The basics about Bali:
A Tourist’s Paradise—Bali has something for everyone. Beaches. Mountains. Water sports. Shopping. Food. Art. If you can’t find it here, you are not looking very hard. Bali has scuba diving, sports fishing, sailing, mountain adventure, art, shopping, temples (literally thousands of temples), food, food, and more food. If you can’t find something to keep your interest in Bali, you should pay a visit to your doctor, because you may be dead.
Starting with the hotels. Bali has some spectacular hotels that are located on the side of sheer ocean cliffs. In very few places in the world will you find hotels seated on private beaches, climbing up beautiful mountainsides, and you can actually afford to stay here. Bali is an ultimately affordable place to visit.
Hotels. Do you like the beach, pools, an incredible ocean view? Well, the Nikko Bali Resort will present you with a bit of a quandary. You can get a room high up the mountain cliffs, where you will be able to see the beautiful ocean side every morning from you private room balcony, or you can choose a room on the ground floor where you can open your back door and walk directly into the pool, just inches away from your patio door. It is definitely a quandary. I am sure there are other hotels in the world that share similar arrangements, but frankly, I have never seen one or visited another hotel like this one to tell you about. This hotel offers grounds that are beautiful, including wonderful sculptures—one of which stands about 100 feet tall, and is carved into the side of the mountain next to the hotel. An amazing site to behold. The art world and sculptures on the grounds start at the entrance and make their way through the campus. But the most striking feature of the hotel may be its pools. Making their way through canals from the ground floor guest rooms, these pools are tiered for privacy, have a large water slide, gentle waterfalls, and shallow sun bathing pools for those who are not sure if they want to be in the water, or out of the water. You will find few pools that are this diverse and interesting anywhere else in the world. Of course, the restaurant, the spa, the concierge service, and the basic amenities of this resort are as expected—great. Go check this one out. You won’t be disappointed.
Shopping. Bali is filled with fantastic shops and shopping areas. They are easy to find, because they are everywhere. If you want to shop for art, talk to the concierge about getting a driver for the day that can take you around the countryside (all day drive) to various art communes and galleries. This will give you a very different view of what is available. You can see anything from sculptures, to paintings, to prints, to hand painted fabrics, to bowls, the knick-knacks. If you have ever been through the airport in Sydney Australia, and seen the incredible art work for sale in the shops there, you will see these same pieces for sale in Bali—because they are imported from Bali to Australia. Many of us once thought that this artwork was indigenous to Australia, but as it turns out, Australia is a big importer of Bali artwork and goods. One beautiful example: the long, tall wooden masks that are painted bright colors in a dot ("stipple") art style come from Bali. You can also get clothes, kitchen items, and miles and miles of fun "stuff". If you like to shop, Bali is a paradise.
Seafood. If you are in Asia, especially if you are on the coast, you should be looking for seafood restaurants. Asia is known for its seafood, and Bali is no exception. Two things that you should know about seafood restaurants: pick a restaurant that has large seafood tanks in the customer area. This is here to show you that the seafood is fresh, and for you to be able to pick your catch of the day. It may not appear too clean, but this is because the salt water is indeed fresh—this is not an aquarium. It is a food tank. Secondly, remember that seafood in Asia is served with all of the body parts—including the head. Fresh seafood always has a head, and swims. Frozen seafood typically does not have a head, and sinks when it is placed in water. If it is swimming, it is fresh, and this is where you want to eat.
Tours. There are lots of private tours in Bali. They are inexpensive, and highly recommended. You can rent a car for the day, driver/tour guide for very little, and have a blast—living like a king or queen. Don’t forget to tip your driver for a good day of service, and if you stop for to eat, consider buying lunch for your driver. This is a nice custom, and is a nice reflection on you and your country. This kind of behavior helps leave place like Bali a little better than when you arrived.
Scuba. The diving in Bali is drift diving, but if you have been drift diving in a gentle 2-3 knot current, you have a completely different dive experience waiting for you in Bali. Drift diving at 4-6 knots is like riding a roller coaster at New York, New York in Vegas. It starts out fast, and gets faster. It can be scary, and it is definitely not for the inexperienced. The thermo-climes in the water are treacherous. Every 30 seconds I went from 65 degrees F to 85 degree F. Hot to cold. Hot to cold. I was only wearing a shorty, and it was heck on my body. To complicate matters, I could not clear my mask quick enough, and we were a small group of 4, so I had difficulties keeping track of where my buddy was and keeping up with him. All in all, this was a pretty scary experience, and I would do it quite differently the next time I go to Bali. Here are some recommendations that I would make for you: (1) Be on your most conservative dive behavior. Get to know your buddy before you get in the water, and ask him/her to keep an eye on you as you descend—"this is my first time diving in Bali". (2) Make sure your mask is well lubed for fog and the thermo-clime (3) Get some time in the water before you head to the open water; don’t let your dive in Bali be your first for the season, and if it is, do some beach check out diving before you head to the open water (4) Take it slow. This is something that most of us don’t want to do when we dive, but Bali is a place where divers have been lost in the current and yes, some have lost their way and not been found in time. It is a beautiful place, but this is not diving in the beautiful waters of Cozumel, Mexico, and it should not be treated causally.
In Summary, Bali is a fun place. There are many things to do here, and many places to see. You can easily spend a week in Bali, or longer if you want to see it all, and do it all.