With Bali well and truly back on the international travel radar after a two year hiatus, we thought we’d remind readers of just three sites that make this island truly magical…
Situated on the lower slopes of Mount Agung, Bali’s highest peak, Besakih is Bali’s biggest and most important temple complex and is often referred to as the “mother temple.” It consists of five compounds representing the five holy directions, built around the main temple. There are also ten clan temples which are reserved for ancestor worship. Other compounds honour the founding father of Besakih temple, Rsi Markandya and also Basuki – the holy guardian dragon believed to dwell in a cave on mount Agung. As the mother temple, Besakih is the site of Bali’s largest and most elaborate purification ritual – Eka Dasa Rudra – held once a century. Besakih is a must-see attraction for a true insight into what makes the island tick.
Jatiluwih Rice Terraces + Batukaru Volcano
Located in the heart of Bali on the fertile slopes of Gunung BatuKaru – Bali’s second highest volcano after Gunung Agung – the Jatiluwih rice terraces are so unique and beautiful, they’ve been declared a UNESCO World Heritage site. BatuKaru itself is like one giant garden, planted with everything from coffee to tropical fruits to organic vegetables, which thrive in its rich soils. Higher up, plantations give way to cloudforest. Jatiluwih covers 500ha of iridescent stepped paddies that showcase a unique system of water distribution – producing excellent rice to boot.
Menjangan Island + Coral Reef
This tiny uninhabited islet off the Northwest coast of Bali is a part of the West Bali National Park. Menjangan means deer in Indonesian and you’re almost certain to spot some when you visit. But the island is a destination not because of its land based fauna, but for what you can see in the waters around it. Few would dispute that this is Bali’s best dive site, characterised by steep coral walls awash with vivid colour. You won’t see too many large pelagic fish here as the area is protected from cold currents, but you might be lucky enough to see white tip sharks, turtles and barracuda. There’s also a wreck dive, though it’s pretty deep, starting at 35 metres.