Bali: Setting your appointment with paradise
If you’re looking for a peaceful, healthful, scenic place to visit, it’s time to consider Bali. The locals are hospitable, the food is nourishing and the countryside runs the gamut from tranquil to breathtaking. Is Bali on your bucket list? Here’s the scoop on when to go.
The most popular time to visit may not be the best time
Tourists flock to Bali in the summer when the western world is on vacation. The weather is good and the festivals are plentiful, but the overabundance of travelers between June and September makes for big crowds and high prices. Crowds also descend in winter, especially around Christmas, to escape the cold in more northern climes for a tropical climate where the water is pleasant all year.
Bali weather and its two seasons
Bali has two seasons: the rainy season and the dry season. The climate is warm year-round, and you don’t need to consider things like changing foliage or falling snow. Be prepared for the rain, however, which falls heavily from October to March. The summer is the dry season, which is why it’s such a popular time to visit. The dry season is best for water sports like swimming, diving and surfing, and it’s the only time you’ll want to climb volcanoes and trek through the highlands.
Traffic, tourist and crowd considerations
The best months to visit Bali, if you’re looking to avoid the crowds and the rain, are April, May and September. Just outside the rainy season, these months are not too crowded, and the prices are typically 30 to 50 percent lower than during the high season.
Driving in Bali is a challenge, to be sure. Drivers share the narrow roads with livestock and dogs, and it’s typical for drivers to enter roads without even looking. Many tourists choose to take taxis or drive scooters when they visit Bali, but you may be better off renting a car and driver. If you do choose to drive yourself, you’ll need an international driver’s license or a temporary Balinese driver’s license. You’ll also need to familiarize yourself with Bali’s traffic rules, and be sure to stay alert at all times.
A few words about surfing
Bali is one of the best places in the world to surf, and there are plenty of places to rent a board. If you’re a beginner, it may be helpful to book a surfing package, attend a surf camp or hire a surfing guide. If you’d rather strike out on your own, make sure to ask plenty of questions before you go. There are great spots for beginners to learn, but there are also coral reefs, dangerous currents and other hazards, so it’s best to ask for help before putting yourself in danger.
If you’re an experienced surfer, you’ll have a great experience in Bali, where there are good waves every day of the year. In the dry season, check out the west coast and the Bukit peninsula. During the rainy season, the east coast is a better option. Bali lives up to the hype, and surfers, like just about everyone else, will find this island every bit the paradise they'd imagined.