The word ‘paradise’ is bandied around a lot in relation to Bali, but that’s not without reason. Its friendly and hospitable people are eager to share their island oasis with you. Home to stunning beaches, colourful coral reefs, iconic rice paddies and lush volcanic mountains, Bali is also studded with unique religious sites including the famous cliffside Uluwatu Temple. Offering plenty of affordable day spas, Bali is also a popular destination for meditation and yoga retreats.
Located in the Indonesian archipelago approximately 1.5 miles from the eastern tip of Java, Bali is an exotic, tropical island west of the island of Lombok. Measuring just 90 miles long and 50 miles wide, Bali is a friendly paradise that attracts 80 per cent of Indonesia’s international visitors. Known for its spectacular beaches, fantastic diving and outstanding surfing, Bali also offers bargain shopping, vibrant nightlife and a rich and visually stunning culture that is steeped in spirituality.
Often referred to as the ‘Island of the Gods’, Bali has a rich and diverse culture which is evident in all aspects of daily life on the island. No matter where you go, exquisite offerings of colourful, fragrant flower petals are everywhere. Traditional, ethereal dance and music performances can be found island-wide and depending on when you visit, you may even be lucky enough to witness a procession of locals in celebration dress marching to one of their temple ceremonies, shutting down main roads for their ritual.
The landscapes of Bali vary as much as the regions themselves, with lush hills and mountains giving way to rugged coastlines which transform into sandy beaches before verdant rice paddies takeover where barren volcanic hillsides end. The waters that surround the island aren’t short of magic either, with Bali known for its world-class surfing and diving. In fact, part of the Coral Triangle, Bali is situated within an area of the highest marine biodiversity, with more than 500 reef building coral species. For comparison, that’s roughly 7 times more than in the entire Caribbean.
Consistently winning travel awards, Bali is one of the most popular island destinations in the world. Featuring a huge range of archaeological, historical and cultural attractions, Bali appeals to an exceptionally broad range of visitors, offering something for backpackers all the way through to the rich and famous. Of course this popularity comes with a flipside – many places in the south of the island, particularly in Kuta, have become congested with tourists and offer less of the naturally spectacular peace and quiet of other parts of the island. However Bali manages to retain its charm and offers experiences for everyone.
In the south, the beachside town of Kuta is a tourist hot spot with bargain shopping and lots of rowdy bars and nightclubs – perfect if you’re after a party in the sand. The resort towns of Seminyak, Nusa Dua and Sanur are popular for those watching to take things down a notch, but still enjoy the convenience of being close to the party action if they feel up to it. Leave the chaos of Kuta behind for a more genuine and traditional Balinese experience that offers luxury in Seminyak, the perfect place to chill out in Nusa Lembongan or a family-friendly experience in Sanur. To really connect with the heart of Bali, head to Ubud in the centre of the island where stunning rice fields and ancient monuments meet the spirit and culture of Bali.
If you would prefer to avoid the tourist crowds during your visit, keep in mind that August and September are some of the busiest times in Bali, along with the Christmas and New Year period. As a popular vacation destination for Australians, Bali can also get busy during early April, late June and late September during Australian school breaks. If you’re able to plan your vacation around these peak periods, you’ll enjoy a surprisingly quiet and much more peaceful atmosphere to explore the island at your leisure.