The Instagram photos do not deceive you. Bali, the famed Island of the Gods, is an actual paradise on earth. From the rugged coasts and pristine beaches that outline the island to the lush rice terraces, waterfalls, and volcanic hillsides that fill the interior, the stunningly beautiful landscape makes quite the first impression.
Behind the picturesque backdrop is a deeply spiritual and unique culture, which is fortunate enough to also be blessed with world-class surfing and diving. It all adds up to Bali being one of the world’s most popular island destinations. It’s also been the spiritual home of Edumadic since our inception, perfectly suited for online learners who want to combine their education with world travel.
If you made a checklist of all the things an online student is looking for in a travel destination, Bali would tick off most, if not all, of the boxes.
The laid back lifestyle makes for comfortable island living, and if you’re looking to stay a while there are 2 main places to make your home base.
A hipster haven and digital nomad hotspot, this beachside town continues to expand year after year. So much so that many travelers are choosing to live in the quieter towns up the coast, but the heart of Canggu is built around the buzzing nightlife, cafe culture, and narrow streets crowded with motorbikes.
The beachfront access makes this a prime spot for surfers and sunbathers, and no matter your budget, the housing options are extremely affordable and range from backpacker hostels to luxury villas. While on the surface it looks like everyone is out of the office and on holiday, there’s a pretty big community of remote workers (aka digital nomads), and you’ll have a number of coworking spaces and cafes to get your work done in between your surf sessions (the laptop-on-a-beach with a coconut in hand isn’t a complete lie).
Stepping away from the beach and heading to the interior of the island leads you to the spiritual center of Bali. This is where you’ll discover rich cultural and historical sites, and the healing energy Ubud is known for with its abundance of yoga studios and wellness retreats.
The area draws plenty of tourism, mostly from those hoping to re-enact scenes from Eat Pray Love. You’ll be able to find affordable housing in the surrounding villas and hostels. Ubud has much the same infrastructure as Canggu, with a strong cafe culture and a remote work scene. What sets the two apart is the serene energy found in Ubud, which is owed to the absence of the ocean and nightlife. You could describe them as the Yin (Ubud) and Yang (Canggu) of the island.
The central location of Ubud also makes it a convenient home base to reach other parts of the island. There are rainforests and rice paddies, waterfalls, Hindu temples, and some of Bali’s most infamous landscapes nearby to explore.
No matter where you’re based, the following sights and activities are pretty accessible from anywhere. Just be prepared for long car rides as you criss-cross the island!
This is a must-see agricultural icon that attracts a crowd to the lush, green rice paddies. The terraces sit along the hillsides (an innovative irrigation system) where you can view the farmers at work and even try on their field equipment.
This scenic trail is a mellow walk along the hilltops - luckily it doesn’t involve much of an incline in the Bali heat!
It’s a quiet escape that will take you on a 2-mile nature walk among the rice paddies and more secluded homes and cafes, perfect for a sunset stroll when in Ubud!
A sacred Hindu Balinese water temple is an experience for all visitors of all spiritualities. Worshipers have visited the temple for over a thousand years, and a guide will walk you through the history and ritual process.
With the proper ceremonial clothing (you can rent from the temple) you can wade through the fountains to experience the purification ritual firsthand.
Visit the sanctuary and natural habitat of the Balinese long-tailed macaque monkey to get up close and personal with our furry ancestors. The sanctuary is a main tourist attraction and the monkeys are always looking for a snack (or to pickpocket your belongings - watch out!) and will climb all over you to find one!
There are tons of waterfalls to find throughout the island, but at Aling-Aling you can challenge your fear of heights and leap from the falls from 5m, 10m, and even 15m above the water. It’s an exhilarating afternoon at the end of a scenic ride through Bali’s interior.
Climb up an active volcano at dawn to watch the sunrise over your paradise island. Once you make it past the grueling 2-hour uphill climb in the pitch black, the epic views will be worth the struggle.
Maybe the most chill beach on Bali, it’s tucked away on the northeast coast with black volcanic sand and some of the best snorkeling and dive spots on the island. It’s worth spending a night to make the most of your trip.
All the way on the southwestern tip of Bali, this is the mecca for surfers. The surf breaks aren’t for newbies, but this part of the rocky coast boasts some of the best beaches and incredible sunset views from high up on the cliffs. The Uluwatu Temple and cultural Kecak dance is not to be missed each evening.
The less trodden path in Bali to the west end of the island allows for a more authentic view of Balinese culture and everyday life. Tour groups (like Five Pillar Experiences) will introduce you to the small businesses and agriculture these communities depend on.
3 tiny islands near Bali’s neighbour Lombok are each fit for honeymooners, snorkelers, and partying backpackers. Gili Trawangan, the largest of the 3, is most popular and serves as a great base to explore what the archipelago has to offer both above and below the waves. There are no cars on these islands which puts a unique spin on this island adventure!
The 3 Nusa islands are found off the east coast of Bali. Nusa Penida is the least commercialized, though it’s quickly becoming one of the most Instagrammed islands on the planet! There are caves, beaches, and rock pools to explore - so give yourself a night or 2 on the island to see it all.
Depending on how much time you’ve got to spend in Bali, or how long you fall under her spell, you might not be able to squeeze it all into one trip - and we’ve tried.
Some notable runner-ups for the adrenaline chasers are becoming a PADI-certified scuba diver or freediver (which take about 3-5 days to complete), or an epic adventure out to the Komodo National Park islands to see the dragons!
Indonesia is made up of thousands of islands - over 17,000 in fact (only 6,000 are inhabited) - and Bali is just one tiny island among them. There are infinite adventures for those who thrive on island time, and these excursions and experiences might be the perfect study break for you.
These highlights are just some of the many reasons why Bali has been the most loved destination for our Edumads. We’ll be running programs there for many years to come!