Although Bali is relatively small - only a 4-5hr drive from north to south - it sometimes feels like it represents the whole of Indonesia. You've got the beautiful, yet busy, beaches and castaway bars in the south, the sleepy fishing villages and volcanoes in the north, and a blend of temples, rice terraces and yoga hangouts around central Ubud in between. Snorkelling is an absolute must, no matter where you end up, although there's much to be said for simply taking your time to relax and soak it all in.
Obviously there's a lot more, this is just to get you started...
Sipping a cool glass of Bintang and listening to the gently lapping waves, it's hard to imagine anything more relaxing than being on a Bali beach. Exactly where you choose to hang your hammock will determine how low key or hedonistic your beach break will be. Head to the coarse volcanic sands on the north coast and you'll find the island’s peaceful side. In complete contrast, the sandy south coast surfer beaches between Kuta and Seminyak are alive and kicking 24/7. Bali's east coast, around Amed, attracts fewer crowds and there's some excellent accommodation against a backdrop of wild waves. To get fully off the beaten track, go west and discover an untouched, natural side to Bali with stunning stretches of coastline to match.
Being advised to walk backwards in flippers, for supposed ease, only adds to the already awkward nature of wearing a mask and snorkel! But as you sink into the warm water and begin to breathe, for a few moments all life on land is left behind. Bali's east coast, between Amed and Padangbai, is absolutely outstanding for snorkelling, with a vibrant variety of colourful fish and coral reefs very close to the shoreline. Scuba divers, too, love Bali's east side, with dive sites further offshore offering all manner of underwater experiences for beginners and experts alike. If you want to dedicate a day to diving or snorkelling, book a boat ride to an island like Nusa Penida, and you won't be disappointed.
It's very easy to get used to life in bohemian Ubud. Massages and yoga in the morning, artisan cafes and restaurants in the afternoon. Ubud can get crowded, but it's still worth at least a couple of days to allow yourself to unwind in style. Once you've found your (pampered) feet, the countryside surrounding Ubud calls, opening up another side to Bali. Walk through lush, shaded forests and sip fresh coffee overlooking sweeping, green, terraced rice fields. Go white water rafting close to Ubud or lose yourself around the lotus ponds of the water temple Pura Taman Saraswati. From sleepy rural villages to bike rides through the countryside, there's much to be said for exploring around Ubud and venturing into the unknown.