Bali has it all. The island is a stunning mix of palm fringed beaches, lush jungles, stunning mountains with hidden waterfalls and local villages set amidst rice paddies.
The island boasts a lot of history and culture and boasts some amazing temples and lots of festivals and cultural events. It is also a sports lovers paradise with some of the Worlds best water sports, particularly surfing. There are also lots of fun activities away from the water, from mountain biking through the lush interiors to hiking up live volcanoes. It also has some of the World most spectacular luxury hotels.
The first thing you think of when someone mentions Bali is probably the beaches. The island is surrounded by some a the best beaches in the World and is one of the most popular destinations for surfers.
The best beaches tend to be in the South of the island around the main resorts of Kuta, Sanur and Nusa Dua and around the Bukit peninsula. Although the more adventurous visitors can seek out the remote and secluded beaches dotted around the island.
Kuta and Legian beaches offer miles of soft sand and are popular with the young and young at heart. These are the busiest beaches on the island and have plenty going on. There are some great surf school here as the conditions are great for beginners.
Just up the road is Seminyak beach which has a slightly more upmarket and hedonistic feel, with cool beach clubs and luxury hotels with an Ibiza style vibe.
For the most spectacular beaches head away from the crowds. Balangan beach down on the Bukit peninsula, with it’s soft white sands surrounded by steep cliffs is one of the best. The Ulluwatu region also has Padang Padang beach with its white sands and dramatic rock formations.
Nusa Penida has some incredible beaches and dramatic scenery of steep high cliffs, white sands and deep blue seas. Probably one of the most instagrammed places on Earth.
White Sand beach as it’s name suggests is a stunning sandy beach with crystal clear waters. It’s a fairly remote one though on the East Coast of Bali so great if you like peace and quite. It is also one of the very few beaches around here that don’t have black volcanic sand.
KUTA / LEGIAN
Kuta is joined to Legian and they combined to make the islands busiest resort. Youngsters come here to party in the numerous bars and nightclubs. Then hire a board or join a surf school on the long sandy beach to shake off the hangovers. There are a huge number of great value hotels but if you want peace and quiet think again.
Seminyak is just up the road is Seminyak, which albeit similar to Kuta has a more upmarket feel. The bars and restaurants are a little more refined and there is a great selection of luxury hotels and villas. There is a really cool beach club vibe here.
Nusa Dua is an upmarket resort of large luxury beachfront hotels. It is great for people looking for larger resort style luxury hotels and great beaches. Families are well catered for with family friendly hotels with lots of facilities and much safer waters.
Sanur is another family favourite. The lovely sandy beaches are protected by reefs and so offer safe swimming. This is the islands original tourist resort and has a wide range of restaurants and bars and plenty going on in the daytime and at night. This is also a great place if you are looking to visit Nusa Lembogan islands.
Jimbaran is an old fishing village on an amazing beach that is now home to some of Bali’s best luxury hotels and a great place to watch the sun go down in one of the top quality restaurants. The resort has a refined but relaxed feel
COUNTRYSIDE / MOUNTAINS
Bali is a truly stunning island with a diverse landscape. As well as the beautiful coastline and beaches they island also boasts some impressive mountains, live volcanoes and lush jungles and rice paddies.
A trip to Ubud should be on everyone’s itinerary. You can get to Ubud from the coastal resorts for a day trip (it is an hours drive from Kuta) but I really recommend staying at least a couple of nights.
Ubud is a place like no other. It is rich in Balinese history and culture and sits surrounded by lush jungle covered hills and valleys. It is the island centre of traditional arts, crafts and culture where you can explore historic temples, craft shops or feed the wild moneys in the ‘Monkey Forest. It is also home to some of the most stunning spa hotels in the World where you can enjoy stunning jungle views from your private pool. A lot of people who visit Bali will split there stay between a beach hotel and one of Ubud’s stunning jungle spa lodges, to get the most out of their Bali visit.
The amazing rice fields of Tabanan are well worth a visit. Rolling hills and steep terraced rice paddies of emerald green make this a beautiful region. You can join a trek or bike round and explore the area, visit traditional villages and see the local farmers at work.
Mount Batur is easily one the most awe inspiring sight on the island. From high on the ridge you look down upon a huge ancient volcano crater that house a cast lake and another live volcano. It really is quite a site. Tourist come here to trek up the live volcano in the dark so they can watch the sunrise from the top. It is a hard hike up but well worth it for the incredible (and almost spiritual) views at the top.
If you like waterfalls Bali has plenty. The best is Sekumpul which is tucked away in a hidden valley and boasts seven tall misty waterfalls that cascade through the lush jungles. If you get a chance to visit, you will think you have arrived in some lost World.
HISTORY & TEMPLES
Bali is steeped in history and rich in culture. When you get away from the busy beach resorts you will find lots of beautiful temples and charming traditional villages.
Tanah Lot Temple is Bali’s most famous and photographed site. People flock here to watch the sunset over this famous Hindu temple that sits on a rocky outcrop in the sea.
Ulun Danu temple is another one you have probably seen many photos of online. This is beautiful Hindu temple that seemingly floats over a glassy lake. In reality it is set on the shore of Baratan Lake but nonetheless is a stunning sight and set in one of Bali’s prettiest and quietest regions.
Pura Tirta Empul (Holy Water Temple) is a sacred spring and said to have been created by The God Indra and possess curative properties. Hindu worshipers and tourists from all over the world come to this place to marvel at its beauty and bathe in its refreshing blessed water.
Another one, if you are not bored of visiting temples by now is ulluwatu Temple. This spectacular temple is one to marvel with as it perched at the edge of the rock overlooking the sea as if on guard. Another great photo opportunity.
Bali is heaven for active people looking for lots of exciting things to do.
Bali is a mecca for surfers. Surfers from all over the world come to Bali to ride the waves. There is pretty much consistent swells all year round sue to the conditions and reefs that surround the island. There are also lots of top quality surf schools available for beginners looking to take up the sport.
Although not as well know for it, Bali does have some really good scuba diving sites. The Liberty wreck is one of the best wreck dives in Asia and you can get up close to huge Manta rays at manta Point and Nusa Penida has some really spectacular diving. You can still explore the underwater world without scuba diving. Just grab a snorkel and mask as the snorkelling is fantastic.
There are also lots of other watersports available. In the calmer waters of Sanur and Nusa Dua you will find windsurfing and kitesurfing schools and rentals. Plus many of the busier tourist beaches have jetskis, paragliding and even fly boarding – jets attached to your feet!
Away from the beach Bali has some great options for mountain biking. Explore the rice paddies and villages, or head up into the hills and jungles. The same goes for hiking and trekking. You could even get the adrenaline pumping on a white water rafting trip on the Ayung river.
For the less active minded why not sign up for a traditional Balinese cookery class or visit one of the luxury spa’s for a treatment or massage.
GREAT FOOD AND DRINK
Bali, like most South East Asian destinations boasts incredible local cuisine. There is a reason there aren’t that many all-inclusive hotels in Bali.
Whether you like tasty street food or high end restaurants you will find everything you need. There are a wide range of restaurants serving up local and international dishes but you really must try the local restaurants. Local dishes are filled with fresh vegetables grown locally and flavoured with various spices.
Whatever your budget, whatever your taste Bali has a hotel or villa that will fill your needs.
LUXURY BEACH HOTELS
recently Bali has seen a number of exclusive beach hotels opening. All of the World’s most exclusive hotel brands are operating flagship hotels on Bali. If you like luxurious surroundings and exceptional service in a stunning beachfront location you have picked the right place. A few to look out for are the Four Seasons, the Oberoi, St Regis, Ritza Carlton and Bulgari. All super high end luxury, stunning properties. If you like contemporary designer chic then you can go for something like the super stylish Como Una Canggu, or the super cool and trendy W Seminyak.
JUNGLE SPA RETREATS
Up in the hills and jungles around Ubud you will find some of the most unique and beautiful hotels in the World. Bali is famous for these luxury jungle spa retreats, with exquisite private villas perched on a jungle covered hillside with sweeping views of the lush valleys below. Combine these incredible settings with World class spa facilities to ensure you have a relaxing stay and really recharge your batteries. Imagine looking over the jungle canopy, listening to the calls of the birds and howls of the monkeys from your very own private pool.
HOTELS WITH PRIVATE POOL VILLAS
Some of these larger hotels will offer villas and suites with private pools. These are great if you are a family with kids who can jump in and out whenever they please, or a couple looking for some intimate privacy. Bali is a popular honeymoon destination and these pool villas do offer that extra privacy that newly weds require. Ubud in particular has some amazing villas set into the hills where you can enjoy the amazing jungle vistas from your own infinity pool. There are also small villa complexes all over Bali that as usually a collection of 5-10 villas that offer the private facilities and pool but at really good value. Although you don’t get the extra facilities that a hotel would offer. These villas are often larger, so two or three bedrooms, so great for larger groups.
you also have the option of your very own private villa. these are usually out of town so you would need a car. These are great for large groups and families as you get 4bedroom or bigger and plenty of space with gardens and large pools. Plus you have all the privacy you need so a great place to unwind and relax or maybe have a party!
YOGA RETREATS AND SURFCAMPS
being a spiritual place Bali has plenty of yoga retreats where visitors from all over the World come to spend some relaxing time and reenergize their chi. Surfing is huge in Bali and there are some really cool surf camps offering a great place for youngsters to stay and hang out with other surfers. Most surf camps will also offer yoga as standard.
There are no direct flights from the UK to Bali.
The best option for overall flight times would be with Singapore Airlines, with a short stop and plane change in Singapore. Plus you get to see Changi the most incredible airport in the World and travel on the World’s best airline. Overall flight time including the stop is going to be around 17 hours. So it is a long journey.
Other options where prices can be a little less would be Malaysian Airlines via Kuala Lumpur, Qatar via Doha or Emirates via Dubai. All decent airlines with fairly short stops. of course you could extend the stop and spend a couple of days exploring these interesting cities to break up the journey.
Bali is also a good stopover if you are planning an Australian holiday.
Taxis in Bali are plentiful and cheap. You can get around easily but make sure you haggle the prices if you are not in a metered taxi. Your hotel can arrange transport anywhere should you want less hassle.
You could also look into hiring a private vehicle and driver for a day or more to explore the island.
If you prefer to drive yourself then car hire is an option. You will need to get an international driving licence and make sure your travel insurance covers you. I would definitely recommend hiring a jeep if you can as some of the roads can be a bit dodgy. Your own car is a great way to explore the island and once you are out of the busy resorts and towns you have miles of quiet and scenic roads to explore.
if you are looking to get off the island you can jump on a ferry from various ports and go to the surrounding islands. Sanur is a good place to take the ferry to nearby Nusa Lembogan island. The ferry from Padang Bai will take you over to beautiful Lombok in about 4-5 hours.
Want to know more about Bali? Talk to Paul and start planning your next adventure.