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Bali

Bali is the complete tropical island: lush, culturally unique and exotic, yet it has all forms of creature comforts. It’s also a surfing mecca: the epic reef breaks of Uluwatu, Padang Padang and Bingin have lured surfers from all corners of the globe since the 1970s. Back then, Bali was largely untouched by tourism. These days, with an international airport within a ‘coo-ee’ of the waves, the most popular breaks are always packed with a small army of Australian, Brazilian, American and local surfers. Still, with warm water and perfect coral-reef barrels, it remains a surfer’s paradise. The island is bursting with natural attractions, with miles of sandy beaches from Legian to Kuta and Nusa Dua, picturesque rice terraces, towering active volcanoes, pristine crater lakes, sacred caves, and lush tropical forests full of exotic wildlife. It’s also a scuba diver’s paradise – the best Bali diving sites are along the east coast near Candi Dasa, Amed, Tulamben and Nusa Penida.

Bali’s rich cultural heritage is visible pretty much everywhere, with more than 20,000 temples – the best of the bunch are Tanah Lot, Uluwatu and the Besakih Temple on the slopes of holy Mount Agung. Plus there are palaces and dozens of colourful festivals and ceremonies including the Hindu ritual of tooth filing and cremations with drama, music and dance.The tourist strip from Kuta to Legian and Seminyak is a hedonist’s dream, with plenty of clubs, bars and pubs that are packed with revellers from all corners of the globe in the dry, warm months from May to September. Hit the Bounty Hotel if you’re up for a big night, or cruise the bars along the beachfront and Poppies Lane.

The tranquil town of Ubud is a great escape into the cool, mountainous interior of Bali, away from the hectic pace of Kuta if you’re craving some peace and quiet. It also has a colourful daily market, famed for carvings and sculptures.

You could while away a lengthy holiday just in Bali, but the island is also the perfect launching pad for cruises of the Indonesian archipelago. There are literally hundreds of cruises from Bali through to Lombok, Sumbawa, Sulawesi and the Moluccas. You can choose from modern cruise liners, luxurious private yachts, and traditional Balinese schooners.

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