Blue skies, crystal waters, white sands – It must be Bali
Blue skies, crystal waters, white sands and a welcome as warm as tropical sunshine are all part of the mix here. Explore 2,000 years of history in the ancient land they call the Island of the Gods. For many, it’s the spectacular but friendly destination that defines the phrase, ‘tropical paradise’.
Why Is Bali so Popular?
The island of Bali sits between Java to the west and Lombok to the east. It may be just one of Indonesia’s 33 provinces but it’s by far the most popular as a holiday destination. Visitors of all ages and from across the globe fly in to the main international airport close to Jimbaran in the far south of the island.
It’s no surprise they do, for this volcanic and fertile island, just a few degrees south of the Equator, has uniquely blended old and new, traditional and modern, to create a holiday destination that caters for every taste. In a day, the visitor can pass from the chic boulevards and boutiques of the capital, Denpasar, through tiny mountain villages where life has been largely unaltered for hundreds of years to the modern beach resort with every facility and activity imaginable.
Peace and Plenty
The island of Bali is longer than it is wide and has a mountainous centre with mist-shrouded peaks rising to more than 3,000 meters. The highest of these is Mount Agung, an active volcano known to the islanders as the sacred ‘Mother Mountain’. With the natural fertility of volcanic soil and the rainfall created by high peaks surrounded by the ocean, Mother Mountain has bestowed upon Bali a hugely successful agricultural industry. This is an element that helps create the feeling of peace and plenty experienced on the island.
To the south of the mountains, the land slopes gently across terraced rice fields to the white sand beaches that face Australia. Northwards, the steeper descent across the island’s coffee plantations leads down to the black volcanic sands on the Java Sea. It’s this variety of terrain that makes Bali ideal for visitors who want to take to the roads, tracks and trails to explore the island’s interior at their own pace.
Whether your preference is for cycling holidays or walking holidays, from modern town to traditional village, Bali will meet your needs. A journey of just a couple of hours can cover two thousand years of Bali history. It’s a great way to come face to face with the ancient ceremonies and traditional festivals that splash such vibrant and unforgettable colour against the lush, deep green backdrop of tropical forests.
But perhaps the best thing about walking holidays or touring by bike is that they cannot fail to bring you into contact with the Balinese people. They have a deserved reputation for being amongst the friendliest, most welcoming and most enduringly hospitable island-dwellers anywhere in the world.
Although Indonesia is officially a Muslim country, Bali’s population of more than three million people is largely of the Hindu faith. It is home to nearly 20,000 temples, which is why Bali was given the Island of the Gods title.
These extraordinary and unique buildings can be found in the most unexpected locations throughout the landscape. They create unforgettable impressions for the visitor, as does just about everything else on this warm and welcoming island.
Paul Pride writes regularly on Far Eastern travel for a range of adventure holiday websites and blogs. He is a long-standing champion of eco-friendly cycling holidays as well as trekking and hiking.