If you're pondering your next holiday and yearn for spectacular sandy beaches, gorgeous landscapes, and a cool vibe with a year-round climate, the Indonesian island of Bali might just be your perfect destination. Situated just below the equator, this beautiful and spiritual island has it all, with a wealth of truly wonderful places to visit. The lush, tropical landscape boasts volcanoes, mountains, forests, waterfalls, rivers and lakes; equally appealing to those who enjoy the thrill and excitement of all manner of sporting activities, as well as to those who prefer to take life a little slower. This well-established tourist destination now offers a wide range of accommodation options, whether you are an intrepid back-packer on a budget or prefer the luxury of a boutique hotel or private villa.
The temperature averages 25-30°C all year round, with April to October being the best time to visit if you want to avoid the rainy season. The locals are extremely friendly and welcoming, and most will speak at least some English along with their native Balinese and Indonesian. As you travel around the island you will notice small baskets filled with intricate arrangements of flowers and rice, on the streets. These are offerings to Hindu gods and are assembled and placed daily outside homes, shops & restaurants. This serene and meticulous ritual sums up the unique character of the people of Bali.
Bali’s cuisine provides visitors with an abundance of choice and tastes usually based around meat, fish, vegetables, rice and spices. The local variation of sate (satay) is called sate lilit and combines marinated skewered meat or fish with coconut, vegetables and spices, and is often served with a sauce. Another favourite is Nasi Goreng, a rice-based dish, stir-fried with spices and soy sauce and served with egg. Street vendors will sell ‘martabak’, a type of pancake filled with either a sweet or savoury filling.
No holiday is complete without a shopping trip (or two). If it’s handmade souvenirs you are after, or great value local artwork, try the colourful local markets in the central region (Ubud for example) and come prepared to barter! After dark, the night markets combine shopping with a unique culinary experience and often stay open until well after midnight. For a more contemporary shopping experience there are several air-conditioned malls located in the south of the island.
There isn’t much by way of public transport on Bali. The best way of getting around town is by bus or taxi (if you can find one), but if you want to explore the island further, hiring a scooter is probably your best option. An alternative would be to join an organised bicycle or quad bike tour. Bali has plenty to offer by way of activities both on land and water and is fast gaining a reputation for its expertly designed golf courses. There are currently four such 18 hole golf courses on Bali, each with its own special attributes including dramatic ocean scenery and tropical landscapes.
If scuba diving is your thing you will be spoilt for choice, with an excellent variety of dive sites to choose from. The most famous of these being the ship-wrecked USS Liberty. This unique attraction offers a truly unforgettable experience for thousands of divers every year and is suitable for all abilities. Or for pure exhilaration, maybe you’d like to try your hand at white water rafting? Or if you want to soak up the culture of the island head to a traditional Balinese dance show, or visit one of the beautiful temples.
Towards the southern tip of the island lies one of the most popular resorts, Kuta. This former fishing village is now a major tourist destination and a great place to stay due to its long stretch of white sandy beach and its vibrant atmosphere. Surfing is a major activity and the resort attracts visitors from far and wide, although it is especially popular with backpackers due to the availability of low-cost hostel accommodation and Australians due to its close proximity. The nightlife here is busy and energetic; usually starting late and extending well into the early hours with bars, restaurants and nightclubs aplenty.
Heading south (past the nearby international airport) you will find the quieter resort of Nusa Dua; home to an abundance of high-end hotels. The nightlife here is much lower-key with very few restaurants and bars outside of the 5 star hotels. Most of these hotels provide a host of water-sport activities along with relaxing and rejuvenating spa treatments. Holidaymakers who enjoy a touch of pampering and sipping cocktails by the pool during the day, whilst enjoying leisurely candle-lit dinners by night will certainly find this a place to recharge their batteries.
Just north of Kuta is the up-market district of Seminyak. This part-tourist, part-residential area is home to the most luxurious hotels and spas, and boasts many fine-dining restaurants. The high-end shopping found here appeals to both visitors and the many expats who choose to live here. If sophistication and splashing the cash is your thing, then this is certainly the place for you – you might need to buy an extra suitcase to get all of your purchases home though!
If you're looking for a destination full of sandy beaches, rich culture, and amazing experiences then you definitely need to add Bali to your bucket list. Have you ever been to Bali?