"Beautiful Bali, with its pristine beaches, pulsing surf and emerald rice paddies, is the pinnacle of Indonesia’s tourist scene, attracting budget backpackers and luxury travellers alike."
Soft sands, swaying palms and warm, inviting waters are the key ingredients in the recipe for an island paradise, and a thriving cultural scene is the proverbial icing on the cake.
Situated between Java to the west and Lombok to the east, Bali is a charming tropical island with a mountainous, river-strewn heart. Although areas of the island have become built up due to tourism, there are still many laid back resorts to visit, and uncovering a deserted beach is not an impossible task. If you want tranquillty, steer clear of lively Kuta, and instead look to Bias Tugal, Padang Padang, or offshore to Nusa Lembongan. Bali may only be small, but it definitely holds its own on the beach front.
Bali is the only remaining Hindu society in Southeast Asia, and religion dictates island life from dawn ‘til dusk. Offerings are made to spirits, incense is burned and prayers are recited on each and every street corner. Roads are lined with wooden carvings and these shrines are adorned with floral offerings. Ubud is the cultural centre of the island, and this charismatic little town is renowned for its community of artists, musicians and dancers. Tradition is key here, and temple festivals take place almost every day. It is the vibrant spirituality of Bali that sets it apart from other island destinations, and the colourful, positive Hindu lifestyle is wonderfully welcoming and appealing.
The island is full of intriguing temples, including the sacred spring of Pura Tirta Empul. Worshippers will climb into the pool here to bathe and pray, and many collect the holy water in bottles to take home as the waters are said to have healing qualities. Tanah Lot Temple is the most visited temple in Bali, most likely due to its unique offshore setting. The shrine is perched on a rock and framed by the ever-crashing waves, and makes for a picture-perfect place to watch the sunset.
Bali is separated from Lombok by the Lombok Strait, through which the Wallace Line runs through. This division affects the fauna of the area, with wildlife on Bali taking on an Asian character rather than Australasian. Species found on the island include around 280 types of birds, monkeys, and the Asian palm civet, which are used to produce the unusual delicacy of Kopi Luwak.