The best things to do in Bali
Idyllic beaches and sunsets, exotic temples, dramatic volcanoes, and fun-filled nights. Discover why Bali is one of the world’s most famous islands.
- November 2021
A land steeped in rich Hindu culture, temples and dramatic volcanoes, Bali is as much an Island of the Gods as it is an island of surf, beaches and Bintang-loving Aussies. From its legendary beaches and raucous nightlife to the tranquillity of its rice fields and awe-inspiring temples, Bali is a destination of vastly varied scenes. Some will say it’s past its prime, but once you experience the famous beach sunsets or a sunrise from atop revered volcanoes, you’ll inevitably fall under the spell of this magical island.
Explore Bali’s beaches
Bali may entice with a multitude of attractions but first and foremost it’s the beaches that bring in tourists by the masses. Surf, sunbathe or settle in for transcendental sunsets at Bali’s best. Kuta Beach – where tourism in Bali all began – is its most famous, but it’s just one of many southwest stunners that include Seminyak, Legian and Canggu. For a more laidback scene, try the Bukit Peninsula where the likes of Padang Padang and Uluwatu attract in-the-know beach-goers for its golden sands and lively beach bars.
Experience Bali’s cultural heart in Ubud
If Kuta and Seminyak are the places for beaches and partying, then Ubud is all about immersing yourself in Bali’s rich culture. As a centre for the arts, it offers fabulous local galleries and museums, but don’t miss a traditional Balinese dance performance to the backdrop of ornate Ubud Palace. Yoga and wellness retreats are Ubud’s other lure, attracting folk from around the world seeking to nourish mind, body and soul. The surrounding countryside will leave you captivated as you wander among spectacular rice terraces, take your chances at Monkey Forest or explore Indiana Jones–style Hindu shrines such as Gunung Kawi.
Be mesmerised by Bali’s beautiful temples
High on the list of many tourist’s sightseeing itineraries are Bali’s evocative Hindu temples. And nowhere offers a more exotic and enduring image of Bali than iconic Tanah Lot, which sits perched atop a rocky outcrop in the Indian Ocean. Uluwatu Temple too offers plenty of drama with its majestic clifftop location overlooking the crashing surf. Other stunning examples of Balinese-Hindu architecture include Ulun Danu Beratan and Pura Besakih, while the water temple of Tirta Empul is spectacular with its sacred springs and 1000-year-old carvings.
Snorkel Bali’s stunning waters
If you think Bali’s azure waters look beautiful from above, wait till you head beneath! Whether you’re here to dive or snorkel, a kaleidoscopic underwater world awaits. Highlights include Nusa Penida, where you can dive among graceful mola-mola (sun fish) and manta rays; Amed, to snorkel among flourishing coral gardens and tropical fish; and Tulamben, to explore a US WWII wreck. But for some of the best diving, you’ll need to head to remote Pulau Menjangan where you’ll be treated to glass-clear, aquarium-like waters teeming with fish, turtles, corals and dramatic vertical drop offs.
Climb volcanoes and visit waterfalls
For Bali’s most stunning natural attractions, don’t miss its lush interior. Gunung Agung is the island’s most sacred volcano and makes for a popular climb – make your way up to the summit at sunrise. In the cooler mountain climes of Munduk you’ll find many waterfalls that can be visited on lovely hikes through the jungle. And then of course there are Bali’s rice paddies. Near Ubud are the stunning Tegallalang rice terraces, while further afield you’ll find Jatiluwih rice fields built into a hillside and forming part of the World Heritage–listed cultural landscape.