This little tropical island also has wonderful diversity and a visit here can be whatever you want it to be. From luxurious villas, to lively night life, to laid back beaches. Diving, dancing or dining, temples to trekking, surfing or spiritual retreats are all possible in Bali.
Sunset at Ulu Watu temple
Bali offers delights both in the water and on the verdant land. Waves crash creating epic surf breaks around the temple topped cliffs of the Bukit Peninsular. In genteel Sanur you can stroll the beach front walk among the cafes and laid back golden beaches where multi coloured Jukung (traditional fishing boats) bob in the shallows or relax on the white sands and snorkel the fringing coral reefs on Nusa Lembongan or the Gili Islands. While in the North and East of the island the mellow, black sand beaches of Amed and Lovina offer a chance to relax and escape the crowds.
Colourful Jukung boats on Sanur beach
Luscious mountains, waterfalls, traditional villages and green rice field terraces dominate the interior while the majestic cone of Gunung (Volcano) Angung presides with a god like presence over the whole island.
Eat Pray Love in Ubud
Ubud, alas has become busy and those visiting on a day trip may not understand what all the fuss is about. But take some time and you can still experience the cultured, artistic Ubud by walking through the rice fields, taking in stunning rice terrace views, admiring Balinese paintings, watching a traditional dance, practicing yoga, relaxing with a Balinese massage and listening to traditional gamelan music, the soundtrack of Bali.
Stunning rice terraces near Ubud, Bali
For me, the omnipresent, enchanting, ancient temples and the culture, religions, traditions and hospitality that is uniquely Balinese make the island of Bali such a paradise.
This 'island of the gods' has a unique culture all of it's own, a Hindu enclave very different to the rest of Muslim dominated Indonesia – the largest Muslim population in the world and the 4th most populace country in the world.
Beautiful Gunung Kawi water temple
The Hindu society here is the only one left in South East Asia and the religion differs from that found and practiced in India. Hinduism in Bali still has a strong focus on animism and a belief in the good and bad spirits, and positive and negative forces, that are omnipresent in the world. Religious activity still permeates almost every aspect of Balinese life, so much so that religious events apparently occupy a third of the average Balinese social calender.
Offerings are left at the feet of old statues of deities all over Bali
Daily life is still dominated by the rituals. Enchanting little offerings called canang are made from banana leaves for the gods appear all over Bali every morning, in every nook and cranny and on every weathered statue. Each canang is different. I'm told that all that matters is that what ever you offer comes from the heart. Holy water is sprinkled on the offering and incense lit to let the deity know to come and get the offering.
Canang - The daily offerings for the gods
Offerings are even tossed across the pavements and the beach as even the demons and bad spirits can also be appeased with offerings. The smell of sandalwood incense fills the air wafting up from ancient statues of mythical creatures wrapped in cloths sheltering under elaborate umbrellas.
The volcano Gunung Agung overlooking the black sand beaches of Bali
Completing the magic are the the penyor (ornamental bamboo poles) bowed down with garlands of flowers that wave in the breeze arching over the roads always pointing the the volcano Gunung Agung that is revered, feared and respected in equal measures.
Bali - Island of a Thousand Temples
Every house has it's own temple shrine – this is why Bali is called the 'Island of a Thousand Temples' but this is still a massive understatement. You would be extremely unlucky, even only on a weeks holiday, to miss a temple festival or ceremony. Each of the 20,000 temples of Bali holds an annual festival to entertain the gods with processions, offerings, traditional dances and cock fights.
Devotees throng into the temple celebrations
Witness the Balinese in their beautiful traditional dress of sarongs, sashs and head cloths called udeng; a kaleidescope of colours perched on mopeds swerving through the evening congestion. Thronging to the temple laden with offerings upon their heads trying to avoid the cheeky monkeys.
Despite the natural beauty, the real magic of this island lies within the Balinese, who approach everything with a smile, faith and good grace, illuminating this beautiful island with an ever present spirit that is what makes Bali so special.
Hi, I’m Anna, I'm a dreamer, nomad and travel addict from England. I left the UK in Dec 2012 and have been traveling around India, South East Asia, Australia and Europe independently and on a budget ever since. Now I want to show you how to make travel your lifestyle too. Want to know more ...