Within its pocket-sized territory, Bali manages to cram in a remarkable secular identity, stunning monuments and breathtaking scenery. Tamed to some extent by man, who planted beautiful rice paddies across the island, the Balinese countryside has managed to hold on to its rugged landscape: from the delicate, uninhabited “deer island”, Menjangan, which combines mangroves with a protected national park, to the amazing waterfalls of Sekumpul. This volcanic region is home to countless sleeping giants, lined with fertile slopes, like Mount Batur and Mount Agung, offering brave walkers beautiful climbs and gorgeous sunrises.
If you’d rather spend your time on the beach, you might prefer Nusa Dua, Jimbaran Bay and Seminyak, to the south, or the Gili Islands, off the coast of Lombok, for a relaxing break or a spot of surfing or scuba diving. Home to a wealth of marine life, including glorious coral and shimmering fish, this destination is particularly popular with divers and surfers.
It is also undoubtedly a fantastic destination for anyone interested in spirituality and culture. Tanah Lot, Uluwatu Temple, Goa Gajah, the Sacred Monkey Forest Sanctuary… The Island of Gods is also the Island of Temples. In a predominantly Muslim country, Bali is the exception to the rule in that it celebrates Hinduism as well. The days are marked out by the celebrations of the faithful, including elements of Animism and Buddhism. On the stone or grass altars, everywhere you look you will find floral gifts for the heavens, which paint a beautiful scene to brighten up the day. From the exuberant Galungan holiday, celebrating the triumph of Dharma (good) to the silence of Nyepi, the Balinese New Year, the months are punctuated with different examples of devotion.
Bali is also an island of the arts, predominantly in Ubud, an untamed area that comes to life each year during the Bali Spirit Festival dedicated to yoga, music and dance. Famous for its market and museums, Ubud boasts an impressive tradition of craft and culture. Shadow puppet shows, woodwork, batik… the Balinese have all sorts of different skills, and dance is particularly popular in the archipelago. Showcased during many events, it also takes centre stage each year at the Bali Arts Festival in the province’s capital, Denpasar.
Your taste buds won’t be neglected here, with a sophisticated diversity and different specialities unique to the region: the Balinese make a delicious urap with finely shredded vegetables and spices. Using a duck and a banana leaf, seasoned with skill and patience, they make a divine betutu which is steamed for hours. Among the coffee plantations, coconut trees and mango trees, there are also vines that produce a wine that is well worth trying as you watch the sun go down. Food and time take on a real intensity on this island, and the locals' genuine smiles should be classed as a national treasure.
Where to eat
Secret Café Nusa Dua
With its white walls adorned with surfboards, bicycles and the latest chalk-board menus, the cosy Secret Café Nusa Dua offers a warm welcome and a homely atmosphere. Coffees and cakes emerge from behind the beautifully tiled counter, delivered to a handful of colourful tables filled with locals, surfers and in-the-know travellers.Discover
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