Benoa (Bali), Indonesia
Bali manages to be both bustling and serene. Hindu temples dot the landscape, the scent of frangipani wafts through the air, and the Balinese hospitality is famous. Meanwhile, the southern beaches — Kuta and Nusa Dua — are packed, as are towns like Seminyak and Ubud with their restaurant scenes. Cruise ships call at Benoa, and large ships must anchor offshore and tender passengers to land. From there, excursions head to the more scenic sections of Bali.
What We Love
Ubud: In the center of the island, Ubud is the cultural heart of Bali, with temples, art galleries, hotels, and restaurants surrounded by the jungle foliage.
Terraced Rice Fields: Indonesia ranks third globally for rice production, and the stepped rice fields that carpet the central part of the island are stunning.
Best Known For
Temples: From the 1,000-year-old Besakih temple on the slopes of Mount Agung and the Samuan Tiga temple near Ubud to the mountaintop Lempuyang temple in the east, the tiered stone Hindu temples and shrines can't be missed.
Art: Bali’s art scene ranges from colorful paintings to stone carvings, inspired by traditional Hindu-Javanese mythology as well as modern whims. The island is also known for silk textiles and silver and gold jewelry.
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Who It's Best For
Couples: No matter how you slice it, Bali is dreamy — with the beaches, the nightlife, the spirituality, and the scent of incense everywhere.
Hikers: Take the two-hour trek (each way) to reach the top of Mt. Batur in the northeast, an active volcano within a larger caldera, to savor the views as you walk along the rim.
Don't Say We Didn't Warn You
It's a Popular Spot: Everyone loves Bali. Many travelers fly in and stay a week along the southern coast. Go east to find more serenity.
Bring Water Shoes: Because many of Bali’s beaches are volcanic in origin (especially the ones on the eastern, western, and northern coast), the sand is black — and pebbly.
Heidi Sarna is a Singapore-based contributor to ShermansCruise who has also written for Condé Nast Traveler and USA Today.