The island of Bali is part of the Republic
of Indonesia and located south of the equator between Java
in the west and Lomkok and the rest of the Lesser Sunda Islands
in the east. Flying time from Jakarta is about one and half
hours, from Singapore and Perth, Australia, two and a half
hours; four and a half hours from Hong Kong; and five or six
hours from Sydney or Melbourne. The island of Bali itself is
only 2,175 square miles, about 400 miles around, so it is possible
to explore the island by air on a single day tour.
Bali is famous for its beautiful landscape. A chain of six volcanoes
stretches from east to west. Lush tropical forests, pristine
crater lakes, fast-flowing rivers, deep ravines, rice terraces,
and fertile vegetable and fruit gardens and orchards enhance
the beauty of the landscape.
There are white sand beaches in the south and beaches covered
with gray or volcanic sand in the north. Huge banyan trees are
scatter around villages and temple groups, together with dozens
of coconut palm species and even more kinds of bamboo. The smell
of flowers is hard to escape. Hibiscus, bougainvillea, jasmine,
and water lilies are abundant in yards, gardens, along roadsides,
and in temple grounds.
Bali is an enchanting place, often referred to as the “ultimate
island” by travel magazines. It combines friendly people,
natural attractions, varieties of things to see and do, and a
pleasant year round climate. As soon as one steps off the plane,
one senses the specialness of this place. A typical scene is
old men sitting on the side of the road as women walk proudly
carrying offerings or groceries on their heads.
Bali has a vibrant culture, unique arts and ceremonies, and friendly
people. It seems nearly every person is an artist in some medium,
whether it is painting, weaving, carving, basketry, or decorations
The soul of the Balinese is in their religion and it is expressed
in their arts. Bali’s culture is based on its unique form
of Hinduism called “Hindu Darma,” which survived
the Islamization of Java and has since developed over centuries.
Religion has helped the Balinese retain their culture despite
the modern influx of tourists and the past foreign influences
Bali is a truly international destination, attracting visitors
from around the world. Many hotels have recently been built to
keep pace with the number of visitors, and accommodations range
from small bungalow types for the budget traveler to luxurious
Water sports are popular in Bali. Kuta, a village on the road
from the capital city of Denpasar, is popular among young tourists
and has exceptional beaches for surfing.
Bali also has world-class scuba diving and snorkeling off the
Nusa Penida Beach. The village is filled with restaurants, shops,
and clubs and is an ideal place to meet and mix with both locals
Most Balinese are friendly and generally speak more English than
people in other areas of Indonesia.
Bali is also a shopper’s paradise, particularly for casual
and tailored clothing, locally made jewlery, handicrafts, antiques,
and artifacts. All can be purchased at unbelievably low prices.
Try bargaining at the street markets of Kuta, Sanur, or Nusa
Dua. Or shop at fixed price at a Denpasar department store.
After the sun sets, Bali is the perfect place for a romantic
moonlit dinner. Its restaurants are cosmopolitan yet inexpensive
and include a variety of local delicacies as well as Chinese,
Japanese, Italian, Greek, Moroccan, and even Mexican cuisine.
For those who want to party after dinner, Bali offers a variety
of bars and nightclubs.
More culturally inclined? Bali offers the peace and tranquility
of Ubud high in the hills; the Mother temple at Besakih; the
ancient capital of Bali, Singaraja, and the floating palace at
Ujung near the beach in Candi Dasa.
Bali is the perfect destination for people of all ages and offers
something for everyone. This tropical paradise has a unique blend
of modern tourist facilities combined with a rich cultural heritage.
All photos courtesy Elizabeth Heuter
Divers explore beautiful coral reefs off the coast of
A typical Bali beach
A view of the volcano chain that forms the island, from
its highest peak.
Balinese children pose for Hawai'i tourists.
A Balinese dancer in traditional costume.
An artist shows off his wood carvings.
For many, agriculture is the most stable employment, but some are more
entrpreneurial and become vendors of tourist memorabilia.
Many Balinese live in villages on world-class