WET ‘N’ WILD

When you’re tired of re­lax­ing, Bali has ways to get your adrenalin pump­ing

Sunday Herald Sun - Escape - - DESTINATION INDONESIA - PAUL EWART

While chill­ing out on white sand beaches and in­dulging in the com­forts that come with plush, five-star ho­tels, are usu­ally the stuff of hol­i­day dreams; for some trav­ellers, a fly-and-flop break just doesn’t cut it. And de­spite its rep­u­ta­tion, there’s much more to Bali than pool­side cock­tails and day spas. Yep, if your idea of a great trip is an adrenalin-fu­elled ad­ven­ture, then this trop­i­cal par­adise has lots to of­fer.

GO CANYONING

A com­bi­na­tion of bush­walk­ing, ab­seil­ing, climb­ing, hik­ing and cliff jump­ing in one; canyoning is akin to vis­it­ing the world’s old­est water­park. Slip down nat­u­ral wa­ter slides, ab­seil down stun­ning wa­ter­falls, free jump into rock pools and swim in nat­u­ral wa­ter basins. Luck­ily in Bali there are plenty of places to do it. Most of the sites are found in the north, the most pop­u­lar of which is the 40m-high Git­git wa­ter­fall.

An­other op­tion – and one away from crowds – is Sam­ban­gan. For be­gin­ners, Kerenkali canyon of­fers easy ab­seils, wa­ter slides and op­tional 10m jumps. And for a real chal­lenge, Wana­giri (also known as the Canyon of Fire) is one of the most un­charted.

The best way to go canyoning – es­pe­cially if you’re a novice – is with an ex­pe­ri­enced op­er­a­tor, such as Ad­ven­ture and Spirit. And if you want to see the canyons at their most lush, then aim for a trip dur­ing the rainy sea­sons when the rivers and wa­ter­falls are at their fullest. ADVENTUREANDSPIRIT.COM

BE A JETSETTER

Were you the kind of kid who fan­ta­sised about own­ing a Jet­sons jet­pack? If so, jet pack­ing (or one of its vari­a­tions) is your child­hood fan­tasy made re­al­ity. Sort of.

Us­ing hun­dreds of litres of wa­ter blasted through jets, you’ll be pro­pelled as high as 15m above the wa­ter or div­ing un­der it, dol­phin-like.

In ad­di­tion to the James Bond-style packs, there are also jet bikes, fly boards and the new­est craze, the “je­to­va­tor”. Nusa Dua-based Aussie Bali Ad­ven­tures have the only jet bike and je­to­va­tor on the is­land. And which­ever ve­hi­cle you end up try­ing there’s no doubt that the (lit­eral) high will leave you crav­ing a sec­ond hit. AUSSIEBALIADVENTURES.COM

HIT THE WAVES

Per­fect waves, warm wa­ter and year­round sun­shine. Bali is one of the most iconic surf des­ti­na­tions in the world, and it has surf for ev­ery abil­ity.

Kuta beach, though touristy and crowded, has the gen­tle breaks that are per­fect for new­bies. Slightly more chal­leng­ing is Canggu beach 30 min­utes away and close to Seminyak. A pop­u­lar spot for ev­ery­one, the waves be­come slightly more chal­leng­ing depend­ing on the tide. Ad­vanced surfers should head to the Bukit penin­sula beaches, in­clud­ing Kera­mas beach, which has a break that errs on the side of hair-rais­ing.

Fit­tingly, there is a surf school on ev­ery cor­ner and if you want to avoid the crowds, then try to avoid the peak sea­son of May through Septem­ber.

BOUL­DER ON THE BEACH

At Padang Padang Beach you can com­bine a surf with a ses­sion of rock climb­ing or boul­der­ing after­wards.

A favourite with surf hounds due to its con­sis­tent bar­rels, the pretty beach (which fea­tured in the movie Eat Pray Love) is also pop­u­lar with lo­cals for boul­der­ing. Bor­dered by lime­stone rocks up to 10m high and 50m wide, there are also smaller boul­ders on the beach dur­ing low tide and the soft sand makes for the per­fect crash pad.

CONQUER THE RIVER WILD

At Four Sea­sons Sayan – a five-star ho­tel boast­ing 52 vil­las with pri­vate pools nes­tled in 7ha of lush gar­dens – guests can get their lux­ury and ad­ven­ture fix in one on the re­sort’s “pri­vate raft­ing dis­cov­ery” tour.

A white­wa­ter raft­ing ex­pe­ri­ence on Bali’s sa­cred Ayung River that runs along the prop­erty, the trip takes rid­ers on a three-hour jour­ney through dense trop­i­cal rain­for­est and deep jun­gle val­leys, tak­ing in UNESCO-listed rice ter­races, tow­er­ing trees and old Hindu shrines. The rapids here are full-on enough to sat­isfy adrenalin junkies, but not danger­ous. Fear­less guests should make sure to tie their stay in with the rainy sea­son to en­sure a wilder ride. FOURSEASONS.COM

FLY LIKE A BIRD

If you want to soar like an ea­gle over Bali’s unique land­scape then tak­ing off from Nusa Dua’s cliffs will give you a bird’s-eye view of the sea and its co­ral reef. You’ll spy sun­bathers on beaches be­low you, along­side Hindu tem­ples perched pre­car­i­ously on rocky out­crops above crash­ing waves.

There are var­i­ous com­pa­nies that of­fer tan­dem flights, but if you’re se­ri­ous about paraglid­ing then Aussie ad­ven­ture or­gan­i­sa­tion, High Ad­ven­ture, of­fers cour­ses from Au­gust to Septem­ber (when the southerly trade winds blow) to take you from a novice to pro. HIGHADVENTURE.COM.AU

TAKE THE PLUNGE

Whether you’re a be­gin­ner or an ex­pe­ri­enced diver, Bali’s wa­ters are an aquatic play­ground. Warm, crys­tal­clear seas are home to aquatic life rang­ing from hawks­bill sea tur­tles and clown fish, to stingrays and reef sharks. Take the plunge here and pre­pare to be daz­zled.

On the east­ern part of the is­land, in the aptly-named Shark Cave, you’ll find white tips sleep­ing 12m or so down. While at the iconic wreck of the USAT Lib­erty (the is­land’s most pop­u­lar div­ing spot), se­ri­ous divers can en­joy spot­ting man­tas, sun­fish, tur­tles and even dol­phins. Amed is an­other favourite site in east Bali that’s suit­able for all skill lev­els, of­fer­ing reef walls of up to 8m.

In the north­west, Pe­muteran’s calm and scenic bay lays claim to the largest “biorock” reef site on Earth, which in­cludes vi­brant co­ral reef nurs­eries that have grown over pur­pose­fully sunken struc­tures, along­side a healthy pop­u­la­tion of bar­racuda, stingrays and par­rot­fish.

Fur­ther afield, the Gili Is­lands of­fer some of the best div­ing and snorkelling in the ar­chi­pel­ago. In fact, this area has a rep­u­ta­tion for be­ing the tur­tle cap­i­tal of the world.

WIND AND WA­TER

Com­bin­ing surf­ing, wind­surf­ing, paraglid­ing and wake­board­ing; kitesurf­ing is a great al­ter­na­tive to windy days when a reg­u­lar surf ses­sion is off the cards.

Head to the is­land’s top spot, Sa­nur, to give it a go. Mer­tasari Beach of­fers al­most con­stant on­shore winds and flat wa­ter near the shore­line, mak­ing it per­fect for be­gin­ners. Also in Sa­nur is the Bali Kitesurf­ing School, which of­fers lessons at all lev­els year round. BALI-KITESURF­ING.ORG

HIKE A VOL­CANO

At 1717m above sea level, the sum­mit of Gu­nung Batur of­fers one of the best van­tage points in Bali. And while you can walk its wind­ing trails to the top at any time, for sheer beauty an early morn­ing as­cent is ad­vis­able. Tak­ing in the spec­tac­u­lar sun­rise from above the clouds and watch­ing its golden rays touch the sea and the mist-soaked Lake Batur will make the 3am wake-up call well worth it.

Most walk­ers hire a lo­cal guide or join a group tour and if you’re in rea­son­able shape you can ex­pect to scale the moun­tain’s steep slopes to its sum­mit in about two hours.

How­ever, if you’re more of a lone wolf, then do­ing the climb with­out a guide is pos­si­ble for ex­pe­ri­enced hik­ers. Although there aren’t any trail mark­ers, the path is easy to fol­low.

RAFT­ING TAKES RID­ERS THROUGH TROP­I­CAL RAIN­FOR­EST AND DEEP JUN­GLE VAL­LEYS

Pre­pare to get drenched while raft­ing along the River Ayung (above); ma­rine wildlife abound around Bali’s many dive sites (be­low right); and ab­seil­ing down one of the is­land’s spec­tac­u­lar wa­ter­falls (be­low left). RIVER RAFT­ING

PIC­TURES: ISTOCK

AB­SEIL­ING

GREEN TUR­TLE

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