Get ready to pack your brightly coloured sarong and set off on an unforgettable holiday to the irresistible Indonesian island of Bali! Nestled between the islands of Java and Lombok, Bali offers a huge range of experiences and, as clichéd as it sounds, there really is something for everyone here.  While Bali is undeniably a paradise for beach lovers, boasting pristine shores and world-class surf breaks, it also goes above and beyond. From lush jungles to cascading rice terraces, incredible islands teeming with fascinating marine life, to the culture and landmarks of Ubud, Bali truly has it all.  It’s a place where yoga sessions meet beach parties, where ancient temples co-exist with trendy bars and where world-class diving adventures go hand in hand with monkey sanctuaries.

In this travel guide, we’ll uncover the best bits of Bali and, as always, please get in touch with our eShores team if you’d like us to tailor-make your own unforgettable beach holiday in Bali.  You could also combine destinations to create a multi-centre holiday to Bali along with other captivating destinations along the way, including Singapore, Lombok, or Dubai.


Bali’s blissful beaches:

Insta-worthy sunsets, swaying palm trees, and powdery sands await on Bali’s beaches, and there is a huge range to choose from, with the most popular being in the south of the island.

Seminyak boasts luxury resorts and stylish beach clubs, with a pristine beach that’s perfect for a leisurely stroll or enjoying a cocktail lounging on a brightly coloured beanbag. Canggu, or ‘the gu’ as it’s affectionately known, is located just north of Seminyak. It’s currently considered one of the trendiest places to head to on the island with some great bars, restaurants and surfing spots. Nearby you’ll find Tanah Lot, one of the most popular temples in Bali. The nearby Kuta Beach is a perennial favourite with its long stretches of golden sand, ideal for sunbathing and surfing.  It’s a hub for backpackers and surfers, with a lively atmosphere and vibrant nightlife scene, and is probably most suited to those looking for a more energetic atmosphere.  Located just south of Kuta, Jimbaran Beach sits within a traditional fishing village. Its long coastline features calm waters, perfect for swimming and water sports. Jimbaran has a fabulous beachfront dining scene, where you can enjoy fresh seafood with the sand beneath your feet.  Sanur Beach was once a small fishing village and is now a peaceful, laid-back beach resort.  The calm waters here are perfect for swimming and snorkelling and the promenade is ideal for an evening stroll.  It’s also a great place from which to explore the nearby islands of Nusa Lembongan (which has some fabulous snorkelling and diving spots) and Nusa Penida (known for its rugged coastline, breath-taking cliffsides and iconic spots such as Kelingking Beach with its T-Rex-shaped cliff). For a secluded escape, head to Nusa Dua, a stunning peninsula that juts out into the Indian Ocean and is dotted with 5-star resorts offering private beach access and luxury aplenty.


Ubud: Bali’s cultural heart

For an authentic taste of Bali, Ubud is a must-visit.  Widely considered the cultural heart of the island, you’ll find art galleries, traditional crafts, and lush landscapes.

One of Ubud’s most iconic attractions is the Sacred Monkey Forest Sanctuary, a nature reserve and temple complex home to over 1200 long-tailed macaques.  Wandering along the scenic pathways dotted with temples and statues and watching the playful wild monkeys in their natural habitat is an unforgettable experience.  The town is also famous for its thriving arts scene, with numerous art galleries, studios, and workshops showcasing traditional and contemporary Balinese art. The Ubud Art Market is a must-visit for shopping, featuring a wide range of crafts, textiles, Balinese artworks and souvenirs.  Ubud is also a hub for traditional Balinese dance and music performances, and you’ll find plenty of opportunities to watch a show featuring classical dance forms such as the Legong and Barong dances, accompanied by gamelan music. A popular venue for these performances is the Ubud Palace, with its stunning traditional architecture.


Rice Terraces and Rural Traditions

The history of rice terraces in Bali dates back over a thousand years and is deeply engrained in the island’s cultural and agricultural heritage.  The most famous rice terraces in Bali are located in Tegalalang and Jatiluwih, both UNESCO World Heritage sites that offer incredible views of the lush green paddy fields that cascade down the hillsides.  Tegalalang is located just outside of Ubud, so ideal for combining with a trip to the town.  It’s at its most popular at sunrise and sunset when the soft golden light creates a stunning visual spectacle, making the terraces particularly photogenic.

For an adrenaline rush, head to the mountain-edge swings where you can swing freely above the terraces while soaking up the views of the landscapes. Jatiluwih Rice Terrace is located in central Bali and offers a more expansive and less developed setting. Here you can learn more about Bali’s rural traditions and understand the philosophy of the ‘subak’ tradition, which reflects the communal approach where farmers collaborate to manage their water distribution.


A trio of delights: The stunning Gili Islands

Not technically in Bali, but an essential visit during a trip to Bali, the Gili Islands are a cluster of three small islands northwest of Lombok and reachable by a short boat ride from Bali. Crystal-clear waters surround the Gilis, offering vibrant marine life and sensational scuba diving and snorkelling.

The three islands are Gili Trawangan, Gili Meno, and Gili Air – each with its own unique charm. Each island is small enough to explore on foot or by bike, which can be rented easily. Alternatively, hop on a horse-drawn carriage (cidomo) for a leisurely ride around the islands.  You can take a boat tour to explore all three islands in a day, or you could spend a night on each island to experience their unique atmospheres.  Gili Trawangan – also known as ‘Gili T’ – is the largest and most developed of the three islands.  You’ll find beach bars and beach parties, vibrant nightlife and wonderful coral reefs.  No cars or motorised vehicles are allowed, so it’s perfect for exploring on a bike or on foot.  For something quieter and more laid-back, head to Gili Meno – sometimes known as the ‘honeymoon’ island.  This island is perfect for couples and those seeking a bit of peace and solitude. Explore deserted beaches, swim in turquoise lagoons, and snorkel around vibrant coral reefs. Gili Meno is also known for its turtle sanctuary, where you can learn about the island’s conservation efforts and see hatchlings released into the sea. Gili Air strikes a balance between the lively vibe of Gili Trawangan and the serenity of Gili Meno. Here you can enjoy paddleboarding and kayaking, or simply unwind with a yoga class overlooking the ocean. Gili Air also has some great seafood restaurants serving up freshly caught fayre.


Riding the waves: Bali’s Best Surfing Spots

Bali is renowned for its world-class surfing spots with a year-round warm water temperature and a wide variety of surf breaks, suitable for all levels.  The best places to surf ultimately depend on your experience and the time of year you’re visiting.  Kuta Beach is one of the island’s most famous surfing spots, particularly suitable for beginners due to its consistent beach breaks and accessible waves. The area can get a bit crowded though, but it is great for learning.  On the other end of the scale, Uluwatu, located on the Bukit Peninsula, is famous for its challenging reef breaks and powerful, consistent waves, most suited to experienced surfers.  Nearby, Padang Padang offers a stunning beach and is known for its barrel waves. Again, this area is most popular with more intermediate to advanced surfers.  Canggu beach and the nearby Echo Beach and Batu Bolong, are ideal for surfers of all skill levels. Beginners will find gentler waves, while more experienced surfers can enjoy the more challenging breaks.  Located on Bali’s west coast, Medewi is most frequented by longboarders and offers a more relaxed atmosphere compared to the busier southern beaches.


Sacred temples and stunning views

Bali is predominantly Hindu, and its temples, called ‘pura’, can be found all across the island, playing an integral part in the religious life and culture of the locals.   Located on the slopes of Mount Agung, Pura Besakih is Bali’s largest and most important temple complex. Known as the ‘Mother Temple of Bali’ it includes several temples dedicated to different Hindu gods and attracts visitors from all over the world.

The beautiful Tanah Lot Temple near Canggu beach is situated on a rock formation, and is dedicated to the sea god, Dewa Baruna, offering beautiful sunset views over the Indian Ocean.   In the far south of the island, near Uluwatu beach lies Uluwatu Temple which enjoys a dramatic location perched on a cliff.  An absolute must when visiting the temple is to watch one of the traditional Kecak fire dance performances which take place at sunset and are an incredible spectacle of dance, fire and vibrant cultural costumes.

If you’re up for a challenge, head to Lempuyang Temple in the east of the island, which is known as the Gateway to Heaven.  The temple has a series of staircases that you climb to reach the main temple complex, where you are rewarded with panoramic views of the surrounding lush landscape.


Dolphin watching and Tranquillity: Northern Bali

Compared to the south of the island, northern Bali is still relatively untouched by mass tourism, making it perfect for those looking to escape the crowds and discover some hidden gems which are a little bit off the beaten path. Some of the highlights in this region include Lovina beach, with its volcanic black sands and lush greenery.  This area is also known for dolphin watching tours where you can hop on a traditional outrigger boat and be transported to the dolphins’ favourite spots to spot them frolicking in the waves.  Nearby, Gitgit Waterfall is one of Bali’s most famous waterfalls. The trek to the waterfall takes you through scenic rice terraces and lush jungle, offering a great way to immerse yourself in nature.

Other highlights in the north include the Brahma Vihara Arama Buddhist Monastery and the Banjar Hot Springs, both offering a serene experience with the latter a chance to relax in the warm and sulphuric therapeutic waters believed to have healing properties.


Flavours of Bali: The local cuisine

Balinese cuisine is a full of flavour, spices, fresh ingredients and local influences.  One of Bali’s most beloved breakfast staples is ‘pisang goreng’, which are banana pancakes.  These fluffy pancakes are topped with caramelised bananas and a drizzle of syrup. Beyond breakfast, one of the signature elements of the local cuisine is its use of aromatic spices including as turmeric, lemongrass, ginger, and galangal.  Some of the most popular dishes include Nasi Goreng, which is fried rice with sweet soy sauce and crispy shallots and Mie Goreng, a fried noodles dish.  These are often accompanied by sambal, a spicy chilli paste.   Traditional Balinese meals often incorporate side dishes such as lawar, which is a vegetable and minced meat salad and urutan, a Balinese spicy sausage.  As you would expect from an island in the middle of the Indian Ocean, seafood is plentiful and fresh, and you can enjoy dishes such as grilled fish and prawns seasoned with Balinese spices.   Outside of the resorts and hotels, one of the most common dining experiences is a ‘warung’.  These are small local cafes or food stalls which can be found throughout the island and offer authentic Balinese dishes at affordable prices.  They are popular among both locals and tourists alike.


If our highlights of Bali have piqued your interest and left you wanting to explore this enchanting island paradise for yourself, please get in touch with us. Whether you’re dreaming of relaxing on Bali’s beautiful beaches, discovering its cultural treasures, or embarking on exciting adventures, we can tailor-make an unforgettable trip just for you. Contact us today to start planning your personalised Bali getaway and experience the magic of this incredible island first-hand.

Michelle Porter Senior Travel Consultant

Michelle started with us here at eShores in early 2015, but has worked in travel most of her working life. Michelle has a wealth of knowledge from across the globe, so no destination is unknown to her. Although she does love booking trips to Asia, Australia and New Zealand, after falling in love with the region when she lived there.

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