Hawaii vs. Bali

Bali is one of Southeast Asia's best locations. Whether you're a digital nomad, looking to make a life there, or a seasoned traveler, it has likely met practically every tourist's wishes. The sheer beauty of nature adorns Hawaii's landscape, blessing it with gorgeous sights and draws. Beautiful beaches, spectacular natural formations, active volcanoes, and a world-class surfing scene. And you can also find a distinct indigenous culture, steeped in colorful history, in Hawaii.
Hawaii vs. Bali

Table of Contents

Deciding between two of the most prominent names in all of the tropics, Hawaii and Bali will leave a lot of confusion. For the avid traveler, seasoned vacationers, and expert beach bums, they are all too fascinating to miss.


Hawaii’s well-decorated name isn’t just only reserved for travel articles and airline travel promos. The Pacific Jewel is a treasure smack dab in the middle of the Pacific, with more than just pretty beaches to offer. With numerous natural charms and a culture well-loved by the world, Hawaii is not even a question.

When you look up Hawaii, you’ll be quickly met with images of fabled blue water seasoning the edges of smooth white sands. This volcanic island chain is as gifted as a tropical island can get. On top of its already stunning landscape, the islands even have a culture steeped in a history that is as colorful and vibrant as its cities.

What Makes Hawaii Unique?


Just like many of the world’s best tropical destinations, Hawaii is also speckled with striking beaches. Hawaii’s beaches are often the stuff of travel promotion materials and are often blueprints of tourism success.

Probably some of the most exciting beaches in the tropics, Hawaii can rival Mexico itself. The island chain itself has over 100 beaches, standing as the frontrunners to Hawaii’s perpetual charm. Each of these beaches has its characteristics creating a diverse array of flavors to experience.

This particular Hawaiian charm provides a little something for everyone. You can expect to find something exciting each time.

With a wide range of unique beaches, expect to find quite a roster of phenomenal spots. The famous Waikiki Beach is almost always the number one choice for every Hawaii lover. Apart from being one of the favorite options, visitors can find Waikiki just outside of the capital of Honolulu.

If you’re one for the rugged and rustic, check Makapu’u, another well-recommended spot. And, Waimea Bay north of Oahu famous for its surf-worthy conditions.


Hawaii’s archipelagic setting isn’t just mere islands jutting out of the middle of the Pacific. The islands are born out of a series of eruptions that began eons ago. Rising above sea level from the ocean floor of the Pacific, Hawaii is more than just patches of green in an expansive blue sea.

Thanks to extensive eruptions, the volcanoes that pushed the islands out of the water have also given the islands their beauty. From its fertile volcanic soil to its well-sculpted landscapes that gave Hawaii its distinct sceneries.

Today, Hawaii still has six active volcanoes, most of which are safe enough to be visited. However, the islands also have two of the most active volcanoes in the world.

Kilauea erupted almost continuously from 1983 to 2018 and is still showing signs of activity. Mauna Loa isn’t only the second most active volcano in the world, it is also the largest.

The Hula

If you’ve seen any representation of Hawaii on the media, you’ll almost always see a distinct form of dance. Mesmerizing hip-swaying and a hand-waving extravaganza characterize the Hula. With a notable mimicry of the movements of the trees and ocean waves, the Hula dance is an enduring tradition of the Hawaiian culture.

The Hula dance pays tribute to things nature that has helped the Polynesian civilization thrive all these years. The dance itself used to be an honorable tradition best reserved to be performed on specific occasions.

The dance was invented by the earliest Polynesians who have settled into the region. Certain emotions and symbolisms such as the portrayal of longing and affection characterize the dance.

The dance used to be performed for the tribe chieftain during tribal meetings, often as a way of telling stories or just pure entertainment. The Hula is also performed during family gatherings.

The tradition was treasured and honored for a long time until the repression by the colonists and immigrants. It was reintroduced in the 20th century.

Surfing Scene

Many of Hawaii’s beaches provide perfect conditions for surfing, especially on the northern shores. Surfing is one of Hawaii’s best gifts to the world. Invented by the Polynesians who first settled into what is present-day Hawaii, the sport has always been a tropical pastime.

Now, surfing is well-loved by many, and seasoned surfers even come to Hawaii not just for its waves but to compete as well. Surfing pros and enthusiasts should head to the islands of Oahu, Maui, and Kauai for the best beaches to surf.

Infamously Expensive

According to online listicles and global surveys, Hawaii is one of the most expensive places to travel to in the world. Expect to see high prices during your visit. It’s best to prepare yourself by looking up prices online before visiting. This better prepares you for what to spend in Hawaii.

Hawaii is also one of the most expensive states to live in the United States, even Americans take a step back when considering traveling to Hawaii. Costs are higher in Hawaii than in the mainland US, even California can be cheaper.

However, a visit for a few days in Hawaii won’t make you break the bank. Several ways can actually help you go around the islands’ expensive prices, you just have to have a good overview of Hawaii’s costs. But with good budgeting, a well-thought-out itinerary, and an adventurous spirit, Hawaii is more than worthy of your expenses.

Polynesian Culture

The island has various representations in media. They include films, TV series, and YouTube videos. The distinct Polynesian overtones of Hawaii’s culture have given several destinations a run for their money.

Upon your most awaited arrival, expect to be met with more than just accents of Hawaii’s culture. From the Hula dance, fancy lei garlands on your neck, and even the obligatory fire dance, Hawaii throws its culture right into your arms. You can tell that Hawaii more than just embraces its culture.

Hawaii’s distinct cultural overtones are a result of its melting-pot history. The earliest Polynesians first settled into the islands and thrived and developed their culture. Then, the European colonists came, then the mainland American immigrants. This long history of cultural meetings gave birth to Hawaii’s distinct twang.


Bali has always been hot among beach bums, and tourists who always have bought the hype of Southeast Asia (SEA). SEA is a region in the east famous for its culture and idyllic natural features.

The Indonesian pride has made it from the best travel publications to the posts of the most followed Instagram influencers in the world. Bali’s already well-accomplished fame has done nothing but elevate itself, reaching an all-time high.

Bali is one of Southeast Asia’s premier destinations. It is perfect for any type of traveler, whether you’re a digital nomad, making a home in it, or a seasoned vacationer. Bali has satisfied probably almost every traveler’s woes imaginable.

The tropical island has budget-friendly delights and accommodations cheaper than the Caribbean. It also has extremely gorgeous beaches and equally beautiful interiors, to outlandish culture. Bali is the East’s answer to many of the West’s overrated travel destinations.

What Makes Bali Unique?

Divine Beaches

Probably the thing that Bali is most famous for is its idyllic scenes and its roster of the most beautiful beaches is almost neverending. From the outlandish lush interiors to its party-loving beaches Bali is Southeast Asia’s tourist mecca; Asia’s answer to the West’s Cancun.

You can lounge and chill, surf, wine and dine, or even party all-out night and day. You just have to figure out what you want to experience, or rather experience first. It’s always a must to have a well-thought-out beach-hopping itinerary when in Bali. To give you a good overview here are some of the most recommended ones:


An impressive 5 km stretch (3 mi) of golden sand with picturesque views of the sea, Seminyak Beach is the number one option. Seminyak allows you to instantly soak up what makes Bali so iconic.

Right on the waterfront, you’ll find a plethora of things to do, and people to meet. In Seminyak, you’ll easily have beach bars, five-star hotels, world-famous beach clubs, and top-rated restaurants. These beachside delights are ready to give you that classic tourist high in Bali.

Seminyak Beach is a whole other tourist destination in itself. Thanks to everything it can provide, it can easily rival several of the Caribbean’s seaside cities. The iconic beach is a hedonist’s haven, best for those looking to experience a lot while doing the most at the same time.

Padang Padang

The most ideal place to have your vacation feel like a film, Padang Padang is chill, fun, and beautiful in every way. Famous for its appearance in the film “Eat, Pray, Love”, you’ll find yourself feeling like the main character here. Padang Padang has all the necessary ingredients that can romanticize your vacation.

The beach is surrounded by cliffs, corals, good energy, and bronzed beach bums. Everything Padang Padang seems to scream, or rather whisper, is rest and recreation. Though relatively small, compared to Seminyak, Padang Padang makes up for it in sheer beauty and animation. You can surf here with world-class waves and little soirees at night.


Pandawa’s best selling point is its vast beautifully classic white sands and clear blue water. The beach is famous for sporting a perfect balance of crowded and a little privacy, just a few yards away from the beach umbrella city area.

You can chill under one of the many big umbrellas available for rent, and even steady canoeing. Or, you go completely the other way and find solace in the private and quiet. Simply visit around low tide and go past the throngs of beachgoers to enjoy an unspoiled paradise. There are no sunbeds, umbrellas, or other amenities here. You have endless stretches of white sand, lagoon-like waters, and pure paradise.

Or if you want to see more, man-made caverns with statues of the five Pandawas can be found a few hundred yards from the shore. The statues depict the Mahabaratha epoch’s heroes indicating that this beach is as rich in culture as it is in the scenery.


Located in Uluwatu, Balangan beach is a surfer’s paradise. Balangan is probably the best spot for the younger and laid-back crowd to kick back and laze away while surf-watching.

The cool thing about Balangan is that it resonated with the younger crowd without being too saturated with tourists. You won’t encounter a heap of touristy things and beach clubs here. You can enjoy the crystal clear aquamarine waters without the spoiling proximity of other beachgoers.

Balangan only has a few local warungs providing home-cooked Indonesian food and icy cold Bintangs. This peaceful strip is still underdeveloped.

There are many ways to enjoy this beach. You can relax and soak up the waves. Wonder upon the views from the surrounding cliff tops covered with thick vegetation.

Nusa Penida

This spot is probably the most Instagrammable location around Bali. Nusa Penida is known for its distinct emerald green cliff-line jutting out to the sky from the enchanting turquoise water. Give it a quick google search and you’ll see what the hype is about.

Nusa Penida is an island just a boat ride away from mainland Bali. The Insta-famous island is best for the adventurous soul. You’ll be met with winding roads, hidden bays, treks and small hikes, unspoiled landscapes, and local eateries.

Because it’s an island in itself, Nusa Penida isn’t just a single beach strip but a whole pack of them. You can visit plenty of Bali’s most famous sites. Arguably the most famous is Kelingking Beach. Crystal Bay, famous for its snorkeling scene, is found here. And on the eastern edge, there’s Diamond Beach, known for its limestone cliffs reminiscent of diamonds.

Captivating Culture

When you go to Bali, without a doubt you’ll realize that the island’s well-hyped beauty isn’t just about its obvious geographical and aquatic features. Bali’s culture is something to behold as well.

Home to the Balinese culture, expect to witness or even take part in the island’s many traditions that have been practiced since the olden times.

Bali’s culture can easily captivate anyone. The island has a distinct blend of Hindu overtones and Southeast Asian cultural similarities. You can check out via tours some of the cultural curiosities or even just by mingling with the friendly locals.

Encounter the famous Balinese Dances such as the Wali, a formal exchange of energies, and Bebali usually performed in temples. And while you’re there, try out the Pencak silat martial art, and the short course about the Bahasa Bali, or Bahasa Indonesia.

Spirituality and Religion

Most of Indonesia is mainly Islamic, but Bali is a bit different. The island’s religion is strongly rooted in Balinese Hinduism.

It is a version of Hinduism that has influences from Shivaism, Buddhism, and Indian principles. This practice has a rich mixture of indigenous rituals for nature, spirits, and even ancestors.

According to the Balinese faith, the supreme god, Sanghyang Widhi, owns the island. This belief has been passed down to the people in sacred trust. As a result, the Balinese appear to spend the majority of their waking hours performing traditions. They can be in the form of offerings, exorcisms, purifications, processions, and temple rites.

Incredibly Gifted Interiors

The island doesn’t only have the most idyllic beaches, Bali also has its outlandish and beautiful interior landscapes. The island’s landscape is diverse scenery. You’ll see beautiful hilly areas with lush foliage, scenic lakes, gorgeous waterfalls. iconic rice fields, flower gardens, gushing sacred rivers, and secret gorges.

Here are some of the places you can visit to better appreciate the island’s natural beauty:


The cool highlands of Ubud are home to natural vistas of lush valleys and rivers brimming with vegetation and fauna. The Petanu, Campuhan, and Ayung are among the scenic river valleys in and surrounding Ubud.

Ayung River is also one of Bali’s most popular whitewater rafting destinations. On adventure and sightseeing trips, you can observe exotic birds and local wildlife up close. Tours allow you to get a closer look at Bali’s natural beauty.


Get yourself to the Jatiluwih rice terraces if you’re looking for a break from the crowds. You can have an experience on a different side of Bali. Do it as soon as possible.

These lush green rice fields are a terrific way to get to know rural Bali and learn why the terraces have been designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. One of the best things about the Jatiluwih rice terraces is that it’s not as popular as other tourist spots. So expect solemnity and sparse crowds. You’ll almost certainly need to lease a car or hire a driver, but the extra effort will be well worth it.

Lempuyang Temple

Take a pilgrimage to Lempuyang Temple in East Bali, which is called after the mountain on which it is located. The temple is located at the top of a forested mountain, which is home to hordes of fearful grey long-tailed macaques. The trek is just for the fit, as it requires 1,700 steep steps to reach the top.

The vistas improve as you climb higher, with panoramic views of the lush forested slopes and Mount Agung, Bali’s tallest summit. The best view is from the top of the temple, which overlooks the ocean. Along the way, you’ll see a variety of unique birds.


The highland settlement of Kintamani boasts one of the best panoramic mountain overlooks on the island. The spot offers spectacular views of the active Batur volcano and its gorgeous caldera lake. For a different perspective, head to Penelokan’s ridge.

The grandeur of the range, with streaks of dark volcanic ash on its hillsides and startlingly verdant green trees, is stunning.

From Accommodations to Cafe: One of the Most Traveler-Friendly Places Ever

Developers go to great lengths to build amazing, well-equipped, and entertaining places to stay. Accommodations in Bali range from opulent resorts to budget hostels.

Private villas can also have ridiculously low fees. Many resorts and hotels have beautiful swimming pools and infinity pools, which most of the time are attractions in and of themselves.

Bali’s rich and lush land, as well as its unique traditional recipes, have resulted in a distinct cuisine. Traditional Balinese cuisine can be eaten as street food or fine dining, and you can learn how to prepare it yourself.

Balinese people are recognized for creating art in any manner they can, which is why there are so many craft stores and art galleries around. You can also find dancers, musicians, artists, artisans, and designers, on the island. They and many others are among those who work in the arts on the island.

Handmade artworks ranging from simple wood key chains to high-end artistic items are sold as well.

If you want to go shopping with your extra suitcase and additional baggage fee, Bali is the place to go. The retail environment in Bali also has quite a range.

Check out traditional markets to contemporary boutiques. These places sell everything from homemade traditional trinkets to high-end designer clothing. Tourists from nations with strong currencies will reap the most benefit.

The majority of visitors to Bali agree that the Balinese are the friendliest people they have ever met. Making new friends is easier here than anywhere else. Residents tend to be eager to talk to everybody, including tourists. For decades, tourists have felt at ease due to their kindness and genuine warmth.

Which Is Better – Hawaii or Bali?

It really depends on what type of things and experience you want to have on a tropical vacation. While Hawaii and Bali are two of the Pacific’s most dazzling hotspots, their differences leave a lot of confusion. Especially for the ever-curious and dedicated traveler.

You have to decide first the factors that can make or break a decision, especially as Hawaii and Bali are both big players in tourism.

Hawaii is nothing short of stunning. From its many islands, the beaches you can find in them, a well-loved local culture, and a hype that never seems to die down. However, Hawaii is expensive and is best experienced with dynamic and energy.

Bali, on the other hand, is perfect for slow and simple living. You can find the island awash with coffee shops and beach bars, among many things.

It also has plenty of stunning beaches, interesting interior landscapes. The local culture is as beautiful and interesting as its island as well. Bali is best explored chill and with a quiet wonder in mind.

After a long day of musing your options, pick the location that matches you or your group’s disposition: energetic Hawaii or chill Bali — you decide.


Are Bali and Hawaii Similar?

Bali and Hawaii are both listed as two of the most well-known destinations in the tropics, each with its own set of quicks and draws. They do have their similarities such as the uber-gorgeous beaches, and beautifully peculiar local cultures.

However, their differences do not only set them apart but define them as well. The wealth of these destinations makes them both worth visiting on separate occasions and not the stuff of comparison.

Is Bali or Hawaii Cheaper?

Bali is a great deal cheaper than Hawaii. If you have to, you can look up the costs of living on each of these islands and you’ll easily and quickly see the disparity.

Most of Southeast Asia’s destinations are known to be some of the cheapest places to travel, and Bali is one of them. Hawaii, on the other hand, is considered one of the most expensive states to live in the US – that alone says a lot.

Bali or Hawaii for Honeymoon?

If you’re looking for a more slowed living, rich nature, and curious local culture, Bali is the best place to be. You can spend your post-wedding celebrations a great deal cheaper here as well. Especially as Bali has that certain type of outdoorsy and authentic kind of romance, nothing too commercial and saturated.

Hawaii is best for the high-rolling, and adventurous newlywed. The Pacific island chain is best reserved for the dynamic and well-animated traveler after all.

Bali Compared to Hawaii – Size

Bali has an estimated size of 5,780 sq. km or 2,231 sq. miles, it isn’t the biggest island on the Indonesian archipelago but it is a world of its own. Hawaii on the other hand isn’t just one island, but a group of them. The US state holds a total land area of 28,311 sq. km or 10,931 sq. miles.

Is Bali Close to Hawaii?

Bali is nowhere close to Hawaii. The sheer distance between them is a staggering estimate of 10,064 km or 6,253 miles, directly.