For its small size, Bali certainly packs a punch. Impressively diverse, from temples and iconic rice terraces, to picture-perfect beaches and large luxury resorts, the island’s rich and varied landscape makes Bali the ultimate relaxation and adventure destination.
Where is Bali?
Just one island within the vast Indonesian archipelago (of which there are more than 17,000), Bali’s nearest neighbours are Java to the west and Lombok to the east. Though Bali enjoys consistently high temperatures year-round, the best times to visit are between May and September, when the wet season has finished and days are filled with plenty of sunshine and blue skies. It’s worth checking out our best time to visit guide for the hottest weather and when to avoid the crowds
Renowned for its picturesque sandy beaches, most of Bali’s beach resorts lie on the southern end of the island. Seminyak is a popular upmarket beach resort where you’ll find some gorgeous luxury hotels. The beaches here are relatively quiet, but the area comes alive in the evening, with a great choice of boutiques, high-end bars and beach clubs. Sanur is one of Bali’s original beach resorts, which offers a number of authentic Balinese hotels. Set just across from a long golden beach where traditional ‘jukung’ fishing boats dot the shore, this is a more family-friendly area, thanks to its calmer waters and quieter vibe. Purpose-built Nusa Dua boasts exclusive hotels, right in the very south of the island. Tailor-made to suit visitors looking for sun, sand and sea, most of the best eateries can be found within the hotels, and the spas here are some of the best in Bali. On the island’s southernmost Bukit Peninsula, Uluwatu is known for its towering cliffs and stunning coastal views.
Far removed from Bali’s beaches, artsy Ubud is the cultural heart of the island, and its surrounding areas are often a highlight of a Bali holiday. Dining options here are vast, from market stalls to upmarket restaurants, and there are some excellent Balinese cooking classes on offer. Spas, yoga and meditation are very popular here, and there are lots of galleries, temples and markets to explore. Ubud’s surrounding areas are characterised by a stunning region of rice terraces, tiered into the hillsides – venture north for some of the best views of the rice paddies and valleys.
Diving & snorkelling
Bali lies within the Coral Triangle, one of the richest ecosystems on the planet. As a result, the island enjoys incredible coastal waters that offer fantastic diving opportunities and snorkelling experiences that are widely available across most of the island. One of Bali’s most famous diving sites is the USAT Liberty Wreck, found just off the northeast coast near Tulamben Beach. A WW2 cargo shipwreck that stretches over 120 meters long, this is a great place to see vibrant coral and colourful reef fish.
On the east coast of Bali, the Blue Lagoon is a stunning underwater haven; starting almost right at the shoreline, this reef offers fantastic marine life and multiple snorkelling opportunities. Off the far northwest coast of Bali, Menjangan Island is a 30-minute boat ride from the mainland. An area famed for its calm waters and abundance of sea life, this serene diving destination is perfect if you’re wanting stunning corals and dramatic underwater caverns to explore. This is also one of the best places in Bali to spot manta rays and whale sharks.
Food & drink
If you’re a self-confessed foodie, Bali definitely won’t disappoint. From street food to cafés, to beach clubs and high-end restaurants complete with Michelin-starred chefs, Bali is an exciting and all-round dining destination to visit. Dining on the island can cover a little bit of anything and everything – not only can menus include both classic Indonesian flavours and western specialities, but Bali also enjoys a vibrant health and wellness food scene, and offers a fantastic range for vegetarians and vegans too.
Balinese cuisine is vibrant and flavoursome, and involves lots of fresh and local ingredients, enhanced with subtle spice infusions. Rice is a staple to most Balinese meals, and you’ll enjoy lots of fresh vegetables, meat and fish. Though there are plenty of exciting upmarket restaurants to visit, Bali is also known for its sumptuous street food and market stall eateries. Extremely popular with both the locals and visitors, these warungs serve delicious local specialities, and are particularly great if you’re looking to eat on a budget!
GMT +8 hours
15½ hours with one change
Indonesian, plus a range of regional languages. English is widely spoken.
Since June 2015, a visa is no longer required for UK passport holders flying into Bali for stays of less than 30 days.