Nusa Pineda, a 45 minute boat ride from Bali, was a magical pristine island jungle with beautiful white sand beaches and coves and landscapes that look like Avatar. It's like paradise here one few tourists and all jungle landscapes with windy rough roads. I recommend hiring a driver as you don't want to drive the rocky roads yourself in 90 degree heat. We stayed at the beautiful bamboo huts Penida Bambu Green Villas sleeping with sounds of animals, birds, insects, chickens making loud noises and showering outdoors among nature. I recommend staying 2 nights in Nusa Pineda to see the whole island without rushing. My favorite was seeing Diamond Beach and Tembeling Beach. We stood at the top of Diamond Beach as the hike down is too treacherous and the line was too long. Getting to the secluded few tourists Tembling beach was an adventure of itself. You drive there, the 30 min bumpy fast ride on a scooter down hill fast with a local driver, then walk 30 min downhill to a swimming hole and gorgeous secluded beach. We ate dinner by the Crystal Bay beach with a group of hungry stray dogs under our table during sunset hour.
Bali is the 4th most popular travel destination in the world after Dubai, London, and Cancun. It's known as the Land of the Gods, with it's natural beauty of volcanos, rice terraces, waterfalls, and beaches. We mainly explored the central area of Ubud. Bali gets more tourists visiting than locals. In 2019, 6.9 million foreigners visited Bali vs. 4.2 million native people on the island. We enjoyed seeing all the beautiful Hindu temples all over Bali constructed of stone and wood with gold leaf carving designs. Hinduism was is the primary religion of Indonesian people. You will see huge Hindu god statues all over Bali and Hindu art, traditions, and rituals celebrated. Temples in Bali follow the same architectural principles as in India. The Balinese word for “temple” (Pura) refers to a sacred complex that is often encircled by walls. We visited the Pura Tirta Empul to watch the sacred water cleaning ritual.
Bali is home to over 20,000 temples, each of which is dedicated to a different virtue like family, community, and village. The Balinese people are so kind and peaceful. They believe in reincarnation and supporting their community, they put high respect to the balance of humans and animals and plants that nourish their bodies. We had fun swinging on various shaped swings at Aloha Ubud Swing, visited the green Tegallalang Rice Terraces, watched locals carve wood statues and figurines, saw the Mt Batur volcano, and visited Cantik Agriculture Luwak Coffee and saw the cute luwak animal that eats coffee beans and poops them out in the forest floor. The Balinese showed us how they hand clean, peel, dry and grind the coffee beans. We stayed at the Ubud Village Resort & Spa a serene paradise overlooking rice paddies and plants. We visited the beautiful Kanto Lampo Waterfall and Tegenungan Waterfall, both very popular for swimming. You have to hike 15 min downhill to both waterfalls and hike back up. Most excursions require entrance fees too. We saw exotic butterflies and held huge moths on our hands at Kemenuh Butterfly Park. We watched the sacred Sanghyang Dedari Dance and saw a dancer stomp out fire with his bare feet. The ceremony is intended to ask for safety from a disaster or epidemic that attacks a village. This dance is different from other Balinese dances, where dancers must be conscious while dancing. The Sanghyang dance requires the dancer's body to be possessed by the Dedari. Overall we enjoyed learning about Balinese culture, traditions and interacting with the locals and nature in Bali.