This was my first time in Uluwatu and I must say it has a completely different vibe to Seminyak. It’s more about getting back to nature, the air is fresher, the beaches are beautiful, the locals are laid back (they don’t hassle you to buy things); you can easy lose yourself and lose track of time. There is so much to do and see here! We did a lot in a short period of time but I know we could have fit in more if we were better organized. For that reason, I’ve written this post as a travel guide, starting at Jimbaran Bay and finishing at Karma Kandara. Enjoy!
Essential items to pack for Uluwatu:
- An array of swimsuits
- Your kindle / books
- Antiseptic for cuts or Lucas’ papaw ointment
- Surfing Booties!
- Surf board (if applicable)
1. Dinner on the beach at Jimbaran Bay – Hire a driver and head to Jimbaran Bay for dinner on the beach. There are plenty of restaurants along the beach to choose from, Menega Café serves great seafood. You’re mainly here for the ocean view, the sunset and the experience, don’t expect too much from the service, it is a little touristy and some places are slightly overprices.
2. Live like Kings and Queens at the Le Grande Bali. I absolutely loved this place! It’s a new hotel complex, 30 mins south of the airport, very close to Dreamland & Padang Padang beach. We stayed in a one bedroom suite which was so luxurious and grand. The resort is complete with a golf course, tennis court, two swimming pools (one is in the shade for when you’re officially too sunburnt!) and the breakfast buffet is exceptional. It’s very lavish, luxurious and very new, like many of the resorts in this area. The area itself is new, called ‘New Kuta’, not be confused with Kuta, the suburb north of the airport, near Legian and Seminyak).This area is a resort haven, there’s so options and so much competition but not enough tourist… so prices are low!
3. Watch the sunset at Rock Bar at Ayana Resort – This is a must try. I’ve already covered this place in my previous post BALI BIBLE: 9 THINGS YOU MUST DO IN SEMINYAK – see no. 3. It’s amazing and makes more sense to go here on the Uluwatu leg of the trip.
4. Swim at the popular Beaches in Uluwatu. The beaches along the south-west coast of Bali are a surfer’s paradise; people travel from all over the world to surf here. My boyfriend and I came here for completely different reasons. Evan, being an avid surfer came here to surf – naturally. I came here to dip in the ocean, sunbathe, read and take in the spectacular views. Since I know nothing about surfing, I’ve asked Evan to provide some commentary on each beach from a surfer’s perspective and I, a former adult swim-school dropout, will share my perspective (injuries) on each.
Padang Padang – My favorite beach, it’s stunning. We spent a few hours here swimming, tanning, reading and just appreciating the view. The water isn’t too rough so I felt comfortable going in, I do wish I had booties as it is very rocky even the pebbles are painful to step on – I’m delicate, what can I say! I did find it a bit dirty, with the occasion piece of rubbish floating by. Also if you’re lucky you might see the resident Monkeys ☺ Evan on the surf: “Long left-hander, best surf mid to high tide” – what ever that means..
Dreamland aka New Kuta Beach – On this particular day, the tide was very high and the shore breaks looked really dangerous. No one was swimming in the water; they were actually running away from it. I couldn’t believe my eyes when a deranged tourist casually dived right in just as an enormous wave crashed. That deranged tourist was of course Evan, totally fearless. I’m still shocked. I wouldn’t recommend swimming there but if you have a scooter it’s worth a brief visit. Watching people almost drown can be entertaining. Evan on the surf: “Not very good for surfing, however its one the only beach breaks around and you can get a wave at low tide.”
Bingin – You need to stay a few nights here – The view. The sunset. Just incredible! It’s a tricky one to find. Ask your taxi driver to drop you off at Mick’s Place, and then follow the signs to the beach. You will have to walk (more like climb) down the massive rocky path to get to the beach. But once you’re there, it’s spectacular. All the accommodation and cafes cascade down the cliff. The horizon is breath-taking and the water is clean and looks very inviting (… It’s not, I got banged up by the current within 15mins of going in the water. Lots of big rocks… and I am slightly retarded in the water.) I highly recommend spending a few days here; there’s lots of accommodation along the beach and on your way down to the beach. Some are awful and smelly hostel’s, others look a bit cleaner like Leggies and Mick’s Place. I would do an inspection before accepting a room. Germs are not my friends, so I stayed at the Bingin Family Inn, very clean and only $50AU per night (No websites but ask the locals). Try Kelly’s Kitchen for breakfast, Lunch and dinner. It’s a great hang out spot to chat/read. Evan on the surf: “Really punchy short left-hander, but gets very crowded and at times its hard to get a wave off the locals. Very tranquil surroundings, a must go”.
Uluwatu beach – To get here you’ll need your driver to drop you at Blue Point Bay Villa & Spa. Take a leisurely walk through the Pecatu village, it’s a windy path through cafes and stores down the hill, follow the surfers or ask the locals to guide you. The beach is located deep under the cliff bank. This beach is for medium to advance surfers only, no casual swimming here. Evan on the surf: “Arguably the best wave in Bali for goofy footers. Handle a big swell. If all other breaks are small or not working ‘Ulus’ is your best bet because it will pick up swell from any direction.” If you are not surfing… head back to Blue Point Bay Villa & Spa to lounge by the pool. For approx $25+ you will get a pool pass, lunch and a towel. Afterwards, head to Single Fin, next door for a few drinks (see below for details)
5. Discover a hidden Spanish oasis that is El Kabron. El Kabron is a gem! Positioned on the edge of the cliff in Bukit overlooking the Indian Ocean. It’s so much more than a Spanish restaurant. Get here around late lunch or an hour before sunset, enjoy some sangria and delicious tapas, relax by the pool or have a few cocktails (passionfruit margaritas is divine) on the deck or lounge area. Be prepared to be blown away by the glistening sunset over the ocean. It’s stunning! El Kabron can be tricky to find, best to guide your driver with Google maps/GPS to void any issues.
6. Sunday sessions at Single Fin bar. This place has a great vibe, very relaxed and easy going, has one of the most spectacular views. It’s a bar situated on one the edge of the limestone cliff overlooking Uluwatu beach. All the travelers come here for a good time. Not a classy joint by any means, come here to have a few drinks on the deck, share a pizza, listen to some live music and meet new people.
7. Watch the sunset at Bvlgari Hotel. It’s opulent, tranquil and truly an experience. I highly recommend having a few cocktails and nibble at the bar while watching the sunset, the pictures speak for themselves. Otherwise come here for breakfast and head to Karma Beach for the day – very close! If you really want to spoil yourself stay the night for your own piece of private paradise; lounge by the main pool and take in the jaw dropping view, enjoy the leisurely breakfast, have lunch at La Spiaggia on the cliff (only available to guests) and dinner at the Italian restaurant Il Ristorante.
8. Enjoy a bonfire on the Beach at Finn’s Beach Club. Probably not what you would imagine doing on a balmy night in a tropical destination but who can say no to bonfires on the beach…a private white sand beach, overlooking the sunset, making S’mores and toasting marshmallows – FUN!! The beach is located at the bottom of the Samara Resort, you’ll need to get an inclinator down. It costs 250,000 IDR for a beach pass per person, you get 150,000 IDR to spend on food and drinks, a sunbed, towel, wifi and use of the water-sports equipment (questionable condition). I would spend the whole day here. In low tide enjoy the rock pools and the lagoon to swim or snorkel the water is beautiful, very clean and clear. In high tide you can go kayaking or paddle boarding. The restaurant is a little pricey but the food is very good and what your’e really paying for is the view.
9. Spend the day on a private beach. Karma Beach at Karma Kandara is absolutely spectacular, it was named amongst the ‘World’s 50 Best Beach Bars’ by CNN Travel. Hire a driver to take you here for the day. Entry to the beach is through the resorts, it costs about 250,000 IDR of which 100,000 IDR is credited back towards your food and beverage and 150,000 IDR allocated towards amenities and facilities such as the sun beds – which go quickly, so get in early. A cable car will take you down the limestone cliff to the beach where you can spend the day and fall in love with Bali all over again. This beach is amazing! There a nice restaurant for lunch, the coffee is pretty good too. Like many of the beaches it can be rough depending on the tide and it’s full of pebbles.
There is soooooo much to explore in Bali, I feel like I’ve only just touched the surface! Here are a few random nuggets of information that don’t really belong in this post or the other, but you may find useful:
Discover UBUD in a day. Hire a driver and head to Ubud for the day to see the beautiful rice paddies, monkey forest and amazing markets. Have lunch at Ibu Oka which I have listed above is a must! The best cheap lunch money can buy, the traditional Balinese suckling pig is amazing. Best time to go is around 11-11:30am and you see the whole big pig come in fresh off the back of the truck.
NEW POST: 48 HOURS IN UBUD – TOP 6 PLACES TO VISIT
Gili Islands – Stay on Gili Trewangan Island for a few days or longer if you have time. There are no cars, just bicycles,horses and carts. Amazing snorkelling straight off the beach, beautiful sunsets and fun bars. If you want a chilled out time stay either end of the Island, the middle where you get off the boat is where all the bars are and gets pretty noisy at night. The island is very small, rent a bike as soon as you get here for your stay along with a snorkel, fin and masks (really cheap to hire!). Go via speed boat.