I am not trying to educate people with the history of Bali, or it’s geography. What I am trying to do here is to give you a brief introduction to the areas in Bali that could give you ideas of whereabouts and what to expect in each areas.
Physically, Bali is divided in half, east to west, by a volcanic mountain chain, and north to south by deep river gorges. Black volcanic sand is the norm, but white sandy beaches periodically dot the coast, with some of the most spectacular either on the Bukit (mount) or hidden in the east. The island is dominated by two active volcanoes, Gunung Agung (Mount Agung), the apex of Balinese religious and cultural belief, and Gunung Batur (Mount Batur), with its twin calderas and shimmering lake. The northwest is given over mainly to national park, the central mountains to coffee and crops, and the remote east with its pebble beaches and crystal clear seas, to diving and snorkeling.
South Bali — The triangular wedge of tropical lowlands south of Ubud to the Bukit Peninsula is the most developed area of Bali. The tourist hub of Seminyak-Legian-Kuta is next door to the Ngurah Rai International airport and provides a convenient first stop and a good base for day trips. Kuta is perhaps the most developed, with the cheapest digs on the island. The tourist influx means this is the place to go for nightlife, which attracts the younger, backpacking crowd, but you’ll find much better fine-dining options in Seminyak. Unfortunately, Kuta Beach has a very strong current, which makes swimming difficult and dangerous, but it’s a surfer’s paradise with rip curls and challenging waves. Seminyak is certainly Bali’s chicest “village,” home to the majority of the island’s expats and upscale accommodation.
Denpasar is Bali’s capital, with a population of over a half-million. Though most visitors completely bypass the city for more idyllic surrounds, it is home to the Bali Museum, one of the island’s best for a general overview of Balinese history and culture.
Located on the east side of the island, Sanur, is another of the island’s original beach resort areas. However, unlike Seminyak, Kuta and Legian, Sanur managed to maintain it’s level of tranquility which is nearly impossible to find in the other busy tourist areas. Surfing, windsurfing, scuba diving, and snorkeling are the main attractions here. Just off shore are the islands of Penida, Lembongan, and Ceningan, which provide some of Bali’s finest scuba diving and are an easy boat ride from the mainland. The beach is fringed by a reef meaning the shore is safe for kids’ swimming, and a boardwalk along the beach makes pram pushing a pleasant rather than a frought experience.
Nusa Dua is government-sponsored and was deliberately developed as a high-end wealth traveller’s ghetto; it sits above the eastern cliffs. The beach is publicly accessible and often you may eat a meal at a resort and use their pool and other facilities — check ahead of time. Further on around the southern peninsula of Bali which is also publicly accessible are some of the most stunning spots on the island: Padang Padang, Balangan and Nyang Nyang are all breathtaking with a few warungs to keep you fed and watered, but do not expect the same like in Kuta or Seminyak. However, if you want to, in Nyang Nyang you can bring-your-own picnic affair with somewhat tricky access.
Ubud — Simply put, Ubud’s raison d’être is to be Balinese. The island’s rich culture — with traditions, artistry, and spirituality that encompasses seemingly every aspect of daily life — thrives here in a multitude of temples, museums, art galleries, and artisan villages. Money and development in Ubud is funneled toward preserving traditions and encouraging cultural innovations; international chain companies are kept at bay. Ubud is a destination where it is possible to chance upon local people participating in ceremonies right on the main road and more frequently in many of the back streets surrounding the town itself. These ceremonies are the real deal and not put on for tourists, although local people are usually comfortable for tourist to look on.You cannot visit Bali without seeing Ubud.