Many of you asked me to recommend places to visit in Bali. I only spent two weeks in Bali and didn't get a chance to see all of it but here are a few places that I think are worth visiting around Ubud and the coast.
Snorkelling in Padangbai, Bali
Padangbai is a small town in eastern Bali. It mostly serves as a ferry port for travel to Lombok, The Gili islands and the other Lesser Sunda Islands. While other beaches like Cangguu and Semenyak are great for surfing, if you visit Padang Bai, you will get a chance to do a bit of snorkelling. The nicest beach for snorkelling, is Blue Lagoon Beach and you can reach it either from the resort or by a local boat. We took the boat and booked two hours of snorkelling. As with anywhere else in Bali, make sure to get there early so you avoid too many people in the water.
Secret Garden of Sambangan 7 Waterfalls
Sambangan is located about a two hour scooter ride from Ubud towards the north of Bali. It's a beautiful ride through the mountains and the roads are in pretty good condition. At the tourist information centre, they will explain to you all about the seven waterfalls you can visit and how long each walk will take you. Not all of the waterfalls are safe for swimming, so you will have to go with a tour guide. Since we arrived in the morning and we only had half a day to explore the waterfalls, we took the shortest trip, which took us four hours and we visited 4 waterfalls. This time of year (just after the rainy season), the waterfalls are full of water and deep enough to jump off the cliffs or do waterfall sliding.
Tenganan village is one of the several ancient villages in Bali, also called 'Bali Aga'. Bali Aga means a village that still holds Balinese traditions, ceremonies and their houses are built in a traditional way. Bali Aga people live the traditional Balinese lifestyle with religious rituals and ceremonies. Only people born here can live in the village, Bali Aga people can only marry people from the village and those who leave, according to the tradition, aren't allowed back. There are only about 400 people living in this small village these days.
Tenganan village is also known for their art in making fabric. In fact, this village is the only one that the rarest Bali's fabric comes from. Double Ikat weaving is much more difficult, making it one of Bali’s rarest textiles. The weaver tie-dyes both the warp and weft threads before weaving them together. Some of the pieces take as long as 8 months to make.
Trunyan village is an isolated village in the mountains near the Lake Batur. As well as Tenganan people, Trunyans are also referred to as Bali Aga, so people live according to Balinese traditions.
Trunyanese do not cremate their dead as Hindus do. Instead, after a ritual cleansing with rain water, the body is placed in a bamboo cage (which is more of a tent shape than a cage), under the Taru Menyan tree until the forces of nature dissolve the body tissues until only the skeleton remains. The skull is then placed on the stairs near the tree.
Nusa Penida has it all; beautiful beaches and crystal clear waters; lush forests, waterfalls, amazing lookouts and no cars! To get to Nusa Penida, you can get a speed boat from Padang Bai or Sanur. These speed boats are publicly operated so it can be a little squishy to get one but I promise you it will be worth it.
There is one spot for snorkelling that you can easily access from the beach (without needing to take a boat) called Crystal Bai and this place can be found on the east side of the island. It can be a little touristy but if you go off season you will feel like you're in paradise. There are several local boats you can take from here to snorkel with Manta rays in Manta Point and Manta Bay. Crystal Bai also has a few local warongs to get lunch from, so it would make an easy day trip.