Indonesia

Helpful guides for travel in Indonesia to help you get the most out of your trip, from first-hand experience!

Volunteer Abroad: Keep Bali Beautiful

Volunteer Abroad: Keep Bali Beautiful

I first got involved in addressing the plastic problem in Bali during my time volunteering with Trash Hero around the island. But, I wanted to do more than just pick up trash and be a part of a solution. That’s what led me to work with Keep Bali Beautiful.

Keep Bali Beautiful is a grassroots organization, started by locals who were fed up with the pollution. It is the best way to support a local solution to the plastic problem that is destroying the natural beauty of Bali. 

Through volunteering with this group, you too can learn about the local perspective, support the initiatives on the ground, and make forever friends with this group of sweet people making it all happen!

Water bottle and trash washed up on the beach in Bali

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Learn more about eco-tourism; what it is, what it's not, and how you can get involved!

Environmental Problems in Bali

Bali has been a hot destination for years, partly because of its intense beauty, but also for tourism’s astounding negative impact on the local culture and environment. You probably have seen the picturesque rice fields and waterfalls in the dense jungle…but what you may not have seen is the piles of burning trash and plastic waste clogging the waterways.

Bali has been a victim of over-tourism, mostly since the 2010 release of ‘Eat, Pray, Love’, since this is the magical island where Julia Roberts goes to ‘love’. Overtourism has solutions, and we as travelers have the ability and responsibility to be a part of them.

It’s often said that most of the plastic trash in Bali comes from the locals, but it is the locals trying to keep up with tourism that creates the excess waste. That, coupled with the lack of waste education, government intervention, and a proper disposal system creates a never-ending flow of trash into the environment, and straight into the ocean.

Watch Plastic Island on Netflix to learn more about Indonesia's plastic problems

Keep Bali Beautiful

Keep Bali Beautiful is a true local initiative. Created in the East Bali village of Tangkas, a local man named Darmawan took action to reduce the amount of plastic waste entering the waterways. Volunteering with this organization is the best eco-friendly things to do in Bali!

Keep Bali Beautiful is a grassroots recycling program that partners with local schools and villages to build a sustainable recycling network, as well as to change the beliefs and habits that lead to pollution.

A simple process of collecting trash from local people daily, sorting out the organics from the inorganics, and then selling the plastic waste for profit on Java makes this a replicable and practical solution. 

A group of 8 people working with Keep Bali Beautiful standing on the beach with bags of collected trash in Bali

My Experience

I reached out to Keep Bali Beautiful before I even got on the island. This was an organization I was interested in for years, but their tours and volunteering opportunities were stopped because of COVID. 

Green logo with rice field and trees for Keep Bali Beautiful

Luckily, when I was back on this magical island they were just re-starting their operations, and we had the honor of being the first volunteers back to support their wonderful work! Although it was a long 2-hour drive from our place in Amed, transport across Bali was easy and the drive was beautiful! 

We arrived at 9:00 am and were met by the cheerful guide, Komang. He welcomed us into a traditional Balinese home, owned by the organization’s founder, Darmawan. We sat for coffee and traditional Balinese coconut & banana treats and went over the plan for the day, which would include:

  • Prayer at the Pura Watu Klotok temple
  • 30-minute beach cleanup
  • Planting seeds at the organics processing facility
  • Plastic sorting at the main facility
  • Traditional Balinese lunch
  • Crafting from waste plastic

We were lucky to go on a day when a village ceremony was happening, so the temple was packed! There was music, vendors selling food, and everyone in traditional clothing, and so fun to see everything in action. 

Group of people sitting on the ground in a temple in Bali

Beach Cleanup

After we were in the temple, we headed to the beach with our bamboo tongs and collection bags, really to start cleaning! Although the beach was small – only 100 meters long – it was filled with trash!! We started from one end and worked our way down collecting what we could.

As we slowly made our way down the beach, so many locals came up to ask what we were doing, thank us for our time, or help us collect! The best were the kids – a group of boys came up and were so excited to help out.

They were constantly picking up bottles, coconuts, sticks, and plastic wrappers, asking which goes in the bag. It just shows how difficult it is for them to distinguish what is natural in the environment, vs. what is trash when this is all they’ve ever known. 

Two young Balinese boys standing on a beach with a bag of trash collection

Organics & Seed Planting

We all piled back into the pick-up truck to head over to the sortation center where the organics are collected and processed into mulch. We talked with a few of the women working here and got to work planting some pepper plants! 

It was great to see the working conditions and meet the kind people making it all happen. From the Keep Bali Beautiful organization, there is no waste. Even the organics that get collected are processed into nutrient-rich mulch and provided to the local farmers.

Plastic Sorting at the Keep Bali Beautiful Facility

We then went to the main facility where all the action happened.

Daily, trucks will go through the village and collect waste from the local people. This includes plastic bags, wrappers, trash, offerings, coconut shells, and more! There is a team of 5 people working who manually sift through the piles to pull out the inorganic materials.

They follow a structured process to separate cans, thin plastic (bags, wrappers), clothing, and rubber. Each waste stream has its own value when it is sold for recycling. 

The waste is brought to Java, where suppliers will purchase the materials and use them for further processing into furniture, recycle, and more.

Zero Waste Crafts

We headed back to Darmawan’s home where we were greeted with a delicious traditional lunch of nasi goreng, fried bananas, tofu, and fresh fruit. We got to sit and talk with his family and the group leaders to learn more about their lives and goals.

Shortly after we finished, we met with another team member – an expert in turning trash into useful creations. He wore a shoulder bag made entirely from food wrappers woven together and would teach us a bit of the skill behind his creations.

We turned soft plastic trash from laundry detergent into fish! It was such a cute idea, and I can’t wait to use this in future crafting classes with kids.

Pieces of plastic with scissors are used for a zero waste craft with the Keep Bali Beautiful group

Get Involved

When you’re in Bali, supporting the Keep Bali Beautiful is the best way to support action to address the plastic pollution that is plaguing the island.

Tourists and travelers have such a big opportunity to be a part of the solution. By supporting the initiatives of locals, donating your time and money, and educating yourselves on environmental issues, tourism can be a force for good.

Summary - Volunteering with Keep Bali Beautiful

My experience with Keep Bali Beautiful was enriching, educational, and purposeful, and one I recommend to anyone visiting this beautiful island.

It is impossible to travel to Bali and stay ignorant of the plastic problem that litters the streets and beaches. We as tourists have such an impactful role to support local initiatives and be a part of the solution.

Keep Bali Beautiful is a grassroots organization that has developed a closed-loop process to tackle the waste problem in Bali. Until there is additional government support, these organizations rely on outside involvement and support, so make sure to fit a tour with Keep Bali Beautiful into your Bali itinerary!

Explore the other destinations waiting for you in Asia!

Posted by Taylor Mallaber in Indonesia, Volunteer Experiences, 0 comments
Southeast Asia Packing List & 10 Must Have’s

Southeast Asia Packing List & 10 Must Have’s

Exploring Southeast Asia should be on everyone’s travel bucket lists. It is affordable, relatively safe, fun, and such a beautiful part of the world! But, when you’re bouncing between locations every few days or weeks, knowing what to bring can be a bit overwhelming. This Southeast Asia packing list should help with that process and prepare you for the amazing adventures that are yet to come.

The most important thing to bring is a sense of adventure, and the ability to go with the flow. Things will go wrong, you may get sick, and you will probably lose some of these things along the way. That is all a part of the journey and memories that will last a lifetime, so don’t sweat the small stuff, and don’t forget to record some of the moments!

Assortment of tropical items laid out on a towel including a dive mask, shoes, a speaker, water bottle, reusable cutlery, shells, and sunglasses. Everything is included in a southeast asia packing list

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Top 10 Things You Can't Forget

1. The Right Bag & Packing Organizer

Getting the right bag for your style of travel is essential to start your Southeast Asia packing list. If you’re adventurous, make sure your bag has comfortable straps that you can wear on your back, and forget about needing wheels. For some people, that’s a small duffle bag that you can easily carry, or whatever you already have in your basement to save money!

I opted for the backpacking bag I already had and used for mountain backpacking – Gregory Maven 55L. It’s big enough, more unique (it’s maroon), and fits me perfectly. Unsure what to get? Head to REI for a fitting to see the best options for your body style.

2. Reusable Water Bottle & Filter

It’s hot and humid in this part of the world. Stay hydrated without using hundreds of plastic bottles! Everywhere has filtered water that you can refill, even if for a small price. Even if a refill costs money, it is definitely cheaper than buying bottles from the shops.

Trash is a major problem in Southeast Asia, especially within the tourism industry. Overtourism is a big problem in many of these locations, and helping to reduce your waste is one of the best overtourism solutions that travelers can help with.

3. Carabiners & Rope

These have come in handy so often to hang things and stay organized. This is the best way to hang your bags off the floor or create a drying line for your clothes! While staying in a bamboo hut in Bali for a month, so many friends saw our setup (since there was no storage/shelves/hooks) and went out to find some rope and do the same. 

If you’re staying in a hostel, this is a must. Bunk beds don’t always have a full curtain, and privacy can be hard to come by in such a shared space. With some rope, carabiners, and your towel or sarong, you can make a perfect little private bed fort!

 

4. Microfiber Towel

You’ll be hitting the beach quite a lot. And nothing is worse than having to shove a damp towel in your tightly packed bag. Microfiber towels dry quickly, and can be great for the beach, a yoga mat, or a small blanket! DO NOT bring a thick bath towel – you’re sacrificing a lot of space and weight with such a bulky item that traps sand and takes forever to dry.

5. Noise-Canceling Headphones

Backpacking Southeast Asia can be a bit overwhelming, so it’s nice to have the mental space when you want it. Noise-canceling headphones are a game changer for noisy hostel roommates, or long travel days when you want to just tune out and zone into your own space.

I use the Airpod Pros, which are so comfortable and easy to use without taking up much space at all. If you work remotely, maybe you need an over-the-ear style, but otherwise, ear buds are more than enough!

6. Waterproof Sandals

You’re going to need some easy slide-on shoes included in your Southeast Asia packing list. The warm weather, laid-back atmosphere, and plenty of water dips make them essential. Do yourself a favor and get some that are waterproof. This is essential for waterfall hikes or just getting caught in the inevitable rainstorm! 

7. Menstrual Cup

My heart hurts for the ladies that are traveling with a whole box of tampons… If you haven’t joined the menstrual cup bandwagon yet, welcome aboard. Once you try it you will never go back! 

In Southeast Asia, tampons aren’t sold everywhere. So, unless you’re ready to go back to bulky pads, a menstrual cup is the best option. I’ll be honest, in some places where water sanitation is a concern, tampons might be better. But for reasons of space saving, waste reduction, and cost savings, menstrual cups are superior. 

8. Stasher Bag

If you’re on that backpacker budget, food is a great way to save some money. The best way to cut costs is by saving the food you would otherwise toss in your stasher bag. This is great if you’re cooking and want to make some for a second meal, or to keep in your day bag to savor some of the street food you pick up out and about (you won’t want to miss this in Thailand)! 

These take up no space at all, weigh next to nothing, and are useful for collecting things on your travels too. When I go to the beach mine always ends up getting filled with shells. 

9. Set of Warm Clothes

While most places are hot and humid and you live in a bikini 90% of the time, you’d be surprised by the number of times you need pants and a jacket. Southeast Asia has some incredible sunrise hikes, and yes – it is cold here in the middle of the night! While it’s a tropical paradise in most places, some mountains can get a bit chilly higher in elevation! A light jacket and warmer pants are essential for your Southeast Asia packing list.  

I travel with a lightweight down jacket that packs down small, a wool long sleeve, quick dry hiking pants, and warm socks. Even if you don’t hike, it’s nice to have some warmer options on a fast boat where it’s windy, or for a late-night beach fire. 

10. Leave Some Space!

Everyone’s always sharing what you can’t forget to pack, but nobody mentions extra space. Southeast Asia is a beautifully vibrant region with local arts, clothing styles, and travel memories you will want to pick up on the way. Don’t pack your bag so tight that you are nervous about the zippers busting out.

I was able to buy a Kimono in Japan, artwork in Cambodia, and a snorkeling kit in Indonesia to explore the tropical waters! 

Now that you're preparing your Southeast Asia packing list, learn more about the benefits of Slow travel to get the most out of your trip!  

Travel Essentials

In the US vaccines for Yellow Fever or Typhoid can run over $400, and are not covered by insurance. These are often much cheaper in SEA where more people get vaccinated. It's a good idea to pop into a pharmacy when you get to a new spot and ask about any outbreaks of Dengue as well!

Clothes

Your clothes are the bulk of your bag. Prioritize versatile options, stick to a color palette so you can easily mix and match, and favor items that are lightweight and wrinkle-free! Make sure you have 1 outfit for each activity you want to do. For example, 1 complete outfit to hike in, 1 for yoga, 1 for a beach day, 1 to go out in, and 1 to sleep in. 

It’s hot – leave your denim, high heels, and bulky jackets at home. Your shoulders will thank you later! Less is more – laundry services are available everywhere for very cheap ($1-2), and you can buy anything necessary while on the road. While clothes are important, you’ll find some amazing options on the road!

  • 3 bikinis
  • 1 full-piece (some areas in SEA are very conservative)
  • 7 underwear & bras for your needs
  • 2 pairs of socks
  • 4 tank tops
  • 3 shorts
  • 2 skirts / 1 long, 1 short
  • 2 dresses / 1 long, 1 short
  • 2 pants / 1 hiking, 1 flowy
  • Waterproof sandals
  • flip flops
  • trainers

Don't travel with your favorite clothes - they may be lost at the laundry, overworn to the point of destruction, or become an extra weight that you don't wear often and can't let go of!

Electronics

As much as you want to disconnect, it’s important to stay connected as well! Once you’re in Southeast Asia, you might not have the best options for new gadgets abroad, so make sure what you have works for what you need. Keeping up with your electronic needs is essential for your Southeast Asia packing list. 

  • Battery pack & fast-charging cables
  • Camera & charger
  • Travel Adapter with many ports
  • Noise-canceling headphones
  • e-reader
  • USB string lights (my favorite non-essential item I travel with)
  • Portable speaker
  • Headlamp

Accessories & Others

The water quality is ~not great~, both for drinking and for your hair. I have very fine, blonde curly hair that gets damaged easily. If this is you, I can’t recommend including a water filter for the shower enough for your Southeast Asia packing list! Especially if you will be staying in more private accommodations, protect your hair!

Another essential is a sarong – these are required in many temples, and are versatile as clothes, a small blanket, a beach towel, and for hostel privacy curtain! If you don’t already have one there are plenty of cute ones available at your destination. 

  • Microfiber Towel
  • Packable Sun Hat
  • Sunglasses
  • Sarong
  • Small bag / packable purse
  • Wallet that can hold coins
  • Small jewelry – you can buy more at the night markets!
  • Memory bag to collect tickets / money / memories and keep them safe
  • TSA lock – especially if you plan for hostels
  • Water filter system (life straw / Grayl bottle)
  • Shower water filter
  • First Aid Kit
Bags and towels hanging from carabiners and a string in a bamboo hut in Bali
Carabiners with Rope is the best organization hack

Explore the other destinations waiting for you in Asia!

Summary - Southeast Asia Packing List

No Southeast Asia packing list is complete without a few key items. From bus pray, sunscreen, and a camera, to the more unique items like a sarong, water filter, and space for a snorkel. This region has so much to offer – ancient temples, turquoise water with pristine aquatic life, and rich cultures. Be prepared to see it all!

What is one thing you couldn’t travel without?

Image with assorted tropical items laid out on a towel with text reading 'southeast asia packing list'
Posted by Taylor Mallaber in Asia, Cambodia, Indonesia, Thailand, 0 comments
6 Best Cafes to Work in Amed, Bali

6 Best Cafes to Work in Amed, Bali

Bali has become one of the best destinations for digital nomads, but finding reliable places to work and travel is a continuous battle! This is my list of the best cafes to work in Amed, Bali, so you can spend more time working and less time asking for the wi-fi password.

 

With so many affordable places, choosing one that has it all for uninterrupted work can be a bit overwhelming. This list goes in order of my top choices after having checked them all during my 1-month stay in beautiful coastal Amed!

 

Silver MacBook latop on a table near tropical plants and windows

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Amed feels like one of the last hidden gems in Bali. It’s pretty far from other more tourist places like Canggu, Ubud, or Uluwatut, making it discouraging for short-term travelers to make the 3-hour drive east. 

Even if you only have 2 weeks in Bali, Amed should be on that itinerary. Small-town vibes, with the best snorkeling on the island, you have to explore this rugged terrain!

Keep your travels going longer by working abroad and any of these top cafes in town! 

#1 Cafe People Point

People Point was my favorite of all the cafes to work in Amed! 

I loved that it was outside of the main area of town, so it was less crowded and fewer digital nomads came here. It’s located near Lipah Bay – one of the best snorkeling spots in Amed, and so nice to take an afternoon swim!

The cafe is really big with outlets and friendly staff so you can stay all day. The interior is so well decorated and open, that you can easily get lost in your work. The food is delicious, although portion sizes are small. 

 

Pro

  • Fast Wi-Fi
  •  Indoor with A/C & comfy outdoor seating
  • Outside of town so much less crowded and noisy
  • Insanely good food (Indo & Western)

Con

  • Not locally owned, although the Czech owner is always around!
  • Food is on the pricier side, but worth it
  • Wi-Fi was getting some work done, it was out twice when we tried to go but hopefully is fixed soon.
View of tables and chairs inside cafe people point in Amed, Bali
Cafe People Point, Poland Aland

#2 Blue Earth Village

Did you know the most beautiful yoga shala in Bali (in my opinion at least) also has a co-working space? This was my go-to spot, especially after 9:00 yoga classes with Valentina – enjoy a cold juice or fresh coffee with the best view you can get.

The working area is free to use, never crowded, and has the fastest Wi-Fi in town! Enjoy working from a comfortable table or lounging in a bean bag overlooking the Jemeluk Bay. The food at the restaurant was insanely good, although you do pay the price for it.

Blue Earth has a different internet provider than most of the town - so during a rainstorm or construction when the internet suddenly goes down, BEV is up and running!

Pro

  • Fast Wi-Fi (268 mbps download)!!!
  • The most perfect view of Mount Agung
  • One stop for food, exercise, relaxing, and working. 

Con

  • Not indoors – exposed to mosquitos. There are fans and blinds for when it rains
  • Not great in the heat of the day
  • Expensive food
View of mount agung from Blue Earth Village
View from Blue EArth Village, Solène Marolleau

#3 Amed Espresso

Offering some of the best coffee in Amed, Amed Espresso is a must-go for any digital nomad! Tucked away at the end of an inland side street is the cutest restaurant with friendly local staff and easy to get to with your transportation in Bali.

On Tuesdays in the late afternoon (and whenever a crowd shows up), the atmosphere picks up with an outdoor bar, and sometimes live music! This spot was one of the most fun and easy-going cafes to work in Amed!

Pro

  • Fast WiFi (68 mbps download)
  •  A/C & comfy working tables
  • Quiet & cozy, no street noise
  • Locally owned

Con

  • Turns into a lively bar at night – maybe a pro 😉
  • Not a ton of vegetarian options
  • Not huge, but also not usually crowded so this was never an issue
View of Espresso Amed cafe in Amed Bali, with lights and outdoor tables
Amed Espresso, Josi Scherbarth

#4 Good Stuff

Good Stuff is a great cafe with an eco focus. Their fresh food and coffee are delicious, and their eco-store is so perfect. Even if you don’t want to work here, swing by the eco-store to check out locally-made crafts, get some hygiene products, or level-up your reusable gear (only if you need to of course).

This cafe is located in the expat part of town, so you’ll often see foreign divers, divers, and more divers gathering before heading to the ocean. This is a breezy place, although being on the main road it can get a bit noisy!

 

Pro

  • Fast Wi-Fi!
  • Promotes low-waste and low-impact lifestyle <3
  • Great healthy food options

Con

  • Pretty small inside with only a few communal tables, can feel crowded
  • In the expat part of town, so it can get busy
  • Some street noise
Outdoor table and seating at Good Stuff in Amed, Bali
Good Stuff, Kate

#5 MD Amed

MD Cafe is an often overlooked option for cafes to work in Amed. Located between Good Stuff & Oneway Espresso, MD is spacious with great food, and perfect to escape the crowds that gather at the neighboring cafes.

There is a nice A/C flow inside and tons of windows letting in natural light. Although it’s located on the main street, it didn’t feel as busy or noisy as some of the other places! The food had a great selection of Indonesian and Western options at a very reasonable price.

Plus, there was a very cute puppy there, so maybe you’re in luck for some work-break playing!

 

Pro

  • Fast Wi-Fi!
  • Locally owned
  • Quiet with a lot of seating

Con

  • Sometimes eerily quiet (but you can ask them to play music)
  •  Some of the seating is not so comfortable, but only a small con
Interior view of tables and chairs in MD Cafe with big windows
MD Cafe, Théo

Check out the 10 things you need to know before traveling to Bali!

#6 Oneway Espresso

Although it’s probably one of the most busy Western-style cafes to work in Amed, there’s a reason so many travelers flock here. Located right on the main road on the expat side of town, this place gets busy fast. 

It’s not because they’ve won more latte art awards than I knew existed (but it is impressive). The food is insanely good, although expensive, and the vibes match a trendy San Diego coffee shop.

**I only went once and never went back. I prefer a bit more laid-back atmosphere, but I felt it’s worth mentioning since it is a great spot for digital nomads!

Pro

  • Fast Wi-Fi!
  • Intense latte art
  • Quality Japanese food (a rarity in Bali)

Con

  • Stylish tables that aren’t that nice for working
  •  BUSY
  • Expensive food
Interior view of oneway ESperesso cafe to work in Amed, Bali
One Way Espresso, Валерия Осипова

Summary - Best Cafes To Work in Amed, Bali

The digital nomad life comes with so many benefits like financial freedom, personal management, and physical flexibility… but nothing comes without drawbacks. Finding a comfortable location with fast and free wifi, outlets, good food, and coffee to stay all day, can be challenging!

This list of the best cafes to work in Amed should be helpful to stay productive while relaxing in beautiful Amed.

Amed is a quickly growing town in Bali’s eastern region, and cafes are popping up quickly! Now is the perfect time to explore Amed, and stay for a bit while you work and enjoy the ocean views.

There are a lot of places that are great to work, but my personal favorite Cafe People Point has it all! Check out some of the places on this list and enjoy working in paradise!

Explore the other destinations waiting for you in Asia!

Posted by Taylor Mallaber in Indonesia, 0 comments
5 Best Spots for Snorkeling in Amed Bali

5 Best Spots for Snorkeling in Amed Bali

Dive into discovering the best snorkeling in Amed Bali, the top location on the Island of the Gods for underwater exploration!!

Amed, Bali is a less-traveled pocket at the eastern point of Bali where divers and locals come together in their connection to the ocean. While local fishermen take to the open water with boats filling the horizon by the hundreds, the explorers and researchers are deep under the surface observing nature or working to revive it.

If you’re stopping by Amed during your 2-week Bali trip, then you don’t want to miss Amed’s best feature; the vibrant coral reefs and aquatic landscape. There are 6 top locations to dive into, like my 2 favorites, Lipah Beach and Japanese Shipwreck, but you can also find coral along much of the coast!

Snorkeling and diving are some of the best eco-friendly activities in Bali, allowing you to be in awe of the inspiring beauty it offers. Don’t miss the life waiting for you under the waves, and yes, you’ll probably see turtles!

Turtle swimming in open water in Bali
Swimming with Turtles

Table of Contents

Best Spots for Snorkeling in Amed Bali

1. Lipah Beach

Lipah Beach is my favorite beach in Amed, for both the incredible snorkeling and since it is one of the few places with soft sand you can lay back on. Much of Bali’s eastern coast (especially near the lava flows of Mount Agung), is rocky!

Lipah Beach has so much to see, shallow coral abundant with life. The depth drops off a bit making it fun for depth divers. If you know who to ask, you may find your way to a shelf of coral that is the home to at least 2 white-tip reef sharks! 

Although this area is common, you barely see people out in the water! There are 3 different snorkel gear rentals along the beach, where you can get a mask, snorkel, and fins for ~150k IDR. The one in the middle of the beach goes by Mowgli, and he can take you to the sharks 🙂

I prefer to park along the southern part of the beach at Warung Asri to steer clear of the resort areas. There is street-level parking for free with stairs straight to the water!

What you'll See at Lipah Beach

  • Coral Propagation Projects, a lot of trash on some days 🙁
  • Sea Turtles, White-Tip Reef Sharks
  • Barricudas, Triggerfish, Parrotfish, common reef fishes
White tip reef shark under a shelf of coral while snorkeling in Amed Bali
White Tip Reef Shark in Lipah Bay

2. Japanese Shipwreck

You can’t go snorkeling in Amed Bali without seeing the Japanese Shipwreck. Although it is the furthest out of town, it’s worth it! Transportation in Bali is pretty easy with motorbike rentals, there isn’t Grab or Gojek in Amed!

When you enter the water, the vibrant coral opens to a sunken wreck that has been reclaimed by life. This wreck was a Japanese patrol boat during WWII and one of the best shallow wrecks in Bali. 

It varies in depth between 6m to 12m at its deepest point, making it fun for divers of all levels! The beach is a bit rocky, but water access is easy and the ship is close to the shore.

In 2024, beach access costs 30k IDR and includes fruit juice. Support local!

What you'll See at Japanese Shipwreck

  • Shipwreck!
  • Bigger schools of oceanic fish 
  • Common reef fish
Parrot fish swimming in a vibrant reed
Snorkeling in Amed Bali

3. Jemeluk Beach (Underwater Temple)

Jemeluk Beach is the most crowded area in Amed for water sports. The bay is usually filled with Jakungs (local Balinese fishing boats), catamarans, cruisers for dive trips, and plenty of people in the water! 

The bay is relatively sheltered from winds and the current that can get decently strong off-shore, making it a great place for beginners and families. However, be aware that we saw a TON of jellyfish in the bay after a big rainstorm, which is common and most profound in this bay. 

Along the southern edge of the bay, there is an underwater temple that was placed there some years ago, growing coral and creating a perfect setting for underwater photos! 

What you'll See at Jemeluk Beach

  • Underwater Temple (3m deep), Coral Garden
  • Sea Turtles, Jellyfish, People
  • Parrot Fish, Triggerfish, Stone Fish (!), common reef fish
Girl diving next to underwater temple covered in coral in Amed, Bali
Snorkeling at the Underwater Temple

4. Amed Beach (Pyramids)

The coastline along the main straight beach in Amed offers amazing sights under the water. Bright blue starfish stand out along the seabed, which is considerably seep (10-15m) once you swim a bit offshore!

There is another attraction placed underwater, at the pyramids! This is a common SCUBA dive location, but it is accessible by snorkeling as well! This area is often called Turtle Point, and the name rings true since we saw 3 turtles out here swimming!

This area experiences a decent current sometimes, so be aware of the water conditions before you enter. In this location, I saw a lot of jellyfish and a stonefish, so be aware of your surroundings whenever you’re in the water!

What you'll See at Amed Beach

  • Underwater Pyramids (5m deep)
  • A lot of Sea Turtles, Jellyfish 
  • Parrot Fish, Triggerfish, Stone Fish (!), common reef fish
female diver swimming next to a sea turtle in open water
Swimming with turtles near the Pyramids

5. Selang Beach

Selang Beach is. a personal favorite away from the crowds of tourists at the other locations. Located slightly south of town, this beach has free access to a black sand oasis. The ocean is just as beautiful as the beach, with plenty of life to see!

There is a little current, however, on a calm day, this current is perfect for a drift dive. Start your adventure heading upstream of the current, and catch the flow as you float back to your starting point. 

What you'll See at Selang Beach

  • No Other Tourists 🙂
  • Black-tip Reef Sharks, Spotted Ray, Schools of Oceanic fishes
  • Parrot Fish, Triggerfish, Stone Fish (!), common reef fish
A red fan coral in the water while snorkeling in amed bali
Fan Coral in Amed, Bali

6. USS Liberty Shipwreck

The title of this article says “5 best spots for snorkeling in Amed Bali”, but surprise, you get a bonus 6th location! While it isn’t in Amed directly, Tulumben is only a 40-minute drive by motorbike, and hosts one of the best dive sites in all of Bali. 

The Liberty Shipwreck is a must-see for any water-active traveler.

Although this site is often enjoyed by SCUBA divers and free divers due to the depth that ranges from 5m up to 30m, there is plenty you can see from the surface! For snorkeling, I would say this is best for more moderate or advanced water explorers who can dive deeper with longer breath holds!

This American cargo ship was bombed during WWII. The ship used to be beached on land, but the Mount Agung eruption of 1963 washed the ship back into the sea. Its final and rightful resting place has been taken over by coral and aquatic life, a beautiful symbol of nature reclaiming the destruction the ship once stood for.

What you'll See at Liberty Shipwreck

  • Massive Shipwreck
  • Black-tip Reef Sharks, Spotted Ray, Sea Turtles, other divers
  • Parrot Fish, Clown Fish, Nudibranchs, Triggerfish, Stonefish (!), common reef fish
Coral growing on the USS Liberty Shipwreck in Tulumben Bali
USS Liberty Shipwreck

Book A Snorkeling Tour

One of the best and easiest ways to see all of the best sites in Amed is with a snorkeling tour guide! Typically, that is a local fisherman who will take you out on their boat (jakung) to explore underwater. 

Sari Snorkeling & Sunset Tours

We went with Sari Snorkeling located next to the Japanese Shipwreck. Wayan – the captain and owner of Sari Snorkeling was so fun to explore with! As a local who has been in this ocean his whole life, he knew the best spots and times of day to see turtles, go fishing, and avoid crowds.

Compared to other snorkeling guides, Sari Snorkeling has the best prices and hits all of the top snorkeling spots. Plus, he was happy to stay out way longer than we booked since we were having so much fun. 

He showed us local techniques of hand fishing, and we even caught a mackerel! 

Safety for Snorkeling in Amed Bali

Dangerous Aquatic Life

Stonefish: During my month in Amed, I saw 2 stonefish (one at Amed beach, and one right next to the underwater temple). These are the most venomous fish in the world. The worst part is, as their name suggests, they blend in almost completely with the coral and seabed. I’m sure there was a lot that we didn’t see!

Jellyfish: We found especially after a rainstorm, the coast tends to get quite a lot of jellies! Some are bigger than others (like an iHop pancake), while others are a bit smaller (like a walnut) with suspiciously long tentacles. Either way, keep your distance! My boyfriend got stung and received a good amount of pain with badass sting marks.

Triggerfish: These common reef inhabitants are uniquely colored, and have notable massive buck teeth. Triggerfish are known to be very territorial around their nest, so never follow a Triggerfish or get too close… the aggressive bites they leave can be pretty damaging.

Sharks & Rays: Although you’re probably more harmful to sharks and rays than they are to you, it is important to reiterate that no matter how small something it, teeth, barbs, spines, and tentacles are made to protect, so keep your distance!

Currents & Water Conditions

The ocean is a force, somedays more stronger than others. There is a current that runs from northwest to southeast along the coast, and it can lead to a dangerous situation. My best advice is to talk to the locals, they know the oceans better than we can! 

Snorkeling in Amed Bali can be dangerous, even if the waves don’t look too intense. The steep drop-off in depth allows for dynamic currents and tides to play into the water conditions. 

Boats

Amed is a fishing village, and the Jukung boats are a key part of the area’s charm and aquatic connection. When you’re in the water, be aware of the boats around you or cruising by. You can hear them underwater, but make sure they can see you! 

Ethical Snorkeling & Diving Practices

1. DON'T FEED THE FISH

Feeding the fish habituates them to artificial food sources, making them more reliant on handouts of bread (which aren’t even nutritious for them), and less reliant on their instincts of survival. 

Not disrupting wildlife is one of the best ways to be more eco-friendly in Bali!

2. Don't Touch Aquatic Life

Not just for your safety (although that is a huge part), but also for the health of the animals! Often, marine species have a unique skin protectant necessary in an aquatic environment. Touching animals like a shark, ray, or sea turtle can throw off their balance of immunity.

3. Don't Step on Coral

This goes without saying, but coral is the foundation of coastal aquatic life. Reefs are fragile and take decades to grow, so control your flippers and respect the nature that you’re out there looking at! No reefs mean no reef fishes, meaning no bigger fishes or animals, so we would all miss out on this beautiful paradise. 

4. Don't Litter

Littering your trash on land has a direct negative impact on the marine environment. Especially in a place like Bali where waste management practices are among the worst. When it rains, that waste all goes straight into the ocean!

But wait, if there isn’t a good waste management system, isn’t it all going in the ocean?
It definitely might be, if it isn’t burned instead.. so better yet, cut down your plastic use entirely! Or, do your part and support a trash clean-up with Trash Hero. Interested in learning more about the problem in Bali? Check out the amazing work that is being done at Keep Bali Beautiful!

Bali has a pretty bad trash problem. Support your local ocean by picking up trash, and using less plastic to begin with!

Summary - Best Spots for Snorkeling in Amed Bali

You can’t really go wrong snorkeling anywhere along Amed’s rugged coastline. The intense biodiversity of corals and fishes is unmatched. Not to mention the low-key diver lifestyle on land that still feels a bit untouched (especially compared to other regions in Bali).

The best spots for snorkeling in Amed Bali are plentiful, but my favorite is Lipah Beach (I will say it’s 85% due to the reef sharks, which I could always find under their coral home). The Liberty Shipwreck is great for its uniqueness, wreck diving is always impressive to see the way nature reclaims everything. 

No matter where you snorkel, swim, dive, or anything, protect and respect the ocean. In Balinese it is called ‘Lord Baruna’, the god of the sea. It provides so much nourishment and enjoyment, so always give back what you take from it. 

 

Explore the other destinations waiting for you in Asia!

Posted by Taylor Mallaber in Indonesia, 0 comments
My Experience: Being a Trash Hero in Bali

My Experience: Being a Trash Hero in Bali

While exploring the tropical paradise of Bali, it’s hard to ignore the heaping piles of trash that were washing up on the beaches or physically burning along rural roadsides. As my heart hurt for the ecosystems that thrived on this island (and for the lungs of the locals who didn’t know any better), I knew there had to be a way to help.

I quickly dove into researching an organization that is targeting this problem, and joined Trash Hero in Bali, an incredible organization that is doing great work around the world to address our waste crisis.

Check out my experience and how you can get involved in our fight against plastic pollution!

Collected trash from the beach in Bali

Table of Contents

Environmental Problems in Bali

Bali has been a hot topic for a destination for years, partly because of its intense beauty, and also for tourism’s astounding negative impact on the local culture and environment. You probably have seen the picturesque rice fields and waterfalls in the dense jungle…but what you may not have seen is the piles of burning trash and plastic waste clogging the waterways. Bali has been a victim of overtourism, mostly since the 2010 release of ‘Eat, Pray, Love’, since this is the magical island where Julia Roberts goes to ‘love’. Overtourism has solutions, and we as travelers have the ability and responsibility to be a part of them. 

It’s often said that most of the plastic trash in Bali comes from the locals, but it is the locals trying to keep up with tourism that creates the excess waste. That, coupled with the lack of waste education, government intervention, and a proper disposal system creates a never-ending flow of trash into the environment, and straight into the ocean.

Indonesia, along with many other South-East Asian countries accepted trash from the USA, Canada, and Australia, and would sort it to find valuable materials for resale. However, what is not used is often dumped, and with torrential rain and currents, the trash floods the natural environment. Plastic and debris plague the nation’s beautiful landscape, with no confident end in sight.

Trash collected on the beaches of Bali, shown in the hand of a volunteer

Watch the 'Plastic Island' documentary to learn more about the plastic pollution crisis in Bali.

Trash Hero Organization

Trash Hero Mission

1. Action and Awareness. The volunteers pick up trash and motivate others to do the same. By spending a few hours together cleaning up, people gain a profound understanding of the need to reduce and better manage waste.
2. Education. Trash Hero engages children through our multilingual kids’ program, connecting environmental values with hands-on experience of the impact that plastic trash has on the ocean. Adults learn through doing, with activities and workshops provided by the volunteers.
3. Sustainable Projects. Volunteers create long-term programs that help communities reduce and better manage existing waste and strategies that will prevent future waste.
4. Inspiration. The organization motivates people to break free from plastic and become Trash Heroes in their everyday lives. With consistently positive messaging and a philosophy of “small steps”, they seek to remove the barriers to change and normalize a vision of a zero-waste world.

Trash Hero Logo

Trash Hero is a global organization involved in educating and inspiring the world on our environmental impact. 

Trash Hero hosts community clean-up events, has established a water refill network, and is active in the global conversation towards a sustainable future.

I got with some friends from the hostel we were staying at and headed over to Pantai Batu Bolong beach (the main area in Canggu). We met up with the rest of the group – a total of 17 people, travelers, and Balinese locals came out to support!

We received a quick rundown of the collection process, how to use the crafty homemade bamboo grabber tools to pick up the trash, and how the recyclables should be sorted separately. Once we had our equipment and knew the plan, we went off in pairs to start collecting for the next hour! 

It was amazing how quickly our eyes started to recognize the pieces of trash hidden among the sand. At first, it seemed like there wasn’t much to collect, but then we started to distinguish the bottle caps from the sticks, and the thousand tiny styrofoam beads (from a broken bean bag we later found).

 

While we wove in and out of the beachgoers finding cigarette butts and plastic pieces, most of the problem was localized next to the stands that were selling cold Leo’s and fresh coconuts. Behind their bamboo structures were piles, and more piles of trash. Some of it was on fire, and some of it was washed away into a stream, later to be swept into the ocean. We picked up what we could, but the fumes from the burning petrochemicals made it tough to breathe. 

Picking up trash with Trash Hero in Bali
Behind the scenes at the beach

Although trash collection feels like a reactionary response to an environmental problem, it starts a chain reaction among people recognizing the change that needs to happen. During the 1 hour clean-up, at least 6 vacationers or workers helped pick up things near them to put in my bag and many locals thanked us for our service to keep their home clean. 

But think about how many people on the beach saw us with our gloves and tongs sifting through the sand. Think about how many of them stopped and thought twice about flicking their cigarette on the ground, or making sure to not leave anything behind for people like us to have to clean up.

Trash collection doesn’t solve the problem, but it creates a social statement that there is a problem, and we can be a part of the solution.

At the end of the hour, 17 people collected 64 kg (141 lbs) of trash and 11 kg (24 lbs) of recyclables. I had such an incredible time, met new friends, and felt like I made a difference, so I returned the following week with even more people ready to clean the beaches!

Trash Hero in Bali group photo

Get Involved

Joining a beach clean-up is one of many eco-friendly activities in Bali. Trash Hero has over 100 chapters worldwide in 12 different countries, the majority of these locations are in the SE Asian countries of Thailand, Malaysia, and Myanmar, where plastic pollution is a serious problem. 

There are many ways to get involved, and the best part is volunteering is completely FREE to join! Check out the chapter locations to see where you can support, or donate now to fund the amazing work that is being done on the ground!

Are you in Canggu, Bali? Meet the team every SUNDAY @ 4:30 pm near Old Man’s!

Q&A With Canggu Chapter Leader

After the clean-up, I chatted with the group leader, Sebastian. A Scandinavian traveler who married a Balinese woman and has been living on the island since 2020. He has been a part of Trash Hero chapters since 2018 and is proud of the growth the organization has made in recent years. 

Hear his thoughts on ways travelers can make an impact and his first-hand experience with the plastic problem in Bali!

1. What are the best ways Tourists can support the environment while they travel?

Avoid using single-use plastic when you can. Reducing our use as a consumer is possible for anyone to do, and it gives the message to the business owners that I don’t want this wasteful product. Bring a reusable bottle and bag with you! All it takes is a bit of preparation and thoughtfulness to avoid the single-use waste.

2. Do you think the Indonesian Government is going enough to address the plastic problem?

They banned single-use plastics (straws & bags) in 2017, but that’s not enough. There is no enforcement with business owners or consumers. The local authorities haven’t been involved at all since tourism brings in so much money.  Hopefully, with the crackdown on corruption, these laws can be better enforced. 

3. How can travelers get involved in Bali besides joining a cleanup?

Hold businesses accountable; your money as a traveler goes a long way here! Ask restaurants why they still have straws even though they’re banned, ask your hotel about its efforts towards low waste, and talk about it with other travelers. Just like this group did today, if you see an opportunity to bring awareness to it, the strength in numbers can change the world.

4. What Do You Love About Working With Trash Hero?

I love that it gets the locals out here with travelers, everyone together fighting the same fight. I’ve seen a lot of connections made during the clean-ups and we can’t do this alone!

Learn more ways you can be an eco-friendly traveler in Bali!

Summary - Trash Hero in Bali

It often takes witnessing a problem to realize that there are solutions out there. Seeing (and smelling) the plastic waste around Bali was enough to send me in a whirlpool of action, learning about the problem and partnering with organizations helping on the ground. Trash Hero is an amazing global organization, and I can’t wait to work with them again when I’m near one of their many chapter locations!

This is also a reminder to be aware of the environmental degradation that is occurring near you, and take action to be a part of the solution.

Posted by Taylor Mallaber in Indonesia, Volunteer Experiences, 0 comments
10 Things To Know Before Visiting Bali

10 Things To Know Before Visiting Bali

Bali is on everyone’s travel list – the waterfalls, the ocean, the cost, and the friendly people have made it a top destination in recent years. While it is relatively easy to navigate (since most people speak English), there are still a few things to know before visiting Bali

Check out what is awaiting you on the ‘Island of the Gods’, and use this Itinerary for 2 Weeks in Bali before your trip so you hit the ground running to all of the top destinations (and hidden gems)!

things to know before visiting Bali header

Table of Contents

1. Language

Bali is one of the thousands of islands in Indonesia. Although the country’s national language is ‘Indonesian’, Bali people primarily speak ‘Balinese’.

Although most locals speak English very well (less so in rural areas), putting in some effort to speak their language is always appreciated! 

English Balinese
Thank You
Matur Suksma

Please

Tolong

Good Morning

Selamat Pagi

Selamat Malam

Selamat Malam

How are you?

Apa kabar?

2. Religious Influence

Bali is a Hindu island, with spiritual practices performed daily. You will commonly see offerings on the street, in shops, homes, etc. for the gods and spirits that exist in their religion. 

Hinduism brings a beautiful feeling of oneness with others, and respect for the world. 

Visiting temples is one of the main things to experience in Bali!

Basket with Balinese offerings and incense

Tip: Bring a sarong with you, or buy one early. It will save you money in the long run as they are required on any temple grounds – and there are temples everywhere! Sarongs are available for rent for around 15k IDR.

3. The Happiest People

If you ask anyone from Bali, the local people are among the most genuinely polite and caring people. You can wander through the rice fields and streets, and be met with consistent smiles and eye contact that make you feel welcome to the space. Bali people in general feel very thankful for tourism, and all the jobs it creates for local people!

4. Safety in Bali

Bali is considered a very safe island, and it’s known to be warm and welcoming to visitors. The Hindu influence permeates deeply through society, where people lean heavily into the idea of Karma and how your actions will follow you into the next life. 

You don’t have to worry about being robbed or pickpocketed in most areas. The religious influence, partnered with the overwhelming positivity that is carried amongst the people has created a safe and spiritual place within Bali.

Tip: There are potential dangers to be aware of everywhere you go. Nowhere is 100% safe, so look after your belongings, yourself and your friends.

5. Affordability

Bali is a very affordable country compared to many locations in Western culture. You can grab a local meal of Mie Goreng for IDR 30k ($2), get your laundry done for 15k/kg ($1), and rent a motorbike for 65k/day ($4).

Like anywhere, you live as budget or lavishly as you want (and can afford). Bali has become a digital nomad hotspot because of the low cost of living, but you can definitely have an expensive vacation as well! 

Keep cash on you at all times! Most small vendors and restaurants will not accept cards.

Currency: Bali (and all of Indonesia) uses the Indonesian Rupiah – IDR. 
1 USD = 15.000 IDR
1 EUR = 16.140 IDR

6. Plastic Pollution

It is no big secret that the trash in Bali is a major problem. You will see it piled up in waterways, roads, beaches, and in burn areas. There is no single culprit to blame for this unreasonable problem, it is due to a few reasons including; 

  1. Poor education for the local people who end up burning a lot of their residual waste
  2. The tourism industry creates a mentality of quick profits, not long-term solutions
  3. Lack of government attention and support in accountability and resources

*Did you know that single-use plastic straws, plastic bags, and polystyrene were outlawed in June 2019? Unfortunately, there is little oversight in this change, and these materials are everywhere. You can help by asking your accommodation or any restaurant why they aren’t abiding by the law – your money helps push a lot of changes!

Monkey holding a plastic water bottle in Bali