Away from the tourist-packed, chaotic, happening places of Bali, lies a mystical land. Fairly forgotten by everyone, Eastern Bali is a world in itself. The black sandy beaches, spill down mountains, gigantic volcanoes, ancient temples and cascading rice terraces offer nothing less than tranquillity and food for the soul. For all those who wish to spend a day or two in the arms of nature, bask in the natural setting of the volcanic mountains and crystalline beaches or engage in the traditional lifestyle of a typical Balinese village, a trip to the Eastern Bali is compulsory.
There are many places to explore in Eastern Bali. In order to enrich your spiritual value, Goa Lawah Temple is a great option. Located in the Pesinggahan Village, around a 2-hour drive from Denpasar city, this temple is built around a cave opening that is inhabited by hordes of bats, and hence called the ‘Bat Cave’. In the centre, you will see Shivaite’s shrine together with a bale adorned with the motifs of Balinese mythical dragons. The huge banyan trees casts a large shadow, which helps keep the temple cool and breezy. Another temple worth visiting in the east of Bali is the ancient Besakih Temple, which also known as Bali’s ‘Mother Temple’. For over 1,000 years, it sits 1,000 metres high on the south-western slopes of Mount Agung. The high altitude of Mount Agung gives the temple a mystical quality. Besakih Temple features three temples dedicated to the Hindu trinity Vishnu, Shiva and Brahma. You will witness a cluster of temples and shrines, each having their own story and uniqueness.
Bali is considered to be an all year diving destination for the diving enthusiasts. As the famous diving spot, Tulamben comprises of black, sandy slopes, shipwrecks and coral gardens. It contains a stunningly diverse underwater ecosystem, and the main dive sites offer different environments. The wreck is humongous and a fantastic playground to explore in – you may even find the rare pygmy seahorse in the area. It is a prime spot for underwater photography. Amed is another famous diving spot. Gear up in your diving suits and explore the underwater flora and fauna. Teeming with marine life the subaquatic environment features many tropical fish, sea turtle, reef tip shark, rays and vibrant coral gardens. You can also spot the traditional Balinese wooden boats called ‘Jukung’ available for fishing charters.
For the beach hunters, the recommended beaches in the east of Bali would be Bias Tugel Beach and Candidasa Beach. Located very close to Padang Bai Port, Bias Tugel Beach is also known as the Secret Beach. You have to walk through fairly steep and rocky terrain to reach the white sandy beach. The clean water allows you to dive or snorkel to see the beautifully coloured coral reefs and various fish species. Travelling further along the eastern coast of Bali, you will find Candidasa Beach. This beach, lined with coconut trees complemented with cool on shores breezes is a perfect spot to let your hair down.
Those who are trek crazy are lucky as East Bali has gorgeous trekking spots to explore. Kintamani is a favourite trekking destination as it has magnificent views of the Batur caldera lake, a main attraction in the area, and coffee plantations. It won’t be long before you will feel the calming stillness of the Kintamani highlands. While at the foot of Mount Abang, you can choose to trek up through dense tropical forests. The view from the top is simply breath-taking with clouds hovering over the lake, the steep volcanic slopes of Batur on one side and Mount Agung standing tall above a magnificent shoreline on the other. If you are one of those serious hikers, you should consider taking the trek to Mount Agung.
For those who want to spend their day learning more about the local culture and lifestyle, Ujung Water Palace will bring you closer to Bali’s history. This famous palace consists of large pools and historic structures set against a backdrop of Mount Agung and the eastern shoreline. You will be fascinated by the blend of Balinese and European architecture. The whole park covers approximately 10 hectares of land giving you enough space to stroll around and marvel at the ancient structures. While on this historical journey, make sure to visit Tirta Gangga. On entering the site, the first thing you will notice is a pond where rows of guardian figures holding cudgels are neatly arranged. The polygonal stepping stones allow you to traverse the pond. The huge towering fountains, marvellous ancient springs and huge banyan trees will be a cool retreat in the humid afternoon. The Klungklung Palace in Semarapura is another famous historic attraction in the east. The palace includes a floating pavilion, main gates and the court of justice. You will be amazed by the paintings that lead up to the ceiling. The grounds are easily walkable and absolutely gorgeous. In the floating pavilion, you will find Balinese artists creating wonderful paintings.
If you are keen to blend with the locals, Sidemen Village is perfect for strolling around lazily. Located near Besakih Temple, this village is surrounded by river valleys, picture perfect paddy fields and open pastures, all nestled along the slopes of Mount Agung. Take a walk around the rice fields and interact with the friendly villagers.
The Eastern part of Bali has lots to offer in terms of activities. You can choose from an array of mountains, temples, beaches, paddy fields or royal palaces to visit, all easily planned on your own. The list is so exhaustive that it is impossible even for a local to visit all places in one go. Whether you are a tourist or a Bali resident, this island will never stop to amaze you. Live by the mantra: “The more you read, the more you will Know. The more you Learn, the more places you will go.”