Bali is magical. It is probably the most famous island in Indonesia. Bali blends spectacular mountain scenery and beautiful beaches with warm and friendly people, a vibrant culture and out of this world resorts.
Also known as the Land of the Gods, Bali appeals through its sheer natural beauty of looming volcanoes and lush terraced rice fields that exude peace and serenity. Bali enchants with its dramatic dances and colourful ceremonies, its arts and crafts, to its luxurious beach resorts and exciting night life. For this exotic island has much to offer, from inspirational spirituality to fine dining and meeting experiences, from world class surfing and diving to exhilarating treks in the wild. And everywhere you will find intricately carved temples.
This is a miraculous island indeed, for after decades of popularity, Bali continues to amaze both local and international visitors alike. Here gather a variety of visitors from around the globe: from those who come to surf the waves of Kuta, Uluwatu and Dreamland, to others who love the panoramic beauty of mountains and lakes at Batur, Kintamani, or Lake Beratan at Bedugul, to those who merely love shopping or spend endless days on the beach.
With increasing number of direct flights from many parts of the world, getting to Bali is easy. Flights from Jakarta to Bali take about 1.5 hours, from Singapore and Perth (Australia) around 2.5 and 3 hours, from Hong Kong about 4.5 hours, and from Sydney/Melbourne about 5.5 to 6 hours on many national and international carriers.
Just make sure that you look for "Denpasar (DPS)" instead of "Bali" in airline time tables. Denpasar is the capital of Bali and the name of its international airport is Ngurah Rai.
Another means to reach the island is by ferry from Banyuwangi, located at the most eastern tip of East Java. It takes 30 to 45 minutes crossing from Banyuwangi to Ketapang on Bali. From Bali, you can also continue further by ferry to the island of Lombok, in West Nusa Tenggara . Take the ferry at Padang Bay with transit at Lembar seaport for a total of 4 hours journey.
Like the food of other regions in Indonesia, Balinese staple food is rice, served with small portions of spicy, pungent vegetables, fish or meat and served almost always with sambal or chili paste. Bali is a few of the regions in Indonesia whose majority of its people are non-Muslims, thus babi guling or roasted suckling pig is a specialty, as is bebek betutu, smoked stuffed duck wrapped in bamboo leaves.
In Jimbaran area, for instance, you can sample seafood dishes while sitting on the beach. Visit this place in the evening, the cool atmosphere and caressing breeze will make your dining experience remarkable.
Bali’s white beaches are favourite for family holidays. There are a variety of water sports available, such as banana boats, parasailing or jet skiing, swimming or plain sunbathing. Cruises to the surrounding islands can be taken from here as well as submarine dives to watch the tropical underwater life from within safe compartments. Most well known among Bali’s beaches is Kuta beach, the best spot to watch dramatic sunsets. Further back along this stretch are an array of hotels, - from five stars to simple home stay - restaurants and shops and cafes, while in the evenings the area throbs to the beat of disco music.
Or for a quieter evening enjoy the beach at Jimbaran, a popular spot to eat fresh barbecued seafood in the evenings, while watching from a distance the lights of planes landing and taking off from Bali’s Ngurah Rai airport. Located here are some of Bali’s best hotels like the Four Seasons and the Bali Intercontinental hotel. Jimbaran is also renowned for the Barong trance dance.
Further west of Kuta are Legian and Seminyak. On the other side of the peninsula is the more sedate Sanur Beach, which is also dotted with hotels and restaurants, or visit Nusa Dua, where more private beaches front super de-luxe hotels.
Surfing and Diving
A good start for surfers is Kuta beach. But the best waves in Bali are at Uluwatu, at the southern tip of Bali, which is the site for international competitions. The time to surf is during April through September when winds are predominantly east-southeast.
At Bali‘s most eastern end is Padang Bay and Cemeluk, better known as Amed Beach for great dives, where you can find cardinal fish, black snappers and damsel fish. While along Bali’s north-western coast in the Bali Barat National Park, the best dive spots are at Menjangan with its reef flat, anchor wreck, eel garden and caves to explore. Nearby and still in the Bali Barat Park is Pemutaran island.
Rafting, Cycling and Eco Tours
Bali offers first class adrenaline pumping white water rafting down the spectacular Ayung River by Ubud. Here you can also go bungy-jumping from a cliff down to almost touch the river.
If you enjoy cycling, Ubud and its surrounding is a wonderful town to bike around, as found by Elizabeth Gilbert, written in her bestselling novel “Eat, Pray, Love”. There are also good cycling paths at Uluwatu in the south.
Benoa Mangrove Tour is an interesting eco-tour through the Mangrove forests via elevated wooden boardwalks.
Spa and Wellness
Bali today has become the leader of Spas in South East Asia. Almost all de-luxe hotels offer unique top class Spa facilities where guests enjoy luxurious treatment and pampering, for which Indonesia is so justly famous. A number of spas are set amidst breathtaking views of green hillsides and winding rivers or jut out to sea where the lapping of the waves of the Indian Ocean provides peace and rest. Each spa has its own unique feature. Most incorporate salon treatment for facials, cream bath, manicures and pedicures, everything to make you feel refreshed and come out feeling completely different person.