Cycling is possibly not the first activity that comes to your mind when you think about Bali. You’re much more likely to be thinking of surfing or snorkelling, and whilst Bali does offer a fantastic array of ocean-related entertainment, cycling around the island really gives you a sense of the people and culture behind the tourist mecca.
You can, of course, hire bikes and head out on the road but you’ll see a lot more if go with a guide. I’m something of a serial cycle tourist, and it is preferable on every level to have someone who knows what they’re doing explain the rules of the road to you. Bali roads can be pretty hectic at first! There are plenty of tour companies that can show you the ropes, but the locally-owned Bali Bike Baik will give you an authentically Balinese experience. They’ll pick you up from your hotel, drive you out to the country for a traditional breakfast, then take you for a walk through the rice paddies and tell you all about how rice is grown.
This tour is a lot more than just cycling! After the rice paddies, you’ll head to a Balinese coffee plantation. The most exclusive coffee in Bali is made from beans that have been eaten and then, um, excreted by a mongoose. As a coffee connoisseur who gets through regular cups a day, I couldn’t quite bring myself to try that one. You can buy bags of coffee beans there, directly supporting the local Balinese farmer.
Lunch will also be part of your tour, at the home of the home of the tour company founder! Wayan will give you an introduction to what everyday life in Bali is like, teaching you about his culture, and about the daily offerings at the temple. If you’re visiting the temple you’ll need a sarong to cover your legs, and make sure your shoulders are covered too (men and women!). Since the van drives you up the hills in the morning, the ride is downhill and very comfortable. It definitely isn’t a beachfront bike ride, you’ll be passing through forests and riven paddies for the most part, passing beautiful temples, and family homes. After only seeing the glossy hotels, it’s refreshing to see some of the “real” Bali.