Bali is so plentiful in rich attractions and activities that it’s easy to miss the number-one tourist attraction. Could it be the Sacred Monkey Forest and temple of Ubud, or the majestic temple tour of Tanah Lot? No, actually, by terms of sheer numbers, Kuta Beach, in the far southern reach of Bali, draws the most visitors!

The district of Kuta is a very well-developed city, just like anyplace in the Western world. Its commercial district is densely lined with shops and boutiques, lined with shaggy palm trees. It was the first, out of all Balinese locations, to see the beginning of the tourist boom. Outside of the main town area, called Legian, there is the suburb of Seminyak, where many emigrants settle. There is also the area Tuban, lined with tourist-oriented businesses as well.

One of the main attractions to Kuta is its luxurious white sand beach and its world-renowned surfing. Surfers from Australia and all over the world meet here to test their mettle against the blazing blue waters. There is also Bali Wave Hunter, an outfit offering chartered surf tours. There’s also businesses offering equipment sales and rental, and surfing lessons.

Kuta Beach is protected by a large wall, separating the beach from the traffic of downtown Kuta. This both helps the sand stay on the beach and keeps the noise from the city from interfering with the beach environment.

Kuta has gotten very urban in recent years, because the tourists just keep on coming. Many of the streets are narrow for the amount of traffic they get, and there’s sidewalk cafes and motels every other building. Kuta has joined the 21st century with wifi Internet and prepaid mobile phone cards. Street vendors hawk their wares on every corner. If you’ve traveled Bali before and seen all the forests and coral you want, Kuta is one place where you’ll feel right at home.

As you might expect, Kuta has also gained a reputation as a party town lately, and has a vibrant and active nightlife. Urban legends abound of peddlers who will sell you anything (wink wink) if your tastes are exotic enough.

Other attractions in the area include a vibrant yoga community with classes and clubs devoted to it, such as the Anand Krishna Center Kuta, a center for health and meditation. You’ll also find several spas and massage parlors in the area. There is also the Secret Garden of Divine Mother, a tiny but significant park dedicated to healing the Earth’s spirit, because even in the midst of all this urban excitement, the Balinese people keep their reverence for nature. but if this isn’t enough for you, there is an expansive mangrove forest just inland from town.

The beach itself is usually quite crowded, especially at the peak of tourist season in July and August. It enjoys a reputation as the finest beach in Bali, so you can understand why there’s such a big draw.