It's hard to know the boundaries of where Kuta, Legian, and Seminyak begin and end because the three villages have been slowly melding into one another for the past several decades. Today one thing is clear: Seminyak is certainly in a class all its own -- and the sunsets are splendid.

Seminyak is Bali's Notting Hill, Soho, or Miami Beach and has even been compared to Ibiza. If you come here in August and early September, you will see why. Chock-a-block with high-octane parties and "ump humph" music, Seminyak's social beat reverberates from Jalan Laksmana all the way to the beach, pulsing along with the rhythm of the waves. The vibe is mixed with royalty, trendy Europeans, financiers that haven't failed, and Jakarta glitterati.

As Seminyak reaches maximum capacity, Petitenget, one village over, has become the next even more upmarket locale. After that is Batu Belig and then Canggu, which is becoming a bit of an expat ghetto. Lack of planning throughout all of this explosive growth is a story in itself.

In the 1960s and 1970s, when foreign tourists first began arriving in Bali in large numbers, the chosen path was always via Kuta. In the 1970s, Sanur became the darling of daring travelers on the South Sea's circuit. But it wasn't long before wealthy American Charles Osborn bought 15 hectares (37 acres) of land on the beach in a sleepy little area 5km (3 miles) north of Kuta. At the time, Seminyak was all a dozy dream of sea, surf, sand, and green. Osborn hired Australian architect Peter Muller to design a private residence, but the project spun out of control and morphed into a 75-room hotel. In 1974 it was christened the Kayu Aya Hotel. A bad partnership agreement saw the hotel taken possession of by the Balinese partner and fall into disrepair. Overseas investors eventually repossessed the property from the Balinese owner in 1977 and it was bought again by local Balinese supported by the Oberoi Group. Their hope was that their new property was far enough away that they would thrive in solitary splendor forever. They were mistaken.