Bali, the famed “Island of the Gods”, stakes a serious claim to be paradise on earth. Its diverse landscape of mountainous terrain, rugged coastlines and sandy beaches, lush rice terraces and barren volcanic hillsides provide a picturesque backdrop to its colourful, spiritual and unique culture.
Five rice terraces and their water temples have been inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage Site under the name “Cultural Landscape of Bali Province: the Subak System as a Manifestation of the Tri Hita Karana Philosophy”.
The word “paradise” is understandably used a lot in Bali. Friendly, hospitable people; a magnificently visual and spiritual culture; and spectacular beaches with great surfing and diving have made Bali the top tourist attraction in Indonesia.
Bali is one of more than 18,000 islands (based on a satellite view) in the Indonesian archipelago, and is just over 2 km (almost 1.5 miles) from the eastern tip of the island of *Java and west of the island of *Lombok.
The vast majority of international visitors to Indonesia go nowhere else but Bali.
! If you see a red flag planted in the sand, do not swim there, as they are a warning of dangerous rip currents. These currents can pull you out to sea with alarming speed and even the strongest swimmers cannot swim against them. The thing to do is to stay calm and swim sideways (along the shore) until out of the rip and only then head for the shore.
Warm waters, crowds of young backpackers, cheap living and reliable waves keep Bali near the top of world surfing destinations. The southern coast at *Kuta, *Legian and *Canggu, the *Bukit Peninsula and *Nusa Lembongan are the primary draws. Expert surfers usually head for the big breaks off the Bukit Peninsula, whilst beginners will find the gentler, sandy areas between Kuta and Legian to be ideal for learning. All Bali’s surf beaches are described in the Indo Surf and Lingo surfing guidebook.