Why spend most of your time in the Kuta/Seminyak axis when you can head down to Uluwatu Bali? After falling in love with Ubud, we headed down to Uluwatu to stay for 3 days. We were in search of surf. Unfortunately we didn’t get much of it, but Uluwatu Bali did not disappoint.

Handy to know: although officially known as the Bukit Peninsula, most people call the southern area of Bali Uluwatu, after its famous temple with the same name

Thinking back on it, the Uluwatu area was one of my favorite parts of Bali. It didn’t have the trash and crowds of Seminyak and it wasn’t too hipster like Canggu. It was just right. It’s famous for beaches tucked into the cliffside, and is worth a multi-day stay instead of a day trip to the Uluwatu Temple.

Uluwatu Bali guide

My favorites in Uluwatu

Bingin Beach

This was the beach I envisioned when I imagined Bali. While the beaches in the north (Legian, Kuta, Seminyak, Echo) can be a bit dirty, or have black sand, Bingin Beach was just want I thought the beaches there would be like. I’m really glad we went there first before the northern beaches actually, because it showed me how great the beaches in BaliΒ canΒ be.

Bingin Beach Uluwatu
Hi from Bingin Beach – look, there’s a tree growing from the rock!

We visited Bingin on our first day in Uluwatu, courtesy of our Lonely Planet, of course. Having no idea what to expect, we followed the signs for Bingin Beach until we came across a quasi-parking lot filled with roosters where we could park our scooter. If you go, just follow the signs from the parking area, although it looks a bit shady. Once you walk for a little while following the signs, you’ll come to a (very) steep set of stairs to follow down the cliff. This brings you amongst the small hotels and restaurants perched along the cliff, and eventually to the beach. The way back up is much harder than the way down πŸ™‚

Bingin beach uluwatu
The view when you’re floating in the ocean…

Next time we are in Bali I would love to stay here for a couple days straight just to lay on the beach all day with a book and nothing else…

Bingin Beach was my favorite beach in Uluwatu for several reasons:

  1. It wasn’t crowded. I assume this is because it can really only be reached by scooter and is not especially family friendly. There are no resorts on the cliff, meaning the only hotels are quite small and humble.
  2. The view of the ocean is beautiful, but the view from the ocean looking back at the beach is almost better.
  3. THERE IS A DOG WHO PERMANENTLY LIVES THERE!! Bima the Beach Dog is a golden retriever who famously resides on Bingin Beach. Unfortunately I didn’t get a pic with this local celeb, but I did see him, which was pretty exciting for me. He’s a real sweetie who will cuddle up with just about anyone on the beach.
  4. I love that there are trees growing out of massive beach boulders there.
  5. You can surf here! Just be careful to avoid the reef below – surf only at high tide!

Single Fin

Single Fin Uluwatu

Single Fin is perched on the cliffside over looking Uluwatu Beach. It’s a hotel/bar/chill spot where you can eat, drink and watch the surfers take on the mighty Uluwatu Pipeline from above. Wander up to Single Fin from the Uluwatu entrance (there’s also a Single Fin scooter entrance) and you’ll be amazed at how all the ramshackle buildings miraculously don’t slip off the cliff down into the ocean.

Single Fin
Single Fin… it’s pretty much the place to be (from their IG)

Grab a spot on the porch over looking the ocean, with a bintang in your hand while a DJ spins in the background, and you’ll really feel like you’re on vacation.Β Single Fin Uluwatu Bali

Unfortunately when we visited the pipeline wasn’t pumping, but if you’re lucky if you get to see it. If you’re looking to surf, it’s better to leave this one to the pros.

Uluwatu Temple

An obvious must visit in Uluwatu is the temple with the same name. We visited on our first morning in Uluwatu, thinking it would be ideal to cross this one off the list. You are supposed to go at sunset to witness the kacak dance, but we didn’t. Instead we opted to go when we were sweating our asses off in the midday heat. Anyway, you should probably visit at sundown – but that’s also when all the tour buses arrive.

Unless you are wearing pants or a long skirt already, you’ll get one of these sarongs and look as fashionable as I did πŸ˜‰

Visit Uluwatu – the temple itself is not as beautiful as some of the other temples in Bali, but the views from the cliff over the ocean are pretty spectacular.

Uluwatu Temple
View from Uluwatu Temple

Watch out for the monkeys who patrol the parking lot. Don’t leave any food near your scooter, or else it’ll be gone!

Β 

What to skip in Uluwatu

Dreamlands Beach. I think this should be renamed to nightmare beach. We headed here only because we heard it could be decent for beginner surfers. The beach is pretty depressing. It’s filled with garbage and located next to a deserted resort. It has a sad feeling that it was once developed for tourism, then left to rot. My advice is to avoid it at all costs.

Nusa Dua. Another one that I suggest you skip. Although we did rent surf boards for a day in Nusa Dua, I’d recommend you avoid it unless you are looking for a luxury resort stay in Bali. This is where you’ll find a lot of name brand hotels you are familiar with, to me it felt like I entered Hawaii. I was in Bali for something different, not to feel like I stepped into a Western luxury resort.

The entire area of Nusa Dua is really developed and is only accessible through gates. When you enter by scooter you have to tell the guards you are coming to surf (or whatever you are there for) and go through. It’s a bit of a maze and feels completely different than the west side of the peninsula where Uluwatu, Bingin and Padang Padang are.

Despite how developed it was, the area was so badly maintained. Part of a walkway along the beach had completely collapsed down into the sand and a light pole was laying on the beach. I wish I had taken a photo of it because I can’t find any online…To be honest, I think that a lot of hotels have come here and built up without much regard for the environment. I’m curious to see what happens to this area over the upcoming years.

Where to stay in Uluwatu

bungalow pool bali
You’ll never want to leave…

We stayed at S Resorts Hidden Valley during our 3 day stay in Uluwatu. For us it was an ideal place to stay for many reasons

  • It’s affordable. We were traveling for 4 weeks through Indonesia and our threshold for hotels was around $45 per night – and this fit in our budget with no problems!
  • It includes breakfast – duh, that is always a plus.
  • Scooter rentals were $7 per day – trust me, rent from your hotel, NOT from some one on the street
  • You can wake up with yoga. We loved waking up and doing yoga every morning during our stay. Ommm.
  • We had the most relaxing massages there. I think we paid around $8 each for an hour of bliss. Do it.
  • Location, location, location. S Resorts Hidden Valley is located off the main road, tucked into a quiet valley, but is still close to everything you want to reach in Uluwatu.

Where to eat

I might have a small confession to make… we ate at the same restaurant two nights in a row because we loved it so much – and because it was so close to where we stayed!

Bukit Cafe Uluwatu
Bukit Cafe Uluwatu

If you have a chance, and are looking for a break from nasi goreng, then you should definitely check out Bukit Cafe. The food there is delicious and will really help you get your western food fix – plus most items are still pretty healthy. The restaurant is located between Binging Beach and Padang Padang, so is pretty central in the Uluwatu area.

I myself indulged in this veggie burger below … twice

veggie burger bukit cafe
Yummmm

You can also spend time visiting infamous Padang Padang beach and the bluer than blue Pantai Pendawa, but for me, the places above took the cake!

 

 

 

13 Comments

  1. Uluwatu sounds awesome! Can you get surf lessons there as well? That’s why we stayed in Kuta for a while, to try and learn how to surf. There’s indeed trash in the water, lots of people on the beach and many tourists and tourist shops, but we found a really nice guy to give us surf lessons and we found some solid restaurants to eat. We loved Ubud as well and fell in love with Amed. That’s where we headed for some scuba diving. The water is clear and it wasn’t busy at all there. Felt a little off the beaten path. The snorkeling is great too and we had an awesome view from our hotel. Definitely one of the highlights of our trip around the world!

    • gab.grow@gmail.com Reply

      you can definitely get some surf lessons there! you can surf at pretty much any beach but many are best for pros only. if you really want to surf in Indonesia I’d suggest Gerupuk in Lombok instead for the best beginner waves. if you’re very advanced then head to Ulutwatu!

  2. Oh my gosh… S Resorts Hidden Valley looks incredible. I can’t believe how affordable it is and those $8 massages? Amazing! Uluwatu looks and sounds like paradise.

    • gab.grow@gmail.com Reply

      yes the hotel was fabulous! and cheap! definitely recommend to stay there if you go!

  3. I remeber visiting Uluwatu few years ago and definitely it was one of the best spots in Bali! I hated Kuta- so crowded and touristy! πŸ™

    • gab.grow@gmail.com Reply

      and somehow so many people skip it! great minds think alike πŸ˜‰

  4. I’ve never been to Bali but always wanted to go. The only thing is I wanted to avoid spending too much time in Kuta, so it’s great to read about this alternative!

    • gab.grow@gmail.com Reply

      If you visit Uluwatu you’ll have a great time there! Bali has so much more than the main tourist locations πŸ™‚ !

  5. You’re so right — Kuta < Ulu Watu! I'm glad to see that you loved Bingin – me too! I could eat at swamis or do yoga up on the platform all day if I had the time πŸ˜€ Great advice about the shallow reef too – not exactly ideal for beginner surfers. Loved reliving these classic things to do down here and now I really want to go back!

    • gab.grow@gmail.com Reply

      That’s one of the best and worst parts of blogging… it makes me so reminiscent to return to my previous trips!!

  6. What a helpful post! I could really go for a beach day right about now! Definitely pinning this for future reference πŸ™‚

    • gab.grow@gmail.com Reply

      thanks! I’m glad it’s helpful for you πŸ™‚

  7. I was on Bali last summer and sadly did not visit Uluwatu. I stayed at Ubud and Legian.
    I chose legian because Kuta was too crowded (said my friends) en seminyak was expensive.
    I ended up liking Legian a lot.
    When my taxi went through Kuta,… i thought thank god I am not staying here….looked like magaluf or chersonisos…so crowded with westerners.
    x

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