Famous for its natural beauty and friendly people, Bali has become a dream destination for travelers seeking a culturally enriching holiday in an idyllic setting. But despite its portrayals in writing and film, Bali is more than just azure seas and white-sand beaches. So, whether you’re seeking an epic surf trip, a wellness retreat, or simply an opportunity to explore the place’s history and beauty, Bali has experiences suited to every type of traveler.

Read on to start planning your ideal getaway!

Coastline in Bali at sunset
Photo by Adi Sumerta

For Outdoorsy Types

It’s no secret that Bali is home to some of the most beautiful natural scenery in the world. From pristine beaches to verdant mountains, the island offers experiences for travelers seeking all kinds of outdoor adventures. Visit West Bali National Park to snorkel in shallow, coral-filled waters, or try scuba diving off of the shores of eastern Bali where you can explore reefs and shipwrecks full of sea life.

A man surfing in Bali
Photo by Jack McDermott

If you want a break from the water, you can try hiking one of Bali’s stunning volcanoes. Head up Mount Batur for a short (two hour) and scenic hike, or try Mount Agung for more of a challenge ― with its summit at roughly 10,000 feet, the five-mile ascent is a steep, but rewarding, climb.
Be aware that some active volcanoes may be closed to the public during periods of high volcanic activity, so be sure to plan ahead.

If you’re hoping to hang loose during your time on the island, grab a board and head to Kuta Beach, Bali’s most famous surfing locale. The swells are on the smaller side ― usually one to three feet ― making the spot ideal for beginners wanting a taste of Bali’s surf scene. Those more experienced surfers should head farther north and check out Seminyak Beach, where the swells can be double the size of those at Kuta. As an added bonus, Seminyak tends to be less crowded than some of the other big surfing spots on the southwestern shore of the island. Of course, if you’d like to find even quieter beaches and even better swells,, make sure to listen to the locals when they tell you where to find the good waves, or ombak bagus.

Volcanoes in Bali
Photo by Wahyu Mahendra

For Wellness Travelers

Since the widespread popularity of the book and film adaptation of Eat, Pray, Love, Bali’s wellness tourism has increased dramatically, making the island a must-visit destination for travelers seeking a relaxing and restorative escape. So if you’re looking to recharge in this Southeast Asian paradise, be sure to check out one of its many wellness retreats and health spas. Often located farther away from towns, these resorts are the perfect place to unplug and experience the beauty and serenity of Bali’s lush jungles. Visit FiveElements, where you can learn about Bali’s cultural and spiritual practices while embarking on your own wellness journey, or find your ultimate zen through holistic health at Zen Resort Bali. No matter where your adventure takes you, you’re sure to find rejuvenation on the Island of the Gods.

A man snorkeling to an underwater temple in Bali
Photo by Jeremy Bishop

For History Buffs

A temple in Bali at dawn
Photo by @kendallmartin

Perhaps just as iconic as its beaches, Bali’s ancient temples offer a glimpse into the culture and history of the island ― often coupled with panoramic views. Visit Pura Besakih in eastern Bali, the island’s largest temple complex, to experience staggering views of the surrounding rice paddies and mountains. Head to the southeast to visit Pura Goa Gajah, on the UNESCO World Heritage Tentative List and an important Hindu archaeological site. Once you’ve toured some of Bali’s many temples, be sure to check out the island’s numerous art and archaeological museums, as well.

For Creatives

Indigo-dyed fabrics in Bali
Photo by Geneva Vanderzeil

With its breathtaking landscape and rich culture, it’s no wonder why so many artists are drawn to Bali. The island’s creativity is inexhaustible, as evidenced by the lively music scene on the southern coast, and frequent art markets in Ubud. If you’re looking to work and collaborate while in Bali, make a visit to the island’s first coworking space where you can co-create with other like-minded creatives. And if you’d like to have something tangible to show for your time in Bali, you can take an Indigo textile dyeing class, learn to make traditional handmade ceramic pieces, or simply explore the island with your camera in hand!

For Animal Lovers

If you’re looking to connect with the local wildlife, head to the Monkey Forest in Ubud. A conservation and education center, this sanctuary is home to over 700 macaque monkeys. As there are no barriers, the monkeys roam freely ― eating, playing, and even interacting with visitors.

A hand reaching out to a butterfly in Bali
Photo by Liam Vandenberk

If monkeys aren’t your cup of tea, you can check out the Kemenuh Butterfly Park for a serene alternative. Located near the idyllic rice paddies outside of Ubud, the park offers a great opportunity to discover butterflies and insects native to Indonesia.

And once you’ve explored the island’s animal refuges, make your way back to the beach where you can find even more wildlife underwater — like hawksbill turtles, giant sunfishes, and exotic coral species.

Want more inspiration for your Balinese adventure? Read our foodie’s guide to the island, and discover 8 things you didn’t know about visiting Bali.

Header image by Jamie Fenn

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Hope Allison
Hope is a photographer, traveler, and writer based in Edinburgh, Scotland. An explorer by nature, she loves trying unfamiliar foods and visiting new places. When she's not taking pictures, Hope can be found reading plays, baking bread, and planning her next adventure.