If you have ever been to Bali, it may be no surprise to you that this island was recently rated as the world’s top travel destination. From the breathtaking cliffside views, perfectly sculpted rice terraces, magnificent underwater world to intricately carved Hindu temples, it’s hard not to fall in love with this paradise also known as the Island of the Gods.
With such popularity and notoriety, however, comes crowds. Masses of them, depending on where you go. For example, what was once a quiet seaweed farming island of Nusa Lembongan just six years ago has now turned into a major tourist attraction, welcoming thousands of day-trippers who travel by truckloads.
But fear not. There are plenty of beautiful hidden gems in Bali left to explore away from the tourist traps. This post will uncover Bali’s 5 best kept secrets – make sure that you put them on your bucket list for your next trip to this incredible paradise!
1. Nyang Nyang Beach
When you dream of Bali, you may picture pristine white sand beaches and turquoise blue waters that stretch for as long as you can see. I have visited most of Bali’s beaches on all four coasts, but Nyang Nyang beach in Uluwatu is the only one that took my breath away.
Located on the south coast, Nyang Nyang beach has the longest stretch of white sand in all of Bali. But that alone is not what makes Nyang Nyang special.
Despite being the most stunning beach on the island, Nyang Nyang incredibly remains off the radar from most visitors. I have been to Nyang Nyang a number of times but only encountered a handful of couples and groups even in the midst of a high season.
The trek down to the beach takes about 20 minutes from the parking lot, but believe me, you don’t want to miss this hidden gem in Bali!
And you can always find a terrific hotel on the beach in Bali to take advantage of these epic beaches.
2. Tukad Cepung Waterfall
With the rise in social media coverage in recent years, Bali’s magnificent waterfalls have begun to receive well-deserved attention from accredited photographers, online travel platforms, and Instagram fans.
Perhaps some of the most famous waterfalls in Bali are the Sekumpul and Gitgit to the north of the island. One of the lesser known, yet equally breathtaking waterfall in Bali is the Tukad Cepung.
What makes this waterfall unique from the rest is its impressive opening inside the cave that lets the water and sunlight fall through in unison, creating a mesmerizing sight. I recommend that you visit Tukad on a sunny day, as the sun ray beaming into the cave adds so much to the view of the waterfall!
Tukad Cepung waterfall is also near Ubud – about an hour outside the city center – so it’s easy to add it to your day trip itinerary if you ever want to tour the nearby temples including the famous Monkey Forest.
3. Menjangan Island
It is no secret that being located in the Coral Triangle, Indonesia hosts some of the most magnificent coral reefs (and their residents) in the world.
Bali attracts scuba diving enthusiasts who travel from all over the world to get a glimpse of the Mola-Mola, as well as snorkeling fans who seek a rare chance to swim with the majestic manta rays around Nusa Penida.
Menjangan Island, located at the northwest tip of the island, is a marine reserve known to be the home to some of the most pristine reefs and abundant fish species in all of Bali.
Perhaps due to the distant location from the central hub of the south, Menjangan Island remains relatively quiet from the massive crowds who prefer to head to alternative marine reserve such as the Nusa Islands.
You can access Menjangan Island in West Bali National Park by hiring a local boat and a guide for a day trip to the island. Whether booking snorkeling or scuba diving activity, a package will generally include a guide, a shared boat, lunch/water, 2 (snorkel or dive) trips, and rental gear. And check out some great Scuba hotels in Bali here.
If you want to experience one of Bali’s best underwater wonderlands, head straight to Menjangan Island and explore its magnificent reefs.
4. Keramas’ Black Sand Beach
One of the many incredible things about Bali is that not only does the island offer stunning white sand beaches in the south, but also black sand beaches along the east coast.
Originating from volcanic sand, black sand beaches in Bali have become well-known, particularly in the regions of Lovina, Tulamben, and Amed.
There is one black sand beach, however, that remains undiscovered by most visitors of Bali: the Keramas.
In this undeveloped region of the island, there is only one resort on the beach, with a handful of local homestays peppered around the village. While other black sand beaches consist of rocks and pebbles, there is a section of Keramas called Pantai Masceti (slightly to the north) that is composed of pure, powdery, shimmery black sand.
It’s a rare sight worth traveling for!
For a real “off the beaten path” experience in Bali, be sure to check out this unique volcanic sand beach at Keramas.
5. Sidemen Valley
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If you want to experience a rural Balinese village life while witnessing some of the most incredible rice fields, visit Sidemen Valley before it’s too late.
Related: Top things to do in Bali
I have visited and seen many rice terraces in Bali, but Sidemen felt like an “experience,” while others felt like an “attraction.” Jatiluwih and Tagalalang, for instance, have trails and viewing points for visitors to pause, take photos and observe the panoramic scenery. Sidemen, on the other hand, is a simple village. You are naturally immersed in the authentic culture and local way of life.
Located only about an hour east from Ubud, you will be blown away at how distant you will from civilization when you reach this charming and quaint village.
It’s one of Bali’s most beautiful hidden gems – be sure to check it out on your next trip to Bali!
Even though Bali has become commercialized, you don’t need to be put off by tourism. There is plenty of the island left to discover and explore! I hope this post gave you some inspirations for your Bali itinerary, where you can still enjoy the raw beauty of Bali without dodging the crowds.
If you ever get a chance to visit any one of the Bali’s best-kept secrets, I would love to hear about your trip!
Mo is a Bali-based scuba instructor whose current passions include coconut ice cream, rescuing street dogs and sharing her travel tips, guides, and resources on her website, Travelust 101. You can also follow her paradise adventures on Instagram.