People have been going to Bali for many years for many reasons. Bali’s tourism has exploded over the last couple of decades due to its wonderful weather, amazing beaches, cultural heritage and great nightlife. But Bali has been a popular destination for a century. A Dutch steamship began bringing tourists there in the 1920’s. It became an artist enclave and was a vacation for the rich and famous including Charlie Chaplin. Tourism has had obstacles like WWII, political instability and more recently two bombings (2002 and 2006) to overcome but it remains one of the top southeast Asian getaways.
There are many reasons why Bali is such a popular destination. Individually there isn’t a temple complex that compares to Angkor Wat in Cambodia, Bagan in Myanmar or Borobudur in Java but there are 1000’s of amazing temples that each have their own individual charm (another blog post). Bali is also able to boast many world class beaches all over the island. Art has continued to be a central part of Balinese culture with Ubud as the heart. The people are friendly and the island is stunningly beautiful.
Pura Ulun Beraten
For my June vacation this year I jumped at Air Asia’s special offer (<$250) on their new (direct) Taipei to Bali route (possibly getting discontinued this fall). Of course staying on the beach or relaxing in Ubud is popular but my online research found Bali to be an underrated hiking paradise. The main hiking attractions are volcanoes and almost two dozen waterfall hikes that are located on a small island. The great thing about Bali is that the tourist infrastructure extends far past the main tourist areas and all of the hikes can be done as daytrips from the comfort of a great guesthouse that meets all of the wants of a foreign tourist. I stayed on the beach in Lovina for most of my trip but there are many other great places to stay. One of my favorites was an overnight stay in Munduk.
I stayed in varying levels of guesthouses (cheap to expensive) but everyone of them had great views. This is from my patio in Munduk.
I am not going to suggest that anyone should travel to Bali for the waterfalls but they are an excellent excuse to go for a long drive through the countryside. Bali is in the midst of a struggle to maintain their cultural traditions with ever advancing modernization but so far the rural areas have retained their charm. It seems that someone could almost randomly pick a rural road in Bali to explore and find terraced fields of rice in varying shade of green and yellow depending on the season, hidden temples that see relatively few visitors, quaint small villages, views of volcanoes and perhaps even a waterfall.
Just another rice field.
For the most part the waterfall hikes in Bali are short and well trodden. Many have a small entrance fee (plus parking) and a well maintained (usually concrete) path to the waterfall. Some have guides that will oversell the difficulty of finding the waterfall and be hard negotiators. Some have many vendors that may or may not be bothersome. Some are just perfect and there even a couple that have no signs, no vendors and no tickets prices. If you are able to shrug off the commercialization by the local village you will find that all of the waterfalls are pretty awesome.
1) Aling Aling Waterfall (northern Bali) is far enough off of the tourist trail that you will likely only see a handful of tourists. This is one of the nicest waterfall hiking trails and it is the best waterfall to swim at in Bali. You descend down into the valley where there is not one but four beautiful waterfalls. The main waterfall is quite impressive but swimming is best done upstream in a narrow gorge or downstream at the smaller waterfalls (Kroya, Kembar and Pucuk).
Aling Aling Waterfall
2) Banyumala Waterfall (northern Bali) is a spectacular hidden waterfall. There is very little information on the internet about this one and I knew nothing about it. I was riding a scooter on the crater rim next to Lake Buyan when I saw a waterfall sign. I had no idea what to expect but I took a chance. I hired a local farmer to be a guide after he stopped me on the road. Most of the time local guides are completely unnecessary but I never would have found this waterfall without a guide. The hike isn’t long but this is the most remote waterfall that I visited. There is great swimming and a really cool wall of cascading water just past the waterfall.
3. Blehmantung Waterfall was another spectacular hidden waterfall. There was a lot of info on the Internet but all that remains is a faded sign that has fallen down next to the highway. I followed the two track road down to an abandoned house at the end of the road. Unlike all of the waterfalls in Bali (except Banyumala) there weren’t ticket takers, local guides, vendors or even other tourists here. For the first time in Bali I was all by myself for a waterfall hike and it was wonderful. The hike is easy and short but the waterfall is a perfect place to relax in solitude.
4. Git Git Waterfall is by far the most famous waterfall in Bali. If you say the word waterfall in Bali you will immediately get a response of Git Git. The waterfall is one of the easiest waterfall to get to and it is spectacular. But temper your expectations, it is a short concrete path past many vendors to get to the waterfall.
5. Git Git Twin Waterfall (aka Campuhan) is just a little upstream from Git Git Waterfall. It is also famous, touristy with a concrete path trail back to the falls. The Balinese name, Campuhan, means twin waterfall. It isn’t a physically impressive waterfall but it is unique with the twin streams of water.
5b. Mekalongan Waterfall is 50m’s downstream of Git Git Twin Waterfall. In some ways it is a more beautiful waterfall.
5c. Bertingkat Waterfall (aka Terraced Waterfall) is another 200 m’s downstream from Mekalongan. It is a little difficult to walk to but I have directions on my waterfall guide or you can drive to the other trailhead. This is the best and possibly the only choice for swimming out of these three waterfalls. It is also less visited so you might have a little privacy for your group.
6. Jembong Waterfall is completely different than every other waterfall I visited. Many waterfalls discharge a large volume of water but Jembong Waterfall cascades thunderously down the rocks. It isn’t a long hike but it is unique. Some were very impressed and thought it was a top 5 Bali waterfall but I was underwhelmed. It is really close to Aling Aling Waterfall so both can be combined into one daytrip.
7. Lemukih Waterfall is the other waterfall at Sekumpul village. Visitors will see the amazing Sekumpul Waterfall from a viewpoint but there is a 2nd smaller waterfall in the distance. In fact that smaller waterfall is actually part of three large waterfalls that surround you at the end of the gorge in addition to other small ones along the way. If Sekumpul Waterfall wasn’t so incredible then this would be a destination by itself.
The right waterfall could be seen from the viewpoint. The 3rd waterfall is almost directly behind you with a lot of mist coming off. I need to practice my panorama (using stitching) skills to really give you the idea of how incredible this place was.
8. Les Waterfall is one of the most remote waterfalls in Bali located on the northern ocean road between Amed and Singaraja. The roads are actually in good shape until the last 1/2 km and the trail is very easy to hike. This village has the best tourism practices. There are no annoying guides pressuring you to hire them but there is a price list with guides available. There are two drink/snack shops along the trail and a really nice guesthouse. More motivated hikers can take a longer trail that will take you to 5 waterfalls but you will need a guide.
9 and 10. Melanting Waterfall and Munduk Waterfall are closely linked and you can’t talk about one without talking about the other. Munduk and Melanting are beautiful villages east of the 3 lakes at 600-700m’s of elevation. There are many great guesthouses and restaurants at all price levels that look out over a valley towards Batu Karu (one of Bali’s holiest mountains). But there is some confusion regarding the waterfall names. There is a mixture of village names, English names and Balinese names resulting in 7 names for 3 waterfalls. It is explained more in the guide entries.
The local village has landscaped a beautiful trail down to Melanting Waterfall. Melanting Waterfall looks very similar in size and shape Git Git Waterfall. It isn’t great for taking photos (covered in water) but there is a wonderful mist that sprays off of the waterfall.
Munduk and Melanting villages are very tourist friendly. I didn’t see any local guides hassling tourists at trailheads but local guides are available through your guesthouse. There also weren’t any souvenir shops on the trail. There were 3-4 drink/snack/small meal shops along the trail. They did sell spices but they weren’t pushy. Overall this was the best waterfall hike that I did.
11. Nungnung Waterfall is a lesser known waterfall that is easily accessible as a daytrip from southern Bali. The drive takes you through an amazing rural area where there are large no development areas with just rice fields. Nungnung village is quite small and there are usually only a handful of hikers on the trail. Many hikes in Bali are down a seemingly endless staircase but this was the longest with 486 stairs. Not only that but some of the stairs are huge. If it isn’t too late in the dry season there is also a second smaller waterfall beside the trail.
12. Sekumpul Waterfall is the most impressive waterfall in Bali and it is one of the top waterfalls in all of Indonesia. As an added bonus visitors can also visit Lemukih Waterfall which is a unique experience. There are claims that the right branches are spring fed while the left branch is river fed and turns brown during heavy rain. I could not find any pictures on the internet to verify this observation. You can swim at both waterfalls and on sunny days you have a good chance at seeing a rainbow in the waterfall mist.
13. Tegenungan Waterfall is the easiest to access from southern Bali and probably the most visited waterfall in Bali. You will have to put up with people there but it is an incredible waterfall.
More waterfalls that I didn’t visit, couldn’t access or were dry when I visited. Hopefully on my next trip I will be able to visit many of these in addition to hiking Gunung Agung or Batu Karu.
1. Colek Pamor Waterfall – This is located just upstream from Git Git Waterfall. There is a separate trailhead but it can be accessed from the same parking area.
2. Cemara Waterfall – This is located near Aling Aling but I am not sure if it is upstream or downstream
3. Dusun Kuning Waterfall – This is a lesser known waterfall in southern Bali.
4. Carat Waterfall – I found this but it was completely inaccessible from my entry point. There has to be a better way to the bottom of the waterfall.
5. Peguyangan, Sebuluh and Temeling Waterfall – These 3 waterfalls are on Nusa Penida island and are seasonal according to various internet sources.
6. Juwuk Manis Waterfall – This appears to be somewhere on the southwest coast
7. Singsing Waterfall – This waterfall is convenient for those staying in Lovina but it is definitely dry during the dry season.
8. Golden Waterfall – This is located near Munduk Waterfall
9. Git-Git Waterfall – Another Git-Git Waterfall but this one is near Blehmantung Waterfall.
10. Melasti Waterfall – falls onto the beach near Tanah Lot.
Are there any more waterfalls that I am missing in Bali? What are your favorites?