Bali is one of the world’s favorite tourist destinations and is easily Indonesia’s main holiday spot. It is part of the Lesser Sunda Islands and lies in between East Java and West Nusa Tenggara, roughly in the middle of the Indonesian archipelago.
The beaches are Bali’s main asset for most tourists, who generally head for the south of the island where Kuta, Sanur, Jimbaran, and Nusa Dua beaches reside. Kuta is the main beach destination in Bali and comes with great surf and a buzzing nightlife. Here is where you’ll find the bulk of the island’s hotels, restaurants, bars and clubs.
Sanur Beach is across the other side of the headland and is quieter and more laid-back with fewer resorts and a less attractive beach, while Jimbaran and Nusa Dua are quieter still and good for families and high-end travelers
Leisure options abound in Bali, with water sports being the main activity. Jet-skis and surfboards throng Kuta Beach, while some fantastic volcano trekking, mountain biking, and golfing can be found in the interior of the island. Sanur has milder surf than Kuta, Jimbaran Bay sublime sunsets, and all have good eateries.
Denpasar, just north of the island’s main beaches, is the Balinese capital and also resides in the south, not far from Kuta and Sanur beaches. The airport is near to Denpasar, making getting in and out easy. The large, dense capital has a huge range of markets, including the bustling Pasar Badung traditional market and the Bird Market, while Pura Jagatnatha temple and the Bali Provincial State Museum showcase Balinese culture.
Not far north of Denpasar is the arts and crafts town of Ubud, with its superb mountain setting and huge range of sights. There are loads of nice temples here as well as the home of the Balinese royal family, while nearby Bedugul is home to the fantastic Bali Handara Kosaido Golf and Country Club. Mount Agung is farther north and comes with good hiking, unbeatable views, and the high profile Mother Temple.
The Bali Elephant Safari Park in Desa Taro jungle is also in this region and on the north shore Lovina has many hot springs and spas at Air Panjar. Aside from spas, this nice, laid-back resort on the north coast is known for its black volcanic sand beaches, coral reefs and fewer crowds. Nearby Lovina Beach has some pretty good snorkeling and diving.
There’s always some festival or event occurring in Bali due to the thousands of temples and the island’s deep-rooted culture including Galungan, a 10-day religious festival which celebrates the death of the Mayadenawa with lots of activities in the streets of Denpasar and other prominent towns. The last day, known as Kuningan, is the best.
Don’t miss the Bali Bomb monument located on Jalan Legian in Kuta - a reminder of the 202 victims of the Bali bomb attack in October 2002.
Side trips from Bali include trips to the Gili Islands; accessed by ferry, these little islands lie off the coast of neighboring Lombok Island and are particularly popular with backpackers and day-trippers. Or you could check out the Ijen Plateau in East Java. This huge plateau lies across from Bali and has some fine trekking and view points.
Getting There & Away
Ngurah Rai International Airport is 13kms southwest of Denpasar and not far from Kuta. It receives direct flights from all over Asia, including from Singapore, Bangkok, and Tokyo, where there are connections to North American and European cities. You can fly direct to Bali from some Australian cities. A busy ferry service links the east coast of East Java with Bali, followed by a 100km bus journey to Denpasar.