Luxurious hideaways on the edge of palm-fringed beaches lure you to this less-visited region of Bali. It's a world in itself and locals still cling to beliefs that the North of the island is in fact the South and vice versa. This is an area for cycling, diving, walking and exploring - or for relaxing by the water waiting for cooling winds to blow across the sea.
Menjangan Island, off the coast of Java, has exceptional snorkelling and diving. Most of the beaches are dark volcanic sand and the climate is drier than in the central highlands and south. It’s a sanctuary for breeding hawksbill turtles, whale sharks, whales and dolphins.
Visit Bali Barat National Park, a natural rainforest with areas of palm savannah, acacia scrub, mangrove swamps and unspoilt reefs. This is where you’ll hang out with Bali’s protected wildlife: long-tailed macaques, wild boar and rusa deer – though you’re several decades too late to see any Bali tigers.
Running from Temukus to Pemaron, the volcanic beach of Lovina is popular with visitors hoping to spot dolphins offshore. A hippie hangout in the 70s, today its upmarket hotels attract well-seasoned travellers. At the westerly lava outcrops, the sea is at its most ferocious: waves thunderclap onto the palm-fringed black sands. In the ‘calmer’ bays, gigantic rollers make for challenging surfing. Here, aloe vera, coconuts and cashews grow (one nut to a single flower), doe-eyed cattle graze on the clifftops, and duck herdsmen explain the secret of why their birds are happy to hang around ahead of being turned into bebek betutu. (And no, they don’t clip their wings: it’s smarter than that.)