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Discover Bali: By Climbing, Diving and Eating

Every traveler has different interests and preferences. Different strokes for different folks, you might say. That's where optional activities fit into a tour - so there's something (usually multiple somethings) for everyone.

by Daniel Noll and Audrey Scott Posted on 07 March 2012

Every traveler has different interests and preferences. Different strokes for different folks, you might say. That's where optional activities fit into a tour - so there's something (usually multiple somethings) for everyone.

During our Bali tour, when we weren't lounging by the pool (a big favorite of our group, especially at the end of the day), exploring the town (always a must), or just chilling out, we were enjoying a handful of optional activities.

Here are three of our favorites.

Mount Batur: Volcano Summit Sunrise

The 3:30 AM wake up call scared some people away from this activity, but once the initial shock of waking up in the middle of the night wears off, adrenaline about climbing a volcano takes over.

We began hiking in darkness, the light from our headlamps showing the way. Within an hour, we were above the cloud line and could see the outline of the top in the very early morning light; our goal was within sight.

Once we got to the top, we could relax and watch the sun rise over the clouds with Mount Agung in the distance. Not bad for a little more than 90 minutes work.

After sunrise, our guide led us to another crater for our breakfast stop. He buried a handful of eggs in a hole and let the volcanic steam rising through the earth to cook them.

Be careful not to let your guard down as you enjoy your breakfast with a view over the valley. The monkeys will take full opportunity to grab your breakfast, leaving you both startled -- and hungry. (And very honestly, laughing.)

Menjangan Islands: Scuba Diving in Full Color

The Menjangan Islands dive site on the northwest corner of Bali is absolutely worth a visit. Because the islands are part of a nature reserve, the coral is protected and colorful, the water is clean and clear. Best of all, perhaps, there is little to no current, so you get a combination of great visibility and a very relaxing dive. With no struggle against the current, your air lasts longer, and you can spend more time enjoying the colors and designs of the fish and coral.

In addition to being a great set of dives, this activity is very reasonably priced at $60 for two dives, lunch and transportation from your hotel at Lovina.

Balinese Cooking Class in Ubud: Yum!

For us, food is a gateway to the people and their culture. Sure, we like to eat well. But what's more interesting is what local cuisine can teach us about history, environment, culture and tradition. And there is no better way to learn about a cuisine than actually learning to cook it.

In Bali, many restaurants have dulled down their food for foreign palates; they assume tourists don't like spice and heat. What a shame, for it does a real disservice to what Balinese cuisine can be.

Taking a Balinese cooking class in Ubud opened our eyes to what Balinese food was really all about.

Our Balinese cooking class began at the local Ubud market. Our instructor showed us which roots, spices, vegetables and herbs formed the foundation of Balinese food. Galangal, chili peppers, lemongrass, lime juice, kaffir lime leaves, garlic, and a mixture of eight spices all featured prominently in Balinese sambal (salsa).

In the classroom, we took turns preparing seven different Balinese dishes, from fried tempeh to tuna seared with sambal to chicken curry to prawns with a spicy sauce. The combination of flavors - spicy, sweet, and tangy - delivered the best Balinese eating experience we'd had.

In just four hours at Bumi Bali cooking class we had learned the basic foundation of Balinese cuisine, prepared and eaten seven dishes, and had a great time. Having attended over a dozen cooking classes in our travel experience, we can recommend this one very highly.

These are just a few of the optional activity options on the Discover Bali tour. Aside from the included visits to Hindu temples and lunch at Senang Hati, be sure to attend the the Kecak (Monkey Dance) performance, experiment with Balinese massage, and get lost at the various local markets.

Bali. A small island. A full week.

Getting There

G Adventures runs a number of departures in Indonesia encompassing a wide range of departure dates and activities to cater to different tastes. We’re thrilled at the prospect of showing you this big blue planet of ours — check out our small group trips here.