Bali is small. Live there for more than a couple weeks and your perspective shrinks. The local beach, warung and a good place to get pizza become the pillars of your universe. Any journey that requires you to venture beyond those limits feels taxing and is avoided at all costs. A 30-minute scooter ride is a weeklong trek down the Kokoda. A trip to Denpasar to get your laptop fixed will ruin your day. However, as your comfort zone gradually pads you in, it can begin to feel a little claustrophobic. So to get you moving, shaking and exploring, we have collected six activities to ease that island fever.
Silver Class in Canggu
This three-hour introductory jewellery making class is the perfect stick to shove into the spokes of the #balilife consumption cycle. Using traditional techniques, the team walk you through learning the basics of metal smithing so that everyone, no matter how inept, can produce a piece of jewellery. The owner personally blesses each item with healing love, peace, and joy, which feels more legitimate than it sounds. And spending time creating is a great recharge for drained travelling batteries and provides a sentimental gift for whomever you forget about next Christmas.
Plant Dyeing in Ubud
If you’re not in Ubud already then take the trip out of the Kuta, Seminyak, Canggu fog into the mountains for a fresh inhalation. The town is nestled beside a large river in a valley of rainforest and has been the cultural hub of Bali since the 40’s. One of Indonesia’s most ancient traditions is natural plant-based dyeing which is being continued in Ubud by Threads of Life who work with over 1,000 weavers in the archipelago. They offer workshops, which take place in a hut among the rice paddies, and practice dyeing with plants that are picked from the gardens in the local community. The workshops offer an insight into the traditional processes from plant to dye to textile. It’s pretty fucking complicated, but super rewarding once you give it a shot, and the perfect escape for a crafter-noon.
Snorkelling and Diving on a Lembongan Island Day Trip
What better way to cure small island fever than to take a trip to an even smaller island. But seriously. Lembongan is off the East Coast of Bali, and all white sand, blue water, coral reefs, and runs at half the pace of the mainland. Snorkel or dive among the abundance of marine life and you might catch a glimpse of the bigger creatures like turtles, manta rays, and the rare mola mola fish.
There are two ways to do this. You can hustle at the Sanur marina for a $50 round trip by speed boat which takes 30 minutes each way, then wander down the beach and head into one of the dive shops spread along the coast. Or you can drop $120 to take a luxury air-conditioned catamaran from Bali to Lembongan, land at a pontoon with all the tourist gimmicks, including waterslides, banana boats rides, and coffee and tea facilities, and snorkel until your heart’s content. Your choice.
Jungle White Water Rafting
To truly free yourself from island fever it’s best to step off the beach, look away from the horizon, head inland, and go white water rafting. Ayung River snakes through the dense tropical rainforest and jungle valleys of Bali’s centre. The journey itself takes you past cascading waterfalls, Hindu shrines and heaps of monkeys. The river offers Class II and Class III rapids, which are accessible for any fitness or skills level, and are a great way to squish some awe and adrenaline into those rolling Bali days.
Dance Evening Tour
Whether it is the drunk and writhing courtship rituals performed at Sky Garden most nights or the more, subtle, beautiful and traditional Balinese sort, dancing is a cornerstone of Bali. The Balinese are known for their sultry style of dance, which is as much about the body as it is about the eyes (you’ll understand when you see it). The most epic of the dozens of dances are the Kecak (Monkey Dance), Fire and Saghyang (Trance) dance, which can be seen back-to-back in one night in a dance evening tour, which includes an orchestral band, chanting, and of course, fire.
Hike Mount Batur
Recently one of the world’s most famous volcanoes, Batur, rumbled, burbled and showed some signs of eruption. Fortunately for the 40,000 residents that live within its proximity, Batur couldn’t quite reach climax and has settled back down. This is good news for hikers as well because the mountain offers the undisputed best view of the island. Getting there for sunrise is the go, beat the heat of day, and watch the earth change colours. It does mean you have to get up at 2:30am, though you can always not sleep. The trek is pretty mellow and takes around 1.5 hours to reach the top where your guide will hook you up with a warm breakfast to chow down on as you take in the panoramic views.
For a small island, Bali has enough things to do to keep anyone satisfied. Its diversity stretches well beyond the Kuta/Uluwatu bubble, and its traditional and contemporary treats are plentiful. So, if you feel yourself going a bit troppo in the smoothie bowl, burrito, Bintang vortex, and are craving an escape from island stagnation, peel yourself from your pool chair and enjoy.