Balinese fruits are a feast for the eyes and taste buds, with their striking (sometimes unusual) textures, colours, shapes and sizes. Although several types share many resemblances with those that you find in other places across Southeast Asia, some varieties can only be found here in Bali. This small island has different terrains that serve as favourable growing places for such fruits. Take the Balinese salak, for example, an odd-looking but delicious fruit that’s widely grown in the eastern Bali village of Sibetan, Karangasem regency.
The island’s volcanic highlands allow fertile plains and village plantations to produce a bounty of these exotic and tasty delights. Make most out of your holiday in Bali by pleasing your senses – discover and try as many Balinese fruits as you can. Here is our list of tropical and exotic fruits to try in Bali. And if you dare, check out how the locals go further with their beloved fruits by adding them as main ingredients in exotic salads and dishes.
- Bali Hai Sunset Dinner Cruise
- Bathe & Breakfast with the Elephants
- Royal Mengwi Temple, Monkey Forest & Tanah Lot Excursion
- Quad or Buggy Driving Adventure & Tubing Excursion
- Romantic Aristocat Evening Cruise with 5-Course Dinner
- Bali White Water Rafting at Telaga Waja River
- Fast-Track Waterbom Bali Admission
- Lembongan Island Leisure Day Trip
- Private East Coast Tour
- Highlights Of Bali Full-Day Tour
Durian is the fruit most locals love and most foreigners hate. Like the majority of unusual things, it’s an acquired taste. There are 3 types of people when it comes to durian: die-hard lovers, haters, and those who love the taste but can’t bear the smell.
The powerful aroma has led to the fruit being banned from hotels and planes, and locals know that driving some home from a market or roadside stall will have their car reeking of durian for a week. Opening up one of these heavily spiked fruits requires care and experience – a roadside vendor will scan for a faint line to position his blade then crack it open to reveal the fleshy pods, usually white to deep yellow. For some, the notorious smell is either invigorating, sweet or bearable, while many others may find it putrid or rotten.
Those who have travelled to other Southeast Asian countries may have already come across mangosteens. The round, apple-sized and purple fruit is easily opened by pressing between your palms, though be careful as the rind exudes a reddish sap that can stain clothes. The reddish stains on your palms resemble blood at a glance, which is why its nickname is the ‘blood fruit’.
While the white inner flesh is the prize, you can dry up the rinds and make them into health teas. Mangosteen is also used in local traditional medicine to alleviate skin and digestive problems. The juicy flesh sections contain slightly fibrous and inedible seeds, and most will agree that one is never enough. The evergreen trees are largely grown in the highland regions of Tabanan and the Bangli regency.
This odd-looking fruit deserves its moniker, with skin resembling tiny snake scales and a colour that ranges from reddish to dark brown, and Snakeskin fruits grow in clusters on very spiny palm-like trees – not a pleasant or inviting sight. But once harvested, salak fruits are smooth and tempting. The fruit has a pointed top that eases squeezing and is peeled by hand.
After revealing the 3 pale yellow lobes, you still need to rub off a thin layer of silky membrane before enjoying the moist and crunchy treat. The largest lobe contains a hard black seed – hazardous to your teeth. A snakeskin fruit tastes sweet with a slightly starchy consistency, a mix between pineapple and Royal Gala apples.
Rambutan is straightforwardly named, meaning ‘hairy’ in the local language. They grow in clumps on trees that are commonly grown in village backyards in Bali’s rural areas. Bright red when ripe, they reveal a soft and cloudy white flesh with oval seeds. Over a dozen types of rambutan are available, from long-haired types with very juicy flesh to dry-looking and short-haired ones that are smaller, rounder and with lesser moist content.
You’ll know you are enjoying top-quality rambutan whenever the skin is easily opened. The flesh is sweet and succulent and easily separates from the seed. When buying a bunch of rambutan from a traditional roadside fruit vendor, be cautious of black ants that naturally favour the fruit and tree’s sap – they cling on the leaves and fruit’s hairs even after it's washed.
Boni is a type of wild berry that can be found in fruit markets and warungs island-wide. Grown on shrub-like trees, the buah buni bear clustering bunches of small and round berries in white, reddish and black. With a taste ranging from biting sour to sweet, buni can be enjoyed as it is but locals are fond of preparing it as a rujak (salad mix) with a blend of sugar, chilli, shrimp paste and salt. High in vitamin C, it's also used as a local remedy for hypertension.
Soursop is widely grown along with papayas and bananas in villagers’ backyards. It’s a delightful treat during the summer – often blended with sugar syrup as refreshing drinks. When eaten as it is, its sourness is obvious. Locals look for the fruit whenever they suffer from mouth ulcers. Very soft when ripe, the green skin is easily pinched and peeled away by hand, or sliced with a knife to reveal its aromatic, pulpy and juicy flesh.
Enjoying soursop with your hands can be a messy task – it's best to slice it open and dig in with a knife and fork. Discard the small and oval black seeds. A distant cousin to the soursop that you may also find widely sold in Bali’s fruit markets, such as Badung and Kumbasari in Denpasar, is the custard apple, locally known as silik. Smaller and rounder, the size of an apple, the flesh is similarly tender but tastes much sweeter.
The Java plum is a seasonal fruit, widely grown in the southern Bukit region, and sold in warungs and roadside stalls, and alternatively prepared with a chilli mix. The fruit grows on large trees with dense foliage, and are smooth and shiny, oval-shaped the size of a date. Young green fruit turns pink and then purplish to black when ripe. The taste ranges from sweet to sour.
Part of the fun in enjoying Java plum is, after some bites and chews, you can check your tongue in a mirror – it will be slightly purple. The taste will also linger in your mouth for a while after enjoying even just a little amount. This is perhaps one of the reasons the locals tend to enjoy anything originally sweet and sour with the typical rujak (salad) mix of shrimp paste, salt, sugar and chilli.
Orange and yellow coconut'Nyuh Gading'
In Bali, orange and yellow coconuts are grown for their use in ceremonial purposes. On the culinary side, while much smaller than the common green coconut, young coconuts of the orange variety offer a much tastier treat – the flesh is thinner and tender, and its water is more flavoursome. While not widely sold in tourist areas, you can find them in villages and rural areas where roadside stalls selling flowers usually sell them for ceremonial purposes.
If you find a tree bearing these orange coconuts in your hotel’s grounds, kindly ask the staff if you can try one. Some hotels in Lovina, North Bali promote local fruits growing on their property’s premises, which can be a fun experience.
The Ambarella fruit grows on low trees, and is green in colour when ripe. Its flesh is crunchy and a little sour, and is high in vitamin C. It's one of the favourite naturally sour fruits that go with shrimp paste, forming a basic rujak kedondong. The fruit can also be pickled. Preferably peeled and sliced before eaten raw, ambarella contains a spiny seed that you should avoid getting in between your teeth.
Warungs (traditional roadside snack stalls) selling rujak will almost always have ambarella among their stock of fruits. Widely available in traditional markets and supermarkets, the locals believe that eating ambarella improves the digestive system and can help cure anaemia.
Pomelo is a backyard-grown fruit that’s widely sold in traditional markets and supermarkets. This large citrus fruit comes in 2 general types based on the colour of the flesh, namely white and pink. The rind is usually thick and spongy. Getting out the lobes in a single piece can be a challenge as the small pulps are brittle and break off easily. It’s quite juicy after you crunch a mouthful of the pulp, which tastes sweet and sometimes bitter (usually the trait of the pink varieties).
Locals believe that consuming pomelo fruits can cure a hangover. The thick and spongy rinds shouldn’t be wasted – they're often burnt to act as a natural mosquito repellent.