I don’t know what it is about waterfalls, but I feel an almost gravitational pull to find them. Bursting out into a few lines of Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell’s hit “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” is a bit dramatic, but not that much of a stretch. I’d climb a tall mountain and cross a wide river (and I have) for the promise of a waterfall at the end of the trail, especially for the best waterfalls in Bali.
Bali’s lush jungle that covers almost every ridge and ravine makes for some extra magic when you find yourself swimming at the foot of a waterfall. We decided to spend two days chasing the best waterfalls in Bali while we were based in Ubud. After endless Google searches, we narrowed down our Bali waterfall route. I wasn’t looking for the biggest waterfalls, but ones with the best swimming spots, nestled away in the less-visited and prettiest parts of Bali. Keep reading for our picks for the best waterfalls in Bali.
Day 1 – Waterfalls in Northern Bali
We headed out of Ubud before 5 am to make it to Pura Ulun Danu Bratan for sunrise, one of the five famous water temples of Bali. It was still pitch black and the stars were shining brightly as we drove through the winding ravines. We passed by the morning markets at their peak, when all of the local shop owners and restaurants were out buying produce for the day. After a quiet morning on Lake Bratan, we were ready to find the best waterfalls in Bali.
1 BANYUMALA TWIN WATERFALL – BEST SWIMMING SPOT
This set of waterfalls is absolutely picturesque and gets my vote for the best swimming spot. The water is surprisingly warm, and the pool gets the morning sun, making it a refreshing dip. Straight from Ubud, Banyumala Twin Waterfall is about 57 km, or a 1 hour and 45-minute drive. Once we turned off the main road, we were going down a one-way, mostly dirt and very bumpy road for a few kilometers. Luckily, it was still early in the morning, so we didn’t have to find out what happens when another car is coming in the opposite direction. From the parking lot, it’s about a 15-minute hike down a steep set of stairs to the twin waterfalls. Entrance is 15,000Rp (or a little over $1USD), which is a typical fee for most waterfalls in Bali. We spent almost two hours here, and only one other tourist stopped by.
2 ALING ALING WATERFALL – Nature’s Water Park
Aling Aling Waterfall in Bali needs a little asterisk to say that this is not just a waterfall, but a natural water park. Aling Aling Waterfall is the largest waterfall in the area, but not the main attraction. We hiked about 15 minutes through the beautiful jungle before we reached the first waterfall. A few minutes more, and we found an area with two more waterfalls that form natural water slides, along with three spots for cliff jumping at 5, 10 and 15 meters. In order to slide, jump and swim, you’re supposed to pay the local guides at the waterfall IDR 125,000 (around $9). They’ll take you around to each of the spots, and usually slide or jump first if you have any worries about it being safe. They even have life jackets if you want a little extra comfort about popping up after the plunge. I’m not sure if this is official, but they had a space set up with gear down by the waterfalls and were pretty adamant that we couldn’t jump if we didn’t pay. If you only want to look at the falls, the entrance fee is IDR 10,000.
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3 SEKUMPUL WATERFALL – BALI’S MOST BEAUTIFUL WATERFALL
Sekumpul Waterfall seems to be an easy win for Bali’s most beautiful waterfall. It also takes the longest to get to with a 45-minute hike down to the waterfall, but that’s a small price to pay for such a big reward. The entrance fee to Sekumpul Waterfall is IDR 15,000, and IDR 5,000 to Fuji Waterfall which is just another few minutes down the way. The path is clearly marked and easy to follow, but the locals that you met before you get to the official entrance may tell you a guide is necessary. They typically charge anywhere between 100k and 400k per person for a guide to Sekumpul Waterfall. I am sure they can provide some helpful commentary about the area and offer tips about swimming in the waterfalls, but just know that you do not have to hire a guide. If you’re not looking forward to the hike back up, there’s a lot at the mid-way point with moped drivers that will give you a ride to the parking lot for about 25k. Or, it’s a 20-minute walk back from there.
These waterfalls are enough to fill one day, but if you’re staying in the area and have more time, check out Munduk Waterfall and NungNung Waterfall.
Day 2 – Waterfalls Near Ubud
4 TIBUMANA WATERFALL – UNDERSTATED BEAUTY
Tibumana Waterfall doesn’t seem to gets very many visitors. It’s not the biggest or tallest waterfall in Bali by far, but its beauty is simple and understated. We parked near the rice paddies and walked along one of the lushest and most colorful jungle paths I’ve ever been through. It really feels like a hidden gem, tucked down into the jungle. Tibumana Waterfall is a 30-minute drive from central Ubud, and it’s only a 10-minute walk down to the falls. Entrance costs IDR 10,000.
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5 TUKAD CEPUNG WATERFALL – THE CAVE WATERFALL
Getting to Tukad Cepung Waterfall feels like your own little adventure trekking into the jungle, into a cave, and through a stream. Once you get to the end of the of the cave, the top opens up and sun streams through like a natural spotlight on the waterfall. Entrance to Tukad Cepung Waterfall is IDR 10,000.
A Few Tips for Chasing Waterfalls in Bali
Getting around. If you’re flying solo or as a couple (or just without a kid), it is super cheap to rent a scooter or motorbike in Bali. The going rate is about $5 a day, and many hotels and homestays offer rentals. Most of the waterfalls in Bali we visited had signage on the main road to point visitors in the right direction. Since we made our toddler tag-along, we hired a driver. It was more time in the car than I initially thought (and hoped), which was a little tough given an active kid who doesn’t love sitting down. The roads are windy and slow, but our driver knew the areas really well, so we never got lost. The going rate for a full day (10 hours) is about IDR 700k – 800k, which works out to around $5 per hour.
Bring appropriate footwear. I went back and forth for a while debating on buying a pair of real water sneakers but ended up wearing my Rainbow flip-flops (shorter hikes) or my old Sperry boat shoes (longer hikes), both which worked fine. Aaron opted for this rubber shoe to wear in the water.
Stay up north in the Buleleng Regency of Bali. Looking back, it probably would’ve been worth staying one night in the Buleleng regency of Bali as many of the island’s waterfalls are in this area. The waterfalls we visited like Banyumala Twin Waterfall and Aling Aling Waterfall are a solid two hours out of Ubud, so that meant we had to get out really early.
Waterfalls to skip. Two of the most popular Balinese waterfalls are Gitgit Waterfall and Tegenungan Waterfall. However, I found these the least impressive and don’t think they belong on a list of the best waterfalls in Bali. Gitgit Waterfall is located in Buleleng Regency, and the trail to the waterfall is easily located right off the main road. The walk to Gitgit is lined with vendors so it felt pretty commercial. It’s a tall waterfall, but there wasn’t anything spectacular about it. Anywhere else it would probably be the best waterfall ever, but it’s Bali, so the standards are pretty high.
We hadn’t initially planned on visiting Tegenungan Waterfall since we already knew it was a very touristy spot, but it was on our way to the airport when we were heading down from Ubud to catch our flight to Lombok. We had some extra time, so figured why not. Since it’s the closest to the Denpasar/Kuta area, it is by far the busiest waterfall. We only saw a handful of people at all of the other waterfalls, but with Tegenungan Waterfall, there’s a traffic jam just to get to the trailhead. The area is packed with restaurants and vendors, good if you’re hungry or need a hat, but bad if you’re going for more of a commune with nature vibe. The base of the waterfall has been trashed with kitschy tourist additions like cement heart stands and other props for selfies. It’s actually an impressive waterfall; the flow is huge! But it’s also brown and surrounded by tons of people. If that’s your bag, cool, it just isn’t ours. I’m sure it’s less of a party scene earlier in the morning, so perhaps we would’ve liked it more before 9 am. My favorite thing about Tegenungan is a little waterfall that’s tucked away a few steps off the stairs; you’ll see it when you reach the mid-point on the stairs.