Bali is a world away from the rest of Indonesia, and it’s a longstanding favorite with independent travelers. Itinerant surfers started coming as early as the 1930s, but it wasn’t until the 1960s that surfing holidays in Bali became fashionable. Today, the island legacy continues, and Bali sees as many bohemian surfers as it does affluent resort tourists. With miles of luxurious coastline and a range of accommodation in Bali, this small island has room enough for everyone.
Indonesia may have the world’s largest Muslim population, but Bali fosters its own distinct culture. Hinduism has flourished here for nearly 2,000 years. Away from the beaches are fascinating Hindu temples, cultural exhibitions, terraced rice fields and colorful festivals all worthy of a visit – any many photos.
Kuta is the busiest resort district in Bali, with a few of the top luxury hotels in Bali. Behind the main waterfront is a spread of budget guesthouses that are still within easy walking distance of the beach. From here it’s a short trip by taxi or rented motorbike to Uluwatu, a massive limestone peninsula jutting out in the sea. Tourists visit Uluwatu to see the temple, go surfing or watch the sun set over the majestic cliffs. Nusa Dua/Benoa is another major tourist area, with scores of high-end, big name hotels.
Legian is another must-see. This relaxed beach boasts excellent surf and a strip of restaurants and bars near the onsite hotels. Life in Legian begins and ends on the beach. Surf shops give lessons by day, and then give way to lively bars and live music venues after sunset. Kuta Beach is also legendary and offers up a smorgasbord of luxury beachfront resorts.
Further south is Denpasar’s Ngurah Rai Airport, one of Indonesia’s busiest travel hubs. Flights connect to prominent cities across southern Asia, and most of the major hotels in Bali offer free transfers from the airport. For those not staying in a hotel near Bali airport, metered taxis and rental cars are easily arranged around the Arrivals Hall.