Indulge and explore on this idyllic tropical island
Bali is the most popular island holiday destination in the Indonesian archipelago, with good reason. Here you’ll experience a fine combination of sandy beaches and rolling surf, an ancient culture known for its warm hospitality, and exotic temples and palaces set against stunning natural backdrops. Travel inland and towering volcanoes and pristine jungles await with plenty to see and do, although most can’t stay away from the beach for long. Meal times on Bali offer endless choice of local or far-flung cuisine and, after sunset, famous hotspots come to life offering exciting clubbing scenes and packed dancefloors.
Best time to visit Bali
• Between April and September, but Bali enjoys high temperatures year-round
• The rainy seasons are from January to March and November to December, when it’s often cloudy and temperatures stay at around 30°C. There’s lush vegetation and less tourist traffic, making these ideal times for travelling around.
Bali holiday highlights
For its size, Bali has more than its fair share of attractions, including its golden beaches which can be found on the south of the island. Our featured Bali beach hotels include great-value hotels, cool resorts, boutique retreats and high-end hideaways.
Legian & Seminyak
One area rolls into another in this popular region, all fronted by the expansive sandy beachfront. Popular Seminyak is one of the more upmarket Bali beach resorts, where you’ll find some gorgeous luxury resorts. The beaches are relatively quiet but the area comes alive in the evening, when there’s a real buzz around the fashionable boutiques, high-end bars and beach clubs. South of Seminyak and just north of Kuta, low-key Legian also sits somewhere between the two in terms of ambience and style. Slightly quieter than Kuta yet close enough to enjoy the town’s renowned nightlife, Legian is still a popular choice with surfers and attracts an international crowd. It has a selection of beachfront restaurants, bars and shops, yet retains an unassuming vibe.
Sanur is one of Bali’s original holiday resorts and a firm favourite. Many of the hotels here are Balinese in style and sit across from the long golden beach, where traditional ‘jukung’ fishing boats dot the shore. A well-paved path runs along the beachfront and watersports on offer range from kitesurfing to paragliding. Protected by a coral reef, the resort is visited less by the surfing crowd and more of a family-friendly destination thanks to the calmer waters and quieter vibe than the resorts along the west coast such as lively Kuta. Sanur town itself has a range of restaurants, bars, markets and shops.
In the very south of Bali, the purpose-built resort of Nusa Dua boasts exclusive hotels and one of the island’s top beaches. This is a destination that has been tailor made to suit visitors in search of sun, sea and sand. Most of the best eateries in Nusa Dua are within the hotels themselves, where beachfront dining and cocktails at sunset come as standard. The spas here are some of the best in Bali, and watersports are available from the beach.
Jimbaran beach and the famous Jimbaran Bay are located on Bali’s southwestern coast of the narrow isthmus connecting the Bali mainland and the Bukit Peninsula. The beach and the bay of Jimbaran offers small secluded areas, where tranquility and peace are the perfect antidote to a stressful world.
The land gently slopes away from the beach revealing exclusive celebrity haunts hidden under a canopy of leafy tropical forests. Jimbaran Beach is also known as the home of luxury hotels, the likes of the Four Seasons Resort at Jimbaran Bay and the Ayana Beach Resort & Spa.
Far removed from Bali’s beaches, lovely Ubud is the cultural heart of the island, bursting with arts and crafts and a laid-back café culture. Essentially a series of 14 sprawling villages, in tourist terms ‘Ubud’ generally refers to the central town area, which can be explored on foot. Ubud’s main roads (‘jalans’) are Jalan Monkey Forest – the most built up area, hosting accommodation, galleries and cafés, running south through the town; and Jalan Hanoman – slightly quieter and easier to navigate on foot. Dining options are vast and varied, from market stalls to upmarket restaurants, and there are various Balinese cooking classes on offer. Spas, yoga and meditation are big news here – it’s definitely worth taking a class if you like to dedicate time to wellness on your holidays – and there are also galleries, temples and markets to explore. Ubud’s bustling main market is bursting with local produce and handicrafts. Monkey Forest is one of Ubud’s most popular attractions, for sightings of its mischievous residents; cheeky, banana-thieving macaques, who provide all the entertainment desired of them. It’s also a visual delight, with intricately-carved statues, sacred temples, and 115 species of tree. Ubud’s surrounding areas are characterised by rice terraces – beautiful, impressive tiers of green cut like steps into the verdant hillsides. Venture north for dramatic views of rice paddies and valleys. Tegallalang’s rice terraces are easily reached by a short taxi ride out of the centre and, though often frequented by many tourists and littered with souvenir stalls, are definitely worth visiting.