If you think that Bali is all deep-tissue relaxation; endless hours of sun and smiling locals gazing at the sun and tropical flowers, followed by nights on the sand with a drink in your hand; then you are absolutely right. But behind the sheer joy of this paradise island, there is the fascinating Hindu culture rich with history and tradition.
So in one day you can spend an hour on a beachfront massage table to the sound of waves rolling in, then head off to watch ancient religious/folk stories about playful gods acted out in a nearby temple (there are no fewer than 20,000 temples on the island). Then you can return to the beach for a beginners’ surfing lesson before a night’s clubbing in some of the hottest bars for a thousand miles.
And after you have exhausted yourself on the dance floor, take the ferry across to the neighbouring island of Lombok. It’s a far more peaceful place where you can enjoy nature and the scenery. The culture is laid-back Islamic, to contrast with colourful Hindu Bali. On Lombok, the entertainment is all natural. It’s a great place for diving and the marine life attracts a lot of people who have spent the previous three days skimming above the sharks and stingrays on surfboards through Bali’s waves.
The little Gili sub-islands are the focus for anyone who wants to pull on a shorty wetsuit and see what’s swimming about out of sight. For other active souls, there are great hikes through hilly trails, especially up to Gunung Rinjani mountain. But if even strolls through the countryside are beyond you by now, just lie back on one of the three-day boat cruises from Lombok to the port of Flores via Komodo, the island where you can spot the famous Komodo dragons.