Getting Real: We spent a day driving around the Tabanan area, which boasts endless rice terraces with no luxury villas or tourists in sight. We also came across many tradesmen at work. Some were weaving thatched roofs from grass. Still others were extracting clay from the ground and stamping it into bricks and roofing tiles. It was an eye-opening outing, especially for kids.
Tranquil Beaches: To get away from the bikini-clad crowds at Kuta and Seminyak, try Kedungu beach, a lovely but not famous stretch of black sand where the only other beachgoers we saw were three surfers. We lunched on delicious corn-on-the-cob and nasi goreng, or fried rice, from a local food stand.
Even more gorgeous is Padang Padang, a surfer's paradise near the famous Uluwatu temple, where cliffs meet blue sky and waves. It has avoided mass development because it's tricky to access, but it's nonetheless getting more crowded.
The northern coast is quieter, but avoid the dawn dolphin-sighting outings at Lovina, where dozens of speedboats zigzag through the water chasing a few poor animals.
Shopping: Ubud is famous for its market and boutiques, though many vendors there sell the same sarongs, baskets and figurines. Laurent Pickaerts, a Frenchman who runs the charming La Maison P&L guest house in Kerobokan, took us antiquing on Tangkuban Perahu Road in the Pengipian neighborhood, where dozens of shops sell antiques and handicrafts for reasonable prices. Here, you can find small statues, shadow puppets and drums that would fit in a suitcase. For baskets, kites and children's souvenirs, try Unagi (Marlboro Road No. 383 in Denpasar). It's a wholesale craft market where Seminyak's chic boutiques buy their wares to sell at jacked-up prices. What it lacks in charm it makes up for in choice and price.
Image: This Aug. 25, 2012 photo shows Balinese men building a bamboo bridge next to a road construction site in Kuta, 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.