West Bali National Park Comprehensive Guide: Trekking, Snorkeling & Bali Starling Conservation (Updated 2023)

West Bali National Park Comprehensive Guide: Trekking, Snorkeling & Bali Starling Conservation (Updated 2023)

West Bali National Park, also known as Taman Nasional Bali Barat in Indonesian, is located on the northwestern corner of Bali. The protected area hosts a combination of dense mangrove forests, mountainous terrains, and untouched coral reefs. Perhaps most notably, the park is home to a critically endangered songbird called “The Bali Starling”, also known as “The Bali Myna”.

West Bali National Park Statistics at a Glance

SizeThe park covers an area of approximately 190 square kilometers (73 square miles). About 3% of Bali’s land area.
EstablishmentWest Bali National Park was officially designated as a national park in 1995. (Wikipedia)
FloraThe park is home to over 400 species of plants, including the endangered Javan Rusa tree.
FaunaMore than 160 recorded animal species, from birds and monkeys to deer and cats.
Endangered SpeciesThe park is one of the last refuges for the endangered Bali Starling, with an estimated population of 50 birds within park boundaries.
Marine LifeAbout 110 species of coral and over 300 species of marine fish have been identified in the park’s coral reefs.
Annual Visitor CountAnnually, the park welcomes around 50,000 visitors.
Trekking TrailsThere are over 20 designated trekking trails ranging from easy to challenging.
Altitude RangeThe park’s terrain ranges from sea level up to heights of 1,412 meters.
ClimateThe average annual temperature in the park is around 27°C, with rainfall ranging from 900 to 1,500 mm per year.
Stats at a glance

Did You Know? The Bali tiger, also known as Panthera tigris balica, was a unique subspecies of tiger found solely on the island of Bali, Indonesia. It was last seen in West Bali in the 1930’s, and tragically, it became extinct in the 1950s, making it the first tiger subspecies to vanish in recent history.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bali_tiger

Best Time of Year to Visit West Bali National Park

When planning a trip to West Bali National Park, one of the crucial factors to consider is the timing. The park’s beauty can be appreciated all year round, but depending on your preferred activities and weather tolerance, some months might be more favorable than others. Here’s a breakdown of the seasons to be aware of:

Dry Season/High Season (April to October):

Highlights:

  • Optimal Weather: These months offer clear skies, making it an excellent time for bird-watching, trekking, and diving due to heightened visibility.
  • Trek-Friendly Trails: You can expect less slippery and muddy trails, providing a smoother trekking experience.
  • Reduced Mosquito Activity: With minimal rain, stagnant water pools are limited, resulting in fewer breeding grounds for mosquitoes.

Things to Keep in Mind:

  • Tourist Influx: July and August, in particular, see a higher number of visitors due to the international school holidays.
  • Peak Season Pricing: Accommodations and some tour packages may have elevated prices because of the increased demand.

Wet Season/Low Season (November to March):

Highlights:

  • Lush Green Landscapes: Rain transforms the entire region, offering vivid green scenery and making photographs particularly striking.
  • Few Tourists: With fewer tourists around, it’s easier to find quiet, and experience the benefits of lower prices for accommodation and tours.
  • Active Wildlife: Some species, especially amphibians, thrive in these conditions and become more active.

Things to Keep in Mind:

  • Rain Considerations: Heavy rainfall might mean occasional trail closures or reduced visibility for activities like diving.
  • Mosquito Preparedness: Increased stagnant water during these months can lead to more mosquitoes, so ensure you’re well-equipped with repellents and suitable clothing.
  • Navigational Challenges: Some routes might become less accessible due to the rain, so be prepared for possible detours.

Expert Tip: For a balanced option that combines both good weather and low season benefits, you should visit during April/May or September/October. But don’t completely write-off a visit during wet season! The area during these months features lush, green landscapes and a relaxed amount of tourist traffic.

You might also want to know… What’s the rain actually like during wet season? Is it short and heavy, or long and prolonged?

First of all, the wet season comes and goes in a gradual manner. On the fringes of the season, there starts to be more cloudy days, with the occasional shower. As things warm up, there are days with both short and heavy rain, and also long and prolonged periods of rain. Commonly though, it rains more in the late afternoon, and early morning, with clearer skies in the morning. At any rate, it’s essential to be prepared for wet weather during the rainy season with both raincoats and mosquito spray.

Location on the Map

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How to Get There

Navigating your way from Denpasar Airport to the mesmerizing landscapes of West Bali National Park is a journey that offers scenic views and a hint of adventure. Here’s a breakdown of your transportation options:

From Denpasar Airport to West Bali National Park

By Car

Hiring a taxi or arranging a private car is the most comfortable and convenient option. Once you exit the airport, you’ll find a range of taxi services. Additionally, some resorts in West Bali may offer pick-up services directly from the airport. The journey by car offers a chance to traverse and witness Bali’s picturesque countryside.

By Scooter

For the more adventurous, renting a scooter provides an unparalleled sense of freedom. Ensure you have the appropriate license, helmet, and understand local traffic rules. Traveling by scooter allows you to take detours and explore hidden gems along the way. However, be prepared for a longer journey and make sure you’re comfortable with longer rides.

Trip Duration:

Car: The journey from Denpasar Airport to West Bali National Park typically takes around 3.5 to 4 hours, depending on traffic conditions.

Scooter: Expect the journey to be a bit longer, approximately 4 to 5 hours, factoring in breaks and potential stops to refuel.

Cost:

Car: A private car or taxi from Denpasar Airport to West Bali can range from IDR 650,000 to IDR 850,000, depending on the type of service and vehicle. If you offer the driver 700k they will usually accept. This is for one one way, and a round trip would be double that.

Scooter: Renting a scooter can cost anywhere from IDR 60,000 to IDR 150,000 per day, excluding fuel. Ensure you fill up the tank before starting, and refuelling stations are available along the route. For this trip, you should rent an N-Max or equivalent 150cc scooter for optimal comfort.

You might be wondering… Can I use Gojek or Gocar to get to West Bali?

You can book a gocar driver from Denpasar or another popular tourist area, but when you are in Northwest Bali you will be outside of the Gojek service area, so you won’t be able to book a Gocar for the return trip. For this reason, most people opt to hire a private driver who will come and pick them up for the return trip. Another factor to keep in mind is that Gocar and Gojek drivers are (normally) not used to such long drives that take them this far outside the general service area, and so they may choose to decline the trip.

Depending on your accommodation in West Bali, accommodation providers can organise a private driver to take you back to Denpasar, Ubud, or wherever it is on the island you wish to go. So it’s possible to take a Gocar there, and then arrange a private driver back. Having said that, it’s often simpler to just use the same private driver for the whole trip. The cost is roughly the same.

Route Options

Tip: Click the heading to open a pre-formatted Google Maps Navigation

Route Option 1: Southern Coastal Vibes

Duration: 4 hours.

Noteworthy stop along the way: Tanah Lot Water Temple

Photo by Ludo Poiré on Unsplash

Route Option 2: Scenic Route Through the Middle

Duration: 5-6 hours.

Noteworthy stops along the way: Jatiluwih Rice Terraces

Photo by Dennis van Dalen on Unsplash

Planning your trip: How many days should you take for a trip to West Bali National Park?

If you are coming from South Bali, it’s not possible to visit the park and return in just 1 day. Since the drive there is at least 4 hours, and the drive back is also at minimum 4 hours, you should budget to stay 1 night at the very least. Ideally a 2 night trip would allow for more comfort. Here’s an example 4 day itinerary:

Example 4 Day Trip:

Day 1Leave in the morning around 10am. Drive, arrive and orientate. Settle into your accommodation and familiarize yourself with the surroundings by around 3pm. Relax and chill.
Day 2Head to Menjangan Island for snorkeling or diving. The marine life here is vibrant, and the coral reefs are stunning. Snorkelling trips are generally 4-6 hours in total.
Day 3Dedicate this day to exploring the park on foot. Take a guided trek to see some of the endemic species and beautiful natural vistas. Depending on the trek you take, this can range from just a couple hours to the full day. There are many options.
Day 4Take a relaxed morning at a cafe, and embark on the return trip. Arrive back to Ubud, Canggu or Denpasar around 6pm.

West Bali National Park Accommodation Options – Where to Stay During Your Trip

Since it’s most practical to stay a few nights in the region, you will need to book yourself some accommodation for you and your group. Here are some of our recommended picks for different budget ranges.

If you’d like to explore our repository of recommended places to stay in the region, we’ve curated a list of almost all the accommodations worth checking out. We’ve updated this list in 2023 to account for the dramatic shift in providers that took place because of the Covid pandemic.

You can explore them on our map here: The Other Side of Bali Map

Or you can dive into our listings page here: Where to Stay

Budget Friendly Options (250k-500k per night)

  1. Pemuteran Homestays: These local-run lodgings offer a true Balinese experience, providing basic amenities in a warm, familial atmosphere. They’re an excellent choice for those wanting a taste of local culture without breaking the bank.
  2. Taman Sari Bali Cottages: Situated close to the park, these cottages are rustic yet cozy, offering a blend of traditional Balinese architecture and modern conveniences.
  3. Gilimanuk Guesthouses: Located near the ferry port, these guesthouses located here are a favorite among backpackers and solo travelers for their affordability, friendliness, and closeness to the park.

Mid-Range Options (500k-1500k per night)

Mimpi Resort
Mimpi Resort
  1. Mimpi Resort: This beautiful resort near Menjangan Island offers spacious rooms, a spa, and diving facilities, all without the high-end price tag.
  2. Pondok Sari Beach Resort & Spa: Known for its lush gardens and traditional architecture, this resort offers a tranquil atmosphere along with modern amenities.
  3. Kubuku Ecolodge and Resto: Embracing sustainable tourism, this eco-friendly lodge not only offers comfortable stays but also gives back to the environment.

Most Comfortable Options (2000k+ per night)

Sumberkima Hill Retreat
Sumberkima Hill Retreat
  1. Sumberkima Hill Retreat: For the nicest and closest options – nestled on up in the hills of Sumberkima (just a stone throw from Bali Barat Park). Here you have a range of options to choose from. From single room ensuite’s up to 5 bedroom villa’s, there’s something for almost everyone. You can explore all the Sumberkima Hill Retreat options on this site under “Where to stay”.
  2. The Menjangan: An exquisite luxury resort situated amidst the park, it offers upscale amenities, private beaches, and guided nature tours.
  3. Villa Semadhi: For a single luxury villa recommendation, Villa Semadhi stands out amongst the crowd. Positioned right up against the sand and the ocean, and just a 35 minute drive to the park.

Expert Tip: West Bali experiences a significant high season and low season fluctuation. Unlike other parts of Bali, which have a steady stream of tourists and don’t get a huge seasonal fluctuation, northwest Bali does. A simple example of what to expect here is that a Guesthouse that costs 300k per night during low season, would cost 450k per night during high season.

West Bali National Park Activities Overview

While there are many smaller attractions to visit in the region such as local temples, beaches, and popular cafes – there are 3 main activities that people primarily visit the area for. Those are:

  1. Wildlife and Bird Watching: The park is home to a myriad of species, some of which are endemic to Bali. Notably, the endangered Bali Starling, one of the world’s rarest birds, can be found here. Apart from the birds, visitors have the opportunity to observe wild deer, wild boar, monkeys, cats… the list goes on (it’s a big list!).
  2. Snorkeling and Diving at Menjangan Island: Recognized as one of the best diving sites in Bali (it honestly is), Menjangan Island offers crystal clear waters, vibrant coral reefs, and diverse marine life. Whether you’re a novice snorkeler or a seasoned diver, the underwater world around this island is breathtaking and wonderful.
  3. Trekking and Hiking: In the forest area of the park, up the hills, and along the beaches. There are a lot of trekking, hiking, and walking options not only in the park itself, but scattered throughout the region. For example, if you stay at Sumberkima Hill, there are trails up into the hill right at your doorstep.

Trekking Guide for West Bali National Park – The Important Information

Since wildlife and birdwatching happens in conjunction with trekking, here we will focus on getting you out and about into the raw and natural beauty of the park first.

The important points:

  • Do I need a guide in the park? Yep, you’re supposed to have a guide. It’s required as a park rule.
  • How do I get a guide? You can arrange one with your accommodation, or you can get one at the entrance to the park.
  • How much is the entrance fee? 200k on weekdays, 300k on weekends/high season. It’s cheaper if you’re a domestic Indonesian tourist. If you have a KITAS, don’t forget to wave it for a discount.
  • How much is the guide fee? This depends on the guide, but expect to pay 250k and up. Specialised guides for birdwatching will change more.
  • So how much in total? In total, budget 500k-750k and you’ll be sorted. Less if you’re a local, and less if you hold a KITAS. And also less if you love negotiating 😉

Types of Treks:

  1. Jungle Treks
  2. Birdwatching Treks
  3. Coastal Treks
  4. Mangrove Treks

What to Bring: Remember this acronym… WSBCISRD

  1. Water: At least 1-2 liters to stay hydrated.
  2. Snacks: If you’re out for a long trek, don’t forget to pack some yummy snacks.
  3. Binoculars: Essential for birdwatching enthusiasts.
  4. Camera: To capture the beauty of the park and create lasting memories.
  5. Insect Repellent: Mostly for the mosquitos.
  6. Sunscreen: Along the coastal parts it can get quite toasty in the sun.
  7. Rain Gear: essential for the wet season. Always plan for it.
  8. Decent Walking Shoes: you probably could get by in flip flops or sandals, but it’s not recommended.

Check out this popular trek here: https://theothersideofbali.com/hike/west-bali-coastal-loop/

Snorkelling Guide for Menjangan Island – The Important Information

Diving and Snorkeling in North West Bali - The Comprehensive Guide
Diving and Snorkeling in North West Bali - The Comprehensive Guide
Diving and Snorkeling in North West Bali - The Comprehensive Guide

Renowned for its crystal-clear waters and breathtaking coral reefs (honestly!), Menjangan Island, situated within West Bali National Park, is undoubtedly one of Bali’s premier snorkelling destinations. The island, a short boat ride from the mainland, offers a serene underwater world teeming with marine life. If you’re planning to explore the island’s submerged wonders, here’s some information to help:

Why Snorkel Menjangan Island?

Menjangan Island stands out not only because of its exquisite coral gardens but also its relatively calm waters, making it suitable for both beginner and seasoned snorkelers. Its isolation from the mainland has helped preserve its pristine condition, ensuring an exceptional underwater experience.

Popular Snorkelling Spots on Menjangan:

  1. Coral Garden: A shallow reef area that boasts a diverse range of colorful corals and marine species, perfect for beginners.
  2. Eel Garden: Named for the garden eels that populate the sandy bed, this spot also hosts various other fish and coral types.
  3. Pos II: A deeper spot, suitable for those who’re comfortable free diving, where you can witness sea fans, larger fish species, and occasional turtles.

Cost:

  • Boat Transfers: To get to Menjangan, you’ll need a boat (unless you’re a deer). Prices vary, but expect to pay between IDR 200k to 400k ($14 to $28 USD) for a round trip.
  • Snorkelling Tours: Snorkelling tours, which will include equipment, boat rides, and sometimes snacks and drinks, range from IDR 500,000 to IDR 1,200,000 ($34 to $82 USD).

Check out the snorkelling spots on our map here.

Read the full guide here.

Did You Know… Menjangan Island gets its name from the Javanese word for ‘deer’? Every year, local deer are known to swim to the island in a unique migration. If you were wondering how there are deer on the island, now you know! The swim is about 1.2km in length, and as deer are surprisingly strong swimmers, they can make the journey in about 30 minutes of hard swimming. A remarkable feat, considering the ocean currents!

Bali Starling Conservation Efforts in West Bali National Park

The Bali Starling, locally known as Jalak Bali, represents not only the colourful nature of Bali but also the challenges and triumphs of wildlife conservation. This magnificent bird, characterized by its pristine white plumage and a stark blue streak around its eyes, has been at the center of extensive conservation initiatives, primarily due to its status as critically endangered.

Backdrop of Decline

The main threats to the Bali Starling have been habitat loss, illegal capture for the pet trade, and a reduced range of natural habitation. By the close of the 20th century, their wild numbers were alarmingly few, teetering on the brink of extinction.

Creation of the Sanctuary

The establishment of West Bali National Park in 1982 was, in many ways, a direct response to the dwindling numbers of the Bali Starling. While the park aimed to conserve a multitude of species and habitats, one of its foundational objectives was to provide a sanctuary for the starling.

Breeding and Reintroduction

One of the hallmark initiatives was the captive breeding program. This involved nurturing the birds in controlled environments and increasing their numbers, with the eventual goal of reintroducing them into the wild. Over the years, many starlings have been successfully reintroduced to the park’s forests, although challenges, like ensuring genetic diversity and safeguarding against poaching, persist.

Read more about the Bali Starling Conservation Program here.

Did You Know? Although the Bali Starling is closely tied to the island of Bali, thanks to conservation efforts, there have been reintroduction programs on other Indonesian islands. The goal? To create a backup population and bolster the chances of this species’ survival.

Final Reflections

As we close this guide on West Bali National Park, it’s worth taking a moment to truly reflect on the profound interplay between nature, culture, and human resilience. West Bali, with its vast landscapes and shimmering waters, tells a story that’s much larger than just a travel destination—it narrates the tale of our symbiotic relationship with the earth and the responsibility we carry to protect it.

The recent global challenges have cast a spotlight on the fragility of our interconnected world, and places like West Bali stand as a reminder of what we stand to lose if we don’t tread thoughtfully. Yet, they also represent hope. In the park’s silent trails, in the playful dance of its marine life, in the soft whisper of its trees, there is a message of rebirth, renewal, and rejuvenation.

Traveling, at its core, is not just about seeing new places, but about gaining new perspectives. As you consider your journey to West Bali, or any other destination for that matter, may it be with an awareness of the footprint we leave behind and the memories we take forward. Our planet offers us countless wonders; let’s cherish them, celebrate them, and pass them on to the generations to come!

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