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Your guide to Bali
Welcome to Bali
Nicknamed the Island of the Gods, Bali evokes images of paradise. And for many visitors, the reality isn’t far from it. From perfectly formed waves breaking onto sandy beaches to dramatic volcanoes rising above emerald rice paddies, the setting is truly incredible. Then there’s Bali’s rich and diverse culture. If you love temples, there are an estimated 10,000 of them to find on the island.
There are beach resorts, boutiques, bars, and restaurants galore to choose from on the west coast, stretching from the original traveller hub of Kuta to Seminyak and Canggu beyond. Surfers flock to the breaks of the Bukit Peninsula, while Ubud is the heart of Bali, and its spiritual centre. More traditional ways of life take over as you head further north and west, while the family-friendly resort area of Sanur to the east doubles as the jumping-off point to the laid-back isle of Nusa Lembongan. Throw in spectacular sunsets, fantastic global cuisine, and Bali’s famed hospitality, and it’s easy to see what continues to draw travellers to this tropical haven.
The best time to stay in a holiday rental in Bali
Bali’s dry season — which doubles as its high season — lasts from May through September. This is when the west coast receives big swells and strong offshore winds, powering up world-class waves. With visitor numbers peaking in July and August, the dry season is also ideal for scuba diving. Sometimes the good surf sticks around until November.
The weather remains wonderfully warm during the wet season, with fewer crowds (outside Christmastime) making booking an accommodation or villa somewhat easier. However, beach-based activities can be hampered by marine pollution from December to March. From Chinese New Year to the midyear Bali Arts Festival and October’s Ubud Writers and Readers Festival, there’s always something going on in Bali. The one exception is on Nyepi, Bali’s Day of Silence, usually in March, when the entire island closes — even the airport.
Top things to do in Bali
Escape to the mountains
If you need a break from Bali’s beach resorts, make for the mountains. Set amongst jungle-covered hills, rice paddies, coffee plantations, and serene lakes, the small village of Munduk makes a great base for highland treks and exploring nearby waterfalls, with some lovely viewpoints dotted around the twin lakes of Tamblingan and Buyan worth seeking out.
Catch a Balinese dance
Balinese dance is an ancient tradition, and catching a performance is a quintessential Bali experience. There are performances every day in Ubud; the visually alluring Legong dance is a popular option. It’s one of nine Balinese dances recognised by UNESCO in 2015 as an Intangible Cultural Heritage. At the tip of the Bukit Peninsula, the hypnotic kecak fire dance is performed at an outdoor amphitheatre near Uluwatu Temple every evening.
Go scuba diving in Tulamben
Torpedoed by a Japanese submarine in 1942, the 120-metre-long USAT Liberty lies just metres from the shore of Tulamben, on Bali’s northeast coast. While this easy wreck dive (suitable for Open Water Divers) can get busy, it’s exquisite, with vibrant hard and soft corals now coating the wreckage, attracting an array of marine life. Most divers base themselves in the nearby traveller hub of Ahmed.