A sacred jewel standing majestic on the westernmost end of the Lesser Sunda Isles, Bali is Indonesia’s very own ‘Island of the Gods’. Founded upon strong roots in Hinduism, commanding at least 92 per cent of the city’s population of close to four million, the land is home to an estimated 20,000 temples (puras) and shrines. Its divine virtues aside, there is more to the beloved province than just walking on holy ground.
Inarguably a stupendous site indeed, the world-class destination is adored across the globe for its white sand beaches, breathtaking views, state of the art hotels and aesthetic appeals. Situated between Java to the west and Lombok to the east with Denpasar serving as the provincial capital towards the south, Bali has served as a travel paradise for decades now. In fact, it is the country’s main tourist hub.
While attracting vacationers seeking the luxuries of sun, sea, sand and surf from far and wide all-year round, Bali is also duly recognised for its masterfully developed strength in the arts which encompasses both traditional and modern dance, music, drama, paintings, sculptures, wood carvings, handicrafts, leather, metal workings and various other specialities.
With plenty to explore and much to see right from ravishing mountainous plains to crystal blue waters, the place offers one guarantee; that the curious traveller encounters not a single dull moment throughout the journey. Be it a romantic escapade or simply a rejuvenating retreat that one sets out to experience, Bali’s vast assortment of top-notch indulgences is a pampering well worth your while.
While in the pursuit of an adventure of a lifetime, perhaps it is best to enjoy the waterfront enclave as one would unravel the mysteries of a treasure map. Depending on the type of activities sought after, holiday-makers can take their pick from long list of spots to visit.
Rest and relax
Sitting right in the heart of Bali is the extraordinary town of Ubud known for its bohemian strokes, bustling sidewalks, regal palaces and unique luxury hospitality establishments. A gorgeous landmark complete with all the trappings of a luxury hideout, it is said the best way to uncover its magic is to go behind the facade and through its backstreets, backwaters, courtyards and cafes.
Given its central location, Ubud provides easy access to the island’s mountains and beaches whilst serving as a pathway to Bali’s other key areas. Merging modern lifestyle with retro qualities, small villages, rice fields and ancient temples add to its charm, offering visitors a warm sense of comfort, culture and inspiration.
Having also been the island’s pre-eminent centre for fine arts, dance and music for more than a century, it today remains a hot spot for art collectors, glitterati and connoisseurs, drawing in society’s elite and those with a passion for the finer things in life.
With row after row of sprawling mansions and green boulevards lacing Ubud’s outskirts, it’s no wonder it overlooks some of the most panoramic sights in Bali. With the majesty of Mount Agung (at 3,031 metres), Bali’s tallest by far and the elegance of rustic architecture to dazzle your mind, Ubud is a choice destination holding the key to your dream holiday.
Sand and surf
A backpacker’s idea of heaven, Kuta is a lavish Pacific Ocean water-front enclave running on for miles and miles to give sunbathers the perfect opportunity to soak in the sun while getting a massage and fun-lovers a good reason to stroll on the sand and set up beachside picnics. For those into extreme sports, surfing and paragliding are available alternatives.
Also a therapeutic retail and culinary haven, Kuta is not short on art and souvenir shops as well as dining options at affordable prices to keep its valued patrons busy. But for the ultimate frolicking, do stick around after sunset because Kuta is where the party is at.
Bursting with nightlife, its clubbing scene offers tourists entry into some of the most hip entertainment hotspots in town such as Double Six, Kamasutra, Ku De Ta and Hard Rock, to name a few. A must-visit, this beach town is not only a sight for the senses but a raison d’être to recharge recreationally. pack light but don’t forget that tropical motif bikini you’ve been meaning to slip into for the longest time!
Further down, just a few miles north of the Kuta and Legian strip lies the hippest stretch of southern Bali in all its splendid glory. More than just a pretty face, Seminyak is the epitome of peace and quiet at morning time just as the sun begins to rise. Catering to the pursuit of unadulterated extravagance and luxury, posh resorts, gallant villas, fashion boutiques and art galleries position the destination as a town of decadent ambition.
With the Umalas stables nearby, you won’t have to give up your leisurely passion of horseback riding while on vacation. Just a short drive up north into Canggu will have you picking your winning stallion in no time. Appreciated for its creative energy, cool sea breezes are part of its natural appeal while redeeming Balinese spa treatments are readily available for your partaking.
As evening sets in, tuck away your robe and slippers and put your best dress on. Seminyak’s endless stream of bars, clubs and restaurants is reason enough to celebrate your night away wining and dining followed by hitting the dance floor and warming up to the kind hospitality of the locals. Brace yourself for a full-on adrenaline rush because this place has the power to keep you on your toes once dusk sets in. Think innocent by day and naughty by night!
Sun and sea
A secluded sea-front lagoon found along the Bukit Peninsula on the island of Bali, Dreamland is now commonly referred to as the New Kuta Beach. A surfing paradise, the iconic landmark affords day-trippers and surfers decent resort-style accommodation and dining selections with a café lined up along the beach zone.
Combining contemporary and aged architecture in its structural designs, Dreamland’s private residences and pool villas offer a refuge of comfort and dwelling of grandeur. Complete with luxury furnishing, linens, duvets, down pillows and state of the art room facilities, one is assured of a good night’s rest after an action-packed ride on the waves during the day.
However, caution must be applied when entering the water here as the rips can be fierce. Since the shoreline can prove dangerous to the unskilled, only strong surfers should consider testing the waters on this part of the island. A key point to note is that the eastern end of Dreamland Beach should be avoided at all costs.
Surrender and sail
For the bold and the adventurous, don’t hold back. Let loose and take your trip the whole nine yards by exploring even more. Activities such as sailing, semi submarine and banana boat rides and ocean kayaking can be engaged via authorised service providers of water tours such as Bali Hai Cruises.
With vessels available for organised groups, buffets dinners and bar favourites are allocated on deck depending on the package selected. While smelling the sea, tasting the salty breeze and feasting on gastronomic surprises, be entertained by live bands and riveting performances to seal the deal. Mangrove tours are also offered upon request.
Departing from Benoa Harbour, a standard course is usually set for Lembongan Bay or Nusa Lembongan and back. It would be wise to survey the various deals out there and book your cruise ahead of time.
Tour and trek
Dubbed ‘the unspoiled Bali’ and unlike its neighbouring touristic counterparts, interestingly, Lombok was never known to be a travel mecca. Perhaps, what makes it special in its own right is the fact that the island is a serene and undisturbed hide-away, resting far from the clamour of all things frivolous and foolish.
A serendipitous sanctuary, Lombok boasts of a mountainous landscape, spectacular beaches, soothing lakes as well as the often cloud-covered Mt. Rinjani (12,224 feet), an active volcano and second highest mountain in Indonesia. It can be said that the Sindanggila and Tiu Kelep waterfalls farther off the beaten track is a vision so picturesque, that it instantly puts one at ease.
Offering trekkers a scenery which goes beyond words and a sacred trail worthy of the two-day adventure ahead, it is just the spot to bond with nature unhindered.
Meanwhile, West Lombok where the Senggigi Beach is located sees the height of tourism in the vicinity. With restaurants and holidays lodges to suits all budgets, one can take pleasure in catching amazing sunsets and the colourful armada of fishing and shrimping boats along the Lombok Straits.
Whereas, visiting South Lombok is like travelling through a time capsule. The land of the water buffalo, one will drive past vast paddy fields being tended to by tireless farmers and houses on hilltops where the villagers reside. Further down south, the terrain quickly changes to a less humid temperature, marking the island’s division by the Wallace line.
Dive and dream
A tiny isle off the southeast coast of the main island of Bali, Nusa Lembongan houses a magnificent underwater world of wonder, making it the perfect diving getaway. Fast rising as a popular Balinese attraction amongst domestic and foreign travellers, the venue captures tranquility as it should; vivid aqua blue waters which provide a clean and safe haven for sea life.
The ultimate fantasy island, here surfing and snorkelling are ideal activities to pursue given its handsome waves, abundant marine life and healthy corals. It helps that the enclave is nestled against a glorious backdrop of blue skies and booming plains. Another key element which visitors find most fascinating is Nusa Lembongan’s thriving seaweed farming industry.
In every sense a home away home, give this tropical paradise a chance to calm your mind and offer you the well-deserved reward of escaping the hustle and bustle of the city and stresses of daily living.
During the quiet of the evening, steal into a cosy corner and curl up with a good book, the troubles of yesterday far away. With nothing to mar the heart-warming atmosphere which surrounds you, all is finally well with the universe again.
Where paradise abounds
Truly an irresistible holiday destination, the Bali-Lombok-Nusa Lembongan triangle is in every way a traveller’s dream come true. If you’re in the midst of planning that much needed mid-year break with family or friends, here is certainly one place which should make it to the top of your list because it will not disappoint.
With something for everyone, don’t miss out on the opportunity to savour the wonderful trappings of a land so fulfilling, that it will no doubt be love at first sight. Make this experience all your own by relishing Bali for all its worth. After all, it is the ‘Island of the Gods’. So why not take a week or maybe even two to live like a King?