Bali Travel Guide for LGBTQ+ Travelers

Photo by Harry Kessell on Unsplash

Bali Temples

Man standing at temple site. One of the many breathtaking sites of off-the-beaten-path Bali. Photo by Road Trip with Raj on Unsplash

Bali is by far the most popular visitor destination in Indonesia. Its blend of unique cultures, sunset beach parties, spectacular highland regions and unique underwater life make it a perennial favorite amongst global travelers. But once you have tired yourself out from massages, tanning and dancing the night away at an LGBTQ+ friendly bar or at a beach party, you might be ready for the untrodden and undeveloped regions to the four corners of Bali.

While some areas of Bali are overrun by tourists, there are still some regions where few westerners venture except for the intrepid and those with local guides who reveal the authentic side of this wonderful island. While LGBTQ+ areas like Kuta and Seminyak are exotic and fun, there is so much more beauty and wonder to discover on this incredible Indonesian island.

Bali is relatively manageable to navigate. In fact, from the heart of the gay microcosm of Kuta and Seminyak, you can go in any direction and find nature, culture and one-of-a-kind sites that will stay in your heart for a lifetime

Bali Regional Highlights For LGBTQ+ Travelers

Visitor on jungle swing in Tegalalang Ubud Rice Terraces in Bali. Visitor on jungle swing in Tegalalang Ubud Rice Terraces in Bali. Photo by Darren Lawrence on Unsplash

Central Bali: Ubud

While not exactly a hidden gem any longer, you must travel to Ubud. Central Ubud is located about an hour and a half inland from the international airport. On this ride you will drive past miles of rice patties and traditional Balinese life that has remained relatively untouched by time and tourism, that is until you reach Ubud.

Ubud is a spiritual and cultural hub of Bali. Don’t miss it, even if you only stay a day or two on your way to the further adventures. It’s a haven for soaking up the atmosphere of health and wellbeing, among other things like writing and music. Ubud is a fantastic sanctuary for those LGBTQ+ tourists who appreciate meditation, yoga and wellness, as there are a plethora of classes and retreats to choose from.

Ubud is filled with arts and crafts options, boutique cafes, artists’ workshops and galleries. There are also some remarkable architectural and other sights to be found, including the famous Sacred Monkey Forest.

For some serious shopping, visit the traditional Ubud Market with its many busy stalls selling wood carvings, batik shirts, sarongs and other souvenirs. Locals shop here in the morning for fresh produce that has traveled from the upland farms and fields.

Western Bali: West Bali National Park

Western Bali is the least populated and least visited region of Bali. It is dominated by the West Bali National Park and a huge area of protected reserve. Both the north and south coasts of this region offer quiet beaches but of a very different nature. It is an ideal place to retreat to for a few days to escape the busy and loud gay scenes in the bigger cities.

Those in the north can enjoy calm seas which are excellent for diving and snorkeling. The southern beaches are wilder and include a number of renowned surfing spots for those who like to surf bigger waves.

Beach and cliffs on Nusa Penida. Beach cliffs in the beautiful island of Nusa Penida. Photo by Alfiano Sutianto on Unsplash

Eastern Bali: Candidasa

Candidasa is a laid back and very relaxing area of Bali. While more intimate than larger Balinese cities, it has a wide range of accommodation options. Candidasa is 60 to 80 minutes from Sanur along the east coast road, and you can also reach it easily from Ubud. It is about 15 minutes further east from Padang Bai where public ferries depart.

Candidasa is a renowned diving area with good sites close offshore as well as around the nearby islands of Nusa Penida and Nusa Lembongan. Dive with large manta rays for a truly enchanting underwater experience, and even swim alongside mola mola when in season.

A few miles northeast of Candidasa is Pasir Putih (White Sand Beach), which is one of East Bali’s well-kept secrets. It’s a five hundred meter long, isolated, beautiful, white sand beach fringed with coconut palms. This is one of the best beach destinations for those LGBTQ+ travelers looking to live out their deserted tropical beach fantasy.

Northern Bali: Lovina

The whole stretch of coast in Lovina is fringed by quite narrow black sand beaches. These beaches are generally safe for swimming and the water is relatively calm.

Diving, snorkeling and dolphin watching are all popular activities in Lovina. Perhaps the most rewarding activity in this region, however, is to relax and take in a very slow, traditional pace of life.

Located west of Lovina is an ethereal hot spring with stone carved mouths gushing water in a lush garden setting. The waters are naturally a very pleasing temperature and have a high sulfur content. The whole experience here is extremely therapeutic and cleansing.

Air Sanih (about 15 km east of Singaraja on the coast road) is a quaint cold spring bathing area set in nice gardens. The spring water here is said to originate from holy Lake Batur.

The Gitgit Waterfalls (10 km south Singaraja on the main road to Bedugul) are spread out around the village of Gitgit. The best of the three falls is the southernmost which drops about 50 meters.

Kecak dance at Uluwatu Temple. Spectators enjoy the Kecak Dance during sunset at Uluwatu Temple. Photo by Mauro-Fabio Cilurzo on Unsplash

Southern Bali: Uluwatu

Located on the Southwestern tip of Bali, Uluwatu is an area you simply cannot miss if you take a tour around the diverse island of Bali. Uluwatu has some renowned surf spots, and in turn, the area has a very laid back surfer and beach vibe. There are dozens of tiny bars and restaurants sprinkled along the cliffs, with mazes of stairways and walkways connecting this village on cliffs.

For a truly magical cultural experience, witness the Kecak Dance at Uluwatu temple. This is an ancient story told through a lively song and dance. The event takes place outdoors within the temple walls, all while the sun sets over the vast sea behind the performers. This is a cultural event that will stay with you for years to come.

Enjoy Bali In All Directions

As an LGBTQ+ traveler, the last thing you want is to be put into a box. Sure, it is great to know there are gay bars, and LGBTQ+ friendly neighborhoods, but sometimes it is nice to go out into a new world and explore. Bali is such a stunning and safe place, that it really would be a shame to fly so far and not soak up every ounce that it has to offer. Whether you head north, south, east or west, a life changing adventure will be waiting for you when you arrive.

Photo courtesy of Joe Eats World

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