Two days in Kuta—the beating heart of Bali’s tourist trade—is enough to get a decent taster of the island’s delights. If you plan ahead, you can explore ocean and jungle, see a fire dance, enjoy a classic Balinese massage, admire an ancient Hindu temple, and watch the sun rise from the top of an active volcano. Read on to find out how.
Day 1: Island Insider
Morning: The Indian Ocean is one of Bali’s great joys, and a surfing lesson on Kuta Beach is the perfect way to start the day. Alternatively, travel down to Tanjung Benoa, where offerings include Jet Skiing, banana boats, parasailing, jet-powered fly boarding, and the Seawalker helmet, which allows even nonswimmers to explore underwater.
Afternoon: Head inland for an adventure through Bali’s timeless rice-field landscapes. Race down the white waters of the Ayung River gorge on an inflatable raft, or roar through jungle, forest, villages, and fields on an ATV. Many tours include a stop at a coffee plantation, where you can learn the fine art of caffeine and sample spices and cacao.
Night: After an early dinner, return to the coast for a classic Bali sunset. Kuta Beach is an easy choice, but Tanah Lot Temple, to the north, offers sculpted beauty. Best of all is clifftop Uluwatu Temple, where sweeping ocean views pair with a mesmerizing kecak performance and a spectacular fire dance.
Day 2: Volcano Views
Morning: Start in the small hours for Mt. Batur, an active volcano in the heart of Bali. Hike by headlamp to the viewpoint, where monkeys and hot coffee await, then watch the rising sun reveal dramatic vistas across the island and beyond. Breakfast on eggs and bananas cooked in volcanic steam.
Afternoon: Recover from the climb in true Balinese style. Soak tired muscles and inhale lakeside views in the hot springs below Mt. Batur, or return to south Bali for an indulgent spa, where the trained hands of a Balinese massage therapist will ease the aches away and prepare you for the night ahead.
Night: Mark your last night on Bali with a dinner to remember. Set out on the ocean in time for sunset and feast on international fare as the coast glides by. Alternatively, unwind with a simple dinner on the beach. The seaside resort of Jimbaran is a classic choice for seafood, such as Indonesia’s signature ikan bakar (grilled fish).