Why I Love Bali, And Why It’s Taken Me So Long

When I first traveled to Bali it was more out of convenience than desire. I first landed on this little Indonesian island back in 2013. I had just spent a month traversing the island of Java. And given its proximity to Java, Bali just seemed like the next logical stop.

Why I Love Bali - Travel Lush
Looking at a Balinese volcano from Gili Trawangan.

While most people would be thrilled to have the chance to visit Bali for an extended amount of time, I honestly wasn’t all that excited. Leading up to that trip, I’d heard fairly negative things about Bali from my backpacker friends. That it’s too touristy, too expensive, too overdeveloped. I came into Bali really skeptical – and perhaps it was this skepticism that colored my view of Bali for years to come.

During that first trip I spent as little time on the main island of Bali as possible. Like most travelers who are visiting Bali for the first time, I spent my first few nights in the wild and raunchy Kuta area. And while I didn’t hate Kuta it’s definitely not my scene, and it wasn’t really a place I wanted to spend more than a few days in.

Why I Love Bali - Travel Lush

So, instead of giving the mainland of Bali a real chance I fled from it and spent the next few weeks blissing out on the mellow little islands of Gili Trawangan and Nusa Lembongan.

I enjoyed that time in ‘Bali’ immensely. And I wouldn’t change anything about that trip for the world. But looking back, I realize just how mistaken I was about Bali. It’s taken me three years, five visits and 81 days of traveling here to finally be able to say that I get it. I really like Bali. In fact, I kinda love it. I love it here so much, actually, that I have this inkling that one day I could call this Indonesian island home. But I’m pretty sure I say that about most places I travel…

It’s really easy to stereotype Bali based on quick trips. I know, I did exactly that. But the reality is that Bali is an extremely multi-faceted place.

Why I Love Bali - Travel Lush
Canggu, my latest discovery on Bali.

It took me a long time to realize that there is more to Bali than mega-resorts or overcrowded beaches or drunk Australians (sorry guys!).

If you’re looking for stunning nature and yoga studios head to Ubud, the cultural heart of Bali. If you want to spend your days at ultra-hip cafes and of chasing the perfect wave book a few nights in Canggu. If you want to check out some stunning vistas and turquoise water the mellow town of Uluwatu is definitely for you. If you’ve got the urge to get pampered at an upscale resort Nusa Dua’s got you covered. And if you want to experience Bali the way it was 40 years ago then get your ass on a boat to Nusa Penida.

Why I love Bali - Travel Lush
Rice terraces in Ubud.
Why I Love Bali - Travel Lush
Trust me, Uluwatu will blow your mind.
Why I Love Bali - Travel Lush
And Nusa Dua’s not too shabby either.

This is only a tiny fraction of places to visit on Bali – and all of these places are vastly different. Seriously guys, I’ve spent a decent chunk of time here and I feel like I’ve barely seen a thing.

I suppose my point is that I feel badly that it took me so long to get this place and to truly appreciate all that this island has to offer. This is just my opinion, but Bali is a great place. It is made up of friendly people (both local and expats), a thriving culture and a diverse and wonderful cuisine (that is surprisingly vegetarian friendly). Bali is chock full of things to do from volcano trekking to diving and snorkeling to world-class surfing and so much more.

Why I Love Bali - Travel Lush
Nasi campur. A lifesaver to vegetarians and meat eaters.

So I’m sorry Bali. I’m sorry that I was so lukewarm about you for so many years. I’m sorry it took me so long to understand just how beautiful you really are. All I can say is that I’m incredibly glad to be here. I might have a month left with you but I already know it’s going to be tough to tear myself away from you when it’s time to go back to Beijing. But for now, I’m going to try my best to make the most of my time here.


why i love bali - travel lush

Have you been to Bali? Any recommendations on things I should see or do during my month here? Please let me know in the comments below.

About Justine

Justine Lopez is a California native who always seems to take the unconventional route in life. She also suffers from a serious case of wanderlust. In 2013, she set out on a yearlong round-the-world journey and never looked back. Since then she's lived the expat life in both Jakarta and Phnom Penh. She's now living and working as a freelance writer in Beijing. As she meanders her way through Asia she's always seeking out great vegetarian food, budget travel deals and amazing new travel destinations.

11 thoughts on “Why I Love Bali, And Why It’s Taken Me So Long

  1. Its funny how things, like finding a favorite destination sneak up on you. Its funnier that sometimes those places were places you hated, or were apprehensive about at first. I’m glad to hear you have found a place you can see yourself living for long term though. I think as a constant travel that is a big thing…Im still looking for my place. Oh and I will totally come visit you, like a lot!
    Terra recently posted…Hiking to Altyn arashan-Karakol, Kyrgyzstan

    1. It is so funny how it happens. Perhaps it’s because I’ve changed a lot in the way I view places. But I’ve realized that places I love traveling to aren’t always places I’d want to live, and places I’d want to live don’t always make the best travel destinations. Anyway, I’m glad I’ve finally come around to Bali. You should come here!!

    1. Haha, glad I didn’t offend you 😉 Isn’t it crazy how much there is to do on Bali? I’m glad I’m not alone in feeling like I haven’t seen a thing despite the large chunk of time I’ve spent here.

  2. We have been to Bali several times and a few of our favorite things are the morning bike rides from the volcano to Ubud, rafting in the rivers and scuba diving in Tulamben.

    1. Nice. I’ve been thinking of taking a ride from Canggu to the volcano! It’s definitely on my list. And hopefully I’ll make it back to Ubud too. There’s so much to do and not enough time!

  3. So many people I met in SEA raved about Canggu that I posted up there for a week in Bali rather than Kuta or Seminyak. It was such a cool community of expats (even if it did have a little of the pretentious surfer dude vibe). So many good places to eat, great scenery, and Old Man’s was great for the bar and the beach. Day trips to Uluwatu and waterfalls up north via motorbike were just full of such great scenery. It was definitely my favorite part of Bali. (Okay… I liked Gili T too!)

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