Canoeing on a Holy Lake in Bali

temple lake batur

I’ve never been canoeing.

It doesn’t look too hard though, right? You simply sit in a little boat with a stick in your hands and wave it about every now and then.


When I found out it was possible to canoe on the holy lake in Bali, I excitedly booked a half-day tour with visions of me powering around the 4000 acre lake within minutes. My morning exercise regime of five push-ups for the past two weeks had given me the upper body strength required to impress all who would be by the lake that day.

Like many mornings in Ubud, Dave and I awoke to the deafening sound of a far too early alarm clock and the steady stream of raindrops beating down on our roof.

I once again I found myself crossing my fingers and praying we’d receive a phone call cancelling the trip.

This wasn’t the case though: we were powering through and would spend our two hour drive to Lake Batur silently praying that the rain would soon pass.

Fortunately, it did. For a few minutes. Still, at least it gave us the chance to take some photos of the gorgeous rice paddies.

rice paddies in balinese countryside

We were told that the views coming up to and driving down the mountains would be spectacular but the storms and thick rain clouds made it near impossible to make out, unfortunately.

There had been an unusual amount of heavy rain for this time of year and because of this the level of the lake had risen by two metres over the past month. This became obvious to us when we reached the lake and noticed the farmers wading knee-deep in amongst their drowning crops.

mount batur bali

Finishing off our delicious breakfast of banana pancakes, I was half-excited and half-apprehensive to see the rain easing by the minute and the sun breaking through the clouds.

We would be able to go canoeing after all!

This, however, was not as easy as it sounds.

First, we would have to get to the lake – something which ended up being a lot more difficult than I had anticipated.

Gingerly lifting our canoe onto our heads, Dave led the way along the wet, muddy footpath to the lake. With flashbacks to my cycling incident, I gripped the canoe tighter and focused on trying to firmly place my feet on flat, dry patches of ground that didn’t actually exist.

I was certain I was going to fall.

We struggled to turn a corner with Dave’s lack of awareness of the fact that I was holding the canoe too causing me to nearly be thrown into a field on several occasions.

Spotting the lake just a few metres infront of us, I let out an audible sigh of relief that was quickly replaced with a scream as Dave discovered a dry bit of land and lept forward, forgetting I was still trying to navigate my way through the thick, slimy mud.

Somehow I managed to keep my balance and stay upright and we had made it to the lake! 

The trauma wasn’t over yet though – due to the flooding, we now had to wade through the waterlogged cornfields and crops before attempting to climb into the canoe.

canoeing on lake batur

With all the grace of a toddler icing a cake with a shovel, I somehow managed to scramble into it without toppling out the other side and the violent rocking a few minutes later let me know that Dave was safely inside too.

As we started to float off towards the middle of the lake, the confidence I once possessed when I booked the trip instantly disappeared. As I looked down at the paddle in my hand, I started to freak out, having no idea how I was supposed to use it.

I spent the first five minutes in the water allowing Dave to paddle around while I pretended I had more important things to do, such as taking photos, breathing and, um, pretending to tie the shoelaces of my flipflops.

Our guides hadn’t noticed my lack of participation and clearly thought I had a lot of talent at canoeing as we were informed that Dave and I were both skilled enough to paddle off and explore the lake on our own.

temple lake batur

As we slowly drifted away from the group, and I no longer had anyone to embarrass myself in front of, I tentatively dipped my paddle into the water and attempted to propel myself forwards. Despite chucking half the lake into Dave’s face, we actually moved forward!

Hey, this canoeing thing is actually surprisingly fun!

I’m good at this!

As I became more and more confident with my paddle, I couldn’t wipe the grin off my face as we floated around the lake, exploring the nearby forests, mountains and temples from the water’s edge.

Despite the grey clouds and and strong winds, I loved seeing Bali from a completely different perspective. I most enjoyed our time on the lake when we stopped paddling and floated around for a while, admiring the scenery.

canoeing on lake batur

After two hours of fun on the lake, we noticed the ever-darkening storm clouds in the distance increasing in size and getting closer with each passing second and decided to head back to shore while it was still dry.

What looked like a distance of around 50 metres turned out to take a good 30 minutes of rowing to get there. Not knowing when the next time I’d get to be in a canoe would be, I decided to give it my all and offered to let Dave rest while I took the canoe all the way back.

Paddling as hard as I could, I found my rhythm within seconds and not even the cries and yells from Dave as I threw water in his face could stop me from manically powering ahead.

I think he was extremely glad when we eventually got back to land.

mount batur bali canoeing lake

Our canoe experience was finished off with lunch – a delicious fish that had been caught in the lake that very morning!

As we sat down to eat, the rains came in again and we realised just how lucky we had been to have had a completely dry two hours on the lake. Despite the rubbish weather, I still had a great time learning how to canoe. I know that had I visited during the dry season it would have been an even more enjoyable experience.

If you’re ever in Bali and are looking to spend a morning doing something a little more unusual then I’d highly recommend canoeing on Lake Batur (as long as it’s not during the rainy season!)

Disclaimer: I received a discounted canoe ride on the lake from C-Bali tours. All opinions are, as always, my own! 

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🚴🏼‍♀️ That Time I Fell in a Rice Paddy


  1. D.J. - The World of Deej
    June 4, 2012

    What an awesome day…I’ve only gone canoeing a few times, and it is seriously hard work!

    • June 7, 2012

      I KNOW! So much harder than it looks! :)

  2. George
    June 4, 2012

    Sounds brilliant. I have only been canoeing once, suffice to say I was absolutely pants at it. Glad to see you had a lovely day though x

    • June 7, 2012

      Yuup, me too! :) It was fun when I could just sit there and nap while Dave did all the work! ;)

  3. Waegook Tom
    June 5, 2012

    “With all the grace of a toddler icing a cake with a shovel” HAHAHAHA!

    I feel your canoeing experience would be similar to mine Lauren, except I’d capsize and die.

    Glad you and Dave had fun. Also, flip-flops with shoelaces – you should patent that. You’d make millions.

    • June 7, 2012

      I’m so amazed I didn’t capsize!

  4. Lindsey
    June 5, 2012

    Hahahaha poor Dave. Sounds like you had fun though!

    • June 7, 2012

      It was fun!

  5. Arjun
    June 5, 2012

    I had tried out canoeing near an island around Phuket!! Lot of fun, but negotiating canoe traffic was a tough task!! Glad you had fun!! Keep chucking water off the lakes..

    • June 7, 2012

      Hahaha, fortunately there were only 3 canoes on the water! ;)

  6. June 5, 2012

    it is a fun story, Lauren!
    pure Dave :)

    • June 7, 2012

      He loves it.

  7. Sky
    June 5, 2012

    I must say that you’re much braver than I am! The idea of flipping and drowning terrifies me so I avoid kayaks and canoes at all costs. Glad you had another fun adventure, though! :)

    • June 7, 2012

      Hahahaha, I was pretty scared of that, but we had life jackets so no drowning :)