Recently, DestinAsian Readers Choice Awards 2017 awarded Bali as the best island destination for the 12th year in a row. Before that, New York’s Travel+Leisure Magazine rated it as the second best island in the world after Ecuador’s Galapagos Islands, and before even that travel sources from Trip Advisor to Condé Naste have lauded Bali as ‘the best’ as well, or at least one of them. The question is why?
When we read the words ‘Best Island’, our imagination tends to take us towards that cliché image of paradise: an empty beach to call our own, with waters as blue as sapphire. This is no longer the case. Travel has taken on new forms and just an image of the perfect shoreline doesn’t quite cut ‘best’ anymore. Modern travellers need more than just a pretty picture to enjoy an island destination…
The truth is that Bali has changed – yes, for better and for worse – but it is this change that has resulted in its success and popularity around the world. What today’s Bali offers us is variety, one that not many other island destinations can match.
If we look at the criteria of voting forums, the different influencing factors range from staff hospitality and available facilities to culinary attractions and cultural sights. If we look at what Bali offers as a whole, it ticks each and every check box on the criteria, and more…
For the real travel lovers, adventure awaits in the forests, under the sea or on the waves. Culture lovers can witness colourful daily traditions, exotic dances and majestic temples. Those after pure leisure will find solace in the 5-star services, fine dining establishments, beach and night clubs, family activities and places for the kids are numerous too.
Even your preferred landscape and scenery is catered for, as Bali allows you to choose from the beach, to the countryside to way above the mountains – and of course the cosmopolitan buzz in thrown in the mix as well. This variety means that whatever your taste is, you’ll find it on the island.
However, it goes beyond variety; ease and accessibility is what makes Bali particularly unique. Nothing is too far or too difficult to do.
In 24-hours you could be trekking rice fields at sunrise, drop into Ubud to watch a Balinese dance and taste some local cuisine, make it down south for a sunset drink at one of the beach clubs, then dine at one of the many fine establishments before sinking into a club for a full-on night of partying. That may be a stretch for one day, but the point is it’s possible.
Like walking into any megastore, one destination caters for all your needs. This is what appeals to the modern traveller, whose shrinking attention spans and thirst to find something ‘new’ has them scouring the island’s many sights and experiences. But, again, if your choice of holiday is to do nothing by the pool, well you can do that too. The choice is yours. Tie all of these in with the amazing personal interactions we have with the Balinese, well, it’s an experience hard to forget…
With all this in mind, it’s no wonder Bali makes it to the top of so many lists worldwide. The island caters to so many people’s ideas of the ideal holiday that it wins the popular vote.
However, this smorgasbord of experiences that Bali offers may not last forever. Popularity leads to development, which if uncontrolled will see the cultural and natural attractions of the island slowly diminish, replaced by an encroaching modernisation of land and people.
Whilst Bali certainly isn’t perfect today, it has a place in everyone’s heart. So, to the government officials, do your best to keep the balance in check. And to you, go out and enjoy all of it; the ‘ best island in the world ’ may not be the best forever.