Adventure Travel

Adventure travel is for the more daring amongst us. Whether it is an epic hike, an overnight canoe trip or a camping trip that is a little bit wilder than the usual ones, this will get your adrenaline pumping!

Your%20Complete%20Karijini%20National%20Park%20Guide%20(Western%20Australia):%20Find%20The%20Best%20Karijini%20Gorges%20&%20Camping%20Spots%20(+%20a%204-Day%20Itinerary)Your Complete Karijini National Park Guide (Western Australia): Find The Best Karijini Gorges & Camping Spots (+ a 4-Day Itinerary)

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The Ultimate Bali Itinerary: 10 Days For All The Must-Visits

Location: , 16 min read

No trip to Indonesia is complete without a visit to Bali, its most well-known island. I’ve previously written about Mt Ijen and Mt Bromo on the island of Java (West from Bali) and about scuba diving from Labuan Bajo on Flores(East from Bali). Now it’s time for most visitors main attraction: Bali. Read on to find my ideal Bali Itinerary for 10 days. Why only 10 days? Well, because I want to encourage you to visit the other islands such as Java, Lombok, and Flores as well!

Welcome to Bali! A destination that has been on your list for a while and oh man, it’s going to be one hell of a trip!

Do you need travel insurance for Bali?

First and foremost, I encountered so many travel-related accidents on Bali and the rest of Indonesia that I couldn’t continue without first recommending you getting travel insurance. Most of the accidents I saw were related to motorcycle accidents. I heard some horror stories about a guy ending up in the hospital and not being treated because he did not have travel insurance. Therefore I can’t emphasize enough how important it is to get this sorted.

I use World Nomads and love that you can get your insurance sorted even if you have already left the country. They design their insurance especially for the adventurous travel and are perfect if you intend to go scuba diving, climbing a volcano or any other exciting activity.

A surf board against your nose, a bike accident, there are a lot of reasons to get travel insurance in Bali

The Perfect 10-day itinerary for your Bali Adventure

Day 1: Arrive in Bali, Head to Canggu

Most likely you will be arriving straight into Denpasar Airport (unless you are coming straight from Mt Bromo or Mt Ijen), the main airport of the island. Depending on the country where you are from, you can be eligible for a visa on arrival. Make sure that you have either the local currency (the cheapest way to pay for your visa) or a common foreign currency such as USD or AUD on you.

We’re going straight from the airport to Canggu, my personal favorite spot on the island of Bali. Canggu is a hotspot for many tourists and I prefer it over more well-known beaches such as Kuta and Seminyak. I would simply avoid Kuta at all times unless you want to party all day, every day. The beach is nothing impressive but is good for learning how to surf on small baby waves. Seminyak is known as the shopping and dining center of Bali. It is a great spot to take a day trip from on your base in Canggu.

The Cliffs close to Uluwatu

Day 2-4: Learn How to Surf in Canggu and explore the South Coast of Bali

Canggu Activities

Surfing in Bali

Learning how to stand on a surfboard is not easy and will take more than a week. But we’re only spending 10 days in Bali, so you can at least get used to a surfboard. If you are able to stand, you can always try a bit more surfing while exploring Lombok.

There are many places in Bali that offer surfing lesson with your accommodation. It’s worth having a look around as it might be cheaper to get a package rather than booking surfing lessons separately.

Depending on your surfing skills, there are beaches in Bali for every skill level. Echo Beach is the most popular Canggu beach and is perfect for a drink at Old Mans. The surfing here, however, is recommended for more advanced surfers. Trust me on this one as I’m a strong swimmer and I actually cried my way through surfing here. There are other beaches around Canggu which are more suited for beginning surfers.

Parking the motorcycles at Old Man's Bar in Canggu, Bali
Parking the motorcycles at Old Man’s

Tanah Lot Temple

Tanah Lot is by far the most popular temple in Bali. I tend to avoid the very touristy places, but it is still worth a visit. Head North from Canggu on a scooter for around sunset. It is beautiful, but as mentioned, there will be a lot of other tourists. If this is not your thing, head to Tanah Lot during the day rather than at the very famous sunset.

Tanah Lot at sunset

Seminyak Shop and Restaurants

You will hear more Australian in Seminyak than anything else and that’s because Seminyak is THE go-to destination of most Aussies (with the party beach of Kuta on a second spot). That comes with the benefit of beautiful restaurants and shops. Many great Australian brands have a flagship store in Seminyak that tend to be cheaper than in Australia itself. The downside of this area being so Westernised is that Seminyak is one of the highest priced areas of Bali.

There are so many good restaurants around Seminyak! You can literally eat anything really well here. Good Mexican food in Bali? Sure thing! Find the 50 best restaurants in Seminyak according to Honeycomber here.

If you are on a budget, Seminyak is best visited on a day trip by scooter, which is easily rentable in Canggu. If you really do want to stay in Seminyak, I loved my stay in the super affordable 7 Bidadari Hotel Seminyak.

Canggu Restaurants

Canggu is known for being a digital nomad and traveler hub. A few years ago, it used to be a bit of a secret spot in Bali. That time is long gone. As the restaurants change frequently and there are a lot of them, I’m not going to list them up myself. I trust fellow blogger and Belgian, Babs from LesPetitesPestes.com to provide you with the best recommendations around. She has complete and amazing maps you can download from her site. Check her out on Insta to see that she really knows them all.

Canggu Accommodation

As I mentioned before, Canggu isn’t a secret beach anymore. There are plenty of digital nomads and travelers around. That does mean it has a lot of accommodation to choose from. Find my favorites for each budget below:

  • Budget: D’Tegale Homestay: A traditional style homestay with a private room that looks so pretty! It’s only 17 AUD per night for two people which is peanuts to stay in something this gorgeous. It’s constantly rated at exceptional quality as well, so can’t go wrong with this one.
  • Modern: Plawa Bali Guest House: With your own bedroom, view onto the pool and air conditioning, this is your spot to visit if you want a bit more luxury. A modern building with all the modern conveniences at 31AUD per night, this is such good quality for money. Have a look at your own dates to find the exact price on your day and in your currency.
  • Luxury: The Lumbung Wood Villa: A bit further from Canggu and more in the Seminyak area, this place is breathtakingly beautiful for its price point (81AUD)! The features of this accommodation keep going and I would tell you to just have a look.

Day 5-7: Ubud and the rice fields surrounding Ubud

Ubud Activities: Monkey Forest, Temples, Yoga, and Mt Batur

Alright, I hope you’ve enjoyed your time in the ocean during your first few days in Bali. On day 5 to 7 of your 10-day Bali Itinerary, we have Ubud! Ubud is the epicenter of yoga, digital nomads and rice fields. Its small town center is filled to the brim with creative internationals who have found their home abroad here. What should you get up to during your 2-day visit to Ubud? A visit to the Monkey Forest, wander through the bright green rice fields, have an amazing organic brunch and attend a yoga class.

Ubud is also known as the cultural center of Bali and offers many tours that include an introduction into the Balinese culture. See a show with traditional dances and wander around the markets to pick up a traditional souvenir.

Ubud Monkey Forest

Known as one of the most touristy spots in Ubud, the Ubud Monkey Forest is a treat! While there may be a lot of people wandering around in the forest, I still found it amazing too see all these monkeys up and close. These monkeys are the cheekiest monkeys you’ll ever meet, so it’s your job to make sure they cannot steal your stuff. I saw monkeys stealing sunglasses off peoples heads, cameras and even a flip flop that was still on someone’s foot!

I recommend removing all food from your backpacks and packing everything safely away before you head here. Yes, a lot of tourists are feeding the monkeys anything and everything for a good photo. I disagree with this and don’t think you should feed wildlife -ever-. It disturbs their eating patterns and it puts both human and animal in danger. Head out with no food and I promise you, they will still come up close for their photography debut.

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Wander through the Rice Paddies

Ubud is known for its green surroundings. You can take endless hikes through the greenest of green rice paddies. The most famous hike is called Campuhan Ridge Walk and guides you along a beautiful hill with rice paddies on both sides. It is a great way to see a little bit more of the countryside without going far from the city center. If you walk far enough along the ridge, you can relax in the beautiful huts of Karsa Café and talk to some fellow travelers while you’re at it.

If you are looking for a bit more adventure, there are also several waterfalls around Ubud that are visitable by private car or via a tour.

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Karsa Café

The Campuhan Ridge Walk

Hike Mt Batur

Located in the north of the island of Bali, the volcano Batur is located closer to Ubud than the south coast of the island. Therefore a lot of visitors hike the volcano while visiting Ubud. Similar to when hiking Mount Ijen on Java or Mount Kelimutu on Flores, you will depart around 1.30am to reach the summit at sunrise.

Go with a reputable tour to make your life easier and dip in one of the hot springs after. If you are looking at attempting the volcano without a tour, have a read of this fellow travel blogger’s post.

Visit the Ubud Markets

Ubud is the perfect spot to pick up a Bali inspired souvenir. The Ubud Art Market or Pasar Seni Ubud sell everything from paintings to fabrics, clothing and handmade bags. It easily located near the center and allows for hours of browsing.

Visit the temples in and around Ubud

Ubud is filled with temples which should definitely be on your list while visiting Ubud. Many Yogi’s love Ubud and its surroundings for its spirituality, so why not go and experience it.

The lotus pond around Saraswati Temple is probably the most popular one and it admittedly very pretty. The Monkey Forest also has several temples and if you are lucky, you may even catch a ceremony.

The Lotus Pond at Saraswati Temple

Yoga in Ubud

Well-known all around the world as a Yoga destination, Ubud has a large choice of Yoga studios. The most famous Yoga studio is The Yoga Barn, but there are quite a few others to choose from. Read more about a fellow travel bloggers favorite Yoga studio.

Ubud Restaurants

Ubud is known far and wide for its large selection of organic and vegetarian and/or vegan restaurants. Again, I would like to mention the elaborate guide of LesPetitesPestes.com. If you are looking for vegetarian restaurants specifically, have a look at this list.

Relax in your Ubud Accommodation

The best part about Bali is that you can afford to get a room in a gorgeous Hotel or Villa with an infinity pool and enjoy the view of the rice paddies from the water. Don’t make yourself too busy exploring and enjoy your beautiful surroundings as well! Here are a few of my favorites in Ubud for each budget:

  • Ultra Budget (less than 20AUD per night): Dedeane Ubud Guesthouse: pool and new private rooms. This is what a guest said about the guesthouse: “This guesthouse was awesome! The room was super clean and quiet. Loooooved the big bed in there. The staff was nice and helpful. It was easy to move around and come & go as we wished. The pool was a nice extra for us to hang out under the Balinese sun.”
  • Mid-priced
    • Nick’s Pension is a favorite amongst many travelers that head to Ubud. It offers a pool, an airport shuttle, a wellness center, and breakfast included. Located in the midst of greenery, most guests say they would return for their next stay. Prices start around 60AUD but check the exact price for your dates here.
    • Paraiso Cottage Ubud: With an exceptional rating of 9.9, this place is a steal for 59AUD. It’s located a little bit further from the center, hence the cheaper price. It’s basically the perfect spot if you don’t want to spend all your time in the center, but want to relax a bit in a beautiful area.
  • Affordable Luxury: Dedik House: Only in Bali, you can have a private pool in a villa for only 110AUD. I clicked all the filters that I would want to have and I can’t believe it actually exists. Check it out and let me know how it was!
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Day 8: Uluwatu

When you’ve had your fill of rice fields, it’s time to head back to the beaches. Uluwatu is most famous for its surfing. Experienced surfers love these beaches, but it is not the place for a beginner due to the reef along the ocean. This is why we started this 10-day Bali Itinerary with surfing along the sandy beaches of Canggu and Kuta.

If you don’t want to stay in Uluwatu itself, the town is perfectly accessible as a day trip from Canggu as well. I would recommend staying in Uluwatu itself though to properly experience a different vibe.

Uluwatu Activities

As with most surfer towns, Uluwatu is known for being very laid back. Enjoy the beautiful cliff sides and viewpoints, the various beaches including Padang Padang beach which is featured in the blockbuster movie “Eat, Pray, Love” and go to one of the many cliffside bars.

Rock Bar

This Insta-famous bar is part of the AYANA resort, which is one of the most luxurious hotels on Bali. The bar is located in Jimbaran, which is slightly south from the airport and north from Uluwatu. It’s the perfect place to go if you feel like dressing up during your stay in Bali. You might need to expect a bit of a cue to get down to the bar, which is really located on the rocks down the cliffside.

Eat in a Warung

Because Uluwatu is slightly less touristy than the beaches of Seminyak and Canggu, you will find quite a few Warungs. This is the Bahasa word for a local restaurant. For less than a dollar, you can have a full meal or two!

If you are heading to Rock Bar or exploring the Jimbaran beaches, you will pass some on your path. The one we ate at was called “Tasty”, but good luck finding that exact one. Finding good street food is not that hard, just follow these rules and you won’t get sick.

Your traditional Warung

Smelling Durian, so bad!

Uluwatu Temple

Uluwatu temple is a little bit less famous than Tanah Lot temple. It’s right around the corner from Uluwatu so it’s the perfect day 8 activity. It features a bunch of monkeys that live in and around the temples. This photo of swimming monkeys is actually one of my favorite photos I ever took! Just like in the Monkey Forest, the monkeys at Tanah Lot at very cheeky as well. Keep everything very well tucked away to prevent the stealing monkeys to run away with your valuables.

Go to Jimbaran Beach

While you’re exploring the most southern tip of the island of Bali on your motorcycle, pop into Jimbaran beach. A super long beach, it’s a lot quieter than the beaches of Kuta or Canggu. You can also stay in Jimbaran itself.

Uluwatu Accommodation

I didn’t stay in Uluwatu myself during my stay in Bali, but will on my next trip. Have a look on Booking to find your favorite ocean view hotel.

Day 9-10: Gili Islands

On the end of our 10-day itinerary around Bali, we’re leaving the island. What? Yes, it’s time for even more tropical vibes on the Gili Islands!

A little cliche swinging

While the Gili Islands are actually a part of the island Lombok, they are super easily reached by speedboat from Bali. There are three small islands, commonly referred to as Gili T (Gili Trawangan), Gili M (Gili Meno) and Gili Air. I only had 24h on the Gili Islands and found it enough to explore Gili T. You can simply rent a bicycle and ride around the whole island, go snorkeling and take in the vibe.

Cycling is the best way to get around Gili Trawangan

The other two islands, Gili Meno and Gili Air, are known to be a lot more tranquil and more alternative. If you can’t fully let go of the party atmosphere and touristy feel, head to Gili Air. If you want complete isolation (for as far as you can find that on the Gilis), head to Gili Meno.

Getting from one island to the other is quite easy as these islands are on the very well beaten track. Just book a boat and show up. Don’t forget to negotiate when purchasing anything on the Gilis (and on the rest of Bali).

If you want to do something different from the Gilis, you can also easily reach Nusa Penida from Bali.

Gili Trawangan Accommodation

Gili Trawangan is visited by many tourists each year and has plenty of accommodation on offer. We ended staying in an Airbnb related to the owner of the famous La Boheme hostel. We were granted access to the La Boheme hostel and loved it (especially the pancakes!). If I were to go back now, I would do anything to stay at the most beautiful Le Pirate!

Le Pirate Accommodation on Gili Trawangan

Bali Co-Working Spaces

Bali is a popular destination for people that can work remotely. If you also want to get some work done during your time in Bali, there are plenty of spots for that. The more defined hotspots for digital nomads can be found in Canggu and in Ubud. People bounce between their villas, the yoga studios, and their favorite co-working space. Not a bad life, right!

There are so many cafes to choose from as Wifi and Lattes are as widely spread in Bali as the tourists itself, but if you want a list of the best co-working spaces, I enjoyed the list by Honeycombers.

When to visit Bali?

Bali doesn’t have four seasons, but a dry and a wet season. I recommend visiting any tourist destination such as Bali in the shoulder seasons as there will be fewer tourists. The only downside that comes with this tactic is the occasional downpour. If you are traveling to another Indonesian island after Bali, take into account that the seasons are different on each individual island.

  • May to October: This is the dry season in Bali and the height of the tourist season in Bali. The shoulder months May and October that may still have some rain. There are fewer tourists during these two months.
  • November to April: This is the wet season of Bali. Expect showers and plenty of them in the middle of the wet season. You can take your gamble and enjoy lower prices around November and April, but I would aim for early November and late March to April. I visited in March and didn’t experience too much rain.
  • Day of Silence or Nyepi Day: Every year, Bali has one national holiday that shuts the whole island down. The Day of Silence in 2019 was on the 7th of March and will be on the 23rd of March in 2020. You can expect everything to be shut down on the day itself, including the public TV and wifi! That means there is no food available anywhere on the day of silence, so if you do head here during this period, be prepared. The buses stop driving well on time the night before so only travel early during the day and enjoy the parades at night.
Parades during Day of Silence or Nyepi Da on the streets of Bali
Parades during Day of Silence or Nyepi Da on the streets of Bali
The statues that are carried around the streets on Silence Day are consequently burned
The statues that are carried around the streets on Silence Day are consequently burned

How to Get Around Bali?

The best way to get around the southern coast of Bali is by scooter. If you are planning to do a bigger distance such as Canggu to Ubud or to the north of the island, you can get a private car (negotiate for price) or grab a bus.

How to Get to Bali?

Most people fly into Bali via an international flight. If you fly in, start the 10-day Bali Itinerary in Denpasar and are best to move straight to either Uluwatu or Canggu. Another option is that you fly into Java, which is also well connected with international flights. This way you can visit the temples of  Jogyakarta and the volcanoes Mt. Bromo and Mt. Ijen first. Getting to Bali from Java is a piece of cake. Follow my itinerary to Mt. Ijen and then take the ferry across. From there, you can take a bus to either Ubud or the South Coast of Bali.

Keen to explore Indonesia beyond Bali? Make sure to read these articles too!

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links which means that I will earn a small commission if you buy something or book a hotel. This comes at zero extra cost for you and is a way to support me and the blog. Thank you!

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Snorkeling with Seals at Montague Island, NSW, Australia: The most affordable wildlife experience in Australia!

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I first stopped in Narooma on my second trip up from Melbourne to Sydney. Coming into the South Coast, we wanted to check out Australia Rock and had a giggle about Australia’s fondness of unusual landmarks. That’s when I spotted them on the rocks. A whole bunch of seals! Lazing around in the sun, they were having the chillest time. Right then and there I decided I had to come back to Narooma to snorkel with the fur seals at Montague Island!
 
It took me another year and a half to get back down there. By then they were pretty high up on my Australia bucket list, especially because Narooma is so accessible from Sydney! A 5,5h drive south from Sydney, my dream of swimming with the seals off the coast of Narooma would finally come through!
 
Driving into Narooma, the vivid turquoise water caught our eye first. My friend Elly, a local, remarked how amazing it always is here. Perfect blues that take your breath away and wildlife to boot! Narooma draws in all kinds of wildlife. A quick visit to the harbor will introduce you to the local fur seal, a few massive stingrays, and the pelicans. All waiting for the fishermen to start cleaning their fish. I couldn’t wait to jump in the water and go snorkeling with the seals lounging in the area!
 

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Snorkeling with seals at Montague Island

I can’t say I’ve been more excited about anything in a while and I have to admit that I live a pretty good life here in Australia. Getting up close with seals in the wild is so special to me.
Underwater Safaris picked us up from the small harbor in Narooma. We set off through the choppy waters to Montague Island with not much more than a wetsuit on and a smile on our face. Only 7km from shore, the trip doesn’t take very long but don’t expect to get here without an island charter.

You see, the thing about seals is that you smell them before you actually see them. While they are fun as hell to swim with, their odor is not the best one. We were the only boat heading into a small cove where Francois, our skipper, had told us the seals were particularly relaxed. It was also a popular spot for mums to raise their little pups. I was really hoping there would be pups in the area as January is prime time for them.

Fur Seals: puppies of the ocean

It was time to go snorkeling with the seals! Finally!
 
Slowly but surely, I had the first seal in the water with me. Two jumped in to figure out what kind of a weird animal I was and started twirling around me. I was super careful to let the seal come to me and tried to entertain it by duck diving myself. It seemed to work and I had two gorgeous seals playing all around me. I am always so amazed when a wild animal chooses to interact with me (without any feeding of any kind) and this was no exception. I love it!
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Where to find the seal pups?

We were told that the seal pups would be hiding in the more sheltered parts around the cove. They asked us to not go see them all at once and to give them the space they deserved. Even though they are super cute little critters, you need to remember that they are still wild animals. While curious, you need to keep your distance and let the animals come to you. If they are not coming, it means they don’t want to and its best to leave them alone.
 
The pups are the most curious of all the seals. They are observing you just as much as you are observing them. Jumping in the water to check you out and to swim off just as fast as they came while mum watches over them. And oh boy, are they cute! I just can’t get over it!

We didn’t want to crowd the babies too much and decided to explore the rest of the cove. It didn’t take long before we had a few other adult seals frolicking around us. The second you decide to chase one, they are off as fast and you can push the button on your camera! Seals are notorious for teasing sharks because they know they are faster, so don’t even bother trying to catch up with one!

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Falling in love with my spirit animal

My friend Elly was a pro at finding the most playful seals and I soon started following her around like a puppy. We ended up having another playful encounter with two other babies. I had not seen them coming due to the crashing waves, but soon one popped up right on my chest. The wave had pushed this curious creature towards me and while I squealed a little, the pup made the exact same sound. Looking at my photos after, I noticed they were super close to me the whole time! Talk about the best experience ever!

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Baby seals swimming super close to me!
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The fast and the playful: the adult seals

When we were used to being in the water, we headed around the corner to the open ocean. It was time to snorkel with the bigger and faster seals. In large groups, they were jumping in and out of the water all around the boat and it didn’t take long before I decided to jump in. The water was a lot murkier and we were warned to avoid the bluebottle jellyfish that were in the water. They are not deadly, but give you a very painful sting!
snorkeling-with-seals-montague-island-narooma-nsw-australia
snorkeling-with-seals-montague-island-narooma-nsw-australia 

Seals were everywhere! The bigger ones were playing with each other and checking us out while swimming faster than I could ever imagine. There was a large group of them showcasing the weirdest behavior as well. Floating on the water with a flipper in the air. While super weird looking, this is how they cool off. Apparently, the local wildlife rescue groups get plenty of messages from locals worried that the seal is sick while showcasing this behavior. Go figure! Because they are resting, it is advised to leave these seals alone and snorkel with the ones that are already playing around.

 snorkeling-with-seals-montague-island-narooma-nsw-australia
snorkeling-with-seals-montague-island-narooma-nsw-australia

Have a look at the video below to see how fast they actually swim!

What kind of Fur Seals live on Montague Island?

Due to the absence of humanity and predators and the abundance of fish and penguins surrounding the island, fur seals absolutely love Montague island. It is a very easy life for them here and they aren’t planning on leaving any time soon.
 
The rocks and waters around the island are popular with Australian fur seals and New Zealand fur seals. During the peak season (winter and spring) the island is home to over 1000 seals. Some seals are their lazy selves and they just stick around all year round.
 
New Zealand fur seals are slightly smaller and darker than their Australian counterparts. Their behavior is the easiest indicator to tell them apart. Australian fur seals love to lounge and move around the island in a group while the New Zealand fur seals are loners.
 

What wildlife can you spot at Montague island?

Can you see Whales at Montague Island?

Yes! You might even be so lucky to see whales on the way to the seals! Humpback whales and Southern Right Whales pass Montague Island on their way south to Antartica during spring. While winter is widely known to be whale watching in Australia, if you want to see them around this area, spring will be your go-to time. Most tour operators will offer whale tours during the season.
 
Killer Whales might pass by the island as well looking for a feed, but this is much rarer. If you’re really really lucky, you may spot a Mola Mola, a gigantic fish also known as an Ocean Sunfish. Knowing that these fish are there all year round makes me want to go back asap!
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One of the humpback whales that passed the Australian coastline in Exmouth on the west coast

Penguins

Gosh, we got so lucky on this tour! On the way back, Francois made a sudden stop to the boat. It was a group of Little Penguins swimming past us! While the whole boat was ecstatic about this chance encounter, my trusty fellow adventurer Lindsay was a little bit less happy about this as the sudden stop catapulted her seasickness to a climax. We felt so bad for her!
 
While called Little Penguins, they are in fact that, very little. A massive colony of 8.000 Little Pinguins lives on the island and you can see their nest from the boat. As humans were not to the habitat on the island 100 years ago, they are now offering a helping hand to these cute little animals by providing man-made nests. The nests are clearly marked to aid in the penguins’ protection. During the day, the parents will go out to fish and they will only return to shore around dusk to feed their babies. If you are interested, there are also a few tours offered that allow you to spot these returning penguins.

Dolphins

While the seals and the whales take most of the glory in Narooma, dolphins are often sighted swimming next to the boats. There are no tours offering to swim with the dolphins in this area (but you can swim with dolphins in New Zealand!). Maybe because they like boats better than humans. We are not fast enough to play with after all!

Birdlife

If you’re into birds (apart from the penguins mentioned above), Montague island will be your idea of heaven! Birds love the island for the same reason the seals love the island: the absence of predators. The island is populated by Shearwaters, Raptors, Crested terns and other smaller birds. I’m not the biggest bird watcher, so have a read here if you’re interested.

Why Plastic is a problem on Montague Island as well

The one bird that I did want to mention is the Shearwaters. Some of you may know them, if only from the pictures of the dead birds with a stomach full of plastic. The birds are notorious for confusing floating plastic with food and then feeding it to their babies. This problem is wildly known on Montague island with thousands of birds die from starvation because the plastic is taking up all the space in their stomach. Referred to by scientists as a “ticking timebomb”, the plastic in the ocean is a massive problem for these birds. One more reason to watch out how much plastic you are using in your daily life!
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Scientists removing plastic from a young Shearwaters bird on Lord Howe Island, an island that has the same problem as Montague Island (photo)

Scientists refer to Shearwaters and a ticking timebomb because they collect so much plastic from the ocean. They feed this to their babies, slowly but surely starving them to death.

What about sharks around Montague Island?

The locals talk a lot about the sharks surrounding the island and they are not a fan of jumping in the water! While seals can be shark food, sharks aren’t present in the area on a regular basis.
 
The ocean is of course still the wilderness and that doesn’t mean that there is zero record of sharks in the area. The only recorded death by a predator was by a group of Killer Whales who also pass by the island on a yearly basis. Most deaths of seals, however, are by fishing waste that is floating around in the ocean. This includes hooks, rope from fishing nets and floating trawler nets. As per usual, humans are the biggest killer in the area.
 
That’s it for the so-called dangerous sharks! A shark you will want to see at Montague Island is the Grey Nurse Shark. They are absolutely harmless, even though they look like the ‘real deal’. If you’re a scuba diver, you can book in a dive with them as well.
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Getting to Montague Island & What to Book?

Which Montague Island tour should you choose?

We approached Underwater Safaris in Narooma and they kindly invited us on board. The company seemed to have a wealth of knowledge of the area solely focus on wildlife tours (rather than fishing tours).  Francois, the skipper of Underwater Safaris, was the friendliest guy and knows so much about the island, the seals and the area. Plus they scored major plus points when they turned the boat around to catch a stray buoy that was polluting the ocean.

How much does a tour to Montague Island cost?

Seal tours in Narooma are the most affordable wildlife experience you can buy in Australia (as far as I know anyway). Usually, any tour that involves a boat is very expensive, but Narooma seems to be the exception.
I assume the tour can stay affordable because Montague Island is close by land and you’re only out of the harbor for three or so hours. Most tours will cost around $100, depending on whether you need to hire a wetsuit.
I don’t recommend doing this trip without a wetsuit and if you don’t have one of your own, expect to spend an extra $15 for the hire of one. Underwater Safaris will charge your $75 to go snorkeling with the seals and $80 if you want to do a single dive. They also offer PADI courses at a very reasonable rate, check out their other offers here.

Fun Facts about Montague Island

A Quick History of Montague Island

Montague Island, or Barunguba as the local indigenous tribe would call it, has quite the history. It used to be (and still is) an important site for indigenous culture and had an active lighthouse for 125 years as well. European settlers inhabited the island surrounding the lighthouse for over 100 years. It wasn’t an easy life on the island. They had to fend for themselves and kept goats and rabbits on their grounds to feed themselves. These introduced animals slowly but surely destroyed the landscape on the island. At the same time, the island was a popular site for seal hunting and fishing as wildlife was abundant around the island.
After more than 200 years of misuse, the landscape was destroyed and the wildlife decreased significantly.  In 1990 the island was finally protected and the wildlife returned to live in abundance. While the landscape of Montague island will never restore to its original state, the protection was able to save the location as a haven for a variety of birds, fish and, of course, the seal population.

Can you go onto Montague Island?

As it is a protected island, the only way to onto Montague island is by booking a tour. You cannot go on land by yourself. Book a walking tour through NSW National Parks website or in the Narooma visitor center. There is even accommodation on Montague Island as you can book the lighthouse if you wish to experience a night on the island.
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Practical tips for your roadtrip to Narooma

When do you want to go to Montague Island?

Spring and beginning of summer is the best time of year to visit Montague island. The water is warmer and the seals are around. If you want to see Humpback Whales, head over at the beginning of spring. If your priority is seeing those cute fur seal pups, go in January or February. We went over for the long Australia day weekend on the 26th of January.

How to get to Narooma and Montague Island?

Narooma is on the south coast of New South Wales. It is a not so short 5,5h drive from Sydney and about 3h from Canberra. This means that you can drive up and down in one day if you are very determined. I would highly recommend as the perfect long weekend away from Sydney! If you are driving up the south coast from Melbourne, plan an overnight stop.
 
To get from Narooma to Montague Island you will need to book one of the island charters that operate in the area. There are no roads that lead to Montague Island.

It’s about a 5.5h hour roadtrip from Sydney to Narooma

If you are looking for a quick stop between Sydney and Narooma, I can highly recommend getting a coffee in Native in Ulladulla.

Narooma Accommodation

I usually prefer camping while roadtrip up and down the east coast. Narooma has several campsites available as do most Australian beach towns. My personal preference would go to Surf Beach Holiday Park as they have cabins right on the water with views to die for!  If you do not wish to camp, the Narooma Golfers Lodge for around 130AUD per night and Amooran Oceanside Apartments and Motel for around 128AUD per night. Click through on the names of the accommodation for exact prices.

Another great option is staying outside of Narooma and heading further south to the beautiful beach town Bermagui. It’s one of those iconic small towns that really takes you out of the city’s business. There is accommodation in the town, but not too much, so book in advance. It’s about a 30-minute drive from Narooma. You can also have a look on the map below to book one of the great Airbnb’s in the area!

 

 
Looking for more scuba diving and snorkeling adventures in Australia?
– Go scuba diving with Grey Nurse Sharks at the South West Rocks Dive
– Check out our series on The Great Barrier Reef
 
Disclaimer: This snorkel trip was offered to me by the lovely people at Underwater Safaris. Thank you so much, Francois and Clover for having us. All opinions on this article are my own and are not influenced by the fact that this trip was complimentary. Any accommodation booked through this article will provide me with a small commission. 

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