But sadly, amid the island's speedy, haphazard development, sometimes it can be hard to see past the construction cranes, traffic jams and trash on the southern coast.
Even in landlocked Ubud, the island's supposedly laid-back cultural hub, my taxi got stuck in gridlock outside a Starbucks. It seemed a fitting symbol for a vacation going wrong.
Image: This Aug. 25, 2012 photo shows tourists taking a surfing lesson on Kuta beach, Bali, Indonesia. It can be hard to find Bali's serenity and beauty amid the villas with infinity pools and ads for Italian restaurants. But the rapidly developing island's simple pleasures still exist, in deserted beaches, simple meals of fried rice and coconut juice, and scenes of rural life.