Among the 17,000 islands in Indonesia, Bali is the most famous.
It is located between Lombok and Java – one of the largest and most populated islands in the archipelago.
Bali has been a tourist favourite for decades. With its exotic beaches, magical temples, rich cultures and countless natural beauties, the island attracts almost 7 million foreign tourists per year.
The island might be small, but its offerings are HUGE! Let’s get to know more!
How Big is Bali, and Where is it?!
Bali is a 95-mile-wide island, or 5780 km2, located in the Indian ocean.
It sits at the very eastern tip of the Lesser Sunda Islands, along with Lombok, Sumbawa, Sumba and Timor.
To the east, separated by the Bali strait, you can find the island of Java. In the west, is Lombok.
Overall, Bali has around 85 islands – including uninhabited ones. But the main island is the obvious attraction.
Fun fact: Bali is five times the size of Hong Kong (1106 km2), and slightly wider than Grand Canyon National Park (4926 km2).
From beaches with scorching sun to chilly areas with lakes and mountains, Bali has it all.
The highest point is Mount Agung in the north. It is one of Bali’s volcanoes, and a great spot for climbing and hiking!
The south of Bali is where the majority of the tourist action is with Kuta, Seminyak, Canggu and Uluwatu. Exploring all the best bits of the island on day tours is super easy!
Compared to other islands in Indonesia, Bali is quite small. It doesn’t come close to the size of the 10th largest island in Indonesia, Flores (13,540 km2).
Other Islands in Bali
Along with the main island, Nusa Penida, Nusa Lembongan, Nusa Ceningan, and Serangan Island are also tourist faves.
Limestone cliffs and clear, turquoise blue, sea water are the main sights in the three ‘nusas’.
Diving activities are pretty incredible around these smaller islands as the water is very well preserved.
Simply hop on a boat from Sanur Beach, Padang Bai Harbour, or Benoa Harbour and you will be able to explore these tropical paradises.
Population of Bali
In June 2021, the population of Bali was 4.27 million, with a density of 750 people/km2.
Denpasar is the home to almost a quarter of the island’s population, with 850,600 inhabitants.
Gianyar Regency is ranked second, with 1,068 people/km2.
The least populated area is Jembrana Regency, with a population of 217,199 people in an area of 841.80 km2
Religion in Bali
More than 80 percent of the population on the Island of the Gods is Hindu. It is Bali’s ‘native’ religion, and takes precedence in terms of holidays, festivals, and calendar.
Islam is the second most popular religion. They live in harmony side by side, respecting each other’s holidays, traditions and needs.
As Hinduism is the original Bali religion, there is a lot of Hindu architecture, symbolism and history all over the island.
How Long Does It Take to Drive across Bali?
For the real adventurers among us, driving across Bali can be challenging, but not impossible.
You would need at least 5 hours to drive from the bottom to the top of Bali (given that you drive non-stop with minimal traffic).
From the southern tip of Uluwatu to mid-land Ubud, it can take 2 to 3 hours depending on traffic.
From Ubud to the very north tip of Lovina, it takes another 2 to 3 hours.
Why Visit Bali?
Bali’s fame didn’t happen overnight, it took hundreds of years to make it the tourist hub it is today.
The first tourists arrived in the 1920s, the first hotel was built that year too.
The reason for its popularity changed over time. In the past, tourism in Bali was advertised for very different reasons. Whereas today the affordable luxury, stunning landscapes and tropical beaches lure in people from all over the world.
- Dream destination for backpackers
Bali is pulling in backpackers in search of living and traveling on a budget. From choices of tourist spots, places to eat, to accommodation, Bali is affordable. You can find free hidden gems as you explore.
- One of the most romantic islands in the world
Who can resist a honeymoon on a tropical island with beautiful views and sunsets? It’s one of the main reasons why Bali is considered one of the most romantic islands in the world. It’s even considered the top honeymoon destination in Asia!
- Culturally rich
Bali is a Hindu island, but very tolerant. It is the home of thousands of temples. Religious ceremonies are held throughout the year, offering a magnificent experience for tourists.
- Countless tourist spots
From well-known to hidden gems, Bali has countless tourist hotspots. Beaches, mountains, lakes, waterfalls, rice terraces, villages, hideaways – seriously, the options are endless! You will need a long trip to be able to explore it all.
Bars, booze, dancing, and parties are all over Bali. The nightlife is wild! Canggu is one of the most popular party spots, while Seminyak and Uluwatu host some EPIC events.
- Surfers’ paradise
The beaches in Bali are perfect for surfing. Either as a beginner or pro, you need give it a try.
- Diving and snorkeling
The rates for diving and snorkeling in Bali are said to be cheaper than anywhere else in the world. See mantas and mola-mola in Nusa Penida, or the old USAT Liberty wreck in Amed beach.
Best Time to Visit Bali
Thanks to its location close to the Equator, Bali only has two seasons – dry and wet.
The dry season in Bali is around April to October. It is a good time to enjoy the island, especially if you are a beach goer. Expect crowds around June and August, thanks to school holidays and the Southern Hemisphere seeking out some sun.
November to March is the rainy season. Tourism is lower and the island is much quieter. Expect days when the rain is super heavy, it’s definitely not a good time to go to the beach.
Even though Bali is relatively small, it is FULL of incredible culture, magnificent landscapes, tourist hotspots and phenomenal beaches.
Whether you have a favorite area or want to explore the ENTIRE island, exploring Bali is easy, fun and UNFORGETTABLE.