By far Indonesia's most popular tourist destination, Bali offers vacationers the nearest thing to an island paradise. Most visitors arrive via Denpasar and then quickly make their way out to the surrounding villages where the true Balinese cultural experience begins. Throughout the island, visitors will have no problems finding a coastal village to relax in, swim in the ocean and play on the beach. Some are more touristy than others, but each offers a unique experience.
Located 26 miles northeast of Denpasar and situated on the Padang Bay, Padangbai is a small coastal village with white sand beaches and fewer tourists than Bali's southern coast. Padangbai has two temples, Tanjung Sari temple and Silayukti temple, which are popular attractions. Scattered throughout the village, little restaurants and bars serve a more authentic Balinese experience. Ferryboats leave daily for the nearby Lesser Sunda Islands.
The coastal village of Gilimanuk lies 77 miles west of Denpasar, on Bali's far west coast. Black and white sand beaches await visitors at this lesser touristy village. Snorkeling and SCUBA diving is popular here due to the expansive coral reefs. The West Bali National Park, where visitors can hike and observe wildlife, is only three miles from Gilimanuk. The harbor at Gilimanuk offers ferry rides throughout the day to the nearby island of Java.
Six miles south of Denpasar, Kuta is the most popular of all Bali villages and home to the largest tourist industry. Kuta Beach is famously known for its surfing, nightlife and tourist scene. The almost three miles of white sand beach makes it ideal for doing everything beach-related. Kuta's main street and downtown offers an endless array of souvenir shopping, local and international eateries, and bars. Watching the sunset from the beach is something not to be missed.
The fishing village of Jimbaran's proximity to Denpasar has made it one Bali's more popular destinations. Though only 12 miles south of the capital, unlike Kuta, Jimbaran offers a much calmer experience as there is little in the way of nightlife here and fewer bars. The waters at the white sand beach are also much calmer, making it extremely safe to swim in. Visitors can watch the locals bring in their daily catch and then purchase fresh seafood at the market or nearby restaurants. The village has many little shops and boutiques where local products can be purchased. The beach faces west, so watching the sunset over the ocean is a must.