The brighter side of Bali

G Magazine

The notion of a Balinese sojourn is often met with the image of bogans, Bintangs, braids and bad sunburns. But it’s time to embrace a new side of Bali that is emerging from the hills.


Credit: iStockphoto


- Advertisement -

A vividly striped snake slithers out the salon doors of an outdoor bathroom as you take a long, hot shower while watching the sun set over lush, terraced rice paddies. The enjoyment is greater for being guilt-free, as a small hydro system on the nearby waterfall powers the indulgence. The wafting scent of dinner, freshly picked from the nearby permaculture garden, confirms the discovery of a Bali far from the fast-food style of travel for which the island is often known.

Bali is updating its reputation and fast becoming known as a global eco-tourism destination, with organic cafes, produce markets, permaculture farm stays and eco-resorts springing up faster than you can sprout alfalfa.

Owners of Bali Eco Stay, John and Cath, joined the burgeoning Bali green scene 18 months ago when they bundled their belongings and their young son, Hughie, on a plane bound for ‘paradise island’, with the dream of creating an eco-stay in style. Built on permaculture principles melded with traditional Balinese design, their resulting bungalow retreat epitomises the new, green, development boom.

Cat Wheeler, a Canadian ex-pat living in Ubud who writes the popular ‘Greenspeak’ column for the Bali Advertiser, says the greening of tourism began in earnest a couple of years ago and has sparked a return to chemical-free methods for many Balinese farmers. “Lots more vegetable farmers are going organic now that there is a good market for their produce – previously the demand was not there,” she says.

Wheeler urges visitors to do their homework and beware of greenwashing. “Many places are paying lip service to environmental sustainability. One solution is for travellers to demand sustainable accommodation and food, and ask searching questions about environmental practices. The market will adapt to demand, so demand it!” G makes your holiday planning a breeze with our pick of Bali’s best eco-spots.


Sarinbuana Eco Lodge

Owned by Australian permaculture leaders Linda and Norm vant Hoff, Sarinbuana is Bali’s best-known and longest-running eco-establishment. Nestled at the foot of Mt Batukaru in central Bali, the four cosy bungalows are a perfect springboard to explore the largest remaining stand of jungle on the island, or choose from one
of the many cultural workshops on offer. You will sleep soundly knowing your tourist dollars are supporting one of many of Sarinbuana’s campaigns, including orangutan protection and rehabilitation of the endangered Bali Starling bird. www.baliecolodge.com

Bali Eco Stay:

Designed with the help of the vant Hoffs up the road, Bali Eco Stay is one of Bali’s newest and finest green options. The three exquisitely designed bungalows are proof that ‘eco’ doesn’t mean deprivation. Wander through rice paddies and unexplored traditional villages, nourish your body with massages, sumptuous organic meals and waterfall swims. www.baliecostay.com

The Organic Farm

The Organic Farm in the scenic mountains of Munduk Lumbang is an organic foodie’s paradise. Inspired by the concept of community-supported organic agriculture, garden plots are rented out to Balinese chefs to grow organic produce. Guests are invited to pick and choose their own fresh food, as well as bring favourite
seeds from home to plant. With hot springs replacing showers, and bird song replacing TV, this is all about getting back to nature in spacious comfort. www.theorganicfarmbali.com


Willing Workers on Organic Farms (WWOOF)

Global organisation WWOOF links people wanting to learn and share sustainable ways of living. In return for volunteer help of between four to six hours a day, WWOOF hosts offer food, accommodation and opportunities to learn about organic lifestyles. WWOOFers can choose from hosts that vary from small Balinese homestays to eco-resorts, and negotiate a length of stay. www.wwoof.org

Nusa Penida Bird Sanctuary

A short boat ride away from the popular tourist destination of Sanur lies the quiet island of Nusa Penida. Local not-for-profit organisation Friends of the National Parks Foundation has been helping to rebuild populations of endangered bird species on the island since 2004. Volunteers spend the morning tree planting or teaching English in schools, with afternoons free to explore the island’s many untrammeled treasures. Costs are $15 a day, with accommodation in a jungle-style bamboo bungalow. www.fnpf.org

Hands on at the Eco-Learning Centre

The Rivers, Oceans, Land, Ecology Organisation (ROLE) offers volunteer the opportunity to get their hands dirty in their Eco-Learning Centre at Nusa Dua. Incorporating permaculture, reforestation, animal husbandry, working with natural fibres and snail farming, the centre aims to educate, re-skill and create alternate eco-friendly employment for disadvantaged rural women. Day tours are available. www.rolefoundation.org

Single page view