It's not all bars, beaches and partying.
The island of Bali is one of those magical places that is often marred by wreckless and disrespectful people in the media. The relatively cheap cost of getting there paired with an equally cheap lifestyle make this a tourist hot spot for many Australians and an increasingly large amount of people from further afield.
Our time on the island was short so we had to pack a lot into what few days we had there. It was a mixture of leisure and travel before attending two of our best friends wedding down in Pandawa, which is at the south of the island.
For those hoping to visit the island and see its natural beauty without the crowds, you'll need to look at either hiring a driver or making your own way north of the heavily congested Seminyak, Kuta and Canggu regions. Ubud is better so I've heard, but you'll be fighting for space when visiting its many waterfalls.
The images below are from some of the beautiful places we managed to visit over our 8 days on the island.
We elected to stay at the CLV Hotel and Villa, which is a long stretch of Villas that can be seen below. There aren't a lot of options as far as accommodation in the area, so we chose this based on location. Due to the high humidity, many of the places in the region struggle with mould as we found out when we arrived. The staff were genuine and apologetic and moved us to a new room. It's a great central place to stay if you want to capture shots of the Ulun Danu Beratan Temple at sunrise.
Puru Ulun Danu Temple
One of the key attractions in this area is the magnificent Puru Ulan Danu Temple that appears to float on top of the calm, reflective waters of the lake. The famous shot here is actually only a small part of the manicured grounds but is most definitely the show-stopper. I arrived here the afternoon before to scout out an area to shoot from in the morning behind this beautiful red flowers.
I scooted down 1.5 hours before sunrise to claim my position with the tripod. The actual sun doesn't rise over the adjacent mountain ridge for around half an hour after actual sunrise so if you are after light rays, stick around.
This giant structure was something I'd seen from afar and puzzled me as to what it was. Riding my scooter there the next day I popped the drone up to find one of the most incredible sights. Turns out this is a large fishing structure which was being serviced by one man who had sailed his little boat out while I was in the air.
Bali has no shortage of majestic waterfalls. They come in all shapes and sizes, with some easily accessible while others require a little more dedication. My recommendation is to hire a taxi and head North to the beautiful region of Bedoegoel. Here you will find a large number of waterfalls, with much fewer people. It's even possible to see them all over a couple of days, depending on how long you spend at each. Unfortunately, we only had 2 full days in the area, so naturally, I picked Sekumpul, the largest and trickiest of the lot to reach.
We decided to hire a driver for the day which cost us around $70 AUD and would take us around the lakes, towards Sekumpul and down to Jatiluwih Rice Fields. The prices are higher here as there are fewer tourists.
We drove for around 40min before stopping at a small carpark where we were told we could hire a local waterfall guide for the morning. (This is not compulsory, despite what they say, but it really doesn't cost that much and helps the young locals to make a living). We were whipped onto the back of 2 scooters and tore down the craziest little concrete path towards the falls which took around 10 minutes.
The perks of visiting Sekumpul is that you can also visit the incredible Fiji Falls as well.
Jatiluwih Rice Fields
No trip to Bali would be complete without visiting at least one rice field. After our morning session at the waterfalls, our friendly driver took us to the largest rice fields in Bali, the Jatiluwih Rice fields. The fields here, while expansive, are not quite as physically impressive as those you see on social media, usually from Tagalalang, Ubud. Nevertheless, it was incredible being able to walk so close to the locals who were harvesting the rice.
There wasn't a lot of tourists here when we visited, but we were told Jatiluwih is a popular tourist destination, so get there early if you wish to walk in peace. Make sure you try some of the special coloured kinds of rice at one of the many restaurants here.
Part of our trip involved a day-long bucks boat trip to Nusa Penida and Nusa Lembongan. We didn't head onto land but instead set anchor in a few of the stunningly clear bays that littered the coastline. I'd recommend taking a few travel sickness tablets if you get sea sick as the water can be very rough.
* Our boat was scheduled to stop where we could swim with the manta rays, however, the water was too rough, and the ship couldn't anchor.
The wedding we were attending was at a magnificent cliff estate along the southernmost part of Bali; thus we booked our hotel close to the ceremony. The hotel was also close to Pandawa Beach, reachable by foot or better still by scooter. There's not a great deal of greenery in the area, but you can relax on one of the beaches or go for a surf if you are in the area. Pandawa Beach had a lazy vibe to it and appeared to be a favourite of locals who come to escape the chaos of the city. Many hotels hire out scooters which are a great way to explore other areas of the Island.
After my drone session of the guys surfing, I hopped back on the scooter and cruised west to the next beach. I came across this barrel of monkeys playing on the street where around 10 juveniles were swinging off each other and laying on the warm road.
* The monkeys in Bali are notorious for stealing your possessions. I experienced this first hand at Uluwatu Temple where one swiped my sunglasses. A passerby who saw me confronting the cheeky guy suggested I bargain with it as this often works with the specific monkeys of this temple. Taking a half-eaten cupcake out seemed to work long enough for me to snatch them back. The signs are there. You've been warned!
There is no shortage of blogs and incredible photos from Bali. It is a popular location for photographers, adventure seekers and lovers of the outdoors. It's true that my pre-conceptions of the island have changed now that I know the real beauty lays in the kindness of the people and the untouched beauty of the regions away from the bars.
It's important to read up on local customs before travelling here so as to not offend anyone or get yourself into unnecessary trouble. Ladies remember it is disrespectful to walk around in bikinis through the street or anywhere away from the beaches so pack accordingly.
I hope you enjoy your time here and please feel free to message me if you have any questions.
2 x Olympus OMD EM1 MK Bodies
1 x PT-EP14 Underwater Housing
1 x Sirui W-2204 Tripod & K-30x Ballhead
1 x Mzuiko 7-14mm f2.8 Pro
1 x Mzuiko 12-100mm f4 Pro IS
1 x Mzuiko 40-150mm f2.8 Pro
1 x Mzuiko 17mm f1.2 Pro
1 x Mzuiko 12mm f2 Premium
1 x DJI Mavic Pro Platinum Fly More Kit
1 x DJI Spark Fly More Kit