Bali is built on the site of the ancient city Astali, which was the port of Axos. Astali is linked to the city the legendary giant of Crete, Talos, stopped during his journey. Thus, the mountains south of the village are called Talean Mountains, after Talos. During the Venetian Era, this name was paraphrased to Atali, a name that is still live in the nearby monastery of Atalis. The present name is derived from Turks. Balli in Turkish means "honey" and the area was named so because of the many beehives. According to other beliefs, the fishing village was name Bali after the Turkish word ballik, which means fish.
Today, Bali is a modern resort with a wide variety of taverns, restaurants, small shops, a diving school, bars, discos, clinic and pharmacy. Moreover, buses from Heraklion and Rethymnon run to Bali. The station, however, is located about 1km southern. Furthermore, from the local harbor, excursion boats run daily to Rethymnon. The passengers have the chance to admire a unique coastline with beautiful caves and rock formations.
Main attractions of the region are the Monastery Atali (1635), dedicated to St. John, and the church of Panagia Charakiani.