While Bali has plenty to offer, it’s also the perfect point from which to explore other locations in Indonesia, from the bustling cities of Java to the lizards of Komodo.
Head to this central hub to explore the bustling city of Jakarta and all of the natural and historic beauty the island has to offer. While in Java, visit Bandung to satisfy your shopping craze, where you’ll find unbelievable food, markets, local stores, and factory outlets with unbeatable prices.
If you’re looking to escape the city, head to the Dieng Plateau, famous for its gorgeous green hillsides and trekking opportunities. Engage with history in Borobudur — there is a 9th century Indonesian temple here that is worth exploring. You can either fly between Bali and Java, or you can take a ferry that runs across the Bali Strait to the Ketapang port in Java. The trip should take less than half an hour.
Looking to experience the delights of Bali without the onslaught of tourists? Lombok is located just east of Bali and has all of its natural charm, minus the crowds. When in Lombok, visit Mount Rinjani, Indonesia’s second-highest volcano — a hiking challenge and perfect photo opp all in one.
Surfers will be delighted by Senggigi beach, where the waves and beach atmosphere are both excellent. If you’re a fan of wildlife, visit the Pusuk Monkey Forest, but remember to hold onto your camera! The white-sand beaches and turquoise-blue waters of Lombok are only a short 30-minute flight from Bali. Visitors can also take a ferry, but that ride can take up to four hours one-way.
Nusa Penida and Nusa Lembongan
Located off of Bali’s south-eastern coast, Nusa Penida and Nusa Lembongan are filled with unparalleled natural beauty and wildlife encounters. Nusa Penida is home to a number of critically endangered Balinese bird species, and the waters around these islands are fantastic for scuba diving and snorkeling. Visit Crystal Bay for stunning views and a cold beer, Goa Giri Putri for limestone caves and outdoor adventure, and Puncak Mundi for its stunning overlook views. You can access these islands by catching a public ferry from Padang Bai in Bali that takes less than an hour.
With such a name, it’s no surprise that the island is home to a number of its namesake reptilian inhabitants: the Komodo dragon (the largest lizard in the world). Part of the Lesser Sunda chain of islands, Komodo is also part of Komodo National Park. Aside from ogling the island’s large, scaly inhabitants, visitors can enjoy diving in the waters that surround its coasts. Komodo’s uniqueness is punctuated by its pink-sand beach, a result of white sand mixing with red sand formed from the shells of a sea organism. It is one of only seven pink-sand beaches in the world. Although visitors cannot fly directly to Komodo, you can fly to Flores and take a short boat ride over to the island.
Nestled in the confines of the Bali Barat National Park, Menjangan is a tiny jewel of an island that lies just off the coast of Bali’s northwestern tip. Its surrounding waters are populated by gorgeous coral reefs, making the area a favorite of snorkelers and scuba divers. Also known as “deer island,” due to its high population of Barking Deer, Menjangan is home to several of these bashful creatures.
While here, visitors will likely spot them bathing in tide pools or strolling around during the early morning hours. You can access the tiny island by using a local boat service operated by the Bali Barat National Park — the journey will take 30 to 40 minutes.
The Gilis are a trio of islands located off the coast of Lombok that are comprised of Gili Trawangan, Gili Meno, and Gili Air. Easily accessible by speedboat, the islands are becoming a very popular location with tourists, beach enthusiasts, divers, and snorkelers. The surrounding waters are warm and filled with coral and marine life. The islands themselves have experiences for all types of travelers — Trawangan has amassed a reputation as a party island, while Air is known for its social backpacker scene and Meno is beloved by honeymooners. Visitors from Bali should take a boat to Lombok, which will take about an hour and a half, and then continue on for 10 minutes, until you reach the Gili trio.
Header image by Suwandi Chandra