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Ocean cove with turquoise water crashing against a rocky formation covered in green trees.

5 Reasons Bali Lives Up to the Hype

They don’t call it the Island of the Gods for nothing.

by Kathleen Curran

Bali is no doubt on the top of every traveler’s bucket list. But does it live up to the hype? Hard yes. This gorgeous spot gives otherworldly vibes with majestic waterfalls, breathtaking beaches, a rich community culture, and a dream aesthetic like no other. I recently had the privilege of traveling to this East Asian destination on our Bali: Tropical Escape tour and came back with five reasons why you should definitely make this your next trip.

Green trees, houses, and a road in the foreground with mountains and blue sky with fluffy clouds in the distance.

There’s an adventure for everyone

If you are up for experiences (and maxing out your phone storage) Bali is your spot. Not only did we climb an active volcano before sunrise, we also went river rafting, planted rice, strolled through acres of neon-green rice fields, cooked a Balinese lunch, learned about Hindu gods, witnessed an iconic fire dance, met monkeys in the Ubud forest, and even squeezed in some shopping. Bali will greet you with a warm hug and a ton of stuff to do.

Several people crossing a natural bridge over the turquoise water of an ocean cove with cacti in the foreground.

The Balinese people are amazing

I cannot express how kind the Balinese people are. I asked my (very funny) tour guide, Putri, why this might be, and she attributed it to their religion, lovingly calling it “Balinese Hinduism.” Unlike many Indonesian people who are practicing Muslims, Bali's spiritual polytheism fosters inner and outer harmony, as well as love for community, animals, and nature. This manifests through ceremonies, rituals, sculptures, and temples. Both Putri and Tour Director Aggie were thrilled to tell us about the rich culture and history of the Island as they walked us through temples, showed us daily rituals, and even invited us to be blessed in a personalized ceremony. Everyone was warm and patient with our questions, and it was by far the most welcoming place I've visited.

Two women sitting together weaving baskets and handling tropical flowers.

It’s a mermaid paradise

Because, you know, mermaids are 100% real. Discover waterfalls so epic you’ll NEED to chase them (sorry, TLC). Beaches with water so clear and at such a perfect temperature you’ll just want to float your day away. If you’re feeling more active, just pick your water sport. Nusa Penida is a must-hit destination with turquoise coves that require no filter.

Two people in traditional costume performing for a seated audience.

Everything is gorgeous

Entering your wellness era? Bali sets you up for self-reflection in an awe-inspiring landscape. Dotted with forested volcanoes, sprawling rice paddies, and Planet Earth-worthy wildlife—lysm, David Attenborough—this island redefines natural beauty. On our second to last day, we woke up at 4 in the morning to catch the sunrise on Mount Batur, an active volcano. After hiking through the darkness with flashlights, we finally got to the peak for sunrise, which is a euphoric feeling I’ll never forget. Core memory unlocked.

A group of eight people smiling and posing in front of a misty orange sunrise.

The food is epic

Balinese cuisine is diverse, flavor-packed, and well, you just have to dig in. Picky eaters, this is your time to try something new. You got this! My group started off a little timid but by the end of every meal we were practically licking our plates. Favorites were the bebek goreng (fried duck and rice), sate (satay) and dadar gulung (Balinese pancakes, but for dessert!) I love spicy food, so I was definitely up for trying some unreal hot sauces. And for vegans and vegetarians, there were so many amazing meat-free and plant-based options. Take me back.

A closeup shot of rice and vegetables on a plate.

Bali is a dream destination for a reason. It’s a magical place that you can’t fully understand until you visit for yourself. Go with an open mind and willingness to experience something new, and you won’t fail. And sunscreen too...that’ll help.

Looking for more EF Ultimate Break #Balicontent? Check out PopSugar’s latest article about our Bali adventure.

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