3 must-visit destinations near Bali

Bali is home to many great destinations and fun activities. But if you happen to have free days while vacationing on the island, during one of next year's many long weekends perhaps, consider visiting these exciting nearby places and get ready to experience something new along the way.

Menjangan Island

Situated in the western part of Bali, Menjangan Island can be reached via two piers in the West Bali National Park area - Labuhan Lalang, run by national park management and catering to local boats, or Banyumandi, which offers a small jetty.

As the name menjangan suggests, deer watching is the main attraction provided by the island. The best time to see them is during the dry season.

Menjangan is also known as a pilgrimage destination for Balinese Hindus. Seven Hindu temples can be found on the island, each worshipping a different deity.

Thanks to its calm current and gorgeous underwater vistas, Menjangan is a great snorkeling and diving spot as well, especially for beginners.

Nusa Penida, Nusa Lembongan and Nusa Ceningan

This trio is a group of tropical islands located 15 kilometers off the southeastern coast of Sanur - 20 minutes away by boat - and administered by Klungkung regency.

All well-developed and popular with visitors to Bali, Nusa Penida is the largest of the three, followed by Nusa Lembongan and Nusa Ceningan. The surrounding ocean is breathtakingly beautiful with amazing underwater scenes that have attracted divers from around the world; its fascinating creatures include the mola-mola (sunfish) and manta rays.

As the closest island to Bali, Nusa Lembongan is the most developed and thus offers the most convenient stays of the three. Its popular spots include Jungut Batu Beach and Mushroom Bay.

You can also find many quiet and secluded white-sand beaches along the north and northwest coasts of Nusa Penida.

While on Nusa Ceningan, tourists can be found flocking to Blue Lagoon to experience its famous cliff jumping.

Banyuwangi, East Java

A road trip from southern Bali to Banyuwangi in East Java is worth considering if you happen to have a long vacation.

The trip will take less than five hours of driving; the first three hours being the trip from Denpasar to Gilimanuk port in western Bali, continued by 45 minutes on a ferry. Once you have arrived at Ketapang seaport, you can reach downtown Banyuwangi in less than an hour.

Banyuwangi is a very tourist-friendly city as you easily can find signs along the main roads guiding you to popular tourism sites.

The nearest destination you can reach from Ketapang seaport is Baluran National Park, which is administered by Situbondo regency but is conveniently situated very close to Banyuwangi regency.

For a more unique travel experience, opt to spend the night in the national park, which offers amazing safari views including of Baluran Mountain.

The following day, you can continue your trip to destinations such as Pantai Pulau Merah (Red Island Beach), Plengkung Beach in Alas Purwo National Park on the Blambangan Peninsula, or Teluk Hijau (Green Bay) in Meru Betiri National Park, which is nestled between Banyuwangi and Jember.