toya Pakeh harbour, the cave is roughly a 30-minute drive. There’s a small car park at the entrance with a winding staircase towards the back that leads up the mountain.
Once you reach the top of the stairway there is a small shrine and it’s not uncommon to see locals praying and to receive a holy water blessing as you approach. You would be forgiven at this point for thinking you’ve come to the wrong place as the entrance to the cave temple is difficult to spot. You enter through a small hole in the rock that requires some bending and crawling to enter.
Once you do, the cave immediately opens up and is gigantic inside. The deep, damp cave is lit by candlelight with the aromas of incense in the air. As you wander through the cave amongst pilgrims giving offerings, the whole ambience is so peaceful and tranquil. Walking deeper into the cave, you will eventually reach a clearing on the other side of the cave which opens up to a foliage-full mountain view of the valley beneath.
The cave is open from 7 am until 5 pm with bigger ceremonies held on the weekends, when the cave can be filled with up to 100 people. As with all Balinese temples, you will need to cover your legs and upper body. If you don’t have you own, you can rent a sarong from a vendor in the car park for 5,000 IDR (0.35 USD/0.30 GBP). The entrance fee is on a donation basis so give what you feel you can and remember that whilst visiting this a place of worship which should be respected.
So, what do you think of the list of Bali Hidden Gems? Are there any places that you think deserve to be on the list? Well let us know in the comments below.
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