Read about our adventure for the latest Bali travel tips.
“Let’s go on a North Bali adventure Road Trip!”
My partner has been up North & West of Bali before, and he was super excited to show me the hot-spots! I’ve not explored up there much, but his enthusiasm also had me thrilled. So, off on our North Bali adventure we went!
Most of this strange COVID year we have been on the South coast of Bali and the Bukit Peninsula – especially while the island is so quiet, beautiful and peaceful.
And our mode of transport has been scooter or surfboard!
But for this adventure, we decided to rent a car.
I hadn’t been in a car for many months – yay! That meant that we could fill the back seat with snacks, wine & warmer clothes (it’s more challenging to transport this all on your scooter).
North Bali Adventure – Day 1
After we stock up on provisions, we leave from Ubud with a map in hand (well, on Google), and our first-night accommodation booked. We have an outline and idea of what we want to experience on our North Bali adventure – we know what we wanted to do and where we wanted to go – but other than that, we have no fixed plans.
I believe this is the best kind of road trip and travel adventure!
En-route, we stop at food stalls on the side of the road to buy fresh papaya and strawberries (like we don’t have enough snacks!).
It’s strawberry heaven when you are heading through Bedugul, with the delicious red & plump fruit in abundance in this area. You can even pick strawberries yourself!
It’s also the place where the air is cooler, and you can start seeing some views as you climb up into the mountains (most of the South peninsula & up to Ubud area are a pretty flat landscape).
Only an hour and a half from Ubud, we reach our destination – a cute, homestay-style accommodation with breathtaking mountain valley views on both sides of the road.
From here we explore the close-by local area of Munduk.
What a spectacular area with windy mountainous roads; stunning views; delightful farm stall style restaurants and quaint accommodation along the way.
It’s different to the rice filed areas on Ubud and the turquoise ocean of Uluwatu.
Here you feel like you could be somewhere in the mountains of South America, not Bali. It feels like you are no longer on a tropical island – even the air is different compared to the heat down South.
We wake up super early at 5 am to get down to the lake before sunrise.
On our way yesterday, we stopped at the local ‘harbour’ and arranged a sunrise trip with a boat driver. I love that Luca, my boyfriend, knows all these local spots. It’s a bonus that he speaks Indonesian too.
So, this is how you do ‘non-touristy’ business in Indo…
- Visit the local area (not the tourist hot-spot).
- Scope out who the boatman would be.
- If you can’t find him, ask the lady behind the desk who is taking payment for parking.
- She calls out on the loudhailer.
- Ketut comes running – our boatman with the most fascinating teeth.
- Luca chats to him in Bahasa (local Balinese language), and they agree on a price & time.
- No booking or payments happen, just a handshake and both parties ‘word’ that we would be here at 5:50 am the next morning.
- Arrive at the agreed time the next morning (which is at sparrows-fart) and rely on your boatman/tour guide to keep to his word. Which they always do.
- Enjoy the adventure with no other tourists!
We are on the lake with a close-up view of the Ulun Danu Beratan Temple.
The last time I was here (on my one-and-only trip up North in April 2019), we couldn’t get close to the temple as there were so many people & tourists. It was challenging to get a photo by the temple without having a stranger in your shot. Not that they were photo bombing – there just were SO MANY tourists.
This temple is well known. You see it in many promotional photos of Bali. But when I was there in person last time, I realized how small it is (similar to seeing the Mona Lisa in real life) and felt a little disappointed, mainly because it was so busy.
This time, however, is very different!
We have the temple to ourselves (it wasn’t open to the public that early in the morning yet) and we have the best view (from our boat in the lake).
This time I feel the energy of the temple. It emits this beautiful calm feeling, and we are surrounded by the most peaceful atmosphere. Even our boat is quiet… no motor, just the lapping of our boatman paddling.
Unfortunately, it was misty the whole boat ride, so we didn’t get to witness the sunrise over the mountains. But what a spectacular morning. It was also Spring Equinox that day, so I did my morning meditation on the boat and said my thanks for the incredible experience.
After our boat adventure and on our way back to our accommodation, we make a quick detour to the Munduk Farm House Café to warm up with pink coloured Rosemary tea. It is delicious!
I highly recommend this spot for healthy food (vegan & gluten-free options) and a chat with the delightful owner.
Then time for the next adventure… waterfall trekking!
Munduk is known for its waterfalls. There are many, so it can be tough to choose. We decide to go for one that Luca knows well and has been to before – the Twin Waterfalls.
After a good walk down the stairs and past some mini waterfalls, the landscape eventually opens up to reveal these beautiful two waterfalls bouncing off the rocks together and landing gracefully in a large pool of clear spring water.
Once again, we are almost the only people around and get to enjoy the natural environment in a peaceful and respectful way.
Some journaling, a swim & photo-play time, and then we are once again off to the next location and adventure…
The rest of the drive took us about 2 hours to get to Pemuteran. So, by the time we get there, we are ready for a relaxing evening and good night sleep.
We wake up the next morning to a glorious sunrise and had a relaxing morning lazing around the pool.
An attempt to book a snorkelling trip was a fail as most of the diving and snorkelling centres are closed. Pemuteran is known for its incredible underwater sea-life – some say it’s the best in Bali, so, sadly, Covid has had such an impact on tourism up here. Down South, you have more expats living in the area, so many of the restaurants & community spaces are supported, but here they only rely on tourists.
It’s not my favourite beach (black sand beaches are not my thing), and the mountains are arid and dry compared to Munduk, but it’s worth a visit all the way here to snorkel or dive.
Eventually, after chatting once again to the locals, we manage to find ourselves our own personal charter boat and book a snorkel trip for the next day.
We then venture a little off the main road and decide to spoil ourselves and stay at the Mimpi’s Spa Resort. They have amazing specials on the go now during Covid, and so we get two night’s accommodation, massages and high tea – all for the price of their typical one night stay!
Of course, when it comes time to leave, we decide to spoil ourselves again and book in for another two nights! Yay for flexible plans, open minds and a chilled boyfriend.
We start the morning with a tasty breakfast at the resort restaurant overlooking the boats, ocean and volcanoes of Java in the distance.
Yay! It is snorkelling time!
We are collected by Gede – our snorkel guide with two little boys attached to him.
He explains that they are his sons. It is their first snorkel trip EVER (even though Dad has clearly been doing this for years) and is the first time he is able to take them on his boat (usually it’s full with people, but this morning it is just Luca and myself).
How exciting to have two newbies join us… their excitement is contagious!
The snorkel trip takes place around Menjangan Island – a small island and Nature Reserve just off Bali. It is hands down the best snorkelling I have done in my life.. and NOBODY ELSE IS HERE!
We have the island and all the snorkel locations to ourselves!
The visibility must have been about 20 meters; there is abundant ocean life; so many blue starfish; and clear blue ocean as far as the eye can see.
We see a few reef sharks too!
On the island, there is this impactful temple with a giant white statue of Ganesha – standing tall and removing obstacles. At the same time, he towers above you as you snorkel in the turquoise water below.
A short 30 min boat ride back and then an afternoon spent in the natural hot springs & having a massage at the spa. Not a bad day at all!
Day 5, 6 & 7
Late mornings, chilled days, and lazy evenings watching the sunset from the hot springs… this is how the rest of our time at Mimpi Resort pan out.
We do sprinkle the chill time with a bit of computer work with views from the restaurant (yeah, for the digital nomad’s WIFI is great here) and Yoga self-practice sessions in the huge Shala. But besides that, it is a fantastic time to connect with ourselves, each other and our natural surroundings…. and not have any plans!
We would have LOVED to continue our travels – and get up to Lovina to swim with the dolphins – but that will have to wait for the next travel adventure road trip.
We have a deadline and an extremely urgent engagement reason to get back to Ubud… Ecstatic dance with our Tribe.
Yes, connecting with like-minded souls and other conscious, fun friends is also part of this marvellous adventure.
Travelling around paradise wouldn’t be the same doing it on our own.
So, after this epic North Bali adventure and beautiful, peaceful time exploring… back to Ubud we go. Just in time for a Sunday dance session and lunch with friends!
Travel Tips for a North & West Bali Adventure:
- Hire a car instead of driving on your scooter – It’s far from down south.
- You might want to hire a driver too – The roads are incredibly narrow and challenging to drive. Be aware of this if you are a nervous driver or get stressed quickly on the roads.
- Remember snacks for the road – It’s nice to have your own stash if you don’t feel like eating out at restaurants all the time.
- Connect with the locals – Or even someone who lives in Bali, speaks Bahasa and can guide you along the way. You get cheaper deals and experience the not-so-touristy locations or adventures.
- Take warm clothes for Munduk and the mountains – No matter how hot and humid it is where you are in Bali when you start your trip, the mountains are MUCH colder (let’s say maybe 10 degrees cooler). Pack accordingly.
- Remember its rainy season from later October to late March – it gets extremely rainy in the mountains during this time of the year so consider the weather when you plan your trip.
- Don’t plan too much – It’s lovely to have flexibility! Now is a great time to be travelling in Bali because there is no such thing as booked out accommodation. So most of the time, you can rock up on the day and get a room.
- Listen to your intuition – If you have a hunch, take it. If you feel you need to stay one more day, do it. Always trust your intuition in life and obviously also when you travel.
If you would like some more Bali & Indo island inspiration, follow my Instagram account – @sharniquinn_wellness
Would love to hear about your travels or any questions you may have!