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Most visitors to Bali spend a majority of their time in the popular beach towns in the south. Many others choose to stay in Ubud for rice fields and yoga. If these are the only parts of Bali that you see, you’ll certainly get the impression that the entire island is full of tourists. Those who want far smaller crowds and a more authentic experience should consider taking an east Bali road trip. Here are some of the highlights along the way.
While it’s still technically in the south, Sanur‘s location on Bali’s east coast ensures it is far different from the towns on the other side. Some refer to this sleepy beach town as “Snore,” but there’s actually quite a bit to do. You’ll see the best sunrise here, and it’s definitely worth the early wake up call. You can also enjoy a more leisurely beach experience, as this coast is free of the big waves that surfers chase on the other. It’s also possible to go kite-surfing, snorkeling, or diving nearby. If you’d prefer being on land, join a cycling tour to visit an abandoned amusement park. There are also tons of awesome places to eat and drink here.
Check out Sanur in our “Streets, Beats & Eats” video.
From Sanur, it’s about an hour and a half drive up the coast to our next stop of Candidasa. Sadly, the beaches here were pretty much ruined thanks to some short-sighted development. It’s still a nice town to base yourself in, as you’ve got lots of great options a short drive away. You can go to the stunning Virgin Beach, explore some of Bali’s amazing water palaces, or drive up to the island’s holiest temple – Pura Besakih – at the foot of Mt. Agung.
Take a video tour of Tirta Gangga – a Balinese water palace.
Our final stop is the cluster of villages known collectively as Amed. If you’re into snorkeling or diving, this is probably the best place to base yourself in Bali. The great sites at Tulamben are just an hour away, and you can even dive or snorkel around a Japanese shipwreck just off the coast. There’s a small tourist scene here, but people in these villages still primarily make a living from salt production and fishing. It’s a very quiet, beautiful corner of Bali. While it does get a bit busy in the summer, the crowds here are always much smaller than those in the south or Ubud.
A morning of snorkeling around Amed.
It’s easy to do this trip comfortably with about 7-10 days total. While it’s possible to get around by bus and/or taxi, your best bet is definitely to rent your own wheels. With a motorbike or a rental car, you can stop along the way to take in some breathtaking views, see the Bat Cave, and even visit a chocolate factory. You’ll be able to lounge on the beach, take in Balinese temples and palaces, have a bit of adventure, and indulge in plenty of good food and drink. There are great choices to suit all budgets when it comes to accommodation in each of these three towns as well. Skip the crowds of Kuta and Ubud and spend your next vacation on an east Bali road trip instead.