5 Holiday Spots In Australia That Look Like Bali
Volcanic mountains, misty rice fields, forest hikes and of course beaches galore. There’s a reason why Australian’s are so smitten with Bali. While the beauty of Nusa Penida’s coastline and Gunung Agung’s mountains are unparalleled, there’s good news for those ready to explore their own backyard – you can channel the best of these adventures in Australia.
Lord Howe Island
If you’re out to channel the magical atmosphere of Nusa Penida’s Kelingking Beach (without the crowds, mind you), Lord Howe Island is a place less visited by most Australians but one that will no doubt make you feel like you’ve stuck through the six-hour flight. Seven Peaks Walk will give you the same, if not better, top-down views of secret beaches, crystal clear waters with the bonus of having a fully-fledged World Heritage-listed ecosystem. Treating yourself to those iconic “Ubud villas” is easy here, especially when you opt to stay at Capella Lodge and if sprawling cliffside views are what you’re after, you can’t go past Makambo Loft (a mezzanine suite which gifts you with scenes of Mount Gower and Lidgbird). The beauty of staying at Lord Howe Island is that the island only allows 400 visitors at any one time so you really will feel like you’re somewhere absolutely secluded.
If there’s one thing you do more than drinking Bintang in Bali, it’s cycling around Bali’s breathtaking countryside. Whether you’re pedalling through rural villages, past ancient temples or to rice terraces, putting some pedal to the metal is the best way to get around. And if there’s a place in Australia where you can pretty much do the same thing, it’s Port Douglas. This tropical town is as laid back as it gets, and alongside endless stretches of beautiful shores and arching palm trees, you’ll also get to tap into secret swimming spots like Mossman Gorge and Cassowary Falls (which may or may not sport similar cascades to Bali’s Banyumala Twin Waterfalls).
Port Douglas’ Four Mile Beach is the beach to work your legs on the cycling side of things but if you’re looking to treat yourself to some top-notch accommodation decked out with jungle trimmings, 7 Wharf St is the closest you’ll get to staying in Seminyak in Australia. The master pavilion here looks out onto the Coral Sea, Low Isles, Snapper Island and even the Daintree ranges on the opposite side of the property. And look, if you find yourself parched and still thirsty for a Bintang, make your way to Hemingway’s Brewery. The Port Douglas outpost is conveniently nestled on a jetty which will give you sunset panoramas more memorable than Tegal Wangi Beach.
Cocos Keeling Islands
It’s not the dramatic cliff sides and oceans you’ll find in Western Australia’s barley-visited Cocos Keeling Islands, rather the white sands and bright blue snorkelling equivalent of Kuta’s Pandawan Beach. Situated almost 3000km northwest of Perth, the Cocos Keeling Islands is a tropical suite of islets ready for exploring, packed with dense green thickets of octopus bush, beach cabbage and coconut forest (doesn’t sound like Australia, right?). Here, paddleboarding, snorkelling, kitesurfing, fishing and surfing reign supreme which means you’ll want to ensure you pack all the appropriate gear.
If Padang Padang isn’t an option, bring your attention to the breaks at Cocos Keeling Islands’ The Shack. This left-hand reef break (best surfed around mid-tide) will quite literally teleport you to the long and hollow wave paradise of the Bukit peninsula.
Not much can prepare you for the azure waters of Bali’s Blue Lagoon Beach, that is unless you’ve been to Lizard Island. Located on the Great Barrier Reef, Lizard Island is all about barefoot luxury and it’s about as romantic as shacking up on Uluwatu for your honeymoon. There are no itineraries here—your day should start with a lagoon swim and end with sunset drinks at Driftwood Bar (the closest you’ll get to Bali’s Potato Head Beach Club sans crowds). Lizard Island National Park will also bring you more adventures than two weeks spent in Bali, dotted with 24 sandy beaches and more than half the island is covered in grasslands. While Bali definitely has the monkey, here you’ll be in for sights of a yellow-spotted lizard. And like any Bali trip, a bit of R&R is always front of mind. Take your pick between signature spa rituals surrounded by nature or opt for a restorative hot stone healing session from Essential Day Spa.
Though Bali is definitely famous for its beaches, it’s also home to huge forests and parks filled with Banyan trees, acacias, mangroves and tamarind trees. The town of Bellingen itself won’t strike you as Australia’s “little Bali” but the rainforest adventures you can have around here definitely will. Bellingen rests on the famous Waterfall Way, a road trip which leads you to rainbow-draped waterfalls and misty valleys which will make you feel like you’ve just stepped into the lush Sidemen Valley. Dorrigo Rainforest is a must-visit on this leg and while it may not bear the illustrious Alas Harum Swing like Bali’s Ubud, it does sport an iconic skywalk lookout which gives you an incredible view over Dorrigo and Bellinger Valley.