Top-quality surfing is one of the main factors behind Bali’s success story as the holiday destination of choice for millions. The first surfers arrived in South Bali and the Bukit Peninsula in the 1930s. Uluwatu is still the premier surf spot with its clifftop temple acting as a guardian angel. Padang Padang and Canggu’s Echo Beach are among other superb spots for surfing.
Bali’s second favourite activity is also sea based. Dive shops in Bali’s resorts run PADI courses and offer diving trips to sites such as Tulamben, Nusa Lembongan, Sanur and Amed. Tulamben and Amed are in East Bali and the former is the base for dives on the wreck of the USAT Liberty. Divers get the chance of spotting parrotfish, coral, stingrays, turtles and barracuda in their natural habitats.
Bali undersea walks do away with the necessity of having to take PADI tuition and can be enjoyed by anyone over the age of 10. Participants walk along the seabed at depths of about seven metres while wearing a mask fed with oxygen from a boat on the surface. Undersea walkers get to see the same colourful coral and tropical fish divers do. Bali Seawalker is available at either Tanjung Benoa or Sanur.
Parasailing is a high-octane sport for adventure lovers. The principal location for Bali parasailing is at Nusa Dua’s Tanjung Benoa Beach. Parasailing companies here comply with international regulations governing this activity and even tailor the parachutes according to the size of each passenger. Parasail odysseys typically last five minutes and take riders up to 100 metres in the air.
Kitesurfing is another extreme sport that has literally taken off in the past couple of decades on Bali. The kite saves the surfer the trouble of waiting for suitable swells and breaks and is perfect for days when the wind and waves are not favourable for surfing. Kitesurfing schools and instructors work the normal surfing beaches including Mertasari at Sanur, Tanjung Benoa and Canggu plus Seminyak.
Canyon tubing in Bali combines the excitement of a waterpark slide with a beautiful natural environment. This activity can be enjoyed in North Ubud with the usual course taking canyoners along a 40km downhill stretch of the Siap River. All riders get their own tubes and groups are accompanied by skilled guides.
Two of the three principal venues for white water rafting Bali are also close to Ubud. Tour agencies utilise the Melangit and Ayung rivers for this scintillating activity. The other river is the Telaga Waja in east Bali. The average length of these excursions is 10kms and staggered rapids can drop 30-metres in one location. This provides hair-raising enjoyment for all rafters.
Jungle, mountain and country trekking provide the means of accessing the more distant parts of Bali’s inland terrain with the added bonus of getting a little exercise. There are lots of different options and guides in all the main resorts will tailor them to specific requirements if asked. The most popular ones are the ascent of Mt Batur volcano for sunrise and the jungles of Sambangan.
Eco-cycling excursions in Bali cater to young and old alike and follow traffic-free country routes with gentle downhill gradients to maximise the enjoyment of the rider. These mostly head into the areas around Ubud and include stops at traditional villages, coffee plantations and restaurants for a traditional Balinese meal and drink.
In Payangan, driving ATVs along demarcated jungle tracks is a wonderful activity for speed freaks. The ATVs are easy to drive and really only have three controls: a steering wheel and pedals for the brake and the throttle. ATV convoys are kept small so that they cause minimum disturbance and take drivers across grassy knolls, through forests and past plantations of salak fruit palm trees.
Just about all holiday destinations nowadays offer bungy-jumping. In Bali there are two venues to bungy jump although one of them typically closes during the low season. The 45-metre-high tower at Seminyak is operated by the Bungy Company. Jump packages include ‘regular’, harness and the truly unique fireball. Jumpers receive complimentary T-shirts and certificates.