Off the beaten path in Bali, Indonesia

May 5, 2004
Outside Magazine
Week of September 14-21, 1995

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Off the beaten path in Bali, Indonesia

Off the beaten path in Bali, Indonesia
Q: I am planning a trip to Bali. Can you suggest any good spots for camping and snorkeling. We would like to get off the beaten path and see some of the local culture while not being surrounded by other tourists. We are also interested in any information you may have regarding health, food, and those other worrisome aspects of Third World travel. Cheers.
David Ellerbroek
Perth, Western Australia, Australia
[email protected]

A: Perseverance pays off in Bali. Although straying from the beaten path can be somewhat difficult on this 84- by 48-mile island inhabited by some 2.5 million people, you can find beautiful, quiet retreats far from the maddening crowds. Located about three miles east off the coast of Java, Bali provides visitors with lasting memories of active volcanoes, spectacular tropical underwater life, and colorful Balinese culture.

But like any Third World country, diseases can be easily picked up if you don't act wisely. Eat well--buying food from cheap restaurants or street vendors means taking your chances. Drink only bottled water--even to brush your teeth. Adequate medical care is available in Denpasar as well as in major Indonesian cities, but the general level of sanitation and health is below what many tourists are used to. For health information, contact the international travelers hotline at the Centers for Disease Control at 404-332-4559.

Getting around Bali is easy, as public transportation is convenient and inexpensive, and roads are usually uncrowded and clearly marked. Arrive in Kuta or Denpasar and immediately escape to North Bali's Buleleng district, which is separated from many of the southern tourist hordes by the Central Mountains. Follow the coastal road of from Singaraja to Labuhan Lalang, the northern entrance of Bali Barat National Park, which protects acres of coral reef and coastal waters. As you travel west, glimpse the real Bali in elaborate sandstone temples and traditional barong dances in fishing villages along the coast. Hundreds of hotels provide accommodation options all over the island, but leave your tent at home--there's not much in the way of camping in Bali.

Some of the best and most secluded diving and snorkeling sites are located near white-sand beaches at sparsely populated Labuhan Lalang and at nearby uninhabited Pulau Menjangan, or Deer Island, about 660 feet off the coast. Twenty dollars will buy you a round-trip boat ride and three hours of snorkeling among tropical fish and undamaged coral formations, or walking on a short nature trail where you can observe the island's namesake, wild deer.

For additional information on Bali, contact Indo Odyssey, 808-889-5915, Box 781, Kapaau, 96755. Be sure to look at the Bali: The Online Travel Guide site, a wealth of information on budget-mided travel in Bali that includes photographs, maps, health advice, and more.

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